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#1998573 - 12/12/12 08:34 PM A=440 ... rising to 441 ??
Toastburn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/10
Posts: 221
Loc: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Just had my piano tuned today. The tuner asked if it was normally tuned to A=440, which is always has been. (it was a little flat overall). She then observed that sometimes she is asked to tune to A=441.

Has anyone ever come across A=441 as a tuning? or 442 or anything higher? Why would this be even asked for? I can't think of any reason for going higher than 440. Going lower is plausible if one is into Victorian or Baroque pitches, of course, or accompanying antique instruments in the HIP world.
_________________________
A perennially hopeful amateur!
Pianos: Boston GP178, Lipp 1899 upright
Currently attempting: Bach: WTC I/1,5;II/12; Chopin Polonaise in A; Brahms Op 118 No 2 Intermezzo in D; Scarlatti Sonata L23.

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#1998579 - 12/12/12 08:53 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
WhoDwaldi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
The Vienna Philharmonic tunes to A=443. Edge and color to sound? I dunno.

I think I read that a technician was asked to tune to 441 once. He tuned the standard way, then "fixed" just the A slightly sharp to satisfy the picky customer.

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#1998596 - 12/12/12 09:21 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: WhoDwaldi]
Toastburn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/10
Posts: 221
Loc: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Aha, I didn't know that. Also something to with the acoustics of their usual performance hall? (just guessing).
_________________________
A perennially hopeful amateur!
Pianos: Boston GP178, Lipp 1899 upright
Currently attempting: Bach: WTC I/1,5;II/12; Chopin Polonaise in A; Brahms Op 118 No 2 Intermezzo in D; Scarlatti Sonata L23.

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#1998621 - 12/12/12 10:12 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3546
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Toastburn
Aha, I didn't know that. Also something to with the acoustics of their usual performance hall? (just guessing).


No, but a lot of woodwind instruments have better intonation when the pitch is a bit higher.

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#1998622 - 12/12/12 10:15 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10354
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I tune my piano to 443.

It works well, except if I try to play duets with my flutist son!
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1998624 - 12/12/12 10:17 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3861
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
I tune my piano to 443.


Why?
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#1998625 - 12/12/12 10:20 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
Chopin's own pleyel pianos tuned A=428.10

And I did that It sounds more beatiful than A=440
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#1998627 - 12/12/12 10:24 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10354
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Well, my youngest's Baroque flute is made at A = 415. There is no one "right" pitch.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1998628 - 12/12/12 10:25 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10354
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Why?


I had read that Grotrian usually tunes to 443, so I decided to give it a try. The slight sharpness does brighten up the sound a bit, but not in a harsh way ...as when we use the term "bright" to refer to a hard-hammered school piano.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1998633 - 12/12/12 10:39 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3861
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Why?


I had read that Grotrian usually tunes to 443, so I decided to give it a try. The slight sharpness does brighten up the sound a bit, but not in a harsh way ...as when we use the term "bright" to refer to a hard-hammered school piano.


Got it! Thanks!
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#1998639 - 12/12/12 10:48 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Piano*Dad]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3546
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Well, my youngest's Baroque flute is made at A = 415. There is no one "right" pitch.


Tuning was considerably lower in the baroque period. Baroque period instruments are quite different. Modern woodwinds are better suited to higher pitch. 440 is on the low end of the scale, acceptable but not optimal.

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#1998642 - 12/12/12 10:51 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10354
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Actually, his "modern" silver flute struggles at A=443. It was made in the 1940s. I understand that they're stretching the scale toward sharper today.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1998661 - 12/12/12 11:24 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21398
Loc: Oakland
In the baroque period, a lot of pitches were used. Ruckers double manual harpsichords played a fourth apart depending on which keyboard you played. Pitches were given in "feet" as in the length of an organ pipe, and that is still referred to when an organist speaks of 4', 8' or 16' stops. Each doubling of the length lowers the pitch by an octave. That is not as accurate as the methods we use to measure pitch today, but it was good enough.
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Semipro Tech

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#1998792 - 12/13/12 07:38 AM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
slipperykeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/12
Posts: 370
Loc: Dorset, England
I once saw, on an Open University programme I think it was, that many concert pianos were tuned to 444 as the historical 440 was now thought to not be bright enough.

That would have been transmitted in the 1970's.

I don't know how true it is and I don't care, I decided if I ever could I would tune my piano to 444.

Bought a Roland RD700 NX and job done.

Being cloth eared I can't tell the difference.

I shall certainly try that Chopin tuning though, excitingly low!

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#1998865 - 12/13/12 10:53 AM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
The trend does seem to be toward higher pitches, I think for an edgier sound. My son has an extreme form of perfect pitch. When he was still taking violin lessons he commented that the pianos at school were above 440 and his private teacher's piano was slightly below 440. His private teacher was older, and I think all round old school coming from East Europe. (Do they have a particular tuning preference in different parts of the world?)

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#1998995 - 12/13/12 02:39 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
The last time I had the old player/upright tuned, when I phoned for the appointment, I mentioned that it was about 50 cents flat. My all-business-tuner-woman warned me over the phone, "Better be prepared for a 'pitch-raise'".

When she arrived, she attempted to talk me into tuning everything to the "average" ~50 cents flat. I objected, we argued, and she finally agreed to a "pitch-raise" - very risky on an old upright.

