Blog » Myth: 432Hz was the standard before 440Hz

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MYTH ⚠ 432Hz WAS THE STANDARD BEFORE 440Hz

(HISTORICALLY INCORRECT, PSEUDOSCIENCE)

Some online sources state that 440Hz replaced 432Hz as Standard. That is incorrect. 432Hz has NEVER been a National or International standard.

So far I have not found much information about old 432Hz tuning forks, generally good physical proof that a particular pitch was used.  I did come across a couple of references to 433Hz tuning forks:

  •  Around 1820: A=433Hz, London. “Pitch approved by Sir George Smart, conductor of the Philharmonic.”
  •  Around 1850: Broadwood Piano Co. tuner “low pitch” is said to be equal to A=433Hz.

I have not been able to find any other sources that provide concrete information with proper historical references to support the rumor. This does not mean no instruments were made that use 432Hz (like for example “Tibetan Bowls”). 432Hz was nonetheless never a standard Concert Pitch. There for I have to conclude this rumor is simply one of those “myths” that go around, concerning 432-tuning.

REFERENCES:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch
  • Alexander J. Ellis. “On the History of Musical Pitch,” Journal of the Society of Arts, (March 5, 1880). Reprinted in Studies in the History of Music Pitch, Amsterdam: Frits Knuf, 1968

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