A casual conversation with another fiddler led me to finding Intonia, a great app intended to help string players visualize intonation by displaying pitch on a scrolling graph in real time. The graph gives immediate feedback as you play a note, scale or song and helps you to see, as you hear, your intonation.
While it is recording, the display scrolls continuously. Your pitch is displayed as the height of the trace. If you’re playing in tune the trace is white, but if you’re sharp relative to your chosen scale and temperament, the trace is colored red. If you’re flat, the trace is blue.
I was writing back and forth with a member of Green Fiddlers the other day about a post I made quoting from Michael Sanchez in his book, Fiddle for Dummies, where he wrote that 75% of people who decide to start playing fiddle quit after just one month. During the discussion, this member told me the biggest help for him in learning over the past three years has been a tone generator app on his phone. He said he didn’t realize how bad his intonation was until he began using this app.
While I am fairly pleased with my intonation, I am always looking for ways to improve it. I looked up the app he uses, and after reading about it, I searched for other apps to see what else was available. Many apps come with tone generators, drones, metronomes, etc., some better than others, but what I had in mind was an app that could listen to me play and give me feedback on my intonation. Of the few I found, Intonia appeared to be the best rated. Another plus, unlike most apps, it was available for download to Androis, iOS, Windows and Mac. I decided on using my android tablet since the screen is easier to view than my iphone’s, and I can place my tablet right on my music stand.
The free version is limited to one minute of sound storage, A=440, equal temperament. An in-app purchase of $4.99 will upgrade to the Pro version. The Pro version includes the following:
- ‘A’ frequency settable between 400 and 499 Hz
- Choice of Equal, Pythagorean, or Just intonation.
- Save and restore audio files
- Rename or delete audio files
- Import and export audio files from/to iCloud
- Up to 60 minutes of sound storage
- Screen is kept on during recording and playback
- Playback and record in background mode while the screen is not showing
Here are some things you can do with Intonia:
- Play a fast passage, and see which notes were out of tune.
- See intonation in just, Pythagorean, or equal temperament.
- Tune your instrument.
- Use as a digital recorder to hear yourself play.
- Get instant feedback.
- Visualize articulations, slides, shifts, vibrato, etc.
- Use it for transcription.
- Works for all string instruments: cello through violin.
- Works for many other instruments as well.
Below is a YouTuve video review. One thing the reviewer mentions is that it does not function as well when playing double stops or vibrato, but these techniques don’t really concern me at this time. I just want to use it to make intonation improvements.
So, there you have it. If you are not familiar with Intonia, you might want to take a look at this helpful app. I would be interested in knowing your opinion in the comment section below.