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Hilary

Pitch = 444

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I'm getting a East German, accordian reeded D/A concertina fixed up to take to Antarctica 'cos I'm not prepared to take my Marcus Delux for 2 months on a ship in the Antarctic Ocean :(

 

A friend is fixing it up since it was out of tune and he's a dab hand at that sort of thing. He says it's in 444 pitch, but even after searching the forums, I can't find out what this actually means. :huh:

 

I do realise it's not the normal pitch that anyone else plays in, but I'd like to have a bit of knowledge in case I get into a discussion with the cornet player that's going on the same cruise :o

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This thread might shed some light on it but I don't think it will help you play along with the cornet player. A 4 Hz difference will be very noticeable and if memory serves me right the slides on brass instruments only allow for lowering the pitch but 'tis nearly forty years since I last played one! :(

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...I can't find out what this actually means. :huh:

Sorry if this is more than you'r asking for, but if you're really asking what it means, here's the basics, simplified (please, I don't want to hear what I've left out about temperament, the physics of the vibrating free reed, or the perception of sound).

 

We're talking about frequency. The reed vibrates at a certain frequency (vibrations per second) and sends pressure waves through the air until your eardrum vibrates at the same frequency and you hear the sound. The higher the frequency (the faster the vibrations), the higher the pitch.

 

As a tuning standard, the A above middle C is commonly assigned a frequency of 440 vibrations per second. The rest of the notes can be calculated from that (each octave up or down doubles or halves the frequency, each semitone up or down multiplies or divides it by the 12th root of 2, or about 1.06).

 

Your concertina is tuned to a different standard, where A is 444 rather than 440. This is about 1/6 of a semitone sharp, and one could expect (if the instrument is in tune with itself) that all the notes are sharp by the same interval (1/6 of a semitone, not 4 beats per second). This would definitely be noticeable if yoou tried to play with an instrument tuned to A=440. If you both played A, the sound would flutter 4 times per second. Faster for higher notes and slower for lower notes.

 

If you're playing by yourself, it should sound fine. Hope this helps.

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To elaborate on David's reply:

 

As a tuning standard, the A above middle C is commonly assigned a frequency of 440 vibrations per second.

 

That is the frequency commonly assigned to A nowadays. In the past, other frequencies were used. These varied from place to place, and even from orchestra to orchestra. This explains why your instrument is tuned to A=444 - it's not a mistake, it's just tuned to a different, historic standard.

 

Actually, even today saying that A=440 is standard is to oversimplify. See this Wikipedia article for more information (with the usual caveats about the reliability of Wikipedia!)

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I'm getting a East German, accordian reeded D/A concertina fixed up to take to Antarctica 'cos I'm not prepared to take my Marcus Delux for 2 months on a ship in the Antarctic Ocean :(

 

A friend is fixing it up since it was out of tune and he's a dab hand at that sort of thing. He says it's in 444 pitch, but even after searching the forums, I can't find out what this actually means. :huh:

 

I do realise it's not the normal pitch that anyone else plays in, but I'd like to have a bit of knowledge in case I get into a discussion with the cornet player that's going on the same cruise :o

 

 

I wonder if anybody on these boards has expierence with playing thier boxes in such a cold climate: I live in california, and though it does snow, its certainly not the Antartic. How cold can those reeds get and still be in tune (metal expands and shrinks with temperature)?

 

And the leather on the bellows: I have heard of leather jackets cracking when getting too cold.

 

I expect you wont be playing on the main deck looking out over the bow of the ship in full blow.

 

Though it might be an amusing site, snow blasting over the deck,

waves washing under your feet as you merrily play on.... :lol:

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Once a year I play a late November evening gig on a sidewalk in Saratoga Springs, NY. The temperature can be anything from 0 to 50 Fahrenheit. Not antarctic, to be sure. Never tested the intonation (I'm usually playing alone with the Morris Dancers), but it doesn't seem to do the instrument any harm.

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Once a year I play a late November evening gig on a sidewalk in Saratoga Springs, NY. The temperature can be anything from 0 to 50 Fahrenheit. Not antarctic, to be sure. Never tested the intonation (I'm usually playing alone with the Morris Dancers), but it doesn't seem to do the instrument any harm.

 

I suspect that if your fingers can stand the temperature, so will the concertina.

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I suspect that if your fingers can stand the temperature, so will the concertina.

See this post from two years ago (a year when the "late November gig" fell on December 1).

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This thread might shed some light on it but I don't think it will help you play along with the cornet player. A 4 Hz difference will be very noticeable and if memory serves me right the slides on brass instruments only allow for lowering the pitch but 'tis nearly forty years since I last played one! :(

I play brass, and most instruments are made to play in tune at A=440 with their tunign slides partway out. That leaves some leeway for tunign the instrument sharp, by pushing the slide in.

 

A "celeste" beat rate of 4 per second at high A is probably not a deal-breaker when playing with the cornetist, certainly nto so much if you are playing accompniment. But he should be able to tuen sharp to you.

 

But -- if you play out on deck, the cold will make the brass or woodwind isntrument go flat, but will hardly affect your free-reeded tina. So he'll have to push the slidees in even more.

 

After a round or two of Akvavit (or cognac, etc.) nobody should mind that much tho ;)

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I think that pitch 444 means it is tuned higher than you want. should be 440 or a little lower (if the cornet is tuned in 440). Many like the pitch to be a little lower than 440 (say 439). Your instrument will be heard if the rest is precisely in 440. Never heard anyone asking for a higher pitch than 440(that is when playing in a group that is pitched 440), and personally, I think it does not sound okay if it is 442 or higher. What I would do is check the pitch of the cornet and have the concertina tuned 1 hz lower.

Edited by marien

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Thanks for all the help. I'm hoping the cornet won't actually turn up on the ship now :huh: The lass that plays it may bring a recorder instead.

 

Unfortunately, it's a friend that's doing the tuning (for free) and since he's spent ages getting it to agree with itself, I don't like to suggest changing anything. He's even found one reed coated with laquer apparently because whoever did it last (it has had other repairs in the past) didn't know how to tune it properly. He's currently having fun with the lead pins.

 

I'm not sure I'll be playing the 'tina on deck - I'll be working while I'm out there :( and as it's not that loud it shouldn't cause offence to too many inside <_<

If it does, it'll probably get left on an iceflow :o

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