The Intonation Details window provides extra charts and an analysis designed to help you identify problem areas and aid your practice. You can also share images of your Intonation Profile via email or social media.

Charts

You can view charts of intonation, pitch consistency, or audio frequency. If you’ve played a passage containing a large range of notes, rotating smaller devices to landscape orientation will give you a better view of the whole range:

You can also scroll each chart if your profile is too large to fit on your device’s screen.

Learning how to understand and interpret these charts can be of great help in revealing whether it’s you or your instrument that need work, and pinpointing exactly which aspects to concentrate on. But remember that Intonation Station also does a lot of the analysis for you (see Analysis below), so you can make major improvements without having to invest time understanding the charts if you don’t want to.

Average Intonation Chart

While creating the Intonation Profile, you’ve probably played each pitch several times. This chart shows the average tuning of each pitch to give you a good representation of your instrument’s intonation for real-world performances. Even if you play a pitch just once, Intonation Station takes many measurements and averages them, so if you play with vibrato for example, you’ll still get a realistic tuning measurement for that pitch.

Note Consistency Chart

During a performance, you seldom play the same pitch with the same tuning every time. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the physical limitations of your instrument – some notes can be more stable than others – to deliberately changing the tuning to give a more ‘bluesy’ feel, or to match the tuning of other players. This is one reason why playing to a conventional electronic tuner is not very helpful when trying to improve your intonation.

The Note Consistency chart shows you the range of tuning detected for each pitch, using yellow bounds bars. Your practice routine should include trying to keep the bounds bars as short as possible. Long ones (like B4 and C5 in this example) indicate poor note consistency. If certain pitches always show poor consistency while the others are usually good, they’re likely to be a physical instability in your instrument, and this knowledge will help you pay particular attention to those pitches when performing. If you get poor consistency of different pitches each time, you may need to work on your general technique!

See Causes of Poor Note Consistency for more information.

Full Intonation Chart

This chart overlays Average Intonation and Note Consistency onto the same chart. This is the chart that you see in the main Intonation Tab.

Audio Frequency Chart

The Audio Frequency chart allows you to see how the tuning of each note varied as you played it. You can scroll along to an area of interest, and zoom in or out using the standard pinch gesture. You can use this chart to observe any vibrato, slurred notes (glissando), or any problems with technique, for example squeaks on reed instruments or unintentional fingering changes while you were still blowing or bowing.

We’ll be adding more articles and tutorials on how these charts can help pinpoint specific problems with various types of instrument or playing technique. Keep checking the website, or contact us if there’s any area you’d like explored.

Sharing your Intonation Profile

At the top right of the screen is a standard symbol for sharing or uploading. Tapping this will create a JPG image of the current chart that you can email or share on Social Media, depending on which apps you have installed on your device.

This is particularly useful when posting your Intonation Profiles and experiments with different mouthpieces or fingerings to online forums.

Analysis Table

Below the charts is the Analysis Table showing the most important details revealed by your Intonation Profile. The section is divided up into Intonation, Temperament and Key, and Passage.

Intonation

Intonation and Consistency Scores

A bit of competition is good to get you practising, right? So to motivate you, Intonation Station scores your intonation and consistency out of 100. To begin, create an Intonation Profile with a simple scale of C major over one octave. See what scores you get, then create another one playing the same scale and try to beat them! Better still, get a friend to see if they can beat your best scores.

When you’re getting good results with C major, try it over two octaves, or with different scales. Then choose a piece of music you like and see what scores you can attain when performing that.

You can even get meaningful scores with more involved pieces that include slurs or glissandos, because you can configure Intonation Station to exclude excessively short or ‘bendy’ notes from the profile – see Excluding Notes from Profile.

Interpreting the scores

Don’t be put off if your scores are lower than you expect. Most electronic tuners consider any note within +/- 10 cents to be perfectly in tune, and that’s when you only have to concentrate on a single pitch!

There are so many factors that affect intonation in an acoustic instrument, that it’s very difficult to get scores above 70% for any real performance, even on a professional instrument. It all depends on your instrument and what type of music you’re playing. Some instruments, like my beloved vintage bass sax, need a lot of concentration to get above 60%  even on a simple scale. Don’t expect to get 100% unless you’re cheating with an electronic keyboard!

