Violins are tuned by turning the pegs in the pegbox under the scroll, or by adjusting the fine tuner screws at the tailpiece. All violins have pegs; fine tuners (also called fine adjusters) are optional. Most fine tuners consist of a metal screw that moves a lever attached to the string end. They permit very small pitch adjustments much more easily than the pegs. By turning one clockwise, the pitch becomes sharper and turning one counterclockwise, the pitch becomes flatter.
Fine tuners on all four of the strings are a practical necessity for playing steel-core strings, and some players use them with synthetic strings as well. Since modern E strings are steel, a fine tuner is typically fitted for that string. Fine tuners are not used with gut strings, which are more elastic than steel or synthetic-core strings and do not respond adequately to the very small movements of fine tuners.
To tune a violin, the A string is first tuned to a standard pitch (usually 440 Hz), using either a tuning device or another instrument. (When accompanying a fixed-pitch instrument such as a piano or accordion, the violin tunes to it.) The other strings are then tuned against each other in intervals of perfect fifths by bowing them in pairs. A minutely higher tuning is sometimes employed for solo playing to give the instrument a brighter sound; conversely, Baroque music is sometimes played using lower tunings to make the violin's sound more gentle. After tuning, the instrument's bridge may be examined to ensure that it is standing straight and centered between the inner nicks of the f-holes; a crooked bridge may significantly affect the sound of an otherwise well-made violin.
The tuning G-D-A-E is used for most violin music. Other tunings are occasionally employed; the G string, for example, can be tuned up to A. The use of nonstandard tunings in classical music is known as scordatura; in some folk styles, it is called cross-tuning. One famous example of scordatura in classical music is Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre, where the solo violin's E string is tuned down to E flat to impart an eerie dissonance to the composition. Another example is in the third movement of Contrasts, by Béla Bartók, where the E string is tuned down to E flat and the G tuned to a G sharp, or the set of pieces called the Mystery Sonatas by Biber.
In Indian classical music and Indian light music, the violin is likely to be tuned to D♯-A♯-D♯-A♯ in the South Indian style. As there is no concept of absolute pitch in Indian classical music, any convenient tuning maintaining these relative pitch intervals between the strings can be used. Another prevalent tuning with these intervals is B♭-F-B♭-F, which corresponds to Sa-Pa-Sa-Pa in the Indian carnatic classical music style. In the North Indian Hindustani style, the tuning is usually Pa-Sa-Pa-Sa instead of Sa-Pa-Sa-Pa. This could correspond to F-B♭-F-B♭, for instance.
In Arabic classical music, the A and E strings are lowered by a whole step i.e. G-D-G-D. This is to ease playing Arabic maqams, especially those containing quarter tones.
While most violins have four strings, there are violins with as many as seven strings. The extra strings on such violins typically are lower in pitch than the G-string; these strings are usually tuned to C, F, and B flat. If the instrument's playing length, or string length from nut to bridge, is equal to that of an ordinary full-scale violin; i.e., a bit less than 13 inches (330 mm), then it may be properly termed a violin. Some such instruments are somewhat longer and should be regarded as violas. Violins with five strings or more are often used in jazz or folk music.
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Other articles related to "tuning":
Tuning can refer to:
- Musical tuning, musical systems of tuning, and the act of tuning an instrument or voice
- Guitar tunings
- Piano tuning, adjusting the pitch of pianos using a tuning fork or a frequency counter
- Radio tuning
- The process of tuning a tuned filter
- Performance tuning - the optimization of systems, especially computer systems, may include:
- Computer hardware tuning
- Database tuning
- Car tuning, an industry and hobby involving modifying automobile engines to improve their performance
- Engine tuning, the adjustment, modification, or design of internal combustion engines to yield more performance
- Neuronal tuning, the property of brain cells to selectively represent a particular kind of sensory, motor or cognitive information
- "Tuning", a song by Avail from their 1994 album Dixie
- Tuning, a psychokinetic ability in the 1998 film Dark City
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