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Berti, Sauro

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Italian, English
Edizioni Suvini Zerboni - Milano
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ISBN / Catalog number

S. 14259 Z.

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C.I.R.C.B. Library

Berti, Sauro
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Book description

Assuming that, de facto, in practise, a wind/string player or singer tends to use the “natural scale” system, whereby the intonation of each individual note, interval or chord is in strict relation to the tonality in which one is performing. Adopting intonation based on the “natural scale”, is rarely given due consideration by wind players, also because of the ingrained “pianistic” equal temperament, every note has to be adjusted in consequence of the relation it bears to the relevant tonality. The natural scale, therefore, doesn’t correspond exactly to the twelve semitones of keyboard instruments.

I have written these exercises in order to pay the necessary attention to this reality and to insert it in daily practice, so I will not elaborate on this topic which has been covered in depth in theoretical treatises. By stimulating our sensitivity and musical ear, the respecting of this tonal tension will soon become second nature. Although when we tackle the repertoire with piano we will have to refer to the tempered scale, nevertheless, these exercises will still be useful as they are intended to enhance our attention and flexibility in the light of the inevitable compromises.

The exercises will be realised with the aid of a “sound generator” (often included in electronic tuners) which we will get to play the fundamental note indicated at the top of each page. Using an earpiece we will have a precise throbbing sensation which, letting ourselves be guided by our ear, we should try to eliminate. It is very important to have the earpiece only in one ear in order not to lose touch with our own sound and let our attention be distracted. Checking a tuner visually on all the notes of the scale doesn’t teach us hardly anything and misreading the indicators we could incorrectly be led to think that every note has to be always at the same pitch independently of the harmonic context! I am utterly convinced that to make the most of a tuner we should only refer to it for the ground-note of the tonality in which we are playing. Too often in daily orchestral playing we resort to the temperate scale which, without a solid harmonic base, will blow away like a house of cards.

I used an order of difficulty with the purpose of picking up and recognizing in sequence the accuracy of the unison, octave and fifth, followed by the major, then the minor, third. It will be useful to adopt this method also when we wish to check complete chords in our normal orchestral and chamber music activity, assembling them in the order described above. The following exercises are drawn from melodies, technical studies, arpeggios and orchestral excerpts to encourage us to use the “Tuning” method in the great majority of the music we play. The exercises are in all the keys, in both treble and bass clef, so that they can be played easily by every wind player who will transpose them to cover the whole range of the instrument. Every instrumentalist can choose the key order and any eventual variation in dynamics.

I would advise devoting a few minutes to “Tuning” at the beginning of every day, after our warm up, and then spend a couple of minutes on it every half hour. In this way we will ensure that our emission is regular and we will also definitely improve the quality of our sound. It’s important to understand just how much intonation, timbre, emission and sound are all part of the same team and therefore “united we stand, divided we fall”.

Enjoy your practice!
Sauro Berti