Factors Affecting the Pitch of an Acoustic Band

Playing with good intonation is one of the most important concerns for an acoustic band. Without proper pitch, the band will sound dull, lifeless and amateurish. Preventing pitch problems should be the number one priority of all acoustic bands. Several factors influence the ideal pitch of a band. Each one of them has specific methods that the band may employ to reduce and eliminate the pitch problems.

Room Temperature

The temperature of a room will greatly affect the pitch of an acoustic instrument. If the musicians fail to warm up before going on stage, the temperature of the instrument will rise during the concert. This creates poor intonation as the pitch of an instrument changes depending on its temperature. Not all instruments will change pitch at the same rate either, so this creates further tuning problems since each instrument will change pitch at a different ratio. The solution is to warm up before going on stage for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Individual Tuning

Unless the group tunes to the same pitch after having warmed up, the group may end up with several different tunings. This is why it is essential to tune to each other before a concert. If the group has a piano, it is best to tune to the pianist since the pianist is unable to modify the pitch of their instrument. Groups without a piano should tune to a brass or woodwind instrument to get their starting pitch.


Players that perform when they are sick have a greater time knowing whether they are playing in tune. This is especially problematic for a singer and it is the reason why singers have to cancel concerts if they are sick. It isn’t that they don’t feel well and simply don’t want to perform. Two things can happen to a sick singer: they could overextend their voice and cause damage and they may have hearing difficulties. Unfortunately, if a member of your band is sick, it might be necessary to call off the concert.

Instrument Timbres

Many musicians find it easy to tune to a similar instrument -- brass instruments find it easier to tune to another brass instrument and woodwinds prefer other woodwinds. This is because the timbre between related instruments is very similar; however, tuning a piano and a flute poses problems because the piano functions as a hammered string instrument and the flute is a wind instrument. Since both instruments have different methods of creating sound, it becomes harder to identify correct tunings. The best workaround for this is to practice tuning daily to several different instruments to develop a flexible ear.


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