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I have an alto saxophone that I am learning to play. I just recently purchased a book that has a CD with it and this CD has a special program that you can install on the computer (I did this) and you can play the saxophone along with the recordings and this program hears my saxophone and shows me if I am playing the notes and rhythm correctly. When I played my saxophone, a msg came up and said that I was playing sharp and to tune my sax. How do I tune it? It doesn't sound out of tune to me, but according this program, it is sharp. I will appreciate any help I can get.

Carol K
 

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You can flatten the pitch by pulling the mouthpiece out a little on the neck cork.

However, a wide range of blowing faults can also make you play sharp. So...

Cick on SOTW Main Page (at the top of the screen). Then click on Paul Coates "Beginners Corner". Read and digest all the information there.

Direct link: http://www.saxontheweb.net/Coats/index.html#BeginnerCorner
 

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imho, i think that using a tuner is one of the worse ways to tune..
If you can get someone else who is in tune, or a piano, you can tune yourself. All you have to do is tighten, or loosen your emboshure to see whether you're flat or not. The trick is to go to the 2 extremes (flat - loosen : sharp - tigthen) to see which way ur outta tune. This is great, because if say during a performance, you notice that ur WAY out of it, you can change and be with the the band, instead of stopping, moving ur mpc, and then playing again (which looks really awkward)
This is also good for intonation issues also! Remember, if you have to loosen up to get in tune, you're sharp, and you should pull out. If you have to tighten up, you're flat, and you need to push in.

Think of it this way: the longer distance that air has to travel through your instrument, the lower the note gets (thats how a trombone works 8) )
have fun! ^^
 

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Calvin said:
i think that using a tuner is one of the worse ways to tune.
I'm afraid I can't agree with that, although I am also quick to point out that many don't know how to propery use a tuner so it makes no difference when they do.

By that I mean, people will just look at the tuner, give a good blow and do whatever manipulations to their embouchure they must make to get the needle in the middle and then go on about their business of playing out of tune.

I think it's best to play a note that is comfortable and one that has a nice full, centered sound and then look at the tuner. The tuner should tell you if the center of the tone you played is on pitch or not. Then you can pull your mpc in or out.

I also think it's good to play several notes and find the pitch center of, say all three, since tuning only one note only, well, tunes only that note. For example, I have the trumpets play their G, C and E's and then determine if the overall pitch is true. Since each note on each wind instrument is not perfectly pitched, tuning only one note is fruitless (unless you're experienced and know what you're doing. That's aonther matter).

Instrumentalists should know what notes on their instruments are "out of tune" and know how to favor them appropriately. So, if a band director tells me to play my G, I know that it's notoriously sharp and I've got to lip it down. If I do not, and if I tune the G only, then my other notes will be flat overall. That is a player's responsibility; one that many amateurs are totally oblivious of.

Carol is a novice and hasn't yet developed a sharp ear (it'll come, Carol) so she needs a reference point. Using another instrument to tune to is fine if there is another person or reference instrument available because using one's ear is, after all, what it's all about. But often they are not available (and there's no telling whether said piano is in tune anyway, unless you've got a good ear or, er, have a tuner available).

So my advice, Carol, is to get a tuner and use it. But use it wisely. Find out what notes on your instrument need humouring and which ones are the most reliably in tune so you can relate them one to another. Play a good note first with a wonderful full, round tone, and only then, take a peek at the tuner. Use it right and it can be a good resource.

By the way, if you are playing too sharp, one reason might be biting or using too tight an embouchure. Look for the mouthpiece exercise in Paul Coates articles and use it as a reference (you'll need a tuner, LOL).

That reminds me of something else. The pitch names on most pocket tuners is in "concert pitch" and are not the same named-pitches as on your instrument. You need to know what pitch on your instrument a pitch on the piano is; that is a piano "C" is not a sax "C".

By the way, what learning program are you using; sounds interesting?
 