We’d love to hear from you about the scores you’ve achieved. Let us know what instrument and music you played to achieve it. We’ll be setting up a blog to post our own results soon.

Average Tuning

For woodwind and valved instruments. Intonation Station takes the average tuning of all pitches played to give you the average tuning for your instrument. Getting the average tuning as close to zero will reduce the effect of any individual pitches that are sharp or flat.

Note that for this figure to be meaningful, you need to create an Intonation Profile that covers the whole range of notes you’re likely to play during a performance.

Best Pitch for Tuning

For woodwind and valved instruments. If you tune to this pitch on your instrument, your average tuning will be close to zero (See above).

We know by now that certain notes on woodwind and valved instruments tend to be sharp or flat. If tuning to an orchestra you’ve usually no choice but to tune to Concert A4 (440Hz). But if tuning to an electronic tuner, piano or rock band, the last pitch you want to choose is one of the sharp or flat ones, or the instrument will sound out of tune for most of its range. Choose the Best Note For Tuning to get your instrument sounding as good as possible.

Note that for this figure to be meaningful, you need to create an Intonation Profile that covers the whole range of notes you’re likely to play during a performance.

Sharpest and Flattest Pitch

These are the pitches you most want to work on – the ones whose tuning is poorest in the whole range of notes you played.

Most and Least Consistent Pitch

The Most consistent note is the one in the Intonation Profile whose tuning is always approximately the same every time you play it. It’s useful to give you a benchmark for how consistently you or your instrument is capable of playing.

The least consistent note, is the one whose tuning differs by the largest amount every time you play it. This is another pitch you want to work on. See Causes of Poor Note Consistency.

Notes Excluded From Profile

You can configure Intonation Station to exclude short notes or excessively bendy notes from the Intonation Profile to suit your playing style.

Short notes

During a real performance, it’s the longer notes that most sound harsh when they’re out of tune, because semiquavers are over before the audience has had time to register much about their tuning or tonal quality. So it makes sense to exclude individual notes shorter than around 0.3 seconds from the Intonation Profile, to prevent them from distracting you from the important pitches you need to work on. You choose the duration of notes to exclude using the Settings tab. The default value is 0.1 seconds.

Notes that vary in pitch

It’s also common to deliberately bend notes during a real performance, for example when playing Blues music. This is particularly common for saxophonists, who are able to flatten a note by a whole tone or more by relaxing their embouchure. You don’t want these notes to be included in the Intonation Profile, because they will also skew the results and distract you from the pitches that you actually want to play in tune. So Intonation Station lets you exclude notes that vary in pitch. You can choose how much the pitch should vary to be excluded (from 10 cents to 100 cents) in the Settings tab. The default value is 100 cents, which is equivalent to including all notes in the profile.

You can alter the duration and pitch variation of individual notes you want to exclude at any time, to see what effect they have on your Intonation Profile. Intonation Station will recalculate all the charts and analysis accordingly.

If you tap the Notes Excluded From Profile menu, Intonation Station will display a list of all notes that were excluded, and why:

Temperament and Key

This section shows the Temperament used to calculate the Intonation Profile, and the Instrument key used to calculate the pitches played.

You can change the Temperament and Instrument Key at any time, using the Settings tab.  Intonation will recalculate all the charts and analysis accordingly.

Passage

The Passage section contains some useful information about the musical passage you played when creating your Intonation Profile. It’s there to show the range of notes you played, and any you may have missed.

 

Notes Played

Tapping on Notes Played will bring you a list of all the notes you played, their average tuning, and how many times you played them:

 

Range

This shows the lowest and highest pitches played, indicating the range covered by this Intonation Profile.

Excluding

Lists any pitches within the Range above that you didn’t play. This allows you quickly to see which notes you might have unintentionally left out, or which were undetected by Intonation Station.

If the list is too long to fit on the menu, just tap it to get the complete list of unplayed pitches.

Most and Least Played

Lists of the Most and Least played pitches, respectively. The Least Played list is particularly useful to see whether you’ve played enough notes of a given pitch to make a representative sample. Hence you know whether that pitch’s tuning and consistency readings can be relied upon. When creating an Intonation Profile to test the instrument’s quirks, you’ll want to play each pitch at least three times.