Question for Nicole

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Question for Nicole

Postby TFritz13 » Wed Jun 06, 2001 3:26 pm

Awhile back you mentioned that todays orchastra tune to a higher pitch then back in the days of when the composers (ie Mozart, Bach and other) composed their music. What does this mean? I am very confused. Or did I misunderstand?
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby barfle » Fri Jun 29, 2001 11:05 pm

Well, I'm not Nicole, but I've heard this said before by other people who comment on orchestral music. I'm also an engineer who likes music, so I know a little of the science of acoustics, etc. With that introduction, I will now state an opinion that may or may not have anything to do with reality.<P>The chromatic scale (which most composers use, it's the old familiar five lines with four spaces between, treble clef on top, bass clef on bottom, etc.) defines what notes a musician is to play at any particular instant in a piece of music. (duh) But what exactly is a "note?" Part of the definition is the frequency of the fundamental vibration the instrument puts into the air and the listener's ears. The old definition (not that old, I doubt if it were possible to measure this in Bach's time) is the A below middle C is a vibration at 440 Hertz, or 440 cycles per second. The rest of the notes have definite mathematical relationships to this definition.<P>Most of us can't tell if it's 440.1, or even 441 Hz. However, some conductors feel that the music has more excitement if the orchestra is tuned a little sharp. It's one of those "artistic" decisions that every performer makes all the time. <P>Most instruments can be adjusted (tuned) over a pretty wide range, so it's not usually a problem. However, if you are a vocalist, the high notes just got a little higher, and you could be in trouble in front of a few thousand people who are about to become ex-fans. Image<BR><p>[This message has been edited by barfle (edited 06-30-2001).]
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby shostakovich » Sat Jun 30, 2001 4:43 pm

There was once upon a time a record label (short-lived) called A440. That was back in the early '50s. During my school years, late '50s, I heard about a movement to "sharpen" the orchestra. I think there was a 1/2 per cent increase in the pitch spectrum, making A 442 (cps in those days). I don't recall if that was a contemporary move, or something even earlier than '50s. I never actually read this. It's from vague memory. So, for what it's worth, those are my reminiscences. Someone with a tuning fork, tuned to A, will have to "ping and count".<BR>Shos<p>[This message has been edited by shostakovich (edited 06-30-2001).]
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby TFritz13 » Mon Jul 02, 2001 7:57 am

Wow thank you all. That was alot of information.
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby audiogirl » Mon Jul 09, 2001 5:15 pm

Oh yeah! A half-step makes a world of difference for a vocalist who is edging up toward the top of his or her range! To sort of quote Peter, Squeeeeek! So glad for the refresher course on the science of sound.
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby ReedMan » Tue Jul 10, 2001 12:27 pm

In an orchestra, there is a tendency for the strings' pitch to climb as the stage warms up under hot spotlights and a roomful of audience. The wind instruments must then adjust. Pity the weakest link that cannot tune higher. I learned early in my career to carry an extra, shorter barrel so I could match any pitch that was reached. It also comes in handy when playing duets with pianos that are tuned too high.
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby Nicole Marie » Tue Jul 10, 2001 1:32 pm

HI Reedman-<P>When string instruments warm up the wood of the instrument expands. So yes we do go out of tune and have to retune often. But we have one liberty when this happens. We can adjust our hand placment to hit the correct notes. If my instrument go flat I can move my hand higher to compensate. Kind of like how you carry extra barrels with you. <p>[This message has been edited by Nicole Marie (edited 07-10-2001).]
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby gwenyvarr » Wed Aug 22, 2001 8:23 am

That's why strings are cool, you can compensate for the expansion and contraction of the wood. Now for a horn, that's a different problem. I play french horn and you have to adjust the levers to make sure you don't sound so flat or sharp. And if you pull too hard it makes the note sound weird. :roll: Just a little input.
Living in a mad world there is only one thing you can do. Throw a tea party for you and your friends in the garden of your mind. - S.Zuromski
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby Brahmsian » Tue Sep 04, 2001 8:31 pm

