Did you know that the Treaty of Versailles written over 100 years ago set in motion how the world listens to music to this day?
The treaty was the first attempt to standardize musical pitch on a massive, international scale.
Scroll down to Article 282, section (22) here and you’ll see it:
(22) Convention of November 16 and 19, 1885, regarding the establishment of a concert pitch.
The exact pitch specification bounced around a bit over the years (it also varies based on room temperature), until finally settling on A=440 Hz at a 1939 international conference held in London.
For the musically and technically inclined, what was established here was that the A note above middle C is required to be set to a frequency of 440 Hz in an effort to standardize music across different nations.
Here’s where the controversy begins. Some folks say that 432 Hz “sounds better” and is more “mathematically perfect” than 440 Hz. For something as seemingly mundane as a musical pitch, 432 Hz seems to stir up quite a discussion and controversy.
To be honest I don’t know the first thing about music theory.
To me 432 Hz sounds a bit better, I think. On some occasions I have a hard time noticing a difference at all. But check it out for yourself:
Interestingly, I found a research paper that concludes “432 Hz tuned music can decrease heart rate more than 440 Hz tuned music,” and suggests further study.
432 Hz tuned music was associated with a slight decrease of mean (systolic and diastolic) blood pressure values (although not significant), a marked decrease in the mean of heart rate (−4.79 bpm, p = 0.05) and a slight decrease of the mean respiratory rate values (1 r.a., p = 0.06), compared to 440 Hz. The subjects were more focused about listening to music and more generally satisfied after the sessions in which they listened to 432 Hz tuned music.
I was curious what it would take to re-tune a song from 440 Hz to 432 Hz quickly and for free:
File > Import > AudioThe interface may feel a little intimidating but we’ll be in and out pretty quick.
Ctrl+Aon Windows or
Cmd+Aon Mac to select the full track.
Effect > Change Pitch...and you’ll get a popup. Change Semitones to
-0.32and Percent Change to
-1.818and click OK:
File > Export > ...
I also threw together a quick music video using free stock footage from Pexels and Adobe Premiere Pro.
This calculator is why we use
-0.32 for the semitones value in Audacity. Type in
440 for F1 and
432 for F2 to calculate the ST.
Here’s another good reference with more background context and comparisons: