Everything you need to know about the frequencies in handpans
A great mystery for many is the field of frequencies. Here we provide information about the background of this topic, clarify the history of the concert pitch and go into the often requested 432Hz frequency. We hope to support you in your handpan selection.
Preliminary explanation of terms:
Hz is the unit symbol for the physical variable frequency and indicates the number of repetitive processes (e.g. oscillations or pulses) per second. The unit was named after the German physicist Heinrich Hertz in 1930. The human hearing range is z. B. in the frequency range between 16 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
The concert pitch
The Hz specification defines the oscillations per second, according to which the concert pitch A is tuned. In western music, the tone A is tuned, since 1939 it has been uniformly pitched at 440Hz.
The concert pitch A is the reference tone from which all other tones, e.g. B. an instrument to be tuned. Musicians or choir directors use flutes or tuning forks in the respective concert pitch for a uniform mood. The tuning fork was invented by John Shore in 1711.
An octave (Latin octava 'the eighth') is an interval in music, the distance between eight tones of a scale. An example of a scale could be e.g. B. be the C major scale. It begins with the note C1 and ends with the one octave (8 steps) higher C2: c, d, e, f, g, a, b, c. The frequency ratio between the low C and the high C2 is exactly 1:2.
The history of concert pitch
Up until the 19th century, there was no uniform pitch or concert pitch. An individual concert pitch was used depending on the region or type of music. Generally speaking, the concert pitch was often lower than the 440Hz that is common today. The resulting deeper sound is perceived by many people as more pleasant and natural.
Not always and everywhere there was a uniform concert pitch. In Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries it was often around 415 vibrations per second, in Italy in the 17th century it was 466 Hz and in baroque France it was 392 Hz. In India, the cradle of many meditative practices and yoga, the 432Hz tuning has been a tradition for many centuries.
Due to an increasingly interregional musical life, the need for a uniform pitch grew. This is how the so-called Paris tuning, which was fixed at 409 Hz, was created in Paris in 1788. Since the concert pitch continued to rise in the course of the 19th century, it was redefined to 437.5 Hz by the French Academy in 1858. In 1884, Giuseppe Verdi still advocated a frequency of 432 Hz, which is common today in handpans and traditionally in various ritual, shamanic and "healing" instruments.
In 1939, at an international voice conference, the "Federation of the National Standardizing Associations" set the standard frequency at 440 Hz at 20 °C for the tone A1 . In October 1953, this frequency became the ISO standard (ISO = International Organization for Standardization in Geneva, 166 member countries). 40,000 musicians following this development have submitted petitions to prevent it. Without success.
This regulation was confirmed on June 30, 1971 by the delegates of the Council of the European Union for the EU.
The frequency of 443 Hz has become commonplace as a concert pitch, not only in the German orchestra scene - regardless of the internationally valid standard of 440 Hz - especially because stringed instruments sound louder and fuller at higher frequencies. This is indicated by the oboe at the beginning of the rehearsal or performance, taken by the concert master (i.e. the leading instrumentalist in the first violin section), who tunes his violin to this note and then "passes it on" to the orchestra. In other countries voice pitches of 440 Hz to 446 Hz are also common, for example in Italy a voice pitch of 442 Hz prevails For the practice of making music on historical instruments, a standard pitch of 415 Hz (which is about a semitone lower than 440 Hz) is often used for baroque, 430 Hz for classical and 438 Hz for romantic instruments.
The different concert pitch frequencies mentioned show that there is no clear derivation of an absolute concert pitch. As early as the 1950s, doubts arose about the decision of the International Tuning Conference to use 440 Hz. Some musicians could not understand the "arbitrariness" of the decision and had the feeling of an unbalanced random decision. However, each soloist and each ensemble can still decide for themselves in which mood the music is played.
432Hz – the cosmic frequency?
In the musical and esoteric scene, the so-called 432Hz music has been gaining more and more importance and attention for several years. Some people attribute special healing powers to this type of music, others find the musical aspect of it interesting. Here we provide a simple overview of this quite controversial and complicated topic. There are many unproven myths and worldviews surrounding the effect of the 432Hz frequency. We want to remain as objective as possible and base this article only on proven facts.
On the internet you can find a variety of music composed in the 432 hertz frequency. The harmonic methodology is used particularly often for meditation and therapeutic work. It is said that Mozart and Verdi also composed their works with a standard pitch of 432Hz - pieces that are often considered to be particularly concentration-enhancing, harmonious or relaxing.
The origin of the 432Hz concert pitch lies between the sun and the earth
The origin of the 432Hz tuning lies in the preoccupation of some people with the so-called planetary sounds and planetary vibrations. This is about converting the orbits of the planets into frequencies and equating them with the frequencies of sounds. Since the frequencies of an orbital cycle are beyond human hearing, they are increased by one octave at a time until a tone that is easily perceptible to the human ear is produced.
Planetary sounds and planetary vibrations were already being researched in ancient times by the philosopher Pythagoras and described under the term harmony of the spheres. For him and his followers, earthly music was based on numbers and was a replica of "heavenly" music.
In the 16th century the physicist, mathematician, theologian and astronomer Johannes Kepler published laws for the calculation of the orbits of the planets around the sun (Kepler's laws) in his work "Harmonices Mundi" (Harmonics of the World). For the theologian lay in its laws the revelation of a musical and divine harmony.
