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New Horn Acclimation and Intonation Development

I recently acquired a new (to me) Besson 968. It is, by the serial number, a 1997 production. Thanks to Music Masters in Tallahassee for providing an extremely accurate description and being great to deal with in general. As I began the process of getting acquainted with it and trying out mouthpieces it occurred to me that my process is a bit different than what I’ve heard others describe. I thought I would share and ask for comments.


What I hear over and over is spend a lot of time with a tuner. My concern with that approach is that tuners can inject themselves into the process in sneaky ways. You react to the needle or LED and it skews the result. Plus they only give you an answer in equal temperament and without any context.


The best way to test mouthpieces and discover intonation tendencies would be to try them out in a rehearsal. This is, however, not fair to the rest of the group. My first step was to call on a friend who is a fine trumpet player with a good ear and the keys to a church. We spent about two hours playing duets. This gave me a great idea of how much work was involved in making each mouthpiece play musically and in tune. An added benefit is that my friend could comment on differences in tone. Even in a big room where you can hear some reverb it’s amazing how much the buzzing inside your head affects your perception. For those who might be curious, the Wick Classic 4ABL was the overall winner.


My next step was to really start getting used to playing the new horn consistently in tune. Rather than a tuner I much prefer working with drones. The app I like best is called Drone Tone Tool. It provides a cello-toned drone with a nice mix of overtones and octaves. Playing with drones forces you to use your ears rather than your eyes. You can hear when you are playing an interval in tune and I really think it is a better development tool than a tuner. I try to do 10-15 minutes a day with the drones.


Next time you are trying out a new horn I encourage you to check this out. The app on your phone and maybe a small Bluetooth speaker is not going to be that much bulkier than a tuner (which is likely on your phone now anyway). If you spend some time with the drones daily I think you will be pleased with how your intonation and your ear improve.

I noticed there was a thread about drones a while back but thought this was a bit broader topic. Sorry if I should have added this there.


This post first appeared on Euphonium-Tuba And General Music Forums - Recent B, please read the originial post: here

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New Horn Acclimation and Intonation Development

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