Imagine my pleasant surprise when I recently discovered my 1925 Brambach Piano was tuned to A=432.5Hz. This stands for 432.5 vibrations per second. This exquisite instrument was crafted in a time prior to the A=440 Hz standardization.
My 1925 Brambach Apartment-Sized Grand (4.8ft) is tuned to A= 432.5. The company patented many unique designs for the piano from the late 19th Century until the mid-20th Century. A smaller Grand Piano than a Baby Grand (5-7ft. average) was one of them, featuring a much thicker cast-iron frame to sturdy the ability of the instrument to remain in tune. Being first built in New York in 1925 and currently residing in Florida in 2013, the instrument remains true to A=432.5; let this be a testament to the veracity of the Brambach pledge. Let this also be a testament to the feeling of wholesomeness associated with the frequency A=432.
So, as I pondered why standard pitch was changed to A=440, I came across some very interesting data. Let me start by stating the fact that Antonin Stradivarius built his violins to be tuned in the range of A=432Hz. Known to be the most “passionate” of instruments in some people’s opinion, the violin superceeds most instruments in sonic expression. It’s most revered builder felt A=432Hz was optimum.
The History Of Tuning
The pitch of ‘A’ varied between 374=A (Official Church Pitch) and A=567 (Northern Germany) in the year 1700. In the 18th Century it is generally thought to be between 415=A to 432=A. Handel’s Tuning fork gives the pitch of A=422.5. One of Mozart’s Pianos was tuned to A=421.6. The 19th Century brought the adaptation of A=452.5 by the London Philharmonic Society but seeing as how the string tension on a Stradivarius Violin (meant to be tuned to A=432) was at risk of destroying the instrument by adding enourmous tension in pounds per square inch, they changed the tuning down to A=433.2. These changes created a “Tuning Chaos” by building new church organs tuned at A=452.5 (Philharmonic Pitch). “New Philharmonic Pitch” was declared by the French Government in the late 19th Century as A=439 to attempt to correct the chasm but Military Bands remained at A=452.5. This prohibited accompaniment to church organs by anything other than Military Bands. Finally, in 1939 an International Conference set Standard Pitch was set to A=440.
Various Tunings Through The Centuries:
1640 Vienna Franciscan Organ- A457.6
1699 Paris Opera- A404
1711 John Shore’s tuning fork, a pitch of A423.5 He invented the tuning fork, one of which still exists today.
1780 Stines, for Mozart, A421
1780 Organ builder Schulz- A421.3
1714 Strasbourg Cathedral organ- A391
1722 Dresden’s chief Roman Catholic church organ- A415
1759 Trinity College Cambridge organ- A309
1762 Stringed instruments at Hamburg- A405
1772 Gottfried Silbermann built the organ in the main Roman Catholic church in Dresden, and it had a pitch of A 415 at the time.
