Listening to the recording made of this past band rehearsal, I am frustrated by what sounds like my lack of capability to produce anything remotely close to correct intonation Saturday morning. Sometimes I wish that my instrument was fretted or keyed so that the sound I produce would be more or less exactly the same every time, assuming the overall tuning is correct, as there are fewer things that can go wrong. One of the things I like about the cello is the ability to push a note up or down to lean on accidentals, but the price for this bonus is having no set reference where your fingers have to go to produce a precise sound, which in turn is affected by so many tiny factors that it’s a wonder I ever end up within an eighth of my desired note. Vagaries such as tiny muscle motion, balance, fractional differences in how the instrument is set up each time, length of the endpin, temperature affecting fingers, strings, and instrument structure are often the culprits, but one can’t blame everything on the co-operation of multitude of tiny factors like this. The human element renders machine-like precision impossible, however, and I don’t think machine-like precision makes for very good music anyway. I’d just like my human element to be a bit more on, and a bit less like human error.
I have to find some way to get a feed out from my amp or pickup into a set of headphones for my ear. When everyone is playing I can’t clearly hear what I’m doing, and so I can’t adjust the intonation accordingly.
On the other hand, I deliberately didn’t set up my music stand for reference except for one song, and then to be used for only one part of that song, so I’m pleased about that. I haven’t been reading music for a while, but if the stand is up I glance at it automatically which distracts me from what I’m doing. The stand is a crutch, and I’m glad I’m past that.
And quite apart from the finicky details about my dissatisfaction with my performance, the recordings sound wonderful. If I step past listening to my mistakes, the overall effect is really, really good. The problem is that these recordings are a learning tool so that we can hear those mistakes and make a note to fix them, and I have to hear the mistakes before I can relax enough to hear the song as a whole, as the audience would.