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chuck in ny
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 6:43 am    Post subject: Old school, A=432 Reply with quote

Mozart and others used this tuning which was changed in the 20th century. The old tuning was supposed to be harmonically better for sound and human health.
Anyone heard tell of this debate?
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Bob Stevenson
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blimey!....I never thought to see this back again after all this time!

When I was a boy in brass bands here in the UK the change to 'low pitch' was a source of much ill feeling in the band world and also of much that would be called 'conspiracy theories' now.....This was the late 50' and early 60's when there were still several thousand brass bands in the UK and many of the Victorian players were stil very much alive.

The main reason for change to 'low pitch' was supposedly to bring bands into line with a standard orchestral pitch but since there was considerable ill feeling in some bands about 'establishment music' this did not matter one iota and bands were never allowed to play with orchestras as a usual happening.

The many UK military bands of the time were somewhere in between with change to orchestral pitch happening before WWII...in 1930, I think.

The real reason seems likely to have been driven by the instrument makers i n order to standardize theiir product as at that time the UK makers were world wide exporters.

As regards any metaphysical considerations about pitch, there were many theories at the time about 'natural harmonics' and the like,..most of these were basically 'barmy' although there was some interesting research carried out in the mid 60's into the effect of sound and pitch on the growth of plants which apparetnly indicated that pitch and tone characteristics do indeed affect plant and animal growth.
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The health and sound and other magical powers stuff is nonsense.

Instruments designed to work best around a440 won’t play quite as well at a432 and vice versa.

Thinking in terms of hertz is a somewhat modern and ahistorical way of thinking. If you read historical treatises, you’ll see a very different way of thinking about tuning. You can’t really understand historical tuning with a modern frame of reference.

I suspect that tuning tendencies were much more local and varied than they are today. Modern period groups tend to play at a lower pitch (see Baroque pitch), but that’s still a generalization of tuning tendencies of the day. That isn’t necessarily reflective of tuning in say, Vienna in the 1780s or Leipzig in the 1730s.

Older tuning weren’t all uniformly lower. Some were very high.
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WigglePig
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:33 am    Post subject: Re: Old school, A=432 Reply with quote

chuck in ny wrote:
Mozart and others used this tuning which was changed in the 20th century. The old tuning was supposed to be harmonically better for sound and human health.
Anyone heard tell of this debate?


There are a number of reasons why various tuning references have been used over the centuries, with none of them being related to anything to do with health. Sure, they will lead to pieces sounding different but that's pretty much the only effect.

Even today, after "standardised" tuning was introduced in 1955 (then revisited in 1975) with A above Middle C at 440 Hz, there are variations in different orchestras, countries and cultures, with choices made to vary the sound a little.

There are a number of "conspiracy" theories out there around this but they are entirely false.

In short, 440 Hz is "standard" but it isn't a deal-breaker as other references are used and the only result is a slightly different sound as well as some small irritations with tuning difficult instruments.

If you play alone, choose what you like. If you play with others, come to a concensus over what reference to use and stick to that.
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:50 am    Post subject: Re: Old school, A=432 Reply with quote

WigglePig wrote:
chuck in ny wrote:
Mozart and others used this tuning which was changed in the 20th century. The old tuning was supposed to be harmonically better for sound and human health.
Anyone heard tell of this debate?


There are a number of reasons why various tuning references have been used over the centuries, with none of them being related to anything to do with health. Sure, they will lead to pieces sounding different but that's pretty much the only effect.

Even today, after "standardised" tuning was introduced in 1955 (then revisited in 1975) with A above Middle C at 440 Hz, there are variations in different orchestras, countries and cultures, with choices made to vary the sound a little.

There are a number of "conspiracy" theories out there around this but they are entirely false.

In short, 440 Hz is "standard" but it isn't a deal-breaker as other references are used and the only result is a slightly different sound as well as some small irritations with tuning difficult instruments.

If you play alone, choose what you like. If you play with others, come to a concensus over what reference to use and stick to that.



