I’ve asked Dr. James G. Taylor, an acoustic consultant with a long and distinguished career, and he replies, “There are certain instruments that require no fine tuning, such as the lute, the harp and a stringed instrument like the violin. On the other hand, violins are not very sensitive and so require little fine tuning.” Dr. Taylor goes on to explain, “Most violins are tuned to make them louder and the treble clef is lowered slightly. The tuning is fixed by ear and there are no precise standards for making violins fit a particular player type.”
It is important to emphasize that, no matter how precise the individual’s fine tuning of his instrument may be, if his playing style is not conducive to fine tuning, he cannot expect to make a musical contribution to his instrument. If the player’s performance and his instrument have a natural tendency to be tuned down to “natural” levels in the tuning table, he will do no good. This can be done by using a technique which I call “tone-cranking”, in which the player simply plays at a fast note until the tuning table does the rest.
For violinists seeking to have his instrument tuned and played at the optimum pitch, he should first try to play at a speed that is consistent with the desired pitch, using the fingerings I describe in my book. As he increases the speed to the desired level, he should begin to play faster to keep things moving, and gradually reduce the speed until “tune-tweaking” becomes a “work in progress”, at which point the player might play at a slower speed and just try to make the tuning table go as fast as he can manage. He should then try to tune-tune to the desired pitch. If this does not work, he, perhaps with further improvement in pitch-tuning techniques, should try to get the speed up a bit, so that when the note is played at its normal speed, it will be much closer to its natural frequency. He should start at a faster rate of speed and then slowly get to a slow speed as he begins to tune-tune. In some cases, the speed of a pitch will drop when a tuner tries to tune-tune to it. The slow speed and the drop in speed are simply the process of tonal matching or harmonic matching. It does not necessarily mean less pitch, it may just mean that the pitch is slightly off. The tuner need not fret about this,
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