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444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? #2621282
03/07/17 09:57 PM
03/07/17 09:57 PM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 121
MADISON, MISSISSIPPI
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Piano Practice Offline OP
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MADISON, MISSISSIPPI
I have to ask... Why is 440 Hz (A) the standard for tuning? Why this number and not 444 Hz? Doesn't 444 Hz sound a little purer? Any issues to the piano if tuned slightly higher to a 444 Hz frequency? Also, what the history for the tuning standard of 440 Hz and why? Thanks!

Last edited by Piano Practice; 03/07/17 10:09 PM.

Piano Practice
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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2621289
03/07/17 10:41 PM
03/07/17 10:41 PM
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Dear Piano Practise:

I can't imagine that anyone would advocate for an even HIGHER pitch than 440hz for any reason whatsoever.
The Boston Symphony and the Vienna Philharmonic notwithstanding, I wish the pitch had stayed at 435.

Just my opinion.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY
718.273.3798

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2621374
03/08/17 07:03 AM
03/08/17 07:03 AM
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444 sound purer? Nah. Just higher. A well voiced piano sounds purer.

I remember the one time I got to play at the Kennedy Center, the artist contract strictly stated the piano was only going to be tuned to A442. No idea why, it was a new NY Steinway. But they were rather fussy over there...I remember getting yelled at for adjusting the prop stick on the piano myself, by a stage manager (was trying to get the right balance for a chamber concert with aforementioned woolly sounding new piano).


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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2621454
03/08/17 10:43 AM
03/08/17 10:43 AM
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Jeff Clef Offline
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Vocalists are not so happy about the upward creep of "concert pitch." The human voice is the one instrument that manufacturers cannot simply manufacture in a new edition. If you sing at all seriously, you will understand.


Clef

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Jeff Clef] #2621455
03/08/17 10:46 AM
03/08/17 10:46 AM
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terminaldegree Offline
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
Vocalists are not so happy about the upward creep of "concert pitch."


Neither is my violin partner, though I know other folks use higher concert pitches with their old fiddles (isn't/wasn't the Berlin Phil at 444?)


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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2621467
03/08/17 11:04 AM
03/08/17 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Piano Practice
I have to ask... Why is 440 Hz (A) the standard for tuning? Why this number and not 444 Hz? Doesn't 444 Hz sound a little purer?


Greetings,
Yes, but not as pure as 448! which is not as pure as 458, and that isn't as pure a 500 !

Where does this stop and transposing begin? The tension difference is of virtually no consideration in terms of "tone". Piano wire behaves differently under different tension, however, some pianos are achieving the same pitch with heavier strings, (more tension required) or lighter strings, (less). This is the "scale" of the piano, and some are high tension, some are low tension. (These are all relative terms, since all pianos are strung up tighter than a chihuahua on meth.)

Raising the entire pitch does nothing but hamper singers' tone and create a market for new, higher pitched instruments. It also lets some people believe that they are being oh so "progressive". It is an old road. I don't mind it, as I sell tunings and this bit of "expression" doubles the amount of available concert work. What's not to like?.
Regards,

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Karl Watson] #2621473
03/08/17 11:19 AM
03/08/17 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Dear Piano Practise:

I can't imagine that anyone would advocate for an even HIGHER pitch than 440hz for any reason whatsoever.
The Boston Symphony and the Vienna Philharmonic notwithstanding, I wish the pitch had stayed at 435.

Just my opinion.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY
718.273.3798


The Boston Symphony tunes to A=441 Hz. The New York Philharmonic tunes to A=442 Hz. Both the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic use A=443 Hz. How could 1-3 Hz make that much of a difference? Can anyone hear that small of a difference?

Last edited by Almaviva; 03/08/17 11:38 AM.
Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Ed Foote] #2622041
03/09/17 08:18 PM
03/09/17 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Yes, but not as pure as 448! which is not as pure as 458, and that isn't as pure a 500 !