To digress for a moment, you see, my old-school thinking just assumes that "a tuning" takes everything back to where it should be. Well, obviously a "pitch raise" and a "tuning" are different things. I paid considerably more for this highly specialized service, and I am currently looking for a new, old-fashioned technician.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1999030 - 12/13/12 04:06 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10354
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
So you don't know the difference between a tuning and a pitch raise? Hmmmm.


Actually, there is a difference. It has to do with the size of the jump. To change the pitch substantially usually requires several tunings to create stability at the new base pitch.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1999126 - 12/13/12 07:43 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Piano*Dad]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
So you don't know the difference between a tuning and a pitch raise? Hmmmm.

Actually I do now - it is $35.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#2000321 - 12/16/12 03:51 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: LoPresti]
jmcintyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 228
Loc: Wash. DC area
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
So you don't know the difference between a tuning and a pitch raise? Hmmmm.

Actually I do now - it is $35.


Assuming you were otherwise happy with the tuning, if the additional charge for the pitch raise was only $35 I would not be in too big a hurry to find another tech.
_________________________
I'd rather be practicing wink
Kawai K-3, Roland FP-7F
Now: Brahms Op. 118, Bach French Suite #5

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#2000348 - 12/16/12 05:20 PM A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: jmcintyre]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Gentlemen,

Semantics aside, when did a piano tuning become something OTHER THAN returning the temperment to A=440?

Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#2000357 - 12/16/12 05:49 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
As I understand it, originally the piano has been tuned to A = 440 or some other reference pitch of A. All the strings have been tuned in relationship to this 440 in the temperament used for piano. After a while the piano goes out of tune in the sense that some strings may become somewhat flat or sharp. The tuner comes, adjusts the strings until the temperament and tuning are reestablished. They are minor adjustments.

Otoh, if the entire piano is brought up to a substantially higher pitch, then there is more work involved. Also because of physics and the nature of materials, the strings will stretch and then become flat, or if it is done in one shot they may snap. Whichever the case, the tuner has to go over the strings several times. It is more work, takes longer, and therefore the charge is higher.

That is what I'm understanding.

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#2000454 - 12/16/12 09:14 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
Keystring is right.

If a piano is significantly low in pitch, then it is impossible to just tune it to A440. A different technique is required, because the act of putting extra tension on successive strings distorts the structure of the piano causing previous strings to drop in pitch. This is compensated for by pulling each string sharp, but it is an inaccurate process, and so the result after just raising the pitch will not be a good tuning. It is only after the pitch raise is done can the piano accurately be tuned to A=440.
_________________________
Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#2000477 - 12/16/12 10:32 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 513
Loc: California
My piano is tuned to 443. That's how it was tuned at the factory, and that's where it seems to be happy.

According to the manufacturer: (Bösendorfer)

Quote:

The pianos are manufactured in the factory at a tuning pitch of A443 Hertz, however it may be altered between A440 Hertz and A445 Hertz according to need.
_________________________
Robert Swirsky
Thrill Science, Inc.

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#2000511 - 12/17/12 12:11 AM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: keystring
As I understand it, originally the piano has been tuned to A = 440 or some other reference pitch of A. All the strings have been tuned in relationship to this 440 in the temperament used for piano. After a while the piano goes out of tune in the sense that some strings may become somewhat flat or sharp. The tuner comes, adjusts the strings until the temperament and tuning are reestablished. They are minor adjustments.

Yup - to my way of thinking, that is precisely what happened in my case.

Originally Posted By: keystring
Otoh, if the entire piano is brought up to a substantially higher pitch, then there is more work involved.

Yes. again. I agree that IF my piano had needed to be raised substantially higher, this would be the case. Or if there were a bunch that were high, and a bunch that were low; but, as I wrote, most pitches that were off at all were about one-quarter tone flat. I neither see that as a substantial correction, nor as a huge risk to the physical properties of this old heavyweight.

Originally Posted By: Phil D
If a piano is significantly low in pitch, then it is impossible to just tune it to A440. A different technique is required, because the act of putting extra tension on successive strings distorts the structure of the piano

Phil,

This thing could be run over by a truck, and the structure would not distort. (The truck’s structure might!) That fact aside, is a 50-cent upward correction on less that one-half the string sets actually considered significant ? If it is, then exactly what sort of correction should be involved in a normal tuning? After all, I can take the front off and dust the piano myself, and without an appointment.

Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#2000517 - 12/17/12 12:27 AM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Thrill Science]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6098
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: Thrill Science
My piano is tuned to 443. That's how it was tuned at the factory, and that's where it seems to be happy.

According to the manufacturer: (Bösendorfer)

Quote:

The pianos are manufactured in the factory at a tuning pitch of A443 Hertz, however it may be altered between A440 Hertz and A445 Hertz according to need.


It is also the pitch of the Vienna Philharmonic.
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2000714 - 12/17/12 02:24 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: Toastburn]
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1242
Loc: London
Why is ever-greater "brightness" thought to be a good quality? It sounds a doubtful attribute to me.

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#2000759 - 12/17/12 04:31 PM Re: A=440 ... rising to 441 ?? [Re: David-G]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6098
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
It guess it is subjective. I agree with you though, and actually when I chose my piano I liked it because of its mellow sound and clearly said I didn't like a too bright sound.
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