High Pitch vs Low Pitch

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by wlindseypoole, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. wlindseypoole

    wlindseypoole New Friend

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    OK- I'm not very technical so I know nothing about resonance or frequencies and all that Jazz (pun intended). From the discussions I've read, the current standard, at least in the U.S., is high pitch at A=440 hz, where it used to be low pitch at A=432 hz. This actually tells me.... nothing. However, I think I may have figured it out from the various things I've read, and I'd like to know if I have the basic gist of it. From reading about needing to shorten the slides slightly, or the bell tail, or modifying a LP trumpet by shortening some part of it to make it HP, then I'm supposing that Low Pitch vs High Pitch would simply be just a technical term for saying that if you put an LP horn next to an HP horn, and both played perfectly in tune within their own pitch, then the LP horn would actually be playing flat when compared to todays HP standard. Am I correct in this guess? If so, what would be the difference in pitch? Would a Bb in LP just sound like an overly flat HP Bb, or would there be actual note differences, such as an LP Bb sounding like an HP A natural or something else? I hope I'm not being too confusing with the way I put all this, but I'm just trying to figure it out in layman's terms vs technical terms.

    If I dont have this correct, could someone please explain it to me in terms that a non-technical mind like mine can understand? Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Jappe

    Jappe Pianissimo User

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    What you are saying is correct. The pitch of an orchestra has increased over the years. In the baroque era the pitch of A was a lot lower than it is now, in the realms of 432 hz. So all those era instruments are indeed flat in todays standards. Also the general mood of a music piece is slightly different when played in a lower pitch. Listen for example to the 5th symphony of Beethoven in a historical recording and compare it to one played by a modern orchestra, it's very interesting. Modern instruments however all have A=440 hz as a standard. So you don't need to cut off a piece of your Yamaha horn to get it to the pitch you want ;-). Just adjust your tuning slide, it's there for a reason.
     
  3. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

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    If you buy a very old horn -say pre 1920, it may be designed to play in A= 432. All horns you are likely to encounter today are set up for 440 hz. I have an old Holton from 1924 that even has a marking on the leadpipe to let the owner know it was designed for the "new" 440hz of its day.

    Some of my horns were designed to play in Bb or A. To go to A you pull the tuning slide and each of the three valve slides out (making the horn flat) to a designated mark on the tubing on each. That puts the horn in the key of A. The only reason I mention this is if you are wanting to see what a piece sounds like with an A=432 hz, then use a tuner and pull your tuning slide out (you may also want to pull the other three out ever so slightly). You can go from high pitched 440 to low pitched 432 on a new horn by pulling the slides out. The problem is that if you have a historic horn pitched at 432, you probably can't push the tuning slide in enough to get it to 440.
     
  4. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    Possible confusion here.

    For band instruments there have been 2 main pitch standards aligning with this Wikipedia entry:
    Concert pitch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Here is an excerpt:
    In England the term "low pitch" was used from 1896 onward to refer to the new Philharmonic Society tuning standard of A = 439 Hz at 68° F, while "high pitch" was used for the older tuning of A = 452.4 Hz at 60° F. Although the larger London orchestras were quick to conform to the new, low pitch, provincial orchestras continued using the high pitch until at least the 1920s, and most brass bands were still using the high pitch in the mid-1960s

    Yes Orchestras are tending to get higher in pitch these days, but we are only talking about a rise to A = 442
     
  5. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

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    Weeelll... last concert I played in Munich, we had to tune a full orchestra and big band to 448 hz because the grand piano was tuned that way... just managed to do that without hurting anyone. Almost had to scramble for my high pitch cornet...
     
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    I had fun noting the difference in pitch between German and English organs. The Germans tended to tune well above 440 in order to make the organ sound more brilliant, and the English tend to tune the organ well under 440 to make it easier for the congregation to sing. That said, there do exist organs in England pitched to a tad bit higher than 443.
     
  7. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    That is Knutz (trans. nuts)! A sadistic piano tuner. Don't forget that Barry Tuckwell is reputed to having said "I would rather be a little sharp than out of tune."

    What other instruments had to succumb to that torture?
     
  8. jimc

    jimc Mezzo Piano User

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    IIRC the pitch range of A, throughout history and across Europe, was something like 415..456 or so. That translates to a range of just about G# through A# in modern standard terms.

    "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from."
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  9. wlindseypoole

    wlindseypoole New Friend

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    OK- I was confused at first, but now.... I think I'm still confused but let me see if I have a little bit of an understanding. What I'm hearing...or reading as the case may be... is that the higher the Hz the sharper or higher the pitch. What might be considered an in-tune A here in America, at 440 Hz, will be considered flat in Germany because their in-tune A is going to be 448 Hz, so the American A would need to be sharpened (If your horn has enough area to push the tuning slide in to the correct level) in order to play in tune with a German Orchestra, but it might actually be better while in Germany to use a horn made for the particular pitch there because not only will the main tuning slide be the correct length, but so will the valve slides in order to keep intonation mostly correct throughout all ranges. Kind of like converting a Bb trumpet to a C trumpet, where you shorten the tuning slide setup and also shorten the valve slides slightly as well, only not such a drastic shortening of the slides> I know, I know, I'm probably confusing everyone else with the way I'm putting it, and I'm only using Germany as an example because it was mentioned above along with the Hz they use. Thanks to everyone for their informative answers- hope I got a general understanding of it.
     
  10. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

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    Yes, so the earlier, 1800s standard was actually a higher pitch than today, correct? That is why my early Holton is marked LP meaning it was designed for the "new" lower pitched frequency of today. Said it backwards in my earlier post following thoughts of original poster. Was thinking at the time it was the reverse, but figured I had mixed it up.

    Point being, a new horn or any dating back to the 1920s should easily be able to play at current tuning.

    Was surprised to hear about Germans tuning higher than 440 today. (Get out the hack saw to get in tune.:) )
     

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