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Losing my temperament
:: Posted by DannyX on February 08, 2014

Seriously, a half dozen posts on tuning standards? Címon, guys, itís just intonation!


LTIA Box Set Disc 10
:: Posted by doyasteve on February 04, 2014

I wonder if anyone else has had problems playing or ripping the LTIA Box Set Disc 10? I just got it in the mail and Iíd love to hear this disc. 


432...
:: Posted by emory0 on February 04, 2014

"Oh Yes! ... thatís the affect of A432 Hz !".

One possibility that comes to mind stems from reading David Byrneís EXCELLENT (and I do mean that in CAPS) "How Music Works". Whatís quite possible is that the Abbey was actually built to resonate 432Hz, or some harmonic thereof. I suspect itís quite possible that a lot of European churches and abbeys were built around such frequencies.

(By the way I remember seeing David Hykeís Harmonic Choir many years ago in St Johnís Cathedral and they always found the resonant frequencies and then hit them regularly through their overtone singing.)

Another (less likely) possibility exists about 432Hz: PERHAPS there IS some physiological effect that frequency has on the human body (though the NUMBER í432í probably has nothing to do with it per se). When that fact was discovered by ancient singers, perhaps that wavelength and frequency were then incorporated into a variety of sacred architectures and thought systems, thus causing (what would become) the frequency í432Hzí to be regarded as sacred after the fact.


432
:: Posted by emory0 on February 04, 2014

"which is 432 only as an artifact of choosing the second as a unit of time"

At first I didnít understand what you meant, but now of course you are obviously correct: A "second" (a measured duration of time) wasnít set as some multiple of a fundamental constant of nature, it arose out human history as a fairly arbitrary unit of a "small time period which humans can still perceive".

In terms of the perceivable differences between 430 Hz and 432Hz, it probably goes without saying that they are almost certainly culturally derived. (If the difference happens to be rooted in some aspect of human physiology, the 432 value is still just an accident based on the definition of one second.)


RE: A440 vs. A432 Hz
:: Posted by RickyM on February 04, 2014

Very interesting debate now going on in the guestbook. This is, of course, something thatís been debated for years now by scholars and musicians alike.

However, on very personal level, I had an experience back in 2001 while living and working in the UK (Bristol area). Let me explain.

One weekend a friend and I had some time off and we attended the Bath International Music Festival (in fact saw the very fab Keith Tippet Trio on the day I attended!). As we purchased our tickets for key events we wanted to attend, a kind person mentioned there was still time to attend The Kingís Consort (http://tkcworld.org/home/page/1/) recital in the Bath Abby just across the square. I had never heard them perform before but had a vague recollection of their work. I did know they used period instruments (circa 17th/18th century instruments) to perform the works of composers of that same period.

The performance was absolutely fab and as I sat in a pew basically in the center of the Abby, I not only heard the wonderful music, but felt a sort of vibration throughout my body ... and even around me. So much so, that at first, I felt almost uncomfortable, and actually moved to a different seat. But, to my surprise, the physical vibration continued, and I cheerfully accepted it happening.

After the concert, we met some other concert attendees and started a very pleasant conversation. We discussed the program and instruments the Kingís Consort played and used, etc. During that chat, one of the attendees mentioned to us "hey, did you feel the music?" To my surprise, my eyes widened and explained my experience in feeling a vibration in my body and the overwhelming experience I had while this wonderful music was played. This person (his name was John I recall), had said: "Oh Yes! ... thatís the affect of A432 Hz !".

Firstly, I was very surprised. Hadnít really thought about it, but John went on to explain that in using period instruments, they were also using period tuning and pitch which was different from 20th/21st tuning and pitch.

Frankly, I have never experienced this feeling w/ any other orchestra performance I had attended (or since), and the one factor was the pitch and period instruments.

Iím not an expert by any stretch nor am I someone whoís done any in-depth research around A440 (which I use on all my instruments, even some guitars tuned in NST) vs A432 Hz. But, I can tell you about my experience and feelings in listening to music based on the A432 Hz pitch. A truly wonderful experience at that.

I followed some the published links in RFs diary re: A432, I have been experimenting with tuning one of my guitars using A432 as a reference instead of the norm of A440. For years, I have been trying many different tunings for the guitar and use NST for many years. So now, Iím trying something new w/ pitch and the results are very surprising (and pleasant). When playing chords, I am getting that vibration I once experienced in 2001 (as noted above). And that is a good thing and its begging me to explore this further.

Peace.

Regards,
R.




432 Hz
:: Posted by Tom239 on February 03, 2014

I second pacealotís comments on 432 Hz tuning. The Cymatics video only shows how one particular plate responds; you could get altogether different patterns with a plate of different material and shape.

