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Tuning frequency 428 Hertz

A standard pitch did not exist always and everywhere. Still today, musicians like to experiment with tuning pitches. Take the "Ensemble 428", for instance.

This past Sunday (May 17), Christian Schulz, cellist, conductor and composer presented the chamber ensemble 428 in the Vienna Musikverein’s Brahms-Saal.

The number 428 does not suggest an audience size limitation for reasons of fire safety laws. 428 refers to the tuning pitch. The “Research Project 428” is about the effects of particular frequencies on the psyche and physical constitution of musicians and listeners. After several years of research, a frequency of 428 Hz, which lies exactly between the “normal” tuning pitch of 440 Hertz and the Baroque tuning of 416 Hz, was chosen by the artists as especially relevant.

Christian Schulz played his own compositions (“Barcode”; 14 sound-pictures from the cycle “The Transformation of the Batons”) with his ensemble on this basis, as well as chamber music works by Mozart. The interpreters of this highly interesting evening of musical experiments in the Brahms-Saal were:

Dominika Falger, violin
Johannes Fiedler, viola
Christian Schulz, cello

The dean of the music faculty at the Tokushima Bunri University, Prof. Guiseppe Mariotti, played the Bösendorfer piano (model 214) brilliantly. The piano had been tuned to 428 Hz in exemplary fashion by the Bösendorfer concert technicians.

Excursion

The increasing need for a unified tuning pitch was first taken into account in Paris in 1788. The so-called Paris tuning was established at 409 Hz. As the standard pitch continued to rise throughout the 19th century, it was newly established at 437.5 Hz in 1858 by the French Academy. The last international tuning pitch conference was held in London in 1939; it defined the standard pitch to be 440 Hz at 20 degrees Celsius for the note A.

Some critics connect the high tuning with the acceleration of the world. From their point of view, highly tuned instruments also play a role in the disease of civilization, stress. A lower tuning can have a positive, relaxing effect that fosters “well-being.”