Where does this stop and transposing begin?


With A at 440, transposing begins at 466, which is A#. ;-)





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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Almaviva] #2622096
03/09/17 11:30 PM
03/09/17 11:30 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
How could 1-3 Hz make that much of a difference? Can anyone hear that small of a difference?


I tend to agree. I did play a concert years ago where a combination of bad humidity control and a lazy technician "floating" the concert hall pitch resulted in something on the high side of A444. That was noticeable to me, but I have that relatively novel, yet useless party trick known as perfect pitch.

Had to tune for a 2 piano concert today in an outdoor tent. 1-2 hz was definitely noticeable in that situation...talk about trying to hit a moving target! (45 degrees at 8am, 75 degrees at 3 pm, 60 degrees during the concert)


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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2622100
03/10/17 12:00 AM
03/10/17 12:00 AM
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Interesting history in Wikipedia. Pitch Inflation, one orchestra after another creeping the pitch up just a bit to sound a little brighter than the last. 440 was apparently only standardized in 1953, weird.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch
http://www.wam.hr/sadrzaj/us/Cavanagh_440Hz.pdf

And I read a discussion somewhere defending something other than 440 because of what happens up and down the scale, and to the harmonics, other instruments, back to idea that a piano is never completely in tune with itself. Oddly, the discussion began to define 440 as an aggressive music that helps to cause hostility in modern western culture, and that's when I forgot to bookmark the page. Interesting, though.

And I just saw this detailed chart of historical shifts in tuning from 376 to 570. Pretty cool.
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory27.htm

Last edited by macuaig; 03/10/17 12:35 AM.

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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2622115
03/10/17 12:57 AM
03/10/17 12:57 AM
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huaidongxi Offline
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orchestras tuning at increasingly higher pitches became apparent when large cities organized symphony orchestras or had philharmonic societies that supported large ensembles that could stay together, rather than assembled on a concert by concert basis. pitch escalation was sufficiently widespread by the latter part of the 19th century that G.Verdi and others in Europe tried to hold the line. in the interest of preserving singers' vocal equipment verdi wanted A at 435 and it gained some traction as a candidate for the standard in parts of Europe. orchestras had their way however and even by the 1920s they weren't going to adopt anything below 44O unless they were playing period instruments for early 19th century works or older.

our late 1890s upright does perfectly well with A around 436.

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2622215
03/10/17 10:35 AM
03/10/17 10:35 AM
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Last year, my technician increased the pitch on my piano from A440 to A442. It was a great move. My piano really sings!
(I have a 1984 Bosendorfer 225.)

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2622233
03/10/17 11:41 AM
03/10/17 11:41 AM
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San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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Didn't it sing before?


Clef

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Jeff Clef] #2622254
03/10/17 12:48 PM
03/10/17 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
Didn't it sing before?


Well, yes, but there's a slight but definitely noticeable increase in brightness and beauty at the higher pitch. Hard to describe. It's probably just a matter of taste, really. My tech says Bosendorfers all are factory tuned at A442 or A443, so that's where they should be.

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Jeff Clef] #2622261
03/10/17 12:51 PM
03/10/17 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
Didn't it sing before?


Since the pitch was lower, it was probably humming wink

Paul.

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2622448
03/10/17 08:22 PM
03/10/17 08:22 PM
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huaidongxi Offline
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probably not happenstance that the factory tuning for boesendorfers uses the same frequency convention as die Wiener und Berliner Philharmoniker.

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2622742
03/11/17 05:30 PM
03/11/17 05:30 PM
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The current thinking behind tuning to A444 is that the related C52 is then at 528 hz. Some people believe that this frequency contributes to physical healing of DNA.

If you look up "Solfeggio frequencies" on the Web you will be treated to a lot of philosophical and numerological ideas about certain frequencies.

I personally have my own experiment going in the shop right now. I decided to pull up a Steinway M to A444 hz and see if it makes any difference.

