From the Archive: the difficulties of playing in tune


The Strad writer E. Polonaski bemoans the number of string players with suspect intonation in our March 1893 issue

At the recently held examinations of the College of Violinists, the important question cropped up: 'How many violinists are there that play in tune, and how many are there that play out of tune?' If you can help me, fair reader, to solve this conundrum I shall be very glad, as far as I am concerned, I give it up in despair!

'He' or 'she plays in tune' or 'out of tune,' is frequently said of violinists, no matter whether they are artists of the first water, or mediocre professionals or amateurs. The same term is used of vocalists whose intonation is still more frequently imperfect than is the case with players of stringed instruments. Provided their instrument is in perfect tune, they cannot help playing at least some notes in tune, whilst the singer is totally at sea in that respect and his defects become still more painfully apparent...

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