Sony Full Color Sound poster

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1.3. Tuning Your Ensemble

So how does the theory discussed in the previous two articles tie in with playing music in a real-life ensemble? Tuning of course! An important thing to remember is that musical instruments, from trumpets to guitars, only act to approximate the ideal 12-tone equal-tempered scale - they cannot be built to be perfectly in-tune; instead, it is up to the musician to make adjustments. But, even after the musician adjusts her instrument to an enharmonic 12-tone scale, she still must decide whether or not she wants to adjust to the more tonal just scale, or leave it in the more standard equal-tempered scale. These decisions, and the techniques required to accomplish them, will be discussed in this article.

1.3.1. Adjusting Your Instrument

Instruments are broken into three main classes based on how they produce sound: strings, winds and idiophones (or percussion). A huge number of variables go into the pitch produced by these instruments when they are stuck, plucked, bowed or blown - everything from room temperature to the specific shape of the individual instrument help to create distinct instrumental tones, and, less pleasantly, help to create an out-of-tune ensemble. Here is a brief overview of what precisely leads to poor intonation:

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