Does it sound different? Yes it does.

Is it better? Hard to tell.

Does it sing better? Not that I can quantify for sure.

Does playing it promote healing? Well, I'm not sure about that.

Do you like it? Well, actually, sort of. But I'd have to bring it back down and test all over again to be sure.

What about tension increase? Less than 1000 lbs. No problem from my standpoint.

Try it! But if you play with other instruments they may not like you.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
(Best way to contact me privately)
Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: P W Grey] #2622791
03/11/17 07:50 PM
03/11/17 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
The current thinking behind tuning to A444 is that the related C52 is then at 528 hz. Some people believe that this frequency contributes to physical healing of DNA.

This sounds like mumbo jumbo to me.

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2622792
03/11/17 07:53 PM
03/11/17 07:53 PM
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I think the variable tuning choices must be a nightmare for string players and other instrumentalists.

Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: pianoloverus] #2622813
03/11/17 08:51 PM
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It is especially bad for winds! They are made to play at certain pitches. Percussion as well.


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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2623027
03/12/17 02:46 PM
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There are people out there with some rather strange ideas. It is definitely a nightmare if you are going to try to play with other instruments designed at a lower pitch.

David, you're not the only one who thinks it's mumbo-jumbo. There are lots of other unanswered questions with this whole philosophy.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2626588
03/24/17 05:37 PM
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I thought I would give an update on my A444 experiment if anyone is interested.

I have now brought the piano back down to A440. I have to admit (much to my surprise) that the piano actually did sound better at A444 (at least in some respects).

I would say that overall it sounded cleaner, brighter, with less garbage in it, and was actually easier to tune.

However, on the negative side, all beats were faster, creating a slightly irritating feeling, not serious, but definitely there. And, of course, when attempting to match to another instrument...forget it.

I cannot exactly put into words the feeling I got when playing due to the higher pitch. Irritating is probably not the best word. Not harsh...just can't entirely explain it.

But the fact that it became a cleaner, crisper sound was rather pleasant. Almost enough to override the other feeling that I can't describe. I am kind of missing that sound now that it's back to 440.

Sustain did not change. Volume did not seem to change much if any.


Years ago when I tuned for Midori (the violinist), she specified that the piano was to be tuned to A443. I resisted but did it, but before she went on stage I asked her why A443? She simply said: "I just think the piano sounds better at that pitch". That was it. Maybe she had a point. I don't know if she still requires that for her performances.

Anyway, that's it. If anyone else has had experience or observations doing this feel free to post it.

Pwg





Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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Re: 444 Hz vs. 440 Hz? [Re: Piano Practice] #2626589
03/24/17 05:37 PM
03/24/17 05:37 PM
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I thought I would give an update on my A444 experiment if anyone is interested.

I have now brought the piano back down to A440. I have to admit (much to my surprise) that the piano actually did sound better at A444 (at least in some respects).

I would say that overall it sounded cleaner, brighter, with less garbage in it, and was actually easier to tune.

However, on the negative side, all beats were faster, creating a slightly irritating feeling, not serious, but definitely there. And, of course, when attempting to match to another instrument...forget it.

I cannot exactly put into words the feeling I got when playing due to the higher pitch. Irritating is probably not the best word. Not harsh...just can't entirely explain it.

But the fact that it became a cleaner, crisper sound was rather pleasant. Almost enough to override the other feeling that I can't describe. I am kind of missing that sound now that it's back to 440.

Sustain did not change. Volume did not seem to change much if any.


Years ago when I tuned for Midori (the violinist), she specified that the piano was to be tuned to A443. I resisted but did it, but before she went on stage I asked her why A443? She simply said: "I just think the piano sounds better at that pitch". That was it. Maybe she had a point. I don't know if she still requires that for her performances.

Anyway, that's it. If anyone else has had experience or observations doing this feel free to post it.

Pwg





Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
(Best way to contact me privately)

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