Thursday, February 10, 2011

I prefer gStrings

Hey, get your mind out of the gutter. I'm talking about the Android chromatic tuner app.

OK, so here's the story. This is a busy week I'm having:
Saturday - Verdi Requiem
Monday - Stravinsky Octet and Soldier's Tale
Tuesday - Kroeger Tres Psalmi Davidis for Trombone and Soprano (Tina Stallard rocked!)
Friday/Saturday - I'm playing bass trombone (yes, Russ, bass trombone) with Charlotte Symphony (the two Romeo and Juliette's ... Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky).

I'm also the happy new owner of a Droid X, which I love. So today I downloaded two tuner apps for my droid: Cleartune and gStrings.

Cleartune cost me $3.99 and gStrings was free (ad-supported). I tested both during the rehearsal break with my phone on the music stand and other people playing (but not right next to me).

Cleartune, which looked prettier had two significant drawbacks: the needle was too twitchy and it couldn't read low notes. Around low F (an octave and a 5th below middle C) the tuner couldn't read me.

gStrings, while not as slick-looking, had a steadier needle and, amazingly, was able to read my instrument down to a pedal F. And that was before I discovered that it has custom tessitura settings for instruments ranges (I've never seen that in a tuner before).

Both apps had customizable temperament settings (I suspect this isn't much of a programming challenge). With respect to just intonation, I was confused. I always think of just intonation as tempering notes with respect to a given tonic pitch. So..what pitch is it scaling to?

[OK, you can set it to tune to one specific pitch as opposed to auto chromatic tuning so maybe that's where the just tuning comes into play. Not clear, however.]

Oh yeah, gStrings doesn't appear to be available for iPhone. I'm sure you guys have a lot of great choices as well.

Just be careful about using the search term "gStrings."