In musical parlance tuning refers to two types of tuning methods. One is the tuning practice, which is the applying procedures of tuning an instrument, its gear or the voice. The other one is the tuning of the music systems.
The question that comes to the mind is why do we need tuning of music gear? Tuning is a process through which certain pitches are built up in relation with each other. The matching is done in tandem. For certain times they cross each other and at other times they complement the other one, at periodic intervals. When a pitch is too high or near too inaudible with respect to the others, we call it out of tune.
Out of tune is also called when the pitch does not match a standard, such as a concert A 440. For a wind musical gear like pipe, flute or any bass instruments, modifying the length or width can adjust the pitch.
Guitar is a string instrument. Tuning of music gear like guitars are also different. So, the tuning done to adjust the pitch is also different. There are adjustable pegs on the head of the guitar. Turning them will increase or decrease the tension of the strings, which in turn will change the tuning. This holds true for, almost, all of the string instruments and the gear.
Tuning the music gear is done with voice also. This process is known as matching pitch. This is considered to be one of the basics of the ear tunings.
Along with the harmonic gear, there are some inharmonic instruments also. The type with which the tuning is applied also determines the complexity. A brass instrument like bell is an intricate instrument to tune.
A simple way of tuning the music gear is to start sounding the two pitches and then tinkering with the one to match with the other one. For this purpose a tuning fork is used as a reference device. There are electronic tuning devices also which help in deciding the right tune for the gear.
Accuracy of the tuning of the music gear is sometimes measured by the interference beats. When the two working pitches are going on side by side and moving towards a harmonic relationship the frequency of the beating is decreased. The apt way to tune an octave or unison is to lessen the beating frequency till it cannot be noticed. The type of tuning system determines in case of other intervals.
In tuning the music gears for strings, which are not tuned to unison, harmonics can be used.
Only one pitch is used as a reference pitch to tune a gear or instrument. For a string instrument only one string is tuned first, then it becomes the reference pitch to tune the others. In case of guitar, the lowest string is tuned to E; the successive ones are done next.
In the 16th century, the Italian musicians first used unconventional tunings or scordatura. The main uses were to facilitate difficult passages in tuning of gear, reinforce tonalities by using the open strings, and also extending the range of the instruments.
There are times when a musical instrument or gear is intentionally pitched lower during tuning. This process of tuning the music gears is called down tuned.