Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2.5 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician

(ad)
Accu-Tuner
Sanderson Accu-Tuner
(125ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Pianoteq
Grotrian Concert
Royal
for Pianoteq out now
(ad)
Piano Buyer Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyers Guide
Who's Online
75 registered (agraffe, Anita Potter, anamnesis, AprilE, ascc, Arty Movie, 18 invisible), 1846 Guests and 15 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#1924469 - 07/09/12 01:52 AM How long has A4 equaled 440 Hz?
JoelW Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 5761
Loc: USA
In the days before computers, how was pitched measured? How could they have accurate tuning forks back then? Is the middle C we hear today the same middle C that Mozart heard 250 years ago? How do we know Chopin didn't write his 'Heroic' Polonaise a half-step lower than we are familiar with? Maybe the standard was carried through the generations by people with perfect pitch? (until computers came along)

This has been on my mind for a long time. Please educate me!

Top
(ad 800)
PTG 2017 Convention
PTG Convention 2017 St Louis
#1924475 - 07/09/12 02:05 AM Re: How long has A4 equaled 440 Hz? [Re: JoelW]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2556
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
A440 was set as the modern standard in the early part of the 20th century.

A440 - Wiki
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

Top
#1924483 - 07/09/12 02:51 AM Re: How long has A4 equaled 440 Hz? [Re: JoelW]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
In the days before computers, how was pitched measured? How could they have accurate tuning forks back then?


Marin Mersenne approximated frequencies in the 17th century, but there was no scientific way to measure frequency until the 1830s, thanks to Johann Scheibler.

Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
Is the middle C we hear today the same middle C that Mozart heard 250 years ago?


No.

Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
How do we know Chopin didn't write his 'Heroic' Polonaise a half-step lower than we are familiar with?


We have tuning forks from that era (and eras before that one), and they vary significantly in pitch.... some much higher than A440, some considerably lower.

Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
Maybe the standard was carried through the generations by people with perfect pitch? (until computers came along)


There has never been a universal standard. Even today, while A440 is recognized as concert pitch, many orchestras tune anywhere from A441-A445.

Top
#1924906 - 07/10/12 01:30 AM Re: How long has A4 equaled 440 Hz? [Re: JoelW]
Dave B Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 2575
Loc: Philadelphia area
Its my understanding that an A (440)will sound like an A within the range of ~25% above and below 440 Hz. So there is a 50% range on pitch, leaving ~25% range between quarter tones.

Its also my understanding that all cultures throughout the world recognize these same pitches and also recognize the same 8th, 4th, 5th, major and minor 3rd, intervals. Cultural nuance is usually found in the construction of the melodic scale. A prime example is the use of the pure 7th partial in classical Indian Music. This natural harmonic usually falls somewhere between the keys of our piano, and is blocked at the point of hammer strike.

Is A440 the center of the "A tone"?
_________________________
"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams

Top
(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#1925007 - 07/10/12 09:47 AM Re: How long has A4 equaled 440 Hz? [Re: OperaTenor]
daniokeeper Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1382
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
A440 was set as the modern standard in the early part of the 20th century.

A440 - Wiki


Here's a little more info not given in the Wikipedia article:

Quote:
...An easy way to produce a metronome is to secure a small weight (about 0ne or two ounces) with a piece of cotton yarn, making a pendulum which measures 39.1 inches from center-of-gravity to han ging point. Give this pendulum a swing of about a foot; each movement following will exhibit one second.

Alfred H. Howe, Scientific Piano Tuning and Servicing(U.S.A.: The Otterbein Press, 1955), 17

So, in past times they seem to have had their ways of creating reproducible standards.


Quote:
The pitch of a musical note depends on a certain number of vibrations per second ascribed to that note. Many standards of pitch have been known to historians but for the sake of simplicity we may speak of but two: International A-435 and Standard A-440. Musicians should know these numbers by heart, at least as a sign of intelligence in the direction of exact tuning...

Howe, Scientific Piano Tuning and Servicing, 17



Quote:
International Pitch was popular in the early part of this century, but in 1917 the American Federation of Musicians adopted 440 and called it "standard Pitch" and it was adopted by the United States Government in 1920.

A high pitch A-444 is still in use in some church organs. A low pitch A-410 was once used by organ makers because a 16 foot stopped pipe produced 16 vibrations per second which offered a convenient basis of figuring.


Howe, Scientific Piano Tuning and Servicing, 18



"Scientific Piano Tuning and Servicing" was originally published in 1941. The author appears to have been active as a musician (and possibly a tuner) while A-440 was being adopted. So, I thought it might be a good idea to include his info in this discussion.
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)

Top

Moderator:  Piano World 
Piano Acc. & Gift Items in
Piano World's Online Store
In PianoSupplies.com ,(a division of Piano World) our online store for piano and music gifts and accessories, party goods, tuning equipment, piano moving equipment, benches, lamps Caster Cups and more.
Free Shipping on Jansen Artist Piano Benches
ad
Pierce Piano Atlas


(ad)
A. Geyer Pianos
A. Geyer Pianos
(ad)
Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restorations and sales
(ad)
Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
History of the piano - contemporary sales figures?
by Saranoya
03/26/17 07:35 PM
Wanted -- guide to 7th chords (and inversions) for all keys
by BWV 846
03/26/17 07:22 PM
An eagerly anticipated recital by Daniil Trifonov
by Hank M
03/26/17 06:22 PM
High pitch static noise on digital piano - Yamaha-CLP 545
by Scandal
03/26/17 05:06 PM
My Music!
by davidwest92
03/26/17 04:54 PM
(ad)
Sheet Music Plus
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
Forum Stats
87,140 Registered Members
44 Forums
178,596 Topics
2,610,177 Posts

Most users ever online: 15,252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2017 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission