Smiling through Sour Intonation

Today's recital with my sister went well. Except the piano was flat AND out of tune. We played at a retirement recreation center, where my mother takes dance classes. At a place like that, you get what you get.

Pianists have no control over the quality of the instrument they get to play. They learn to detach from a bad instrument to survive.

But as a woodwind player, I am accustomed to tuning to what is around me. We must do it constantly in orchestra. But at least the orchestra tunes to a 440 A to begin with. So out of tune is relative to the "in tune" beginning.

My sister, a flutist, and I are adept at tuning to each other. We grew up playing duets and have always had a remarkable ability to blend, tune and phrase together.

But with the sour piano twanging sharp or flat depending on the note, my sister and I flailed to find notes as they passed, and tried to find each other in the process, with little luck. Talk about distraction from the music making! I finally put on a longer barrel, which helped a little.

Oh well. Smile, play as if it's exactly the way it should sound, and move on. The audience loved it.

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4 comments for “Smiling through Sour Intonation

  1. January 30, 2010 at

    Yes, the pic is perfect.

    Of course the audience loved it! They're used to that piano, and to have actual accomplished musicians playing for them is a treat.

    Are you familiar w/Martha Argerich's term for bad pianos? She calls them "PSO's"… 'Piano-shaped Objects".

    • January 30, 2010 at

      Hi Gretchen- The recording sounded a lot better than I thought. Luckily the piano's sound was swallowed up by nearby curtains. But we had another \”PSO\” today, awful. Tomorrow's piano will be better. Last chance, so I hope so.

  2. January 30, 2010 at

    Sorry to hear about the wayward piano which gave you and Amy an unplanned intonation workout! The accompanying sour picture is perfect. May the piano please you on your next recital, which is tomorrow, if I'm not mistaken.

    • January 30, 2010 at

      Yes, we had the second concert today. And if you can believe it, the piano was WORSE! Tomorrow promises to be much better. My sister paid to have it tuned last week.

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