I'm also a horn player, and I think greater emphasis should be put on the placement of the hand. I play a Holton-Farkas which almost always goes sharp. Actually, in the orchestra I played in the oboist asked the conductor what frequency was his preference so with each conductor my hand positon and slides changed. It was a good way to keep your attention. :D
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby Peter » Fri Sep 07, 2001 10:54 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by audiogirl:<BR><STRONG>Oh yeah! To sort of quote Peter, Squeeeeek!</STRONG><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Did Sarah Brightman just walk in? ;)
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby lliam » Tue Sep 11, 2001 3:28 pm

Hello Pete,<BR> nice to know you are still around, do you remember us discussing Russell Watson, last year? Well, that same young man has made it, he's even on b.com, at the moment Russell is in the States recording a new Album. I know you said, you were not very struck on opera singers especially Tenors, I think you ought to give his CD, 'The Voice' a listen, I've had it ages and I play it when I'm not listening to b.com. <BR>Regards,<BR>Lliam.<P> ;)
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby Peter » Wed Sep 12, 2001 2:10 pm

Thanks, Lliam. Yes, I shall listen to the CD in Question and get back to you.
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby lliam » Wed Sep 12, 2001 4:37 pm

Good Show, Peter.<BR>Lliam.<BR> ;)<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Peter:<BR><STRONG>Thanks, Lliam. Yes, I shall listen to the CD in Question and get back to you.</STRONG><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P> ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby lliam » Wed Sep 12, 2001 4:38 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Peter:<BR><STRONG>Thanks, Lliam. Yes, I shall listen to the CD in Question and get back to you.</STRONG><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Good Show, Peter.<BR>Lliam.<BR> ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby BigCharles » Tue Oct 16, 2001 4:54 pm

I had heard that in olden days that concert A was 400 and has moved to 440 over the years.<P>In radio engineering 400 CPS is used as a standard tone but I don't remember why.<P>One possible explanation for the change is that the composition of the atmosphere has changed to make 440 sound more natural and 400 sound flat. We do notice that the size of the listener has changed over several hundred years and I have wondered if this has had any effect.<P>I have seen a very old pitch pipe that has A on it and it tests at 410 CPS. It dated to prior to 1800.
ATB<P>Charles Kincaid
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby thornhill » Tue Oct 16, 2001 11:56 pm

Baroque Instruments A=415Hz<BR>Handel A=422.5Hz <BR>Mozart A=421.6Hz<BR>1820 A=433Hz<BR>Mid to late 1800's A=440-450Hz<BR>Modern instruments A=440Hz (since 1937)<P>European Orchestras are beginning to experiment with A=450Hz today.<P>Period instrument performances of Mozart, Beethoven and others are done at A=430Hz
Well - There it is
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby BigCharles » Wed Oct 17, 2001 9:11 am

Thanks thornhill,<P>I knew that I had heard that before. My question is still "why?" Why do modern people prefer a hight pitch?<P>What will we be like in 3001? Would that be A = 1250? Would orchestras need transmitters to broadcast or would they just play in the low RF range? :D <exaggeration off><P>There has to be some reason. It is the atmosphere? A more dense atmosphere would transmit sound at a higher speed and that might make a higher pitch more pleasing. Are the hairs in our cochlea growing shorter making them more responsive to higher frequencies? :confused: <P>This could make a good PHD thesis.<p>[ 10-17-2001: Message edited by: Charles Kincaid ]
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby thornhill » Wed Oct 17, 2001 10:54 am

While there are some technically reasons, it's really about what sounds the best. For instance, you'll notice that Mozart wrote music for instruments tuned to A=421.6Hz yet all period instrument performances of his are tuned to A=430Hz. This is simply because Mozart sounds much better at 430Hz then 421Hz. Higher frequencies tend to make the music sound heavier and a bit more dramatic. That's why during the Romantic period frequencies got all the way up the 450hz. <P>Today some orchestras in Europe will tune their instruments to 450Hz because it helps give a piece more dramatic flair.<P>So it really comes down to what sounds the best with a certain piece of music . I wouldn't be surprised if Mendelssohn works better at something slightly lower then 440Hz
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Re: Question for Nicole

Postby BigCharles » Thu Oct 18, 2001 10:49 am

Cool, :cool:<P>Here I thought that those "global warming" types might have had a leg to stand on after all. Now I can breathe easier. (Pun intended.)
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