Cello Intonation Exercises with Drone Notes
This is a follow up on my blog post Improving Intonation on the Cello. I put together some cello intonation exercises for you to practice tuning notes to drones (held notes). Drone notes can be obtained from a drone CD or from a metronome or tuner. Here is a Cello Drone CD for download. If you use a tuner or metronome, make sure that the note sounds clear and not "buzzy".
There are basically two types of intonation; harmonic (tuning notes to other pitches or chords) and melodic (thinking in terms of successive intervals). In string playing, we vacilate between the two types of intonation. Practicing with drones is a way to practice "harmonic" intonation and to refine your ear.
When not playing with the piano, keep in mind that the placement for any given note is dependent on the context. For example, if I play an F# in a D major chord (D-F#-A), it will be slightly different from an F# in an F# diminished chord (F#-A-C) leading to a G major chord. Specifically, the F# in the D major chord will be placed a bit lower than the F# in a diminished chord. Or if I am thinking melodically, the F# in a D-E-F#-G passage tends to sound best when placed a bit higher.
Certain intervals permit more variance than others. 2nds, 3rds, 6ths, and 7ths are more negotiable than the perfect intervals such as PUs, P4s, P5s, and P8s.
So don't think of intonation in terms of 12 chromatic notes. What we really have are 12 regions. If this all sounds a bit complex, ultimately the ear needs to be the final judge. And there is a certain amount of subjectivity and acceptable variance to intonation. If you are a student, you may need the assistance from your teacher to tune each note to the drones.
In these intonation exercises, for each drone note I begin with the perfect intervals because they are often the easiest to tune. From there I move to the 3rds and 6ths followed by dissonant intervals concluding with the tritone.
Here it is...
You may also be interested in Cello Position Etudes.