The "Hereís why..." page suggests doing oneís own research, although it doesnít say much about how to do it right. If you tune to 432 Hz by reducing string tension, you are not just trying a different pitch standard--you are also potentially changing tone quality. The two effects are worth considering separately, not always easy to arrange.

Iím all for discussions of pitch standards and their history but I could do without the inane arguments on some of the 432 pages on the web. E.g., properties of 432 as a pure (unitless) number are wholly irrelevant to any merits of 432 Hz (which is 432 only as an artifact of choosing the second as a unit of time).


Boulez...BOOM!
:: Posted by emory0 on February 03, 2014

"I tend to be on Boulezís side on such issues."

Being on Boulezís side on musical issues, I suspect, is a pretty unassailable strategy: If you (and Boulez) turn out to be wrong, it wonít be due to lack of erudition or practical experience.

BTW...I saw Boulez conduct Anne Sophie Mutter (and maybe the American Symphony...I forget) playing Bergís Violin Concerto. I canít even begin to express just how phenomenal that was. And if there exist any CrimFans that hate classical this would bitch-slap íem good.


I prefer a different wording
:: Posted by albemuth on February 03, 2014

Emory said: "I strongly suspect would be hard to say and that strong arguments could be made either way."  I basically agree but would say WEAK arguments!  Maybe this is because I either cannot hear such differences or do not believe I can hear them.  Or maybe we do not understand enough now about human perception and how it varies from individual to individual. 

As you probably know, related issues have come up in modernist music.  Pierre Boulez even used ideas from the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss to support his idea that a new musical language could be defined by convention.  You would have to check me out on this but I think Levi-Strauss fired back that there is a natural basis (I think he used the term "first level of articulation") in music, somewhat like there is a natural basis in totemic systems (different life forms).  I tend to be on Boulezís side on such issues.  Minimalist composers from Glass to Part seem to be a "conservative" reaction against all this, which might be one reason I am not strongly attracted to Frippís theories (or what I understand of them).


A 442
:: Posted by emory0 on February 03, 2014

"Far more interesting to me is the history of how and why the standard pitch reference has moved steadily upwards until the adoption of 440 as standard."

I remember some musicians telling me that this is still, in some quarters, a longstanding issue. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, apparently uses an A at 442 or thereabouts and famously hangs the tuning fork in a prominent position on the wall by the orchestra. Brass instruments, of course, have a little slider that allows the instrument to be tuned to whatever a specific orchestra is using (otherwise theyíd be unusable in the wrong context).

There are, apparently, all sorts of claims that have been made about how the "wrong" tuning of an orchestra causes all sorts of sombre music to sound chintzy and happier than the long-dead composer intended, etc...Their claims, of course, assume that thereís some aspect of tuning that humans are sensitive to that is "absolute" and not merely socialized. Whether this is true I strongly suspect would be hard to say and that strong arguments could be made either way.


Pitch
:: Posted by pacealot on February 02, 2014

I cannot help but comment on the A=432 issue.  The Cymatics experiment video is interesting, and Iím not certain in what way Robert finds it "persuasive" (that is, persuasive of what?), but I simply cannot accept that there is some fundamental way that our arbitrary measurements of time and cyclical vibrations just happen to resonate with some cosmically correct pattern at one frequency more than at another.  If it is aesthetics that are being discussed, I found the patterns generated by the notes at 440 to be just as "interesting" and "beautiful" as those generated at 432.

Given a semitone-based musical scalar structure, there are only approximately 25-30 cycles per second of variation from one semitone to another in the area of 400 Hz-ish, so at some point A=415 also means that A#/Bb~440, so transposing the "key" (which is invisible to the audience, unless they are following along with sheet music) results in the exact same pitch structure.  If one with strong relative ("perfect") pitch sense has a relationship with one specific pitch reference, then things will sound "wrong" at another reference, if the person cannot let go of his/her preconceptions about the fixity or relativity of the pitches they experience.

For myself, as a person who supposedly used to have so-called "perfect" (but very imperfect) pitch before I gave up music, I find it all to be completely arbitrary.  One may choose any pitch reference one likes, and support it with any factual information one chooses, but to use pseudoscience and nonsense to try to persuade people of an unsupportable position is ridiculous in general, and in my view, nowhere more ridiculous than in the field of "art".  One could actually argue far more persuasively that artistsí canvases "should" be built to Golden Section proportions than that a musical reference pitch must be at a certain frequency.  Personally, my position is that ALL music is ALWAYS out of tune, no matter whether A=440 or 432 or any other arbitrary number, or if one is using equal temperament vs. just intonation or some other scalar system, or any other factors.  The simple act of putting vibrato on an instrument or a human voice immediately puts it "out of tune."

Far more interesting to me is the history of how and why the standard pitch reference has moved steadily upwards until the adoption of 440 as standard.  That is, at least, an interesting study in sociology and mass trending patterns amongst concert hall performers and instrument manufacturers.



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