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An excerpt from Flute Playing & the Art of Doing Less Volume Two, Intonation, Resonance, and Color


The term pitch is used to describe a particular standing wave frequency.
For example, a frequency of 440 hertz is referred to as the pitch A4.
Allowing for the octave changes between the low and middle registers on
the flute, the tube length and tone hole locations pre-determine the basic
frequency of a sounding pitch. Intonation is the term which is used to
designate the degree to which a player is relatively “in or out of tune” when
playing sequentially or when playing either sequential and/or simultaneous
pitches with other players. However, the terms intonation and pitch are
often used interchangeably. So, for example, when a player does not play
well in tune with other players, they are often described as having, “poor
intonation skills or a bad sense of pitch.”
Requisite Skills
Here is a set of prioritized intonation or “pitch” skills. A player can:
1. Tune single-note-chords internally.
2. Maintain a constant pitch when getting either louder or softer on a
single note.
3. Play correctly-sized sequential intervals.
4. Match pitch with other players that are playing the same pitch.
5. Play in-tune intervals with others.
Intonation and Energy
Intonation changes are always caused by energetic changes. While the tube length determines the general frequency of a sounding pitch, adding energy to an established pitch will increase its frequency which raises the pitch. Subtracting energy from a pitch will decrease its frequency which lowers the pitch.