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Drones are a very effective tool towards helping students develop both individual and ensemble intonation. The above drone files contain acoustically pure intervals.

Here are a few exercises to consider:

  • Sing and Play scales (in solo or ensemble situations) -- use the mono (tonic pitch only), diad (open fifth), and triad drones (three pitches, either major or minor) that are included on this page and on the text’s CD.
    1. scales in unison
    2. chorale-style scales (Group 1 starts on the tonic, Group 2 enters on tonic as Group 1 reaches scale degree 3)
  • Sing and Play long tones to tune intervals or chords.
    1. the entire group on the same chord tone (then switch)
    2. 1/3 the group on the root, 1/3 on the fifth, 1/3 on the third (then switch)
  • Play unison and perfect fifth drones during sections of the literature that are firmly diatonic. Begin playing a tonic drone before the group enters and keep it going during the entire section, making sure it is loud enough to be heard. Have either the entire group play, or separate the melody and accompaniment voices. Repeat at least twice before removing the drone.
  • On an mp3 player or computer, construct a playlist of drones that contains the same harmonic progression as a particular passage in the repertoire (e.g., measure 1= C-Major, measure 2=G-minor, measure 3=Bb-Major).  Play these drones while the group performs the passage, advancing to the next track right in time with the music.
  • So all students can hear the drone while they play, consider using it will subsections of the full ensemble (woodwinds only, brass only, etc.).

Intonation Demonstration and Tests

A musician’s ability to perform with excellent intonation starts with the ability to identify the difference between in and out of tune. The below audio files are designed to help develop one's ability to recognize the difference between equal temperament intervals (intervals that result in beats) and just intonation (intervals without beats).

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