Effect of Melodic Context, Tuning Behaviors, and Experience on the Intonation Accuracy of Wind Players

Steven Morrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


In the first of two experiments, subjects (N = 137) were band students with 1, 2, 3, or 4 years of formal instrumental performance experience. Subjects tuned to a single prerecorded tuning pitch and subsequently played along with a prerecorded four-measure melody. Direction and magnitude of pitch deviation were analyzed for the single tuning pitch and four selected target pitches within the melody. Responses to the tuning pitch were more accurate than for the melodic pitches. There was a high positive correlation among the four melodic pitches, but a low positive correlation between the melodic pitches and tuning pitch. In a second experiment, high school musicians (N = 167) played along with the same prerecorded melody after either (a) tuning their instrument to a single pitch, (b) receiving verbal instructions to perform “in tune,” or (c) receiving no information. No differences were observed among the three conditions. Students who first tuned to a single pitch were more accurate at this task than at melodic performance. A high correlation was observed among melodic pitches but not between melodic and tuning pitches. Across both experiments, subjects erred most often in the sharp direction; a stronger tendency toward sharp errors was noted among more experienced students. Performance accuracy was observed to improve with experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music

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