1780 Organ builder Schulz- A421.3
1780 Stein’s tuning fork- A422.6
1751 Handel’s own fork- A422.5
1800 Broadwood’s C fork, 505.7, which is about half a semitone lower than that of today
1811 Paris Grand Opera- A 427
1812 Paris Conservatoire A440, as modern pitch
1813 George Smart adopted for the Philharmonic Society the pitch of A423.3.
1820 Westminster Abbey organ and possibly Paris Comic Opera used a pitch of A422.5.
1828 Philharmonic Society- A 440
1834 Vienna Opera- A 436.5
1835 Wolfels piano maker- A443
1836 Pleyel’s Pianos- A446
1846 Philharmonic pitch was A452.5 (very high) which lasted till 1854
1846 Mr Hipkins piano tuner (Meantone) A433.5 (Equal) A436.0
1849 Broadwood’s medium pitch was A445.9 which lasted till 1854
1858 New Philharmonic pitch- C522
1860 Cramer’s piano makers of London- A448.4
1862 Dresden Opera- A 440
1871 Covent Garden Opera House- A 440
1877 Collard’s piano maker standard pitch was A 449.9
1877 St. Paul Cathedral organ- A446.6
1877 Chappell Pianos- A455.9
1877 Mr Hipkins piano tuner- A448.8
1878 Her Majesty’s Organ- A436.1
1878 Vienna Opera- A447
1879 Covent Garden Opera- A450
1879 Erard’s factory fork- 455.3
1879 Steinway of England- A 454.
1879 British Army regulation pitch for woodwinds- A451.9
1880 Brinsmead, Broadwood, and Erard apparently used a pitch of A455.3
1880 Steinway may have been using a pitch of A436. According to Steinway of New York, 1880 is right around the time they switched from three piece rims to the continuous rim that is used today. So it is unlikely the pitch was any higher before 1880, yet Steinway of London had a fork A454.7.
1885 In Vienna a pitch of A435.4 was adopted at a temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit for A.
1885 At an international exhibition of inventions and music in London a pitch of A452 was adopted.
1896 Philharmonic pitch A439, giving C522
1925 On the 11th of June the American music industry adopted A440.
1936 American Standards Association adopted A440. yet; New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, use 442 Hz
“The tuning fork was invented by John Shore in 1711 and it had a pitch of A=423.5. He was the sergeant trumpeter to the Court and also lutenist in the Chapel Royal.
Ptolemy started using just intonation in 136 AD. Meantone tuning was perfected by Salinas in 1577 AD. Equal temperament was proposed by Aristoxenus, a pupil of Aristotle, and had been in use in China for some centuries before. It would seem that equal temperament was used in North Germany as early as 1690. In 1842 the organ of St. Nicholas, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was tuned to equal temperament, and this is believed to be the first organ to be tuned in this way in England for a concert. Willis the organ builder did not use equal temperament until 1854. However, in 1846 Walter Broadwood directed Mr. Hipkins the head piano tuner at the company to instruct their tuners in the use of equal temperament. Mr. Hipkins used two tuning forks, one for meantone at A433.5 and one for equal temperament at A436. Meantone was the most common scale used at that time. “ – www.piano-tuners.org
As we can see, the history of musical instrument tuning has been as diverse as it’s players. After seeing the response of the 432Hz frequency in water, it led me to this research on the Great Pyramid at Giza by a gentleman named Tom Danley. It was followed up by Susan Alexjander, MA. The results are intriguing:
“Many respected researchers now feel that the Great Pyramid may have been deliberately ‘tuned’ as a resonator. About six years ago, Tom Danley, an acoustics engineer who used to work for NASA, was invited to Egypt by the producer of the movie The Mystery of the Sphinx to measure sound in the King’s Chamber. Using highly sophisticated equipment, he commented as follows:
“I found some very low frequency sound.resonances which start at a few Hz and go upward to 15-20 Hz or so. At least some of these were the same LF resonances I excited with my sweep, but not all of the them. This sound was present even if everyone is silent. I crunched the results of the measurements, and they were sent on to a musicologist that was part of the staff. As mentioned, he identified that there was a pattern of frequencies which roughly form an Fsharp chord. Not all the resonances fell in the right place but many did, and some repeated the pattern for many octaves. In other words, it was roughly tuned to F# over many octaves.”
“Subsequent experiments conducted by Tom Danley in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid and in Chambers above the King’s Chamber suggest that the pyramid was constructed with a sonic purpose. Danley identifies four resident frequencies, or notes, that are enhanced by the structure of the pyramid, and by the materials used in its construction. The notes form an F Sharp chord, which according to ancient Egyptian texts were the harmonic of our planet. Moreover, Danley’s tests show that these frequencies are present in the King’s Chamber even when no sounds are being produced. They are there in frequencies that range from 16 Hertz down to 1/2 Hertz, well below the range of human hearing. According to Danley, these vibrations are caused by the wind blowing across the ends of the so-called shafts – in the same way as sounds are created when one blows across the top of a bottle.” -Archaeo-Acoustics
DNA: Are The Frequencies in DNA Bases Harmonically Ordered? They most certainly are. By comparing all 60 pitches one can find all of the precise ratios found in the first 16 harmonics of the overtone series: octaves, P5th, P4ths, Major and minor thirds, Major and minor 2nds and 7ths; even a ‘flat’ seventh. Mathematically, the odds of this happening at random are almost non-existent.
*The pitch which shows up the most frequently and ought to have asserted itself as a tonic, or tonal center, is F#. It is found no less than three times in each base collection. But instead it is its fifth, the C#, which acts as the organizing force. . . . ” -Archaeo-Acoustics
Here is an example of music in the key of C#: http://www.filetofsoulmusic.com/milkandhoney.html
*The four frequencies in the Great Pyramid are indeed F#, A, C#, and D# when tuned to A= 432Hz
*Pink Floyd – ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ is tuned A=432Hz. The original LP release contained this poster…
In l989 I completed a translation of electromagnetic frequencies gathered from the four DNA bases, cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine, into a sonic medium. I was assisted by Dr. David Deamer, noted cell-biologist at the University of California Santa Cruz. Briefly, I found 60 ‘pitches’ ranging over a two and one-half octave. Out of those 60, 18 were Fs and F#s, 6 were C#s, and 3 were A/A#s…a total of 27 or almost HALF, corresponding to the tunings of the Great Pyramid. Most of these probably came from the water molecules in our DNA: hydrogen and oxygen. -Susan Alexjander, MA
Not only are we are about 75% water, we are also literally swimming in the Schumann Resonances. These electromagnetic frequencies, mostly infrasonic and unheard, occur in the cavity between the earth’s crust and the ionosphere about 35 miles above the earth. They are activated by lightening storms and the sun. The basic frequency, 7.8Hz. creates a standing wave around the earth (traveling around the earth 7.8 times/second). The figure fluctuates by plus or minus 0.5Hz daily, as the ionosphere fluctuates. In addition to this base frequency of 7.8Hz, there are quasi-harmonics at (rounded off) 14, 19, 25, 30, 36, and 42 Hz, corresponding to the following tones: B/C, A, D#, G/G#, B, D, and E/F. So far no F#s. But a curious thing happens when these frequency numbers are octavised up. Instead of the usual doubling to create the octave above (i.e the octave above 440 = 880) – the method used in linear harmonics and ‘standard’ physics – when working with the harmonics of a sphere the rules are different. Instead of reaching an exact doubling of the original number, a slight collapse takes place and the upper number is less than an octave. When you ‘octavise’ the Schumann frequencies into our hearing range, six of the seven tones are F#s, A#s and C#s. The seventh is a D#. As they ascend they become even more like the ‘pyramid chords: F/F#, A/A#, C/C#. I haven’t a clue what this means, beyond imagining a theoretical tuning’ taking place on our physical plane. (See First, refs.)
Astounding! Which brings us back to our first question, “Why was A=440 adopted as the standard?” It has been said that higher tuning pitch appropriates more projection and definition on acoustic instruments. An argued point centuries ago, but now?
The “Sacred” Frequency Is 432 Hz –
“432hz vibrates/oscillates on the principles of natural harmonic wave propagation and unifies with the properties of light, time, space, matter, gravity and electromagnetism. The Sun, Saturn, Earth and Moon, all exhibit ratios of the number 432.
Concert pitch A=432hz pitch can have profound positive effects on consciousness and also on the cellular level of our bodies.
By retuning musical instruments and using concert pitch at A=432hz instead of A=440Hz, you can feel the difference of connecting awareness to natural resonance.” -www.omega432.com
If you plot the Pythagorean tuning for the C-Major scale on a 360 degree wheel,(the wheel is based on 16 divisions), and if you set middle C as 256Hz (A432 tuning), you get 16 perfect sections of 16Hz in the wheel.
One thing that caught my eye was when I calculated the hertz frequencies for the C-Major scale in 432. I find it fascinating that the cycles per second work out to whole numbers with A432 and NOT with A440. Seems to make sense that this tuning would “feel better” to the human ear.
