Nazis =/= A440, OR: Why People are Stupid

2013-09-06 00:44:22 by samulis

I've read many proponents of a New Age tenent that A440 is a "wrong" or "unnatural" tuning frequency, instead insisting that frequencies such as 432Hz would be better. While this is a cute and well-argued point, it has absolutely no merit in an acoustical and musical sense simply by looking at musical history, basic high school physics, and by doing a few practical experiments. If you find anyone of this disposition, link them here!

Back in the Renaissance, instruments had all sorts of tunings- anywhere from A380 (an english pitchpipe) to A480 (a German organ) could be found in abundant use! Slowly this consolidated down to the main few we see today- 435, 440, 442, and 443. Other cultures use other tuning frequencies sometimes too. 432 was never really a common tuning (a basic google search can show you this) and is actually NOT the same as C256 (it's actually C258). Instead, 415, 435, 438, 440, and 442 are the most common ones in history and to the modern day.

The original decision of 440 was decided in 1834:
: The Stuttgart Conference of 1834 recommended C264 (A440) as the standard pitch based on Scheibler's studies with his Tonometer.[9] For this reason A440 has been referred to as Stuttgart pitch or Scheibler pitch.

This was reinforced twice, by a conference in 1939 and again by the ISO later on in the 20th century. This has absolutely nothing to do with Nazis no matter how much you idiots want to make it sound like it does. The need for a common tuning pitch was important in a fight, but the fight was against "pitch inflation", or the slow raising of the average pitch of music, not any country or other cause. 440 was a great median compromise between the High Pitch average of 445, which was proposed in England, and the French Law 435.

Here's the deal- a note is a note. I can take my trombone and move the tuning slide out so it is at A432, but it will just sound like an extremely out of tune trombone, nothing more, nothing less. I might as well use A415 or A460. The reason this works this way is something called Temperaments, which describe the relation between the notes. You can use this to create any musical scale you desire as long as you pick a tonic, or starting note, for instance, C. In our modern system, we use Equal Temperament, which means you can pick any note in the chromatic scale to start your piece on and it will work as all the half-steps are the exact same size. This supposedly has the downside of removing something called "key color", or textural coloration created by the unique dissonances and consonances of certain intervals found in temperaments in which half-steps are not equal.

300 or even just 200 years ago, ET didn't exist- instead, there were unequal temperaments designed to create contrast and the "key color". Perhaps this is what people complain about music "lacking" these days- equal temperament spoiled the perfection of the triad ever so slightly as a sacrifice in order to make music accessible across any instrument and key- small sacrifices in the name of a huge step forward. Equal Temperament revolutionized music the same way the abacus revolutionized mathematics- it practically multiplied the tools available to composers (key changes, new/larger ensembles with less intonation issues, etc.) and standardized music so any instrument could play anything as long as it was within range (theoretically). It was through Equal Temperament, NOT the change of the note tuned to, that changed harmony to be slightly imperfect.

Finally- the nail in the coffin. Anyone with basic knowledge of how sound and music works will know that the scale is based on ratios, at least, traditionally. You can take ANY pitch and create a scale using the ratios of the notes and it can be heard, played, and resonate properly. Anyone who knows basic acoustics will know that resonance and reverberation are different qualities and are not limited to certain "ratios" or "perfect numbers" for most musical instruments. This can be proven very easily with a guitar or a piano with a string slightly out of tune- if you press that key or pluck that string, it still resonates inside the instrument just as much as if it were in tune! This is why guitarists don't check to see if their instrument is in tune by seeing the notes resonate or not, duhhh. The only way a note will resonate in an situation where other notes would not would be in a place such as the resonators under the keys of a Xylophone- big metal tubes cut and designed perfectly to resonate with the pitch the key above it is. This gives the xylophone and marimba their "ring"- otherwise it'd just sound like you were hitting a chunk of rosewood (or synthetic material). You can make a resonator to any length to match any frequency your little heart desires.

And one last thing- any physics student will know this one! The note you tune to is actually completely irrelevant if the temperature changes. As sound moves differently depending on the temperature of the air, your instrument will sound lower or higher if it gets hotter or colder! Also, instruments made of metal or wood can change as they heat/cool, causing them to change pitch as well. That's why you can "get" in tune while you play if you play a brass or woodwind instrument as it heats up if you were previously out of tune.

