Jump to content

concert pitch

Recommended Posts

Does anyone know about the older tuning for concertina. I read recently that 440 hz only became the universal concert pitch in 1939 and that before most people used 432 hz at A. (This was also known as the Verdi concert pitch) I recently tuned my guitar to this and was amazed at the difference. You hear more of the natural overtones and it seems easier for song accompaniment. The concertina i bought this week( a new instrument for me to learn) is on the older pitch though it has been recently tuned to itself. I like singing folk songs ...i bought this concertina for accompaniment to my voice.......so don't mind not playing in a group. I don't like having to raise my voice too much when singing.... so as not to be drowned out by a loud instrument i bought a old student lachenal with brass reeds. It has a lovely mellowness to it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most common pitch just before the International standard A=440Hz in 1939 appears to have been A=459Hz or thereabouts which puts all the notes approximately a half semitone higher than we use today.

This is sometimes called Old Philharomnic pitch. As the idea of an International standard suggests there were many pitches prior to this.

The original pitch of the Northumbrian SmallPipes had the Key note about half way between F and F# although they called that note G. This would have been because they had been made to Baroque pitch which is generally thought to be


I have an old set of Uilleann pipes in an old French pitch at A=392Hz. There are many more examples I am sure.

Wheatstone's cataloges suggest two pitches that were in common use by them in the run up to the Modern International Standard.

Of course there are also various Temperaments to consider, some of which were used on Concertinas to sweeten the chords.


This change of Pitch standard caused a lot of problems for the Musical Instrument makers especially in the Woodwind family where Saxaphones, Clarinets and Oboes (and their derivatives) had to be re-designed.


I see that some new instruments are being tuned to A=442Hz. The reason for this I do not know.. maybe someone could enlighten us ?

Edited by Geoff Wooff
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a pretty thorough discussion of this topic here: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=11273


My own feeling as a former oboist (the guy the orchestra tunes to) is that 440 is standard pitch and anything else is either sharp or flat. Slightly sharper can make one sound a little brighter (singers, lead player and soloists often like the trick). But where does it all end? Plus, I don't think they make both 440 and 442 oboes!

Edited by Kurt Braun
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...