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When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?

RTim 14 Mar 08 - 07:31 PM
Ross Campbell 14 Mar 08 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,lox 14 Mar 08 - 08:37 PM
Richard Bridge 14 Mar 08 - 10:02 PM
Peace 14 Mar 08 - 10:07 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Mar 08 - 10:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Mar 08 - 11:05 PM
GUEST,iancarterb 15 Mar 08 - 01:08 AM
Little Robyn 15 Mar 08 - 02:55 AM
GUEST,SonnyWalkman 15 Mar 08 - 05:49 AM
JohnInKansas 15 Mar 08 - 05:57 AM
Greg B 15 Mar 08 - 04:54 PM
Jack Campin 15 Mar 08 - 07:05 PM
Murray MacLeod 15 Mar 08 - 07:32 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Mar 08 - 08:06 PM
iancarterb 15 Mar 08 - 08:15 PM
JohnInKansas 15 Mar 08 - 09:48 PM
Murray MacLeod 16 Mar 08 - 05:20 AM
Murray MacLeod 16 Mar 08 - 05:21 AM
JohnInKansas 16 Mar 08 - 06:12 AM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Mar 08 - 07:09 AM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Mar 08 - 07:16 AM
Tootler 16 Mar 08 - 08:09 AM
GUEST 16 Mar 08 - 08:49 AM
Richard Bridge 16 Mar 08 - 09:44 AM
Tootler 16 Mar 08 - 05:02 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Mar 08 - 12:28 AM
GUEST,PMB 17 Mar 08 - 04:23 AM
Jack Campin 17 Mar 08 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,PMB 17 Mar 08 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 17 Mar 08 - 07:58 AM
Jack Campin 17 Mar 08 - 08:23 AM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Mar 08 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Mar 08 - 10:14 AM
Richard Bridge 17 Mar 08 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 17 Mar 08 - 11:33 AM
GUEST 17 Mar 08 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 17 Mar 08 - 03:15 PM
Tootler 17 Mar 08 - 05:20 PM
Bernard 17 Mar 08 - 06:14 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Mar 08 - 11:32 PM
GUEST,iancarterb 18 Mar 08 - 12:55 AM
GUEST,Keinstein 18 Mar 08 - 04:37 AM
GUEST 18 Mar 08 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,Dazbo at work 18 Mar 08 - 05:13 AM
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Subject: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: RTim
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 07:31 PM

A musician friend said to me today that he thought A-440 Pitch - ie. Concert Pitch or Modern Pitch was not adopted until the 1920's or 30's.

Now may question is -
If it was adopted AFTER 1915, where does that put the songs and tunes collected BEFORE that time. ie. how does it affect the keys, etc.
This is a follow-on to the thread - Does the Key make a Difference?

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 08:20 PM

If the instruments you play are tuned to modern concert pitch (or built to that pitch if not tunable) there's no problem. However, fixed-pitch instruments built before the A=440 adoption will not play alongside their modern eqivalents without modification.

Ross


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 08:37 PM

So if you want to hear how it was you'll just have to find yourself a 100 year old oboe.

Of course it'll have to be in good nick.

Are you rich? ever been struck by lightning? been hit by a meteor? won the lottery?


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 10:02 PM

Recorders in A=415 are fairly readily available, and some are not disastrously expensive, only medium painful.

Very handy for the keys in which the recorder, although a chromatic instrument, is a pain for fingering and accidentals, because it's almost exactly a semitone down and by pulling the top joint about a thumbnail you can get most of the lower register to play true, a semitone down. As a result when Jacqui was alive we were enabled more readily to do a number of songs in Ab, F#, F#m, and Eb.

However, to my ear, the larger dimensions of the A=415 recorders produces a more mellow and lachrymose musicality that could be very effective on some songs.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Peace
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 10:07 PM

Good Wikipedia article about it all here.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 10:26 PM

Question: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?

Mandatory clarification: By Whom?

There were a few uses of A-440 as long as a couple of hundred years ago, but with most prior usage being at somewhat lower pitches.

There is a lengthy summary of pitches used in the past in Helmholtz's On the Sensations of Tone, which remains a "classic" work" on the subject. The Second Edition, originally published in 1877, is available in English translation from Dover fairly cheaply. There's enough history in it to totally bore most people.

The Helmholtz history concentrates largely on pipe organs, since they can't be easily retuned (each pipe has to be separately changed).

