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Discussion Starter #1
The strangest thing happened Sunday morning. I was practicing a piece we were going to play in church that day and all the sudden my wife commented that I was playing sharp. I quickly replied that my Buescher never plays out of tune. But sure enough I was about 30 cents sharp across the board. And further, I had to pull my mouthpiece way out from the position it has set from for a very long time to get the thing back in tune. And it's still sharp today.

My question is, what is going on? The horn, mouthpiece, neck, reed, lig and my big Neanderthal chops are the same as they have been for a very long time. So why this change all the sudden? Maybe I bragged about having great intonation one time too many. Is there something that would throw my setup 30 cents sharp after years of playing in tune? :?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Grumps said:
Excessive heat.
Thanks Grumps,

I should have stated that I was playing in my house at about 70 degrees F. The church was probably about 75 degrees but I've played many time when I know it had to be over 80 degree on the stage. It has been raining all week but that hasn't affected my horn before as long as I'm not out playing in the rain. I haven't done that since college. This problem seem too consistant to be due to be environmental factors.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
DanPerezSax said:
Maybe there's something stuck in your neck. Or maybe the neck hadn't been attached to the tenor properly, and now has slipped all the way into position. That's really all I can think of...
That could be. I usually swab the neck after playing a bunch but the swab will not go past the octave vent. I'll put a borescope up that bad boy tonight and see if that's the problem. This one has really got me baffled. It's like someone just turned up the pitch 30 cents. :(
 

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Forgive me - and I wouldn't suggest this except that I recall someone else has reported a similar problem in the past on SotW - but are you using the correct mouthpiece? A previous poster finally noticed that they had inadvertently put an alto mouthpiece on their tenor.

Yet another good reason NOT to play alto. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yep Dr. G,

It's the same sweet Florida STM that EZ fixed up for me about a year ago. It always played in tune at the same position on the neck until last Sunday.
 

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All of the variables that can affect the pitch that I know of are:

-Where the mouthpiece is placed on the cork (length of instrument)
-Temperature inside the instrument (approx. 1 cent higher for each 1 degree F rise in temperature)
-Stiffness of the reed
-Angle of the mouthpiece
-Amount of mouthpiece in the mouth
-Tightness of the embouchure

I know that when I practice more, I have the tendency to start playing higher on the mouthpiece pitch because the embouchure muscles get stronger. This causes me to play sharp with the same mouthpiece placement on the neck cork. This tends to happen very gradually and I am not aware of what is happening until I play along with a fixed pitch instrument. I don't know if that is what you are experiencing or not. Please let us know what you find out. This is an interesting riddle.

John
 

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Grumps said:
Excessive heat.

I've seen this response before, but to my mind excessive heat
equals expansion of metal which equals lower pitch :? :? :?

However, I do not claim to be an expert on these matters.
 

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kavala said:
I've seen this response before, but to my mind excessive heat
equals expansion of metal which equals lower pitch :? :? :?

However, I do not claim to be an expert on these matters.

If it is hot it gets sharper. Cold is flatter. I know this from personal experience playing outside in cold weather.
 

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kavala said:
I've seen this response before, but to my mind excessive heat
equals expansion of metal which equals lower pitch :? :? :?

However, I do not claim to be an expert on these matters.
I think if it was hot enough to expand the metal, you would not be able to touch it! I was just playing in my garage (baby was napping) just a couple of weeks ago. It was sweltering hot in there and I was playing horribly sharp.
 

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kavala said:
I've seen this response before, but to my mind excessive heat
equals expansion of metal which equals lower pitch :? :? :?
It's counter-intuitive, but indeed, in contrast with other instruments, this is defenitely the case.

I also find the "I start biting with my stronger chops" respons strange. My chops got stronger too, but I'm not biting at all, in contrary. I take in more mouthpiece and I'm quite in tune.

How much of the cork is still visible when you play?
 

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A riddle. Reed strength change? Embouchure adjustments? Have you maybe been playing with other instruments who have a tendency to play sharp? Or even playing with recordings that are sharp? Is the sharpness consistent across the whole range including low C, B, Bb? The "30 cents" bit suggests you are using an electronic tuner. Try tuning against a fixed pitch instrument or a tuning fork. I have noticed that the visual aspect of the electronic tuners sometimes introduces a kind of "tuning anxiety" that tightens the throat and maybe the embouchure and can make the player go even sharper.