440 Hz standard??? In my brassband 442Hz. 442Hz is said to be the standard in symphonic orchestras; and with pianos etc. So in all bands I play today 442 Hz is the preferred pitch.
As well as in the well known classical bands over here.
Can´t say that I understand this change.
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cgaiii
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JoseLindE4 wrote:

I suspect that tuning tendencies were much more local and varied than they are today. Modern period groups tend to play at a lower pitch (see Baroque pitch), but that’s still a generalization of tuning tendencies of the day. That isn’t necessarily reflective of tuning in say, Vienna in the 1780s or Leipzig in the 1730s.

From what I have heard this was related to practicality. If the organ was a certain tuning pitch, the rest had to follow. And the pitching of the organ was often a matter of what was affordable. Apparently tuning was all over the place, but since music was a pretty local thing, it really did not matter.

As to a440 or 432 or whatever. If you are playing the same temperament, it really does not matter as long as everyone is tuned to each other. Perhaps those with absolute pitch will notice the difference, but the vast majority will not without side-by-side comparison. The feel of the harmonies, etc., are going to change more by changing temperament or moving to just intonation. Where the reference pitch is set (within reason) is probably less important.
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cgaiii wrote:

From what I have heard this was related to practicality. If the organ was a certain tuning pitch, the rest had to follow. And the pitching of the organ was often a matter of what was affordable. Apparently tuning was all over the place, but since music was a pretty local thing, it really did not matter.


I’ve never looked deeply into it, but I’d assume that’s the case. I’d guess that the organ builders were kings as far as pitch center went. It seems like it would be a fascinating subject to dive into.

There’s also the issue of pitch creep. Over time, we tend to compete by moving sharper (it’s often perceived as more brilliant). As example, look at the drift of bagpipes pitch center. This isn’t a universal thing — pitch is all over the place — but it happens quite a bit. The international “standard” is 440, but look at how many groups play higher.
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mdarnton
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a great book if you are into this stuff:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009GIPBQK/

Initially, local pitches centered around the tuning of the local church organ, whatever that was, and varied wildly from As in the high 300s to the mid 400s. There were two pitches, one for strings, one for brass. Eventually standards began to solidify. One of the earlier A440 standards came around the end of WWI. The official standard is still A440 but many orchestras play A442 because the [stringed] instruments supposedly sound tighter and more vibrant.

Another interesting history is the history of tempered tunings, of which there are many, focused on the problem of making keyboard instruments sound mostly in tune. This is a fascinating rathole, also, that non-key players usually don't have any awareness of.
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mafields627
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most mallet percussion instruments come tuned at 442.

With my marching band during cold weather I often bump the tuner down to 438....or wherever my clarinets are in tune with their barrels out a bit.
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WigglePig
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:12 am    Post subject: Re: Old school, A=432 Reply with quote

Seymor B Fudd wrote:

440 Hz standard??? In my brassband 442Hz. 442Hz is said to be the standard in symphonic orchestras; and with pianos etc. So in all bands I play today 442 Hz is the preferred pitch.
As well as in the well known classical bands over here.
Can´t say that I understand this change.


And therein lies the issue...everyone does it their own way and none of these are wrong so just use what you like, or more accurately what your musical/band director likes.

There may well be (and there is) an ISO standard for tuning references but few stick to it, all for their own perfectly excellent reasons.
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drboogenbroom
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a kind of fun video where some of this is talked about.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EKTZ151yLnk

Kevin
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harryjamesworstnightmare
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know about ill affects of one tuning vs. another, but in my section I guarantee you'll feel some kind of pain for playing consistently out of tune.
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Bflatman
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those who want it this is a summary of pitch standards up until standardisation and what led there.

Pitch standards

Perhaps one of the most recurrent and problematical issues for wind players and instrument makers in the overall development of band and orchestral music has been the variation in pitch standards.

Both in Britain and on the continent many different pitches co-existed, a situation which caused great difficulties, principally for woodwind players.