Helmholtz does indicate A-440 used in 1829 by the Paris Opera Orchestra, with others going from 372 to as high as 459. As he doesn't mention (that I found with a quick look) the A-440 as an adopted standard, it likely wasn't much of a standard at the time of original publication.

(Handel's personal tuning fork, ca. 1751 was reported to be at A-422.5)

Adoption of A-440 as a "physics standard" varied from one country to another over a period of at least a few decades; and musicians ignored the changes fairly widely for a few more decades. Some modern conductors prefer something else even now, with a couple of symphonies reportedly (according to player anecdotes) "tuning up" to as high as ~A-460 or higher.

Changes over a fairly wide range are not particularly problematic for string instruments, since retuning is fairly simple and is necessarily verified before each session.

Most wind instruments can be tuned down by at least a semitone using slip-joints or moving the mouthpiece out, but tuning up from the "built pitch" can be a very real problem. For this reason many (wind) instrument makers probably went to the A-440 fairly quickly, even before it was universally adopted by players, since that left the instruments usable at the lower pitches that were common during the transition and also with the rare group that wanted the higher pitch.

I can't say when A-440 could be considered universal among manufacturers, but my Martin Bb Tenor saxophone made in 1934 was easily tunable to that standard. When I played it a lot in the late 1950s, there were still lots of old (junker) pianos tuned to the "earlier standard" still in use by piano tuners who thought the new standard would "stress the woodwork" of barroom relics. The A-440 was certainly pretty universal for concert grade instruments, but the tuners still had the old forks in their toolkits, which gives some idea of how persistent the earlier (lower) pitch may have been.

John


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 11:05 PM

There are many baroque music ensembles; there has been quite a revival in playing and recording old music, using reconstructions of the old instruments, or the old instruments themselves.
Tuning to A=415 Hz is common, "an even-tempered semitone lower....than A=440." The Wikipedia article notes that "at least in principle, this allows for playing along with modern fixed pitch instruments."
Thanks, Peace for citing the Wikipedia article; being more a listener than a player, I found incomprehensible much of the explanation in a textbook I read, but the Wikipedia article is not only to the point, but seems accurate and cites references.

Much of what I am listening to now is music from about 1500 to 1800, played by baroque groups and instrumentalists.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,iancarterb
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 01:08 AM

It is a problem or blessing sometimes trying to learn classical pieces by ear from bona fide, period instrument, Early Music ensembles, or trying to play along with such an ensemble's recorded work having learned the work from print. I whacked away at the well known bouree from Handel's Water Music from the horn part sent to me by a friend, and when I got it on mandolin to to my near satisfaction I tried to play it along with a fine recording I had always liked and- the written music in F sounded in E! Damn! A-415, I guess. A pretty convincing exact half tone low. Oh well, doesn't happen often to ear-preference folkie types, does it!
Carter B


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 02:55 AM

If 440=concert pitch A, then on my geordie pipes, B plays 440 because my G is concert F.
It's fine when Mitch is playing guitar because he tunes down but it's not so good if anyone else wants to join in - they're stuck with F and some of them will complain.
So was there a specific date when Britain adopted A=440? We thought it was just before WW2 or thereabouts.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,SonnyWalkman
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 05:49 AM

I seem to remember reading somewhere that until relatively recently the two main makers of recorders used slightly different standards. As a result school recorder groups tended to have some players with one make and some players with the other. I have always believed that this explains my life long aversion to massed recorders. Can anyone confirm this?


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 05:57 AM

The Wiki article linked by Peace notes:

In 1939, an international conference recommended that the A above middle C be tuned to 440 Hz, now known as concert pitch. This standard was taken up by the International Organization for Standardization in 1955 (and was reaffirmed by them in 1975) as ISO 16.

The standard was recognized in most countries within 10 to 20 years after the 1939 accord, but was mostly ignored by musicians until "whenever the oboe got a new reed." Many parts of the world didn't accept it as "Standard" until ca 1955, by which time many players were already using it.

When the British adopted it as "Standard" isn't given by any conveniently available sources, but wouldn't matter much since nearly all "British standards" add 12 percent for tare just to disagree with everyone else. (Up until the EU forced metric on them?)

There's the added difficulty that the Brits pride themselves on ignoring what the Queen tells them they have to do, isn't there? So instrument makers there likely would have resisted using a "mandated standard" for at least a couple of centuriesdecades.