And finally, Professor Rooty of the Acoostics Supper Club can now explain the mystery of hot=sharp, cold=flat: heat rises (QuodEratDemonstrandum) I thank you. ;):D .
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks Rooty,

The sharpness is pretty well consistent over the whole range with the exception of the low D, C, B and Bb. These notes seem to be more in tune. This is odd since my particular horn has pretty much always been consistent with pitch across the board. And I don't think I have tuner anxiety since I'm usually dead on pitch. And usually I will subconsciously correct for environmentally caused pitch problems by ear. So me and the tuner typically have a loving relationship. But 30 cents is a big jump.

The only thing that seems to have changed is that I have been focusing more on soprano lately and haven't been hitting the tenor like I normally do. I'm still trying to get the tone I want on soprano so it gets lots of attention. But I just can't see that making me go consistently sharp all at once on tenor.

With all variables being held constant, my bet is something being mechanically wrong with my tenor. I was hoping someone would have some insight into this problem so I could fix it myself instead of dropping it off with the repair guy. I just don't like waiting a week to get my horn back and then having to pay for something I could have probably fixed myself. I guess I'm cheap and impatient that way. :|
 

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Is it possible that working heavily on soprano has tightened your tenor embouchure, causing the tenor to play sharp? You might try spending a week concentrating on tenor again: long tones. See if your tenor intonation calms down again.
 

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kavala said:
I've seen this response before, but to my mind excessive heat
equals expansion of metal which equals lower pitch :? :? :?

However, I do not claim to be an expert on these matters.
There was a lengthy thread on this topic a while back. The expansion of the metal of the instrument is so small that its effect on the pitch is negligible. The speed of sound is determined by the temperature and humidity of the air. In dry air at 72 degrees F the speed of sound is approximately 345 m/s. At 75 degrees F the speed of sound is approximately 346 m/s.

Pitch (frequency) is related to the speed of sound by this formula:

Frequency = velocity (speed of sound) / wavelength

Using this formula for an A =440 the wavelength is .784 meters. When the temperature rises from 72 to 75 degrees F, the speed of sound increases 1 m/s and therefore the pitch of A rises to 441 vps or about 4 cents on the tuner.

John
 

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Reedsplinter said:
Is it possible that working heavily on soprano has tightened your tenor embouchure, causing the tenor to play sharp? You might try spending a week concentrating on tenor again: long tones. See if your tenor intonation calms down again.
My idea too. If it was mechanical, you would go up 30%, including on the low D, C, B and Bb. At least, that's what my intuition tells me.

It can't be that your keys are not opening wide enough, because that makes a horn go flat (been there...). But if they open "too wide", your horn doesn't go sharp (unless they were not open enough before, but that's quite unlikely). Neck that's not deep enough makes the horn go flat. Also leaks, because then you tend to compensate by pulling down.

In fact, all mechanical problems I can think of make a horn go flat, not sharp. you didn't bite a piece off the neck by accident?
 

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I can't compete with jtbsax's explination, but I think it boils down to warm air is easier to "push" through horn, resulting in a sharper pitch. At least that is what I have always thought.
 

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jbtsax said:
There was a lengthy thread on this topic a while back. The expansion of the metal of the instrument is so small that its effect on the pitch is negligible. The speed of sound is determined by the temperature and humidity of the air. In dry air at 72 degrees F the speed of sound is approximately 345 m/s. At 75 degrees F the speed of sound is approximately 346 m/s.

Pitch (frequency) is related to the speed of sound by this formula:

Frequency = velocity (speed of sound) / wavelength

Using this formula for an A =440 the wavelength is .784 meters. When the temperature rises from 72 to 75 degrees F, the speed of sound increases 1 m/s and therefore the pitch of A rises to 441 vps or about 4 cents on the tuner.

John
A very good explanation John.

Like I said, I am no expert.

However, I would have thought that as the temperature increases,
the air density decreases due to expansion.
Therefore the speed of sound would decrease in this situation,
as I seem to recall that the speed of sound is greater through
more dense material.

Again however, I do note that when we have warmer temperatures
here, the air pressure given by the weather forecasters is higher.

Can someone enlighten me :? :?
 
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