Practice Methods and Suggestions

        Beginners to TuningMeister will typically sing or play [henceforth I will use 'sing' to mean 'sing or play'] a note while comparing the in-tuneness of that with the central line on the lower graph. 
This is important while becoming acquainted with the basic ideas of the graphical display, but useful only up to a point.

        The ultimate goal of working with TuningMeister is, of course, the development of the precision of the 'inner ear', that elusive, indescribeable, sense of pitch. The graphs are a means of guiding you towards better alignment with an objective sense of pitch; towards hearing yourself as others hear you; but of course only the awakening of that sense of pitch can serve you in performance.

        Adjusting your pitch to the line can often happen in a mechanical manner, without the inner consciousness of pitch.  A practice technique that removes the crutch of that visual feedback of the moment forces you to pay more attention to your inner ear. Here is a mode of practice I suggest:

        Uncheck the menu item 
View | Trace Continuous [or input dependent]. That will cause the graph trace to stop when input ceases, similar to a voice-activated recording mode; during your silence the screen will not continue to be erased. [You can adjust the noise threshold at Advanced | Set Input Threshold. Adjust the slider downward until the trace moves on its own (from any background sound or noise inherent in the soundcard), then tweak the slider up a few notches until the trace doesn't move anymore. This will make the detection of any input sound the best for your particular situation.] Therefore you can sing a simple exercise [up to say 10-12 seconds or so, depending on your screen width and the Trace Speed] without looking at the screen; then you can immediately check to see if your inner sense of what you did is confirmed by the graph. The graph will stop drawing until you sing again.

        [Important note - TM always opens with
View | Trace Continuous [or input dependent] checked, as I thought that a user might be confused when he tries Tuning and the graph doesn't draw, forgetting that it is in input dependent mode. So I required a conscious action to set this mode when the program first starts up. If you feel that it would be better to remember the condition of  View | Trace Continuous [or input dependent] from session to session, please let me know. I can change this if the vote is strongly against the current way it is managed.]

        Let us leave aside for the moment the more complex situation that western harmonic structure creates, vis-a-vis the multiple interrelationships that occur across musical keys. There is always benefit in working up from the most simple concepts. Classical Indian music is built upon a monophonic basis, just a tune played against an unchanging drone. A parallel in western music would be the monophonic medieval songs that have come down to us. For monophonic music, the most basic exercise would be - sing the tonic and try to hear that you are aligned with whatever is playing that tonic (you could play a note on the piano, perhaps). Pay attention to your inner mental picture of your note. Did you feel you perhaps started out flat but corrected your note up to the line (or vice versa)? First have a clear picture of how you think the note developed; only then look at the screen graph and see whether it confirms your idea. Each time you repeat the tonic, try to hit the note more accurately than before.

        Perhaps one could consider it like a computer game, with the aiming done with the voice! Of course there aren't any fancy score-tallying graphics, no evil perpetrators to destroy, but your inner imagination could participate!

        There is nothing more basic than that. I might mention that singers of Indian music describe their practice as beginning in the early morning hours, singing only the tonic note for maybe half-an-hour, aiming to settle deeper and deeper into a stabile identity with it. The more unchanging over time that note becomes, the more naturally the music develops on its own. Of course, Hindustani and Carnatic musicians see the art inextricably bound up with a yogic mentality. And certainly western musicians are also seeking something higher in their pursuit of music.
        Then practice holding other intervals of the scale against your 'drone'. Test your octave intervals - sing a steady note, than its octave (up or down) and observe your accuracy. Move on to other intervals. Play a short musical phrase, and so on. All done without observing the graph - then looking to see your results. You can easily come up with your own ideas for practice. But I imagine it will always be most helpful when performed slowly, emphasizing the attention to intonation. 

        Of course, real music requires a more fluid approach, where the overly-careful attention to intonation becomes a more living part of the whole event. At first, the effort to be more accurate in pitch will take away from other expressive aspects of your musical performance. You need to forget about it in actual performance. But after months and ultimately years of practice,
perhaps only a few minutes per day, the inner ear comes alive more and more, and you become more precise with less and less self-conscious effort. 




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