As noted previously, my 1934 model instrument tuned easily to A-440, and probably could have been tuned to one of the earlier "European standards" perhaps as high as A-456(?); but I had to wrap a piece of index card or a strip torn off the menu around the horn to get the mouthpiece backed out far enough to get it down to A-415, which was the "generally used" pitch at the time of manufacture in the US. So A-440 or something slightly higher obviously was used by some instrument makers who sold in international markets at least in the early 1930s. Since adoption was gradual, there can be no specific date except for a specific instrument maker.

Demanding a more specific date is about like asking "since when were all cats black?". The correct answer, of course, is "since the lights went out" (since everyone knows "all cats are black in the dark") - but that just gets an argument about "who turned out the lights?" instead of the applicable "when did the lights go out?" - leading to an exposition on "daylight savings" and a history of Ben Franklin and the French, all of which someone will point out is covered in another thread.

Unless someone has found some better information ...

John


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Greg B
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 04:54 PM

I once did an article on the subject:

Regarding the Possible Consequences of Tunings Which Exceed the Standard A440
        
        

...It becomes very serious. As you go up in pitch, the strain on the stringed instruments increases markedly. There is real risk of bowing, if not collapse. In a small group, this risks merely financial disaster. In a large ensemble, where mass is sufficient to sustain a chain-reaction, this can actually result in implosion.

Such an event occurred in Pittsburgh in 1862, at a performance of the Pittsburgh Symphonic Society. Spurred by their conductor, Fritz 'High Strung' von Boenhaufer, to tune the entire symphony orchestra to A=450, the performance was doomed before it ended. Things were okay, albeit strained, when the violins, violas, and cellos tuned up. And as the double-basses cranked their pegs, there were moments of fear, but nothing happened. Even when the piano and harp were tuned higher, all was well.

Disaster struck, however, when Fritz, a stickler for detail, demanded that the tympanis be brightened up as well.

At this point, critical mass was reached, and there was a great rumble throughout the hall. A skin drum-head creaked... ...and snapped. The report struck the harp first, which abruptly disengaged its frame members from one another. Strings made rather a mess of the harpist. As if on cue, over-strained instruments began to... ...implode.

The audience of Pittsburgh's finest citizens barely had time to gasp as orchestra, stage, lamps, then seats were drawn into the melee, carrying all and sundry, young and rold, rich and poor into a singularity which was forming where Fritz had stood just seconds before.

Fed by the mass of the citizenry, the singularity next devoured the entire hall, leaving only an empty field and some bits of foundation.

At this point, being formed of Classical Music, in which any form of excess is the greatest of sins, the singularity ceased its expansion. In the next morning's newspaper, a passer-by who witnessed the affair reported that he heard, at this point, something which resembled a belch. Then silence.

Independent confirmation of the belch was never possible.

However, to this day, on that corner, it is known that a coin, dropped casually on the sidewalk will disappear within an hour. Except should that coin be a copper penny. The latter phenomenon is the subject of an extensive investigation as to what unknown principle of nuclear physics should cause this unique phenomenon of nature, which scientists have termed a 'latent singularity' to fail to draw into it things which are made of copper.

(c) Copyright 1995 Greg Bullough. All rights reserved.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 07:05 PM

Lyndon Larouche had a thing about this too - the trend in recent years has been for orchestras to use A=442 or even A=444 and he was agin it. I'm not sure if he blamed the Jews or the Queen for it.

I know some accordionists who tune their instruments to A=443 because they want them to stand out more over the rest of the band (as if you could lose an accordion behind the wall of sound created by a fiddle, guitar and whistle). Attempt to play with one of these guys and it isn't long before you start wondering if Lyndon Larouche was right and start fantasizing about accordionists in stripey pyjamas behind barbed wire fences.

I have a clarinet in C sharp - I bought it thinking it was a C clarinet, but it turned out to be tuned to some Central European pitch prevalent in the late 19th century, like A=460. It makes playing in E flat minor a doddle (as used in a lot of Balkan music).


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 07:32 PM

I cannot believe that there are any accordionists who have the manual or technical skill to tune their instruments to A=443 Hz.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 08:06 PM

Jack - Sounds like your C clarinet is in military pitch, as is my own (wide bore / simple system) which seems to work out at around 39 cents sharp of concert; both my Indian pocket cornet & echo cornet are in this pitch too.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: iancarterb
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 08:15 PM

BUT accordion MAKERS can, and some accordians are made by Hohner which also makes the melodica. A dear old friend who can make darned high quality bandoneon-like sounds with a melodica found they are always sharp by a couple of Hertz. He inquired. Hohner does this ON PURPOSE! They explained to him that if you overblow it, it descends to concert A440. Since subtlety is his long suit, he was displeased, but Hohner would not help. So, if there is anyone but a string player to play with, he can't use it, because Hohner is selling them for use by non-musicians!


