Intonation (music)

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Intonation describes various processes and activities in music .

Intonation in ensemble music

In the practice of making music, intonation is the fine tuning of the pitch . Singers and players of some instruments can deviate from the equal temperament tuning by accurately listening to each other fifths, fourths and thirds especially pure sounded. The better this succeeds, the better the sound.

The following example shows that the diatonic and chromatic semitone steps of the bass are made possible by adapting the chord.

Chords of the Passus duriusculus here after WA Mozart: Misericordias Domini , D minor (KV 205 a).

Info about the audio file
Misericordias Domini, D minor (KV 205 a)
In the pure tuning the diatonic
semitones and chromatic semitones
(excessive primes) in the bass are the intervals:

c → h 112 cents
h → b 092 cents
b → a 112 cents
a → as 71 cents
as → g 112 cents

Detonate - Distonate

Especially in choir singing it can be observed that, for example, after the singing a piece of music ends too low or too high. If the intonation is too low, one speaks of detonating, and if the intonation is too high, it is called distoning . This also applies to wind and fretless string instruments (this includes many string instruments , but also some plucked instruments , such as electric basses without frets ).

String instruments with frets

In fret instruments such as the guitar , the degree of pitch accuracy achieved through the arrangement of the frets is called fret purity (see also octave purity ). With some fret instruments such as the viols or lutes , the frets are traditionally not firmly attached, so that the musician is responsible for the intonation. He can influence this by moving the frets moderately and sometimes by modifying the position of the fingers.

Digital instruments

With digital instruments it is often possible to choose different moods , tone systems , volumes and timbres. As a rule, the pitch and the sound are controlled by precisely quartz-controlled , integrated circuits so that there are no undesired deviations in intonation. The corresponding parameters of the sound can often also be set via the so-called digital interface for musical instruments (MIDI) and transferred to the instrument.

Preparing an instrument to compensate for tone color and volume

In the case of keyboard instruments in particular , where a separate tone generator (usually strings or whistles ) exists for each tone , intonation means the equalization of volume and timbre of the tone generators with one another. This is done by interfering with the tone generator or the associated mechanics such as the hammer on the piano or the labium of the organ pipe . The intonation is usually the task of the instrument maker and is carried out once during construction or again during a general overhaul of the instrument. Due to the large number of registers and pipes that have to be voiced individually, voicing organs is particularly complex.

Intonation as part of a piece of music

Intonation can also describe a short introduction to a piece of music. In Gregorian chant, for example, an introduction performed by the cantor or a short organ prelude to a church song (see also liturgical organ playing ).

Intonation in musicology

Intonation is a term that was adopted from the field of language in musicology (see also Intonation (Linguistics) ). In Soviet musicology it is treated in the sense of Boris Assafiev's conception of the intonational nature of music. The intonation is regarded as the basis of musical expressiveness and meaningful musical statement, which at the same time expresses the peculiarities of different national or personal styles. The basics of intonation theory were laid by the Russian musicologist Boleslaw Jaworski (1877–1942) and further developed by Assafjew .

In Russian music education and musicology, the term intonation also describes a small, meaningful melodic phrase. The following idioms are possible: "intonation of the ascending fourth", "intonation of the elegiac sixth", "active intonation", "plaintive intonation", "calling intonation", "sigh intonation", "intonation of the resurrection" (in the sense of a leitmotif) . But it can also be used to describe stylistic elements: "Intonations of the mass songs", "The intonations of the bourgeois salon of the modernist era" etc.


See also

Individual evidence

  1. This can conflict with an accompanying piano, etc. The cellist Pablo Casals wrote in The Way They Play (1972): Don't be alarmed if you have a different intonation than the piano. It's because of the piano, which is out of tune. The piano with its equal tuning is a compromise in intonation .
  2. Berit Schneider-Stickler, Wolfgang Bigenzahn: Voice diagnostics: A guide for practice . 2013, ISBN 978-3-7091-1479-7 , pp. 53 ( limited preview in Google Book search).