Over the years, in the attempt to achieve a brighter sound, instrumentalists, particularly string players, brought about a gradual rise in pitch, thus forcing orchestras to play sharper; this was also perpetuated in Britain by some conductors. Wind instrument makers were therefore obliged to make instruments to suit the different pitches.

David Blaikley, Boosey’s Works Manager and respected acoustician,
addressed the situation in several publications on the subject. Pitch gradually rose in England from Handel’s time (1751) when generally a equalled 422.5 Hz.

The Philharmonic Society, at its establishment in 1813, adopted a =425.8 Hz; however, by 1874 it had reached a =454.7 Hz at their concerts (over a semitone higher than Handel’s pitch).

This sounded about three quarters of a semitone higher than the contemporary pitch on the continent which was known as ‘Standard
Diapason Normal’, ‘Continental Pitch’ or ‘French Pitch’, a =435.4 Hz.

Until 1896 the pitch that was widely adopted in Britain was ‘Old Philharmonic Pitch’ which was also known as ‘High Pitch’, ‘Sharp Pitch’, ‘Kneller Hall Pitch’ and ‘Military Regulation Pitch’ (a = 452.4 Hz at 60 degrees).

Although the Musical Times reported that Barnby adopted the lower
‘Continental Pitch’ for his St James’ Hall series of oratorio concerts in 1869, it was not until 1895 that a major change was initiated by the Queen’s Hall Orchestra, the first important permanent orchestra to be set up in London.

It was founded by Robert Newman and relied on funding from Dr George Cathcart, an eminent laryngologist. Cathcart imposed the condition that low ‘Continental Pitch’ must be adopted because the high pitch in common use was causing serious vocal strain amongst singers.

A note in the programme for the first Queen’s Hall Promenade Concert announced that ‘at these concerts the French Pitch (Diapason Normal) will
be exclusively used.

Mr. Newman is glad to say that it will also be adopted in the future by the Philharmonic Society, the Bach Choir, the London Symphony, Mottl and Nikisch concerts and concerts under his direction which begin on October
6 th.

Cathcart purchased and imported low pitched woodwind and brass
instruments from Belgium for the players to borrow for the first season, but on realising that low pitch had now become established, they bought them from him.

The change to low pitch was a gradual process, and many orchestras and
players were reluctant to obtain new instruments owing to the cost involved.

For example it took until 1909 for Dan Godfrey in Bournemouth to adopt it. Money was advanced by the corporation to pay for new instruments and the players repaid it ‘less a discount of one third, by weekly deductions from their wages’.

By 1912 a number of other prominent orchestras in London and the provinces, and schools of music had adopted low pitch. However, all army bands and the Royal Military School of Music continued to maintain the high ‘Old Philharmonic’ pitch until 1928.

This often precluded players from playing with foreign bands on ceremonial occasions, and made it necessary for them to purchase different instruments for orchestral use.

Consequently it was necessary for companies to manufacture instruments in different pitches for markets at home and abroad. Until the early twentieth century,

The pitch adopted is given as a =439 at 68 degrees F. The Hawkes 1912
catalogue gives the date it was defined as 06/11/1896.

Low pitch was also known as ‘International Pitch’, a =435, and ‘New Philharmonic Pitch’, a =439.

At B&Co. most instruments were produced at Old Philharmonic Pitch with only exceptions noted.

In 1892 Boosey stated that their instruments were made to the standard pitch observed in the Army bands ‘in accordance with the Queen’s
Regulation the same pitch as that adopted by the “Philharmonic Society”.’

However, in the 1902 catalogue both ‘Military Regulation Pitch’ and ‘New
Philharmonic or Flat Pitch’ were given as the standards, and customers were asked to specify the pitch required.

Scholes in 1947 tells of the struggle for reform, and reports that in spite of the acceptance of the lowered pitch by Colonel J.C. Somerville, Commandant of Kneller Hall, there were bands whose instruments
remained at the high pitch.