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 09:48 PM

Squeeze box (of any kind) and "subtlety is his long suit" is sort of a non-sequitor, isn't it?

It appears, from Helmholtz, that Germany used a Standard Pitch (Praetorius's suitable pitch) at A-424.2 Hz as of 1619.

"Sheibler's Pitch" was adopted at the Congress of Physicists in Stuttgart in 1834 with a "temperature corrected" pitch at A-440.2 Hz. The Wiki article that Peace linked gives some discussion about how attempts to "standardize" pitch produced some controversy of whether 440.2 or 440 should be the preferred value.

The same source shows, for "England, Scotland, and Ireland" 1803 thru 1878:

Semi-official "Standards" were:
Hullah's             A-441.3    1842
Society of Arts       A-444.0    1860
Griesbachs            A-449.5    1860
Griesbachs 2d         A-454.2    1860
Cramer's             A-448.4    1860
Tonic Solfa College   A-427.5    1877
Tonic Solfa College 2 A-422.5    1877

Omitting a large number of "Church Organs and Bells,"
Concert Organs from    A-429.9 to A-454.7   (9 entries).
Opera from             A-435.4 to A-456.1   (10 entries)
Concerts from          A-423.7 to A-452.5   (7 entries)
Pianofortes from       A-433.0 to A-455.9   (12 entries)
Military Music at      A-451.9 for 2 examples.


In the US, from 1868 through at least 1880, standard pitches used by piano and organ makers were generally all above A-440, with the notable exception being Mason and Hamlin who would, on request, build to "French Pitch" at A-435.9. With that exception, the range given is from A-443.9 to A-460.8. Steinway's forks were "officially" at A-457.2 but one fork known to have been used was measured at 458.0.

The move to A-440 (or A-440.2) for physicists thus began in Germany ca. 1836. Since most of the world bought their laboratory instruments from the Germans, that pitch was in use in laboratories long before it became common as a standard for musicians.

The "international conference" in 1939 agreed that A-440 should be the standard, and that had been the value already used in laboratory measurements in most places well before then. It became "nearly universal" for physics and mathematics then or soon after.

Adoption as a true "universal standard" didn't come until the ISO action in 1955. The only real significance of the ISO Standard is that when the government ordered a flute they could now specify it's pitch by citing the standard instead of having to say "tuned to A-440." As musicians seldom write specs, or get governement funding to buy their instruments, the date has little meaning for instrument makers, who continued for some time to "offer choices" and/or to just "make what they always made."

John


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 05:20 AM

..."Squeeze box (of any kind) and "subtlety is his long suit" is sort of a non-sequitor, isn't it?

I resemble that remark, John, you obviously have never had the privilege of hearing Alastair Anderson, the virtuoso English consertina player.

Subtle as they come ...


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 05:21 AM

*concertina player ...


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 06:12 AM

Murray -

I try to withhold insults if I think they're true, 'cause if they're true the one you aim them at never gets the point. Just couldn't resist tossing off one of the old clichés.

And Lin (in Kansas) tries to play a squeezer some, so I do have to watch my mouth - cause she's close enought to swat me. (and does)

John


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 07:09 AM

"some accordionists who tune their instruments to A=443 because they want them to stand out more over the rest of the band "

Thia is facetious and really incorrect.

Piano Accordions were manufactured by some makers to pitches apparently above 440 (up to 445/6) for a good musical reason.

Indeed a real Piano Accordion (according to information passed on to me by makers and classically trained accordion tuners - including those who have trained in Italy and the USA) is not even tuned to "A=anything consistent" across the whole range! This is because the upper and lower parts of the range are 'bent'!!!! This is to make the sound more harmonious and 'rich' - partly due to the problems inherent with 'even tempered tuning' :-) Indeed, different reed banks in the same instrument are often properly 'offtuned' from each other AND A=440 for a richer sound. This is the 'chorus effect' and IS intentional by the designer/maker. "Self-taught know-all" tuners often misinterpret this as 'wrong' and attempt to retune an instrument to all reed banks 'spot on A=440'- thereby killing the original 'tone quality'!

Some people think that this intentional 'mistuning' means that some instruments are A=440+ - depending on which reed bank they have 'measured.

