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The power of sound: About the mysterious dispute between 432 Hz and 440 Hz

Handpan Musiker spielt in der Sonne erholsame Klänge auf einer Edelstahl Handpan in 432 Hz zum Auftanken und Entspannen

Everything you need to know about the frequencies in handpans

The power of sound has always been a fascinating topic that has fascinated musicians, philosophers and scientists alike. But did you know that the debate over musical instrument tuning is a source of mysterious controversy? In this article we delve into the mysterious debate between the pitches 432 Hz and 440 Hz and discover the fascinating theories behind them.

Many musicians and audiophiles swear by 432 Hz tuning, claiming it provides a deeper connection to nature and the spiritual side of sound. On the other hand, many people prefer the more common tuning of 440 Hz as it is considered more energetic and powerful.

What are the scientific explanations behind these two pitches? Is there actually a difference in the perception and effect of music in these different moods? And why is there so much passion and argument over this seemingly inconspicuous topic?

Join us as we delve into the world of sound and discover the fascinating secrets behind the 432 Hz and 440 Hz tuning debate.

Preliminary terminology:

  1. Hz (Hertz)
    Hz is the unit symbol for the physical quantity frequency and indicates the number of repeating processes (e.g. oscillations or pulses) per second. The unit was named in 1930 after the German physicist Heinrich Hertz. The human hearing range is e.g. B. in the frequency range between 16 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
  2. The concert pitch
    The specification Hz defines the vibrations per second according to which the concert pitch A is tuned. In Western music, the note A has been tuned to the pitch of 440Hz since 1939.
    The concert pitch A is the reference tone from which all other tones e.g. B. an instrument can be tuned. To achieve a uniform tuning, musicians or choir directors use flutes or tuning forks at the respective chamber pitch, for example. The tuning fork was invented by John Shore in 1711.
  3. The octave
    In music, an octave (Latin octava 'the eighth') is an interval, the distance between eight tones of a scale. An example of a scale could be: B. be the C major scale. It begins with the note C1 and ends with the note C2, which is one octave (8 steps) higher: 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

Until the 19th century there was no uniform pitch or concert pitch. Depending on the region or type of music, an individual chamber pitch was used. 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.

There was not always a uniform concert pitch everywhere. In Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries it was often around 415 oscillations per second, in 17th century Italy 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.

As musical life became increasingly interregional, the need for a uniform pitch grew. This is how the so-called Paris tuning was created in Paris in 1788, which was set at 409 Hz. As the concert pitch continued to rise over the course of the 19th century, it was re-set to 437.5 Hz by the French Academy in 1858. As late as 1884, Giuseppe Verdi advocated a frequency of 432 Hz, as is common today in handpans and traditionally in various ritual, shamanic and “healing” instruments.

At an international voice conference in 1939, the “Federation of the National Standardizing Associations” set the uniform frequency at 440 Hz at 20 °C for the tone A 1 . In October 1953, this frequency became the ISO standard (ISO = International Organization for Standardization in Geneva, 166 member countries). 40,000 musicians who followed 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.

It is not only in the German orchestra landscape that the frequency of 443 Hz has become established as a concert pitch - regardless of the still internationally valid standard of 440 Hz - especially because string instruments sound louder and fuller at a higher frequency. This is given by the oboe at the beginning of the rehearsal or performance, taken by the concertmaster (i.e. the leading instrumentalist of the first violin section), who tunes his violin to this note, and then "passes it on" to the orchestra. In other countries Vocal pitches of 440 Hz to 446 Hz are also common, for example in Italy a pitch of 442 Hz prevails. For music-making practice on historical instruments, a concert pitch of 415 Hz (which is about a semitone lower than 440 Hz) is often used for baroque music, 430 Hz used for classical and 438 Hz for romantic instruments.

The different pitch frequencies mentioned show that there is no clear derivation of an absolute pitch. As early as the 1950s, doubts arose about the setting of the international pitch conference at 440 Hz. Some musicians could not understand the "arbitrariness" of the decision and had the feeling that it was an unbalanced random decision. However, every soloist and every ensemble can still decide for themselves in which mood the music is played.

432Hz – the cosmic frequency?

In the musical and esoteric scene, 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 controversial and complicated topic. There are many unsubstantiated 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 particularly often used for meditation and therapeutic work. Apparently Mozart and Verdi also composed their works with a concert pitch of 432 Hz - pieces that today are often considered to be particularly conducive to concentration, harmonious or relaxing.

The origin of the 432Hz concert tone lies between the sun and the earth

The origin of the 432Hz tuning lies in some people's preoccupation with the so-called planetary sounds and planetary vibrations. This involves 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 is produced that is easily perceivable to the human ear.
Already in ancient times, planetary sounds and planetary vibrations were researched by the philosopher Pythagoras, among others, 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 calculating the orbits of the planets around the sun (Kepler's laws) in his work “Harmonices Mundi” (Harmony of the World). For the theologian, his laws revealed a musical and divine harmony.

