Tuning the top space E

I had tuning issues with the top space E on the Cornet section recently. We played "Born Free" and some of the high chords were absolutely horrible, C,E,A with the sop on top with his G = solo cornet top C. Culprit seems to be the E in the top space which is flat on open valves.
How do other bands get this in tune? It doesn't really show up except in these high chords but it is truly horrible to listen to. Ideas please? Thanks.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I had tuning issues with the top space E on the Cornet section recently. We played "Born Free" and some of the high chords were absolutely horrible, C,E,A with the sop on top with his G = solo cornet top C. Culprit seems to be the E in the top space which is flat on open valves.
How do other bands get this in tune? It doesn't really show up except in these high chords but it is truly horrible to listen to. Ideas please? Thanks.
You might like to rattle Moomin’s cage on this ‘cause he’s got an awful lot of knowledge including that of the physics of instruments. On Trombone I found that some of the open notes didn’t give the exact pitch expected and adjusted my slide accordingly, IIRC that e can be played in 4th (slide position) or with 1&2nd valves depressed for more accurate intonation. I hope that you get better responses, but at least you’ve had one to get the conversation going.

Edit. IIRC some Trombones seemed to slot their open notes slightly sharper or flatter than others. That’s the thing about using a slide, you look out for variations in pitch and move your slide accordingly. Anyway, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if other instruments had the same variation in the note being delivered being just a close rather than a perfect match to the one expected.

Edit. See #10 in this thread Non-compensating valve instruments . MoominDave knows his stuff. I think that on some later thread he provided additional detail on compensating instruments but can’t find it at the moment.
 
Last edited:

GJG

Well-Known Member
I would normally play it on 1+2 with a little 1st valve trigger. This is standard practice on most 'C' trumpets in any case (particularly Bachs), and some D/Eb trumpets as well, although this varies by manufacturer. I rarely use open fingering for this note.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Yep - open is a naturally flat partial, some instruments moreso than others but it's to be expected.

Playing it 1+2 will sharpen it (playing off the G harmonic which is usually a touch sharp if the E is flat), perhaps too much so be prepared to trigger if necessary.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
Yep, 1+2 is the usual way to sharpen it. Sometimes this overdoes things and 3 is better - but usually 1+2 is the answer. Consider also 1+2+3 if you're really struggling to find a combo that works, which is surprisingly close but a bit strange to blow.

The other thing to bear in mind is the note's function in the chord - E between C and A is a different note than if the A was a G, being the 5th of the minor chord (which needs sharpening a tiny amount - so tiny it's best not to bother) rather than the 3rd of a major chord (which needs flattening so much that the open E is in good tune - in fact in tune by definition).
 
Last edited:

Hsop

Member
The E could certainly be the issue although there could be a potential tuning problem with the high A, which can often sound sharp. Then there is the question of sop playing G being in tune with the Bb player who is playing the C.
As others have said playing with 1+2 valve combination and a little trigger works fine. Playing on 3rd valve alone is potentially going to sound flat.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I had tuning issues with the top space E on the Cornet section recently. We played "Born Free" and some of the high chords were absolutely horrible, C,E,A with the sop on top with his G = solo cornet top C. Culprit seems to be the E in the top space which is flat on open valves.
How do other bands get this in tune? It doesn't really show up except in these high chords but it is truly horrible to listen to. Ideas please? Thanks.
I suppose that armed with the information on the thread so far it’s now a case of digging out a digital tuner to listen to each of the notes in turn and then to successively add notes to build the chord. Perhaps we’ll hear how it all went a week or so after the original post? Hope so, we all benefit that way.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
I suppose that armed with the information on the thread so far it’s now a case of digging out a digital tuner to listen to each of the notes in turn and then to successively add notes to build the chord. Perhaps we’ll hear how it all went a week or so after the original post? Hope so, we all benefit that way.
Massively overused things, digital tuners - far too many people assume that when the tuner says they're right on then they're always right on and stop listening to what's going on around them.

Listen, listen, listen!
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Massively overused things, digital tuners - far too many people assume that when the tuner says they're right on then they're always right on and stop listening to what's going on around them.

Listen, listen, listen!
I feel sure you’re correct Tom. I like to use a tuner to check what’s what but, when all is said and done, it’s what it actually sounds like that matters. Tuners are a guide, jolly handy they are too, but if you’ve got perfect pitch and a good set of ears then aren’t they a better judge?

There is an assumption that each and every tuner is accurate, etc., mostly the assumption is near enough correct for the intended purposes. From what I see and hear electronic tuners are typically more accurate than ‘most’ player’s judgement, but there are always exceptions and just because a display indicates some value doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t ever question it.
 
Last edited:

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
It's not really a question of accuracy of the gauge, it's 1) that it tells you the answer relative to A = 440 Hz and one's ensemble is going to be tuned slightly higher or lower than that, and 2) chords work best out of equal temperament.
 
Top