Now it IS true that some instruments ARE SOLD in A=440+ 'base tuning' - this is because as said that 'it makes the instrument stand out' - but much care should be taken before ASS-U-MEing that this is a general statement about ALL or indeed MOST accordions!



This of


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 07:16 AM

"if you overblow it, it descends to concert A440."

Must admit I was never told THIS one - but it does make sense - if you want to play in a band.... :-)


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:09 AM

If 440=concert pitch A, then on my geordie pipes, B plays 440 because my G is concert F.

[pedant mode]
20 cents sharp of F is the recognised pitch
[/pedant mode]

No problem. I just use a C whistle. One of my generation C's is sharp and the head is on too tight to pull it out. Just the job [grin]

The only real significance of the ISO Standard is that when the government ordered a flute they could now specify it's pitch by citing the standard instead of having to say "tuned to A-440." As musicians seldom write specs, or get government funding to buy their instruments

Except for the military, of course. OTOH, if the military in the US are like ours in the UK, they probably do their own thing anyway.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:49 AM

You can order melodeons tueed 'dry' for cajun and other styles or any degree of tremelo you like from good suppliers

Stu


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 09:44 AM

Jon Loomes had a quip about melodeons. For tuning he would ask his long-suffering melodeonist "Give me an A". Melodeon would oblige, and Jon would reply, in mock dudgeon "No! Only One!"


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 05:02 PM

Some interesting stuff here


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 12:28 AM

The Dolmetsch link interestingly states "Until comparatively recently, most musicians and scientists, set the note C rather than A."

When doing school Physics in the late 1960s, I clearly remember (middle) C=256. I seem to remember electronic organ projects in magazines which also did this, but I may be mistaken...


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 04:23 AM

This excellent book, Harmonious Triads, concerns itself partly with the establishment of the A440 standard. It was German- which was both part of the reason it became established (because they made a lot of musical instruments) and partly a reason for the resistance to it (nationalism). It's also concerned with how standardisation was linked to the changing meanings of "virtuoso", and how considerable scientific advance was required before any standard could be set with any realistic degree of accuracy. It was only really possible in the latter half of the 19th century to measure frequency accurately, not least because of the difficulty of measuring a second accurately.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 07:09 AM

C=256 is called "scientific pitch", I think. It's very handy to have a unit that's a binary fraction of second for calibrating mechanical acoustic devices like the siren.

And the siren (or the related Stroboconn) can be driven by clock mechanisms to whatever accuracy a mechanical clock can achieve, which has been in five significant figures for centuries. The siren is a 19th century innovation, I'm not sure of the date.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 07:32 AM

The stroboscope and air siren were invented only in the 1830s, though both would have been technically feasible since antiquity. The seconds pendulum was invented by Galileo in the late 16th/early 17th century, and was used by Mersenne to achieve the first determination of the actual frequency of an organ pipe (84Hz IIRC) using a very long monochord tuned to the pipe, then doubling its length until he could count the cycles per second against a pendulum.

But the actual value of the second was subject to many errors- it's simple enough to say there are 86400 seconds in a day, but measures of the day (sunrise to sunrise, positions of stars etc.) vary with season, as well as vagaries of the Earth's rotation. That was why it was It would be correct, though, to say that the second has been measured with a resolution of a part in a million since Harrison's time.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 07:58 AM

This thread is very interesting, especially the bit about accordions not being tuned to concert pitch throughout the range because they sound better like that.

I say this because I own a Technics digital piano, which is supposed to be bang on concert pitch throughout.You can change the pitch by just pressing a button of course, and also transpose, change it from concert grand sound to upright, electric piano, etc.

Now I don't know if it's my age, hearing or whatever, but the upper registers, when the piano's set to concert grand sound, don't always sound quite in tune.

As these things aren't supposed to vary over time and obviously don't need a piano tuner, could this be caused by the over-ruthless application of absolutely constant pitch by digital means? I understand that people like the Royal Academy of Music use these pianos so surely not but......


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:23 AM

Perhaps your piano doesn't have any stretch in the tuning. If the concert grand sound is realistic enough you might notice the difference.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:44 AM

"but the upper registers, when the piano's set to concert grand sound, don't always sound quite in tune. "


Yep - that's the difference between a 'real' instrument, a 'cheap electronic simulation', an 'expensive simulation', and a really really expensive one that uses sampled real sounds over the whole range.... :-)

One Word - "Ceasura" .... :-)


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 10:14 AM

I once read a book on playing by the famous flautist James Galway. He said that the idea of A 440 as a standard is all wrong. Pitch varies all over the world. In his experience, pitch was highest in the U.S. and lowest in Germany.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 10:18 AM

It might of course be because concert grands are deliberately set a little bit sharp at the top and a little bit flat at the bottom


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 11:33 AM

Richard, I think that must be it - the upper registers are definitely a bit sharp to my ears. Maybe I possess perfect pitch but I rather doubt it, being a folkie (ducks to avoid missiles).

