Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by dizforprez, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    Ok, this is probably a stupid question but here it goes:

    Can any one explain to me why different pro groups tune to different "A’s"?

    I have heard that some German groups( as well as most Japanese groups) play as high as A = 445 , and here in the states it seems to be either A=442( such as the CSO) or A=440. What gives?
  2. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    The answer is to be found in the history and development of Orchestras and instruments through the ages. Someone who has studied music history as part of their program) should probably give the "definitive" answer to this one.
  3. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    Well I know a few of the obvious things. I know that in the Baroque era tuning was standardized from mean tone to well tempered tuning. I also know that the pitch was lower then than A=440 and today you can hear many “period†groups play to that tuning. A being higher than 442 seems to be European and I know a lot of groups have been tuning higher in recent years.

    Does it all go back to Country of origin? Such as the CSO being a “German†orchestra so they take a German tuning etc..

    If so how did those countries arrive at A= whatever.?

    I have a masters degree and I can’t remember ever hearing about why different groups play at different A’s.

    I guess this is what I get for skipping Music history to practice :shock:
  4. bugler16

    bugler16 Pianissimo User

    Dec 14, 2003
    Well let's see. I know that in Brazill they tune differently because of the humidity I forget exactly what "A" they tune too but it is not 440. I know that my stepmom is from Holland a classicaly trained pianist and exposed to lots of orchesrtra due to her family ties at the time (her Dad owned a concert hall). She thinks that all American orchestras are flat because European orchestras tend to tune to A=444. I believe the reason that many orchestras in the states tune to A=442 is because the pitch of the string instrumnets will drop rather quickly and then the land at about A=440. Something to due with the tension on the strings while being played stretching them a little I guess.
  5. bigbrowncow

    bigbrowncow New Friend

    Dec 3, 2003
    My wife says:
    Part of it is taste. The further East you go, the brighter they prefer the sound, although the UK is an anomoly because we prefer the flatest of all (a=440). You are right about temperament, but bore on the woodwind instruments has a big effect. Also German orchestras have tended towards a more "baroque" sound (gut strings) that are pitched lower because they can't take (a=440) tension. However, in this day and age, it is much more what audiences, orchestras and most important players are expecting in their particular area.

    I say:
    A=440 always sounds flat to me, I would always tune a little sharper

    Wife says:
    With your intonation how would you know the difference anyway?

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    What does all of this do to the idea of "perfect pitch"? Tends to lend an argument to the idea of "relative pitch" and very good "relative pitch"! (Don't tell the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).


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