Most musicians know that to sound good, you need to regularly tune your instrument. Tuning can mean adjusting the strings, columns, or other devices on an instrument until it plays each note in the desired pitch. The desired pitch could be the same pitch that everyone else in the band is playing or it could be a standard pitch. Pitch is a property of sound that is determined by repeating vibrations at a specific frequency. Humans perceive this frequency as a given note. In music, these notes are assigned the letters from A to G.
Until electronic tuners became common, tuning to the rest of the band was typical. So what did musicians use before electronic tuners? If a piano was nearby, you could use one of those, but most bands did not carry a piano with them. However, you could use a tuning fork, a two-pronged piece of metal that when struck emits the tone of a particular pitch. Another tuning device is the pitch pipe, a small flute-like or reed-type instrument that when blown into produces one or more given pitches. You will sometimes see these used with by choir directors.
Today, the electronic tuner is ubiquitous. Using electronics, such tuners can tell you if a given note is sharp, flat, or in tune, based on standard pitch. But what is standard pitch? Sometimes referred to as concert pitch and usually designated as A440, A=440, or A-440, it is a standard method of tuning in which the note A above Middle C is assigned a frequency of 440 Hz. Believe it or not, before 1936, there was no standard tuning. There were many tuning methods in existence, and A above middle C had frequencies ranging from 373 Hz to 457 Hz. ANSI adopted A440 in 1936, and ISO adopted the standard in 1955.
This tuning is all based on using the equal temperament. This is a subject all its own and we will make a stab at explaining it next month.
• The song "One-Horse Open Sleigh" was written in 1850 and, according to some, was originally a Thanksgiving song. However, it was later retitled to "Jingle Bells" and began to be used as a Christmas song.
• In November 2006, John Hall was elected to the US Congress from New York's 19th congressional district. He was previously known as the founder of the rock band Orleans, having played lead guitar on "Still the One" and "Dance With Me."
• The Beatles' first movie, "A Hard Days Night," featured an extra by the name of Phil Collins, who went on to become the drummer and lead singer in the rock band Genesis.
In the Studio
In 2008, the husband and wife team of Jerry and Deanna Dosser began performing country gospel songs as part of the Blanco Canyon Gospel Group. They later formed the Western Sonrise Ministries and began performing as a duo at country churches, cowboy churches, community churches, and traditional churches as well as at gospel festivals and other venues. In 2014, they received Duo of the Year award and Jerry received Male Group Vocalist of the Year from the South Texas Gospel Music Association.
They have recorded four albums, the last three of which were recorded at Los Senderos Studio. Those albums, Western Sunday (2012), High Country (2014), and White Horse (2016), are available on their website, WesternSonrise.com. They live right here in Blanco.