It took many years for the high ‘Old Philharmonic Pitch’ to fall from use, and the problem did not start to improve until 1939 when the standard of a =440 Hz was agreed at an international conference in London.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitch has varied all around the place seemingly forever. It was the Treaty of Versailles which first attempted to bring all the disparate pitches together by establishing A=440HZ as a standard pitch. Many European centres were much higher (445, 455, etc) a few lower, and historically many were much lower (430, 415). this still goes on today. My orchestra is insistent on A=440. My oboist tunes them to A=442 and they love it far better! (shhhh)

British brass bands stuck to their archaic pitch for a long time (some say out of sheer bloody mindedness) before the 50/60's when they fell into line. I remember my first trumpet teacher telling me of his time during WWII (the family was interned in rural Australia due to Italian heritage) playing in a local brass band and finding no endurance. He was lipping up to high pitch, so, despite being one of the wunder kinder (also not a good term for the time) players in Sydney, he felt pretty bad out there. It was years before he learned what was going on.

In Australia, many of the high pitch instruments were 'converted' to low pitch. Usually badly, with little thought to being able to remove slides easily, and commonly only the tuning slide was altered, leading to all manner of issues. The stamping HP or LP for high of low pitch stemmed from these times. My school still has a few tubas from the early 20th century which while not useable, clearly have some interesting stamps, including HP, WWI and WWII Australian Military stamps, the name of various retail shops, etc.

Tuning systems, (equal, meantone, just, pythagorean, Werckmeister, Rousseau, etc) all have a noticeable effect on playing. Having played a few times with a Werckmeister III tuned chamber organ, it was a revelation: D major was SO in tune and pure! And some minor keys totally agonising).

It puts into perspective the limitations of most tuners, and the validity of relying on one while playing. Which is, of course, about zero...

cheers

Andy
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My brassband got a new conductor who´s insistence on 442 went under my radar. So I continued playing almost 2 years using 440Hz - no one ever complained. But when I discovered the change, in a discussion about contemporary pitches and switched to the somewhat higher frequency I found that this made it easier to play. Seemingly I had subconsciously compensated...+ my best musical asset is a good ear.
Personally I liked the older level - 2 Hz not something to write home about.
But for some reason I get a subtle feeling people have to fight more trying to get in tune. My own idea, probably unfounded, is that amateur-bands should be better of of at 440 since, at many occasions, as people get tired, they use more effort/press more, thereby rasing the pitch, but not at the same rate..
Starting out at a higher frequency makes for more "cold" sound - as I hear it. Maybe I´m a bit weird?
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OldSchoolEuph
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy Del wrote:
Pitch has varied all around the place seemingly forever. It was the Treaty of Versailles which first attempted to bring all the disparate pitches together by establishing A=440HZ as a standard pitch.


Yes, by incorporating the Vienna Convention on Standard Tuning Pitch of 1885 (I think it was 1885) by reference among all the pre-war treaties to be kept in force. Often overlooked though is that the Vienna Convention actually mandates A=435. . . . .
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Nate
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

and there's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghUs-84NAAU.... also from Adam
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BraeGrimes
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nate wrote:
and there's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghUs-84NAAU.... also from Adam


Couldn't find the first comment, but guessing you linked to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKTZ151yLnk
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bflatman wrote:
For those who want it this is a summary of pitch standards up until standardisation and what led there.


https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/16081/1/Howell%2C%20Jocelyn%20Vol%201%20%28Redacted%29.pdf

I know this is only a forum post, but it's not cool to copy and paste someone else's work without at least a link and proper attribution.
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Wrms
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a interesting discussion that has had various incarnations for decades.
Each time the subject comes up I'm reminded how narrow the discussion is, and
how most of the world is disregarded. What was the pitch standard in Asian countries? What about Africa and South America?

As for this discussion, I have played baroque instruments at 415, Cornetto at 466, Victorian brass instruments at 452, modern instruments at ~440 and Bagpipes at 460--------->480+🤷🏼‍♂️ and I've sung at a sliding pitch standard from note to note😉. Add in wrestling with various temperaments. All of this moving around is a challenge for my ears for sure. The desire for standardization is understandable.😎


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