The "harmonic world view" in modern times:
In the late 1970s, it was the mathematician and musicologist Hans Cousto who further developed the theory of spherical harmonics in his calculations of “harmonical chamber tones”. Like his predecessors, he calculated the frequency of the earth's oscillation around the sun in a year and equated it with the frequency of sounds. The so-called annual tone of the earth would then correspond to the tone C sharp with a frequency of 0.0000000316875412 Hz (calculation see below). This low frequency is inaudible to the human ear. From the 30th octave you get into the audible range. In the 32nd octave the frequency is then 136 Hz.
As a person with a strong esoteric and intercultural interest, Cousto saw a correspondence between this frequency and traditional Indian music. Examples of this are e.g. B. the basic tuning of the Indian string instrument sitar (136 Hertz). The Tibetan OM, which is sacred there, is also intoned at this pitch.
Cousto's planetary frequencies are now considered the standard for singing bowls, gongs, musical instruments or planetary tuning forks tuned to planetary tones.
The calculation of the yearly tone as the basis of the 432 Hz concert pitch:
For everyone who wants to see the mathematical basis for determining the 432Hz concert pitch, it is shown here again step by step.
- Step: Conversion of the orbital time in seconds
Since the oscillation is measured in hertz, i.e. oscillations per second, we convert the orbital time of the earth around the sun into seconds.
= of 365.2563 days * 24 hours * 60 minutes * 60 seconds
= 31558144.32 seconds
- Step: frequency calculation
The physical formula for calculating the frequency is f = 1/ time = 1/s
- Step: octave
Since humans can only hear sounds from 20 Hz (20 oscillations per second), the frequency of the earth year is doubled (octaved) until it is audible for us.
= 0.0000000316875412 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2….
the 32nd octave = 136.096 Hz = C# = annual tone of the earth
- Step - The concert pitch in 432 Hertz
If you now follow the annual tone C sharp with 136 Hz in its tone sequence upwards to the tone A1 (concert pitch), this is calculated with a frequency of 432 Hz.
Calculation of the planetary frequency (self-rotation):
The frequency of the planet earth is 8 Hz. Scientifically, this natural earth vibration is called the Schumann resonance, after Winfried Otto Schumann. In other words, the earth pulsates 8 times per second.
To calculate the planetary frequency, we need the time value for the duration of the natural rotation. The earth takes 1 day to rotate around itself (24h * 60 minutes * 60 seconds = 86,400 seconds). That gives a frequency of 0.000,011,574,074 Hertz (1/86,400 seconds). After octaving into the audible range, the earth has a frequency of 194.18 Hz, which corresponds to tone G on the 440 Hz scale. According to this calculation, the earth vibrates in the tone G.
How does 432 Hz music work?
Advocates of 432 hertz music are firmly convinced of this musical atmosphere, which they describe as "divine". It is said to promote concentration, have a calming and meditative effect and harmonize body and soul. The 432 hertz frequency is also said to have a healing effect on the body. The cerebral hemispheres should be synchronized and cells and DNA harmonized.
Ascribed Beliefs to the 432Hz Frequency :
- has a calming and harmonious effect on the body
- suitable for meditation and relaxation
- synchronizes the cerebral hemispheres
- brings body and soul into harmony
- Harmonization of THEN
- promote healthy cell metabolism.
The 432Hz frequency & the science
There is no serious research for the healing effect of 432 Hz music and there is no scientifically recognized evidence. The fact that sound has an influence on the human organism is generally proven by research in connection with noise pollution from infrasound (sound below the human hearing limit) or the use of ultrasound (sound above the human hearing limit), e.g. B. in the fight against cancer cells.
A fundamentally potentially positive effect of music on the soul and thus also on the body has long been a fact and has been successfully used in music and sound therapy as well as by private individuals for many years. However, this is completely independent of the mood in which the music is played, regardless of whether it is 432 Hz, 440 Hz or other frequencies.
The historical preoccupation with 432 Hz as concert pitch A is interesting and comprehensible from a theoretical and philosophical point of view, since it has a long-standing background. Scientifically, no physical difference in the effects of different frequencies on the body can be determined.
The mind game around the 432Hz music is based on the theoretical equation of the vibration of planets and tones. Physically, however, sound needs matter in order to propagate. The celestial bodies, however, float in a vacuum. A sound caused by the movement of the planets cannot propagate and consequently the planets cannot "sound".
Whether and to what extent one finds the 432Hz music pleasant for oneself remains a matter of taste and is at the discretion of each and every individual.
Which frequency for my handpan - 440Hz or 432Hz?
What speaks for 440Hz:
The 440Hz frequency is the standard used in western music to tune musical instruments. If you want to use your handpan to make music in the western world, especially with other classical instruments, the 440Hz frequency is the right choice.
What speaks for 432Hz:
Due to the history mentioned, instruments tuned to 432Hz have a long tradition in various therapeutic, shamanic and healing practices. If you are attracted to the 432Hz frequency yourself, then a handpan tuned in this way is the right choice for you.
Can I also have my handpan built in a different frequency?
Of course, tuning a handpan to other fundamental frequencies is also possible. For example, 433Hz would make sense for orchestral use. If you prefer a specific frequency, please write to us directly. We are happy to comply with your request and will do our best for you.
Most of our handpans can be configured to both 440Hz and 432Hz when selecting the product. Since the usual standard is 440Hz, we have a selection of 432Hz handpans for you here compiled.