Acoustics & Sound For Musicians - Online Book

The Theory Of Sound Which Constitutes The Physical Basis Of The Art Of Music.

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VOCA L INTONA TION                 [X. § 112.
ears than to good manners. I am convinced that we have here the reason why so comparatively few of our trained vocalists, whether amateurs or professionals, are able to sing perfectly in tune. The untutored singing of a child who has never undergone the ear-spoiling process often gives more pleasure by the natural purity of its intonation than the vocalisation of an opera-singer who cannot keep in tune. The remedy is to practise without accompaniment, or with that of an instrument like the violin1, which is not tied down to a few fixed sounds. Even with the pianoforte something might be done by having it, when intended to be used only in assisting vocal practice, put into perfect tune in one single key, and using that key only.
The services of such an instrument would, no doubt, be comparatively very restricted, but this might not be without a corresponding advantage, if the vocalist were thereby compelled to rely a little
1 That a violinist can play pure intervals has been established by Professor Helmholtz by the following decisive experiment, performed with the aid of Herr Joachim. A harmonium was employed which had been tuned so as to give pure intervals with certain stops and keys; and tempered intervals with others. A Htring having been tuned in unison with a common tonic of both systems, it was found that the intervals played by the eminent violinist agreed with those of the natural, not with those of the tempered scale.
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