Maybe it's the weather?

For Anything and Everything to do with Flute Playing and Music

Moderators: Classitar, pied_piper, Phineas

Post Reply
Silversorcerer
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:36 pm

Maybe it's the weather?

Post by Silversorcerer » Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:57 am

What is Standard operating temperature for a flute? What temperature is it built to be in tune at? What are the ramifications of a cooler room when playing with bunch of folks that can simply change the tension of the strings to adjust? We can't do much about ambient temperature, and we certainly can't rectify the situation by moving the head in and out. Next time you think your flute is hopelessly out of tune with the strings, maybe it's the weather:

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-pitchchange.htm :|

User avatar
JButky
Posts: 389
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:21 pm
Location: Mt. Juliet

Re: Maybe it's the weather?

Post by JButky » Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:35 pm

Silversorcerer wrote:What is Standard operating temperature for a flute? What temperature is it built to be in tune at? What are the ramifications of a cooler room when playing with bunch of folks that can simply change the tension of the strings to adjust? We can't do much about ambient temperature, and we certainly can't rectify the situation by moving the head in and out. Next time you think your flute is hopelessly out of tune with the strings, maybe it's the weather:

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-pitchchange.htm :|
I believe the temperature standard is derived from Organ tuners. They most typically use A=440 at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wind players always blame the string players. Not the weather... :twisted:
Joe B

User avatar
cflutist
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:44 pm

Re: Maybe it's the weather?

Post by cflutist » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:22 pm

JButky wrote:
Silversorcerer wrote:What is Standard operating temperature for a flute? What temperature is it built to be in tune at? What are the ramifications of a cooler room when playing with bunch of folks that can simply change the tension of the strings to adjust? We can't do much about ambient temperature, and we certainly can't rectify the situation by moving the head in and out. Next time you think your flute is hopelessly out of tune with the strings, maybe it's the weather:

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-pitchchange.htm :|
I believe the temperature standard is derived from Organ tuners. They most typically use A=440 at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wind players always blame the string players. Not the weather... :twisted:
LOL, Joe how true ... by the end of a 3-hour rehearsal, the strings are always sharp.
:lol: Conductor is always telling them that. This is not a professional orchestra (although there are some paid positons)
but rather college/community orchestra. We still tune to A=440 although I know that some European orchestras tune to 442 or even 444.
Although my 1972 Haynes is old scale (pre-Deveau) A=440, I chose to have my 2010 Brannen made at A=442 this time (they offer A=440, 442, 444, or 446). It should play in tune +/- 2Hz.

Silversorcerer
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:36 pm

Re: Maybe it's the weather?

Post by Silversorcerer » Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:49 pm

Assuming the instruments are optimal at 75F, my next question is what is the typical performance temperture? Even indoors it's more like 68F. Converting to Celcius, that is a difference of 4 degrees C. That would result in a woodwind pitch change of 4x3= 12 cents. That's a pretty substantial effect on optimal tuning at room temperature performance. Of course if you are playing outdoors and it is 85F, then the instrument is going sharp by as much. This is substantial. From the article linked to above:

"A trained listener notices a deviation from the true pitch at about 5 cents. A person with normal hearing needs 10 cents for recognition. This refers to notes played in succession. Two notes differing by 5 cents played simultaneously will produce quite strong audible beating."

It almost doesn't matter what the standard temperature is, because small deviations produce clearly audible tuning changes, and of course attempting to correct these at the headjoint shifts the scale disproportionately.

I wonder how that compares with the difference in cents between 440Hz and 442Hz? The semi-tone above 440 is 466, so 100 cents from 440-466 is 26Hz difference. 2 Hz is less than 10 cents difference just above 440. Weather has almost as much an effect in the general case and in some cases would easily overwhelm the difference in a flutes made to either standard.

And of course playing it is going to warm it up, but will it magically stabilize at 75F? If the room is warmer, it should go sharp for a while. If it's cold it's going to start off very flat. And no matter what happens, the player is going to end up lipping something into tune sooner or later, but most likely as a matter of course the entire time.

Typically I play trumpets and cornets. We have tuning slides for each individual valve so we can usually fix weather variations if we are paying attention. With flutes and other woodwinds, this is largely an unavoidable consequence of design characteristic. Whatever other minor considerations we have about tuning, we are largely at the mercy of the weather.

Reference: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-pitchchange.htm

Also the several times I've seen the ASO, they appear to be tuning to the oboe. Perhaps earlier the oboe tuned to the piano? I don't know but the room is of course very temperature controlled. If there is no piano or harp involved, I think it makes sense to tune to the oboe, whatever that pitch winds up being. The strings can accommodate it with tension changes and all of the woodwinds are affected just like the oboe.

User avatar
Phineas
Posts: 958
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:08 am

Re: Maybe it's the weather?

Post by Phineas » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:19 am

I have been on both sides of this issue because I also play stringed instruments. After many years of experience, I tune by ear. If I play flute around a string player, I tune to them. I really do not care if it is 440 or not. The main goal is to sound good together, not match a tuner. Even when I played Cello, I would tune one string, then tune the others till I thought the 5th interval between the strings sounded good.

I have always disagreed with the "tuner" method that ensembles use. Back in the day, the group would play a tuning note, and tune to each other. Digital tuners have ruined this practice.

I am cool with the whole science of the weather and pitch. These things mean nothing when you are trying to sound good as a group.

Just my .02USD

User avatar
Bo
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:40 pm
Location: Down Under

Re: Maybe it's the weather?

Post by Bo » Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:47 pm

Yes, I have noticed that extreme temperatures can affect the flute as well as other instruments. It happened to me more than once for example that during sudden overnight temperatures changes a string of my guitar broke completely by itself. Not to mention piano hammers that get sluggish with too much humidity!

Post Reply