The “Harmonious World View” in modern times:

In the late 1970s it was the mathematician and musicologist Hans Cousto who further developed the theory of sphere harmony in his calculations of “harmonical chamber tones”. Like his predecessors, he calculated the frequency of the Earth's oscillation around the Sun within 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 (see calculation below). This low frequency is inaudible to the human ear. From the 30th octave you enter the audible range. In the 32nd octave the frequency is 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 in this pitch.
Coustos 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 annual tone as the basis of the 432 Hz concert tone:

For everyone who wants to see the mathematical basis for determining the 432Hz concert pitch, it is shown here again step by step.

  1. Step: Conversion of the orbital time in seconds

Since the oscillation is measured in hertz, i.e. oscillation per second, we convert the earth's orbital time around the sun into seconds.
= of 365.2563 days * 24 hours * 60 minutes * 60 seconds
= 31558144.32 seconds

  1. Step: frequency calculation

The physical formula for calculating the frequency is f = 1/ time = 1/s
= 1 / 31558144.32s
= 0.0000000316875412…Hz

  1. Step: octave

Since humans can only hear sounds above 20 Hz (20 oscillations per second), the frequency of the earth's year is doubled (octaves) until it is audible to us.
= 0.0000000316875412 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2….
the 32nd octave = 136.096 Hz = C# = Earth's annual tone

  1. Step – The concert pitch in 432 Hertz

If you now follow the yearly tone C sharp with 136 Hz up in its tone sequence to the tone A1 (pitched tone), this is calculated to have a frequency of 432 Hz.

Calculation of the planetary frequency (self-rotation):

The frequency of Planet Earth is 8 Hz. Scientifically, this natural earth vibration is called the Schumann resonance, after Winfried Otto Schumann. In other words, you can say that the earth pulsates 8 times per second.

To calculate the planetary frequency we need the time value for the duration of its own rotation. The Earth takes 1 day to rotate around itself (24h * 60 minutes * 60 seconds = 86,400 seconds). This gives a frequency of 0.000,011,574,074 hertz (1/86,400 seconds). After the octave into the audible range, the earth has a frequency of 194.18 Hz, which corresponds to the note G on the 440 Hz scale. According to this calculation, the earth vibrates in the tone G.

The Effect of 432 Hz Music: A Deeper Look

Fans of 432 Hertz music are deeply convinced of its musical atmosphere, which is described as “divine”. This special frequency is said not only to promote concentration, but also to have a calming and meditative effect by bringing body and soul into harmonious harmony. The 432 Hertz frequency is even believed to have a beneficial influence on the body by supporting the synchronization of the brain hemispheres and causing the harmonization of cells and DNA.

Attributed beliefs associated with the 432 Hz frequency include:

  • Promoting calm and harmony in the body: The effect of this frequency extends to calming and harmonizing effects on the body.

  • Ideal support for meditation and relaxation: The 432 Hertz music is particularly suitable for deepening meditative states and promoting relaxation.

  • Promote synchronization of the cerebral hemispheres: This frequency is believed to help achieve better coordination between the cerebral hemispheres.

  • Creating harmony between body and soul: Music at 432 Hz is often seen as a mediator between body and soul that has a harmonizing effect.

  • Harmonization of DNA: A notable property of this frequency is the possible harmonization of DNA structures.

  • Support for healthy cell metabolism: It is even suspected that the 432 Hertz frequency could have a positive influence on the metabolism of cells.

Overall, 432 Hertz music opens up a fascinating world of sounds that goes far beyond the audible and has potentially profound effects on various aspects of our well-being.

    The 432Hz frequency & the science

    There is no serious research and no scientifically recognized evidence for the healing effects of 432 Hz music. The fact that sound has an influence on the human organism is generally known through research in connection with noise pollution caused by infrasound (sound below the human hearing limit) or the use of ultrasound (sound above the human hearing limit), e.g. B. has been proven in the fight against cancer cells.
    A fundamentally potentially positive effect of music on the soul and therefore also on the body has long been considered 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 tuning 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 understandable from a theoretical and philosophical point of view, as it has a long-standing background. Scientifically, no physical difference can be determined in the effect of different frequencies on the body.
    The thought game surrounding 432Hz music is based on the theoretical equation of the vibration of planets and sounds. Physically, however, sound needs matter to be able to propagate. However, the celestial bodies float in a vacuum. Sound caused by the movement of the planets cannot propagate and therefore the planets cannot “sound”.
    Whether and to what extent you find 432Hz music pleasant for you remains a pure matter of taste and is up to each individual.

    Which frequency for my handpan - 440Hz or 432Hz?

    What speaks for 440Hz:
    The 440Hz frequency is standardly used in the Western music world for tuning musical instruments. If you want to use your handpan for making 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 tradition in various therapeutic, shamanic and healing practices. If you are attracted to the 432Hz frequency, then a handpan tuned like this is suitable for you.

    Can I have my handpan built in a different frequency?

    Of course, it is also possible to tune a handpan to other fundamental frequencies. For example, 433Hz would make sense for orchestral use. If you prefer a specific frequency, please write to us directly. We will be happy to comply with your wishes and work 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 432 Hz handpans for you here compiled.

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