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Tartini Tones

December 6, 2005

Since I’m now done with the term, I want to share what I learned. You don’t have to read all of it, just the highlights.

One of the things I’ve been working hard on are Tartini Tones. As a musician you strive to have perfect everything, but since everything is fairly vauge we say perfect intonation, perfect rhythm, perfect tone ect. Tartini tones help acheive perfect intonation.

The violin is super uber cool because you often get to play on multiple strings at one time. Usually we are limited to two strings but occasionally we push ourselves to three. The tartini tones happen when you are playing more than one note.

In order to understand Tartini tones you have to understand sound waves. Sound waves, if we could see them look like waves, or if you’re a math/physics geek you may describe them as sign and cosign waves. Every pitch has it’s unique wave length; higher pitches have shorter wave lengths and lower pitches have wider wave lengths.

When you are playing two notes the wave lengths collide. If those notes are perfectly in tune they line up very nicely and end up producing other pitches. Pitches you are not playing at all! That’s the exciting part. I often would tell my students that you know when something is in tune because it sounds like it “locks in place.” Thats why it locks in place, because it’s resonating correctly.

You can make Tartini tones with several different instruments, but I think they are harder to hear that way. I’ve been told about Tartini tones for years, but I really thought people were just making them up to make me feel bad. Now I can hear them just fine and they are plauging all of my music by making all of my out of tune notes stick out like crazy. I feel sorry for anyone who had to listen to me before my knowledge of Tartini Tones.

There are super mathmatical ways of figuring these out, but here’s some additional info.
Combination Tones
Tartini Tones
Tartini, Giuseppe

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2005 2:00 pm

    Yeah, I’ve heard these called “difference tones”. They’re a lot easier to hear on higher double stops. I think I first noticed them when I was working on the Walton viola concerto, which has a lot of double stop passages.

  2. Jodie permalink
    December 7, 2005 2:29 pm

    I love the Walton. The Eugene Symphony played it not long ago and I went to the concert. I’ve noticed they are easier on the upper double stops, do you know why that happens? I’ve been using them a lot in my Bach G minor Sonata, first movmt.

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