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you kinda left out the "in my humble opinion part" :p
i missed some of the parts that you pointed out in your post. and you're right, some ppl just play, and change their emboshure to get intune with the tuner, which is retarded, b/c they end up going back to their old embosure after that -_-
Also the D is notoriously sharp, so pressing down the low B key helps with that (hint hint Carol)
If and when you start using ur ear instead of a tuner, remember this...
if you're outta tune, you'll here waves. If the waves are quick and fast, then you are sharp. If the waves are slow draggy, then you're flat.

edit: btw, i'm pretty sure you agree on the staying in tune with the whole band part :p
 

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If "notoriously sharp" = "several notes on sax are badly out of tune" do note that you could have a ripped pad, a key that doesn't close properly, a solder that's leaking, a sax that's bent, a spring that isn't sprung, etc. :D

The computer probably wants you to play almost exactly in tune, possibly plus or minus a few cents (i.e. most modern saxophones have a tuning standard of concert A=440hz. Most folks consider you to be in tune if you're + or minus 5 or so of this). There MAY be an option in the computer program to modify what it considers to be "in tune" and you may wish to change this to "A=435 to A=445", or something like that.

However, I do recommend practicing with a digital tuner. Make sure the horn isn't damaged. Use a decent mouthpiece and a non-eaten reed. Play long tones in front of your tuner. Get in tune with the tuner. Memorize how it feels and sounds to play in tune.

LATER lessons can be on how to play in tune with another instrument and how to adjust.

Oh. IMHO. :D
 

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Calvin... I may have gotten a low 70 in Grade 11 Physics, but being sharp or flat doesn't change the beat frequency of two resonating waves, ;)

If you're 5 cents sharp compared to a comparison note, you will hear waves, or pulses. These are called "beats".

However, if you're 5 cents flat, you'll hear the same waves as when you were 5 cents sharp, ;)

Quick and fast waves mean you're off tune by such a degree that somebody may notice.

Slow and draggy means you are getting closer in tune with each other, :)

Which reminds me... weapons of mass destruction: 3 flutes playing in "unison". :lol:

But, you were right about one thing. If you hear waves, you are out of tune with something. (Or from the other side of the spectrum, something is out of tune with you... :twisted:)
 

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Kareeser said:
...being sharp or flat doesn't change the beat frequency of two resonating waves...If you're 5 cents sharp compared to a comparison note, you will hear waves, or pulses....However, if you're 5 cents flat, you'll hear the same waves as when you were 5 cents sharp...
Exactly, Kareeser and thank you, I was hoping someone else would catch that so it doesn't seem like I'm picking on Calvin. The "waves" are caused by the distance between two pitches.

This is, by the way, a good way to teach (or practice) getting in tune with another player and puts the emphasis on the ear, where it should be. One player locks in on a pitch and the other player approaches or leaves that pitch, slowing down the "waves" until they are eliminated.
 

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Kareeser said:
Calvin... I may have gotten a low 70 in Grade 11 Physics, but being sharp or flat doesn't change the beat frequency of two resonating waves, ;)

If you're 5 cents sharp compared to a comparison note, you will hear waves, or pulses. These are called "beats".

However, if you're 5 cents flat, you'll hear the same waves as when you were 5 cents sharp, ;)

Quick and fast waves mean you're off tune by such a degree that somebody may notice.

Slow and draggy means you are getting closer in tune with each other, :)

Which reminds me... weapons of mass destruction: 3 flutes playing in "unison". :lol:

But, you were right about one thing. If you hear waves, you are out of tune with something. (Or from the other side of the spectrum, something is out of tune with you... :twisted:)
agree with that. if i remember correctly he is right, the slower the interval between waves the closer you are to in tune.
weapons of mass destruction, i don't agree with flutes. now piccolos, or clarinets in high register g3 and up, now thats another story.
 

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Hey hey, enough focus on calvin's mistake... it's starting to look more and more like I purposely put poor Calvin down... :p

Remember, he did have a point...
 

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My belief is that it's best to play along with play along CD's with an actual sax player on the CD and try to match that player. An electronic tuner could help but my belief is that you should learn to bend notes to a given melody. So what might be "in tune" to your ear would be out of tune to an electronic tuner. Electronic tuners use a tempered mathematical tuning which is not necessarily musical to a given melody or scale. I have heard and believe it is better to tune the sax slightly sharp as you will tend to go flat as your jaw relaxes. Thus as you tier, your instrument will pull or drop into tune. I would be skeptical of a computer that claimed I was out of tune as it may only be hearing the fundamental tone and not the overtones. or vise versa. Tuning is a complex subject, and ultimately your ear should be the guide, not a machine. On a sax the overtones of every note are a bit different. This is known as "inharmonicity", and cheap electronic tuners can't deal with it.
 
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