Intonation. For our purposes, a colloquial use of the noun as it applies to singing or playing a musical instrument in or out-of-tune.
For our purposes, a colloquial use of the noun as it applies to singing or playing a musical instrument in or out-of-tune. (In the music world this is also referred to as "pitch” or “tuning.")
To the Dallas Symphony Orchestra: (1964) “My dears, there is no such thing as playing in-tune. You must play in-tune with something, even if you think it is out-of-tune.”-Maestro Paul Kletzki
The point of Kletzki’s statement is one that arguably preempts all others on the subject, but it also must be noted there exists more than one type of musical intonation, from the well-tempered (a.k.a. even-tempered, equal-tempered, etc.) keyboard tuning, as espoused (developed?) by the relentless Johann Sebastian Bach, to what many would consider more sophisticated tuning concepts like "diatonic" ("just," "vertical"-when involving more than one voice) intonation, "espressive" ("horizontal," "melodic") intonation, leading up to the extremely complex Pythagorean thinking. (highly recommended: A Study of Musical Intonation, Christopher Leuba)
Additionally, in all disciplines related to musical performance, there exists the human element. During one of Dr. John Backus’ Physics 201 classes (elementary acoustics) at USC many years ago, the professor posited that "[T]he human ear is unreliable. If one places a pitch fork next to one ear and then to the other ear, one will not hear the same* pitch." During the following class session, the students were then asked to do just that, and, to the chagrin of all involved, each and every student did indeed hear a different pitch in each ear, thus adding even one more dimension to the intonation puzzle.
These disparate tuning concepts can result in interesting musical performance situations, especially when there are a few intonation ideologues involved.
n.b. For clarification re: intonation terminology: Anyone one who has formally studied the subject is aware there are a number of terms to describe each of various tuning concepts.This is due to many circumstances, including standard language translation problems. The choices for the terms used here are this writer's, offered with no particular biases or preferences. This is not a formal seminar, but rather the presentation of some hopefully entertaining and informative anecdotal stories readers might enjoy.
* There are physiological reasons for this phenomenon, but why mention them here and spoil all the fun?