432 Hz

The controversy and a how-to guide for re-tuning your music for free.

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.


Comparison

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:

432 Hz (re-pitched):

440 Hz (standard):

Research

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.

Calamassi, D., & Pomponi, G. P. (2019). Music Tuned to 440 Hz Versus 432 Hz and the Health Effects: A Double-blind Cross-over Pilot Study.

Tutorial: Re-pitch a song to 432 Hz

I was curious what it would take to re-tune a song from 440 Hz to 432 Hz quickly and for free:

  1. First you’ll need to download Audacity. It’s free.
  2. Next find a song that you want to re-tune. I used STAY by Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber.
  3. Import the song into Audacity. File > Import > Audio The interface may feel a little intimidating but we’ll be in and out pretty quick.
  4. Hit Ctrl+A on Windows or Cmd+A on Mac to select the full track.
  5. Go to Effect > Change Pitch... and you’ll get a popup. Change Semitones to -0.32 and Percent Change to -1.818 and click OK:
  1. Done! You can now export out the song to the format you wish. File > Export > ...

I did a thing

I took the re-tuned Bieber song above and put it up on YouTube under a channel where I plan to put up more 432 Hz re-tuned songs.
There are a few other YouTube channels already like this.

I also threw together a quick music video using free stock footage from Pexels and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Enjoy!


Appendix

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: