CHAT: concert pitch
|From:||John Cowan <jcowan@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, October 8, 2003, 20:16|
Christophe Grandsire scripsit:
> Really?! I've always been taught (including by music teachers) that the
> "la" (as we call it, in a much nicer way than simple letters :)) ) was
> 440Hz, and that it was such everywhere, by international agreement (I
> wonder if it's not part of the SI specifications...).
It is not SI, but it is an ISO standard (ISO 16:1975), first established
by an international convention in London in 1939. It's nice to know that
with the world on the brink of the largest war ever fought, people were
still taking the time to agree on an international standard concert pitch.
Before that, there were various national standards: the French established
A=435 in 1859 by law, and the (British) Royal Philharmonic Society set
A=439 in 1896. It is known that Mozart favored A=422 and Handel A=423.
Generally speaking, higher pitches (as high as A=567 in the case of some
pipe organs) produced a more brilliant tone, but were murderous on the
human voice with its fixed tessitura; the A=440 standard is a compromise.
BTW, in Britain the note in question is notated "a'", and in the U.S. it
is notated "A4", based on the number of octaves on a standard piano.
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