Modern Standard Tuning (A = 440 hz, C = 261.63 hz)
Sources: http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.html and http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-notenames.htm
Note Frequency (hz)
– Mid Low (1 octave below middle C)
– Mid (middle C)
– Mid High (1 octave above middle C)
– – – – – – –
Stradivari/Verdi Tuning (A = 432 hz, C = 256 hz)
Calculated using the Pythagorean method of 3:2 ratio for dominants, 11:8 for sub-dominants, 2:1 for octaves.
Note Frequency (hz)
– Mid Low (1 octave below middle C)
– Mid (middle C)
– Mid High (1 octave above middle C)
WHY 432Hz ? -It is my opinion that it is possible the resonant frequency of A=432 “entrains” the brain to the lower Beta state which allows both hemispheres to synchronize and better communicate. It maintains a more harmonic Beta mind state. A higher Beta state is equivalent to agitation, while a lower state induces clarity. In the correct state, sound frequency can have a profound effect on our critical thinking and reasoning skills.-
Brain Wave Frequency Levels
Brain wave frequency is measured in cycles per second or hertz (Hz). The amplitude, or size and strength, of the wave is also measured. Gamma brain waves are the fastest and smallest waves. Delta waves are the slowest and largest.
Beta is the level of normal waking consciousness and focus. When you are having a conversation or engaged in an activity, you are at the beta level. Usually in beta one side of the brain is dominant. This varies by individuals, but women tend to be right brain dominant and men tend to be left brain dominant. As brain waves slow, brain hemispheres synchronize and can communicate better.
Higher levels of beta are related to anxiety, stress, separation, and dis-ease. When slower, your thinking is clearer. Beta brainwaves vary from 15-40 cycles a second.
Alpha brain waves are slower than beta waves. Faster alpha brain waves are related to relaxed focused attention. This is a learning state of mind.
You often experience the alpha mind frequency when engrossed in a movie, book or activity. That is all you are aware of. This is a very light trance or hypnotic state. Alpha brain waves range from 9-14 cycles per second.
At deeper alpha you are not quite asleep and still have some conscious awareness and waking. This state is related to focused attention and intuition. Having more alpha brain waves is equated with feeling happier and a greater sense of well-being.
The Mystery Of The Ancient Flutes
I stumbled upon the work of Mr. Klaus Dona in my research travels whom I must say, has a fascinating collection of artifacts located here:http://www.unsolved-mysteries.info/ Perusing his collection I noticed this…
No word on how it is tuned…
If the shells were played inside the stone chamber in which they were found, the drone would have sounded like it was coming from several different directions at once. In the dimly lit religious centre, it would have created a sense of confusion.-Archaeo-Acoustics
Here’s a link to a Native American Padauk Flute maker; http://www.artemrepin.com/ Exquisite work! This particular piece is tuned to F#.
This craftsman is aware of the significance of the key of F# tuned to 432Hz. From the website:
“A flute is for Meditation. A flute is for Sharing your Creativity and Performance. A flute is for Solitude and Calming yourself down after a hectic day. A flute is your path to Inner Knowing…
I have made this amazing Drone Flute with Passion and love for Craft and Music.
The flute’s body is made of African Padauk with Hard Maple accents and Bird (Totem). The beautiful carving of a feather is unique and will make this flute stand out of the million other ones in the world, along with it’s perfect tuning and response…
This flute is tuned to a Sacred Frequency of 432Hz.”
It seems we may be beginning to come full circle…
Alexjander, Susan. The Infrared Frequencies of DNA Bases: Science and Art, IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Journal, March/April 1999. (entire reprint www.OurSoundUniverse.com)
Danley, Tom. Early Reflections, Live Sound Magazine, July/August 2000.
Dunn, Christopher. The Giza Power Plant. Bear & Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico. l998
Ellis-The History Of Musical Pitch 1877
Klaus Dona www.unsolved-mysteries.info