Matt Harloffs Tuning Sequence - and tuning sequence as functional application of art

When I build software for interfacing with music - I often iterate back and forth between writing tuning sequences and system refinement. On reflection I often over emphasise the development aspect of this process, as that is the part I find easier. It is analytical and stepwise, so to figure out what the next step is, you just need to think it through. The composition is much harder - here you need to probe around in the dark, or if you are lucky something will just appear.

There is interesting cross over with Iian McGhilchrist and his argument that we as individuals, and on the whole, have become too dependant on the left hemisphere, and have neglected holistic, intuitive thinking. If these are out of balance we might find ourselves stuck.

Matt Harloff’s tuning sequence is a piece of art with intention. Its functionality and artfulness are both separate, and reinforcing.

The quality of the sound comes from the slight imperfections of that number of individual horns, combined with the perfect ratios of just intonation in the chord spacing.

The arrangement leverages a functional understanding of musical perception. Periods of complete dissonance A.K.A 🔭SPACECHORDS🔭 which are half-step clusters, three semitones above and below the Bb root.

serve to disorient the listener before modulating to a new key (as well as serving an additional functional training role).

The disorientation is reinforced by massive changes in timbre and volume - the complete dissonance and massive power is visceral which catches your attention. By drawing your focus to the horror unfolding, Hoffman has robbed you of your attention to tonality. Tonality is seemingly out the window. You have completely forgotten of the concept.

But no!




Smart stuff.

Hyperpop is also smart.

tuning sequence score

Training notes here!

Note from “Tuning Tips with Matt Harloff”  
In order to be in tune you must be in tone  
-tone quality and mouthpiece work make the biggest difference (long tones, embouchure, etc.)  
-match quality of sound person to person  
-singing across the ensemble helps tuning, intervals, and chord structure (wishes he did more of this with his  
Tuning basics  
-tune the fundamental pitch  
-tuba tuning slides require much more adjusting due to increased room for error  
-students who are an extreme (sharp or flat) but the slide is where it “should be” should check fundamentals of  
playing (i.e. tone, buzz, sound)  
Students struggling with brass pitches  
-don’t force tuning on “typical notes”. Get students to play where comfortable to help sound and support. Trumpets -  
don’t force a high C when you can easily play a G (in staff)  
Crown Tuning Sequence (in book)  
-all start concert F. Bring tubas up to Bb (f-g-a-Bb) and release everyone to hear tubas.  
-crunch/space chords are all within a minor 3rd of tubas on Bb.  
-hearing lots of waves (or beats) is a problem. Slower the waves... closer to being in tune. Faster... is very out of  
tune. If the ensemble has many waves they stop and start whole sequence over.  
Pitch Tendencies  
-put the instrument where it should go. Weather will obviously change pitch. But get the instrument shouldn’t be  
extreme. Ears will often help!  
-tuning chart (in book): play a certain note at certain dynamic levels (record where you are - sharp or flat). Don’t try  
to make it in tune. Just play and record where you are. This allows players to understand where tendencies are.  
-trombones. Keep in mind you have a tuning slide in your hand. Lip slurs should just sit in a position. Feel free to  
-using tuner. Do not look at tuner when you play. Play note. Be comfortable. Have a good sound. THEN check the  
tuner to see where you are.  
“Just Intonation” - chart in book  
-you have to tune intervals (not notes)  
-use tonal energy app to hear how intervals adjust vs equal temperament  
-in order for intervals and chords to be perfect, you must play specific notes imperfect  
Score studying and impacts  
-be sure to make notes in your show about the chords you want to have a big impact. Focus on these to start and  
then work away from there.  
Instruments and equipment  
-plastic mouthpieces, equipment, etc. - do not let the cold jeopardize your equipment. Play with your “norm” and be  
comfortable. However... tuning will not be a factor in 20° weather. lol  
-keep in mind that uniformity is key during shows and competitions  
“It doesn’t count...”  
“It doesn’t count unless you’re on the move”  
“It doesn’t count unless you’re playing”  
“It doesn’t count if there is metronome”  
This of these statements and how they relate to our shows, practices, and performances.  
Inside the Circle (Book)  
Tonal Energy Tuner (App)