Ah, but that's enough ranting for now! I hope at least someone got enlightened by this. Feel free to learn more about temperaments (<3!) here, and more about concert pitch and its long history here. I drew most of my information from those pages and my other studies, practical life experience as a musician and a composer, and someone fascinated in early instruments, temperaments, and tuning practices.


You must be logged in to comment on this post.


2013-09-06 06:38:07

Pitches be crazy

samulis responds:

yo dude totes


2013-09-06 07:24:22

I actually do believe the 'brainwashing' if you call it that. My experience from recording in 432 is that I get a better product in lossless and a problem I experience with MP3 is that its 1/5th the quality of lossless anyway (320KPBPS joint stereo max on mp3 LAME vs 1500KBPS 7.1 surround with no max on the highs or lows).

Actually the Nazi's were a creation of the prussian training programme, and instate Nazis were made by the banking institutions as a money making Raquet. The proof of this is that Hitler uses the same Malthusian eugenicism that the banksters have been using since the 1800s.

Now I really like reading your statement its very interesting and it made me listen to Palestrina which is some god damn beautiful music.

I would love to use these types of harmones in hiphop, and in the production. Really adds a wonder, majestic and beauty to the sound.

Primarily the science is that 432 vs 440 we have about an 80khz difference in intensity which scientifically we know does increase aggression and such in subjects. Problem is that google (aka skynet) has a lot of fraudulent information on the subject in google so I can see how you came to your conclusion.

Start over on

I'm not saying I'm right or wrong. Infact I don't think you need to do everything in 432 for it to be 'right' but it will be far less intense on your nervous system.

Honestly I have no education in music but one of the most famous 432 pieces John Lennons (imagine) is one of the first compositions as a kid I became familiar with. I can guarantee you from the music I have converted the transformation can be noticed I will show you in hiphop and electronica so you can feel the diffrence.

Here is 1-800 suicide as produced by RZA from Wu-Tang in the 90s

Here is 1-800 suicide converted to 432kHz

(Hardstyle) COTD by Dozer

Dozer COTD in 432

Much love
yours in love
Nick Carefoot

samulis responds:

please stop spamming your proofless garbage on my page and read for once. You admit you have no education on the actual scientific and musical side of this, so stop pretending you know what you are talking about, because it's really painful for the rest of us, honestly dude. I'm just trying to help you but you seem to want to drag everyone else into this. XD

BTW the reason Palestrina sounds the way he does is not at all the key or any of that, but because he uses a more natural temperament and uses something called Counterpoint. I will bet most of his music is not A432 if you actually took a tuner to it.

As for your "examples" at the end, you might as well put them in the key one semitone below the current key they are each in and realize how much of a transformation that does too. As Breed said, there's nothing special about it.


2013-09-06 16:51:57

Samulis meme:

> Wrong tuning
> Call people Nazi and stupid

samulis responds:

lol. You need to try reading dude. :P

Read Carefoot's thing to understand what is wrong.


2013-09-06 17:16:36

I have headaches from reading anything made by Carefoot.

I have to admit, tuning is a bitch... I wish I have a little more knowledge on this...

samulis responds:

follow the temperaments resource link. It's great (although somewhat confusing).


2013-09-06 20:07:55

Equal temperament dictates every old tuning methods.

samulis responds:

not before they came up with ET. For a while their goal was to create as much key color (i.e. dissonance in certain keys) as possible, especially with the Wells Temperaments! ;)


2013-10-05 11:27:57

I remember the first time I calculated perfect harmonic frequency offsets. "Wait, if I make this harmonic interval perfect, then that harmonic interval is dissonant, and vice versa. What am I doing wrong?" And then I thought... what if I just equally space all notes to compromise? And thus was born equal temperament. :P

samulis responds:

Heh exactly. I was reading up on just intonation on wikipedia earlier. I wish there were some TED talks on temperaments, they're just so fascinating! There's this one Indian 22-step scale that includes all the different intervals you might need; I wonder why we have relegated ourselves to a 12-step scale when you could simply use that one and always be more harmonically accurate. Of course, you'd have to overturn 1,500+ years of development.