One of the most important lessons a young vocalist or instrumentalist needs to grasp is the way individual notes fit into a chord – the harmonic understanding that makes the difference between good music and great music. Now, a proven tool that simplifies this aspect of music instruction is available to U.S. teachers: the HD-100 Harmony Director from the Yamaha Band & Orchestral Division.
Embraced for years by teachers in Japan, the HD-100 Harmony Director is a 49-key tuning device that resembles a small keyboard, but can do much more. Traditional tuners correct only a single pitch, but the HD-100 teaches students to tune the notes within actual chords, providing a powerful aid in improving intonation, harmony and overall sound.
The HD-100’s ten preset temperaments include pure, major and minor scales, meantone and Pythagorean. It will tune every note to precisely the right pitch for any given scale and key, and each of the 12 notes of the octave can be assigned its own pitch and volume settings. They can then be saved to user memory, and a transposition slider can change the key allowing for greater compatibility with various instruments.
Veteran teacher Mark Humphries of Bravo Music, who works closely with several top Japanese performing groups, demonstrated the HD-100 to U.S. band directors at the most recent Bands of America Summer Symposium. “I hate to say talk is cheap, but the problem for any teacher is that music is an aural art, a sonic art, and it has to be heard,” he says. “The HD-100 demonstrates music theory. You can lecture and diagram endlessly, but this is a device that says here it is.’”
The HD-100 enables users to explore the benefits of different tuning systems, as well as hear the melodic and harmonic effects of chosen tuning systems. This can prove useful when teaching about historical and contemporary instruments, as well as providing ear training for intonation and intervals.
A built-in tuner allows the precise tuning of instruments via the built-in microphone, or through an external microphone (sold separately). Also featured on the HD-100 are eight different quality voices – organ, harpsichord, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, horn and strings.
In addition a built-in metronome can accommodate standard and odd-metered rhythms and be programmed for future time changes. The HD-100 also allows for any tempo to be “tapped” in, to ensure rhythmic precision. When playing a song with a key change, the HD-100 will automatically detect the change and alter the pitches of each note to fit the new key. The MIDI-compatible HD-100 features easy-to-read LED and LCD displays and a data entry dial to make input quick and easy.
Toshiro Ozawa, music director of the Kanagawa University Wind Ensemble in Japan, says, “The key to beautiful harmony lies in the intervals of the chords, and students must learn how their pitch relates to those of others. The Harmony Director lets you teach your students the finer points of intonation by demonstration rather than just words. I don’t know of any bands in Japan who don’t use one.”
The HD-100 is currently available.
“You can have a chord in tune, you can have a chord out of tune,” adds Humphries. “It can freely demonstrate balance, intonation, blend and beat and put all of these elements together at one time – it’s an ingenious device. It is a totally new concept for a country whose people are deeply interested in sound, fundamental music education.”
For more information: www.yamaha.com