440 vs. 432 Tuning: A Comparative Guide

When you are an instrumentalist or just a musician in general, it is important for you to make sure you are choosing the right frequency to tune your instrument in. Read our article "440 vs. 432 Tuning" to know the difference.

Choosing the right frequency can affect a lot of things in your music, it can even help the vocalist feel a bit less stress when hitting those high, high notes or the low, low ones. Whatever the reason may be, it can really have an impact on your music as a whole so it is an important decision to make as a musician.

You can also read: Benefits of 432 Hz

440 vs. 432 Tuning: What is the 440 Hz?

In the modern world of music, 440 Hz has been widely accepted as the tuning standard. It helps in providing a scale measure for musicians to make sure their instruments are going to be in tune with the others, but this wasn’t always the case.

You might wonder how the modern society and world of music came to standard pitch for tuning to be 440 Hz A4. If you have thought about that then you can count yourself to be a part of the huge debate of standard frequencies. 

Let’s take a dive and look at how 440 Hz was chosen as the tuning standard in the modern world of music and why 432 Hz is gaining an increasing prominence.

440 vs. 432 Tuning: History of Tuning Standards

440 vs. 432 Tuning: A Comparative Guide

Photo by: kathrin's world Kathrin Schlott

For many years and centuries the western classical music tones have gone through a considerable amount of fluctuation. Since there wasn’t initially a set standard pitch to which the instruments can be tuned to, each orchestra would tune into a different pitch than the other. 

It wasn’t till the 18th century that the measurement and standard for tuning in Western music became A4, the A above the middle C. That would depend on what part of the world the orchestra came from, although, another thing about A4 is that it can range anywhere from 400 Hz to 480 Hz.

The unit of “Hz” which was named after Heinrich Hertz, measures a cycle per second. In 1830 the existence of electromagnetic waves was proven by him. Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, all had their orchestras tuned to unique pitches. Even after the invention of the tuning fork, the notes were different depending on whose tuning fork was used.

In 1859 the first attempt was made by the French government by passing a law to make 435 Hz the standardized pitch. But after a lot of tries to remedy the tuning standard difference, in an international conference in 1939, the standard was set to 440 Hz, which we now refer to as “concert pitch.”

However, in parts of the world of music there have been efforts to make 432 Hz as the tuning standard. A = 432 Hz, also referred to as “Verdi’s A,” which is named after the composer Giuseppe Verdi.

Verdi preferred the 432 Hz standard not just because it is said to be the frequency that is mathematically consistent and in tune with the laws of nature itself but also because Verdi, as an opera composer he was well aware of the pitch inflation which would cause singers to struggle with the highs and lows.

440 vs. 432 Tuning: The Rise of 432 Hz Tuning

There is a big chunk of both musicians and even non musicians that don’t really agree with 440 Hz being the standard reference for tuning. If you ever just look up “432 Hz” on any browser you will find yourself a bunch of opinions and arguments about how A432, with its healing properties and spirituality is a much better option than the “aggravating,” “dark” and “irritating” properties of A440.

A French physicist, Joseph Sauveur, came up with a concept of a scientific or philosophical pitch, in 1713. This system doesn’t follow the tuning reference of the A440, instead it places A4 at 430.54 Hz and the middle C, C4, at 256 Hz.

In his explanation, having the middle C placed at 256 Hz can create a system where each octave or even factor of C lands on an even integer and skips all those “dreadful” decimals. Guiseppe Verdi, in the 19th century, showed heavy preference for this tuning.

Benefits of 432 Hz

Photo by: Eric Raptosh Photography

There are many benefits to using 432 Hz. Many websites claim for 432 Hz to have spiritual healing powers, which is something that is proved by doctors and researchers. It is believed to be more in harmony with the universe itself, as it is said to be the heartbeat of nature and the universe. 

There are studies that prove that music therapy using 432 Hz helps in reducing anxiety and stress, it also helps in reducing blood pressure and heart rates. It gives your mind and body a soothing experience in general.

440 vs. 432 Tuning:

The standard 440 Hz sounds pretty “dark” compared to the more relaxing 432 Hz. In some experiments done by researchers, it was seen that most of the people who went in for the experiment, where they had to listen to a soundtrack at both a 440 Hz and 432 Hz. 

Most people who went in reported to feel much calmer at 432 Hz. It even showed their heart rates dropping and providing general satisfaction with the vital parameters, levels of concentration and perceptions. The people were more satisfied and generally more focused when listening to music that was tuned at 432 Hz. When compared to the 440 Hz frequency, 432 Hz provides more health benefits.

Final Words

Choosing between 440 Hz and 432 Hz is a completely subjective opinion. It’s something for you to listen to and decide which one you prefer and which one pleases your ears more. So choose a tuning that you like and make start making some music right now!

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