Skip to content

The Tuning Wars

December 5, 2013

As conductors, we are (usually) preoccupied with tuning.  One of my edicts is to have the orchestra tune “mindfully.” I regularly coach my groups to tune thoughtfully, and with a beautiful sound.

But… do we really know when we’re in tune? I mean, of course we do, right? Certainly we can hear when we are out of tune. But, how “in tune” is being “in tune?”

I am having a bit of fun here, but it is a fascinating question.

In a former life, I played mandola in a mandolin quartet (two mandolins, a mandola, and a mandocello). Let me tell you, we could spend an hour just “microtuning” our instruments to get them in tune with one another. (I mean, think of all those doubled strings!!)


(Members of the mandolin family – note the mandobass in the back!)

Check out this great article about tuning systems. (Allow yourself some time, the article is pretty darn thorough.)

Also, take a night and read this funny, interesting book:

How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why you Should Care)

Early Music Online

November 29, 2013

The Royal Holloway, University of London, has put up an extensive collection of scans devoted to some of their most fragile and scarce sheet music. This collection dates back to the 16th century, and while not as user friendly as, this site does offer scans of music not easily found otherwise.

You can head over to the site here.


JFK Remembered

November 21, 2013

NPR has a fascinating post about the day that President Kennedy was killed.

You can find the post here.

Osmo Vanska quits Minnesota Orchestra

October 1, 2013

The link below will take you to Norman Lebrecht’s blog, “Slipped Disc.” He puts a LOT of time and energy into this blog, and it’s one worth reading and adding to your list.

In addition to reading about Osmo Vanska quitting the Minnesota Orchestra, I recommend you read the comments below the post. While the whole Minnesota Orchestra situation is quite unfortunate, it is fascinating to read the (generally) well-written and well-thought comments below his post.


Norman Lebrecht

Are YOU prepared?

September 19, 2013

The Wichita Symphony asks: Are YOU Prepared??


It’s not all bad news…

July 18, 2013

These past few years (one could say especially since the crash of 2008) we’ve been hearing about orchestra after orchestra that has had financial trouble. (See Minnesota, Indianapolis, Chicago, etc.)

But, The Kansas City Symphony is doing pretty well.  Read a nice article about them here.

Top Ten Interview Mistakes

May 16, 2013

Dennis M. Barden wrote a post entitled “Top Ten Interview Mistakes” at the Chronicle for Higher Education that’s pure gold! (Having in the past three years taken a few job interviews, sat on a few hiring committees, and helped students prepare for job interviews has led to more than a passing interest in job interview preparation for me.)

As I read this link I think I have observed all 10 of his points happen when sitting on the hiring side of the process. I can only hope I haven’t actually executed these items in the top ten.

You can find the article here at the Chronicle for Higher Education.