These digital pianos do supposedly utilise full range samples of real concert grands and uprights but as others have said that's not the whole story.

To be honest I bought one cos I couldn't face getting a real piano tuned every five minutes because of the central heating.

Never mind, when I win the lottery, I shall have my library, my music room and my Steinway....and a different coloured Citroen DS for each day of the week.....


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 02:25 PM

If sampled sounds are used for an electronic piano, then the inharmonicity of the low strings as recorded would contain frequencies that would beat unpleasantly with the high notes - stretch tuning would therefore be used.

If non sampled sounds are used, then it would depend on the spectrum of the waveform and how it was generated

Stu


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 03:15 PM

Harmonicas are often tuned higher than A=440, the rationale often given is that they give a "brighter" sound. They do however have a tendency to play flat with more air pressure (notwithstanding deliberate bending of notes), so harder playing will tend to bring them back down to concert pitch (rather than take it below).

It's also quite common for diatonic harmonicas to be tuned to just intonation (or a compromised temperament) rather than equal temperament, because chords sound smoother that way. This means that some notes will be up to 10 cents flat of their equal tempered equivalents. Starting higher than concert pitch means even the flatter ones aren't so far south when playing with equal-tempered instruments.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Tootler
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 05:20 PM

The Dolmetsch link interestingly states "Until comparatively recently, most musicians and scientists, set the note C rather than A."

It's sometime since I looked properly at the Dolmetsch on line music theory and I had missed that one. It raises an interesting secondary question to that of the thread. Why change from setting C to setting A?

As a recorder player we usually tune to the note fingered with three fingers of the left hand - G on C instruments and C on F instruments. As they are a fifth/fourth apart we are effectively tuning on open fifths which even on equal temperament is pretty close to just tuning. The reason for choosing the three finger note is that it is fairly stable when sounded.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: Bernard
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 06:14 PM

Well, 'scientific pitch' has been c = 256 for as long as I can remember - probably because it's an easy figure mathematically.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 11:32 PM

"If sampled sounds are used for an electronic piano, then the inharmonicity of the low strings as recorded would contain frequencies that would beat unpleasantly with the high notes - stretch tuning would therefore be used."

If you start with 'sampled sound', there are 2 ways to go

1) EACH NOTE pitch is sampled individually, stored and played back - uncommon.

2) Far more common, especially in the early days of 'sampling instruments' was to just sample ONE PITCH, then 'play it faster or slower' (sorta like 'dopplering' it) to generate the other pitches. This unfortunately often gives a false impression of what a real instrument may sound like.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,iancarterb
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 12:55 AM

Jonny Sunshine's post on some harmonicas being pitched intentionally higher than 440 makes sense of the melodica problem I 'splained above, since Hohner makes more harmonicas than melodicas, and the melodica is pretty much a harmonica with a keyboard.
And here I always thought (with harmonicas) it was just a QC problem or too much beer-soaking in its checkered past.
Carter


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,Keinstein
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 04:37 AM

C256 is purely for scientific reasons, it divides by 2 neatly and repeatedly, so doubling up lengths for a monochord gives whole- numbers to the second. It's a full 9.5Hz flat (half a semitone) at A compared to A440.

There was (and is) a pseudoscientific movement to press for the adoption of A432, the reasoning being that it is an integral submultiple of the number of seconds in a day, and therefore somehow "naturally" correct. It ignores tha fact that the "natural" second, the heartbeat, varies wildly both between people and in any person from time to time, and furthermore ignores the fact that dividing time by frequency is nonsense.

As an aside, It's an interesting but apt coincidence that the SI unit of frequency, the Hertz (Hz), named after the German physicist Heinrich Hertz, is also German for "heart", and 1Hz is approximately the human heartbeat rate.


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 04:44 AM

Roland offer 2 types of stretched tuning: yamaha have individually sampled notes but don't specify the tuning.

Stu


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Subject: RE: When Was A-440 Pitch Adopted?
From: GUEST,Dazbo at work
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 05:13 AM

I thought, from the recesses of my memory, that pianos were tuned off pitch at the dusty ends of the keyboard as it sounds better.


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