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Author Topic: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.  (Read 435 times)

Offline Airflyte

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Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« on: September 22, 2017, 11:52:53 AM »
Hey guys and gals, so the standard concert A is 440 Hz - I don't care why it is, it just is. I have watched just about every video on youtube about 432Hz vs. 440Hz and the comments quickly degrade into a mess. So I just wanted to keep this about 432Hz and nothing else. Some say that pitch is arbitrary, I'm not so sure about that.

        From what I have seen (heard) a guitar can REALLY resonate at the lower pitch and I do find that appealing. Also, there was a 4 pc. Chamber group that "sounded" like a much larger group.

      My question would be, can a clarinetist lengthen his or her instrument with a longer barrel to achieve the lower pitch? I assume intonation would be negatively affected by this. Has anyone gone down this road  :o
             
« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 11:54:28 AM by Airflyte »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2017, 12:07:55 PM »
Yes and no. From my understanding, lengthening the barrel that much would make some notes in tune but others wildly out of tune.
That's why you can't pull out and put longer barrels on HP instruments and still have them sound right.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2017, 12:12:09 PM »
Although come to think of t, the 8hz difference between probably wouldn't drastically kill tuning.
As long as You know when and where to correct, you should be fine, I think.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline noneyet

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2017, 01:48:44 PM »
I can certainly agree with how much better a guitar sounds when lowered. At my gigs I have her tuned down 1/2 step (that would be A = 415.30 for those of you keeping score) and she sounds like a different instrument, even if capoed up. She has MUCH more resonance. It's a LOT easier on the voice, too....unless you're singing "Ol' Man River"  :o
Saving clarinets from becoming lamps, one instrument at a time. Only on The Clarinet Pages. :)

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2017, 07:01:18 PM »
Bb LP is not A=440Hz. I've measured both flutes and clarinets and Bb LP is diapason normale, the French 1859 standard, which is A 435 Hz.

It's my theory that Bb LP plays flat and with compromised intonation at 440 because shortening the barrel is like attempting to tune a guitar by leaving the strings at the same tensions and moving the bridge. Even the best compromise will have part of the frets playing flat and others sharp. So tension is adjusted. In wind instruments, the only way to change the "tension" in the air column is to change the air temperature.

I became curious about pitch inflation so I obtained 3 Bettoney flutes to compare, built within about 5 years around the time of the adoption of 440, officially 1920 by US gov, 1917 by the musicians' union.

One flute was an HP, another LP, and the third a 440. All Bettoney, different lengths and different tone hole placements, interchangeable heads.

I've also been looking at the development of th Penzel Mueller clarinets during the post WW1 era and 1930. These are not completely 440 until the LP designation disappears.

A pitch standard can be enacted suddenly, but that doesn't re-tune all the pianos in orchestral use. Tuning a diapason normale piano to 440 is so much increased tension that it damaged many pianos of that period. It probably took 25-30 years for the new standard to be completely adopted in practical use.

An LP clarinet with an original barrel is likely your best bet for working at 432. Temperature has a noticeable effect on the pitch as well. If you play a wind instrument in a cooler room, it willl play flat. It will be sharp in a warmer room.

An A Hindley (Nottingham circa 1875) clarinet that I recently completed is quite plausibly built to A= 430 or lower. There are no marks for pitch or key, so I'm pretty sure it is a Bb and not a high pitch A. In France and the USA, it appears that orchestras mostly used diapason normale standard at 435. In other countries, the standard appears to have varied from town to town.

The designs for guitars likely went unchanged when the pitch standard changed. String gauge and tension could address the situation to a degree.

Better guitars are built with custom dimensioned parts that are tuned for resonance at particular pitches. It's plausible that most 20th C. Guitars were built to dimensions derived at A=435, and thus are more resonant when tuned a little flat.

Regarding the debate concerning the various standards;- no "standard" can result in more responsive or better built instruments if it is a moving target. Far more wind instruments have been built to the 440 standard than any other standard, and among those are many instruments from a period of superior materials as well as superior manufacturing and sufficiently advanced tuning technology. Any attempt to move the standard from 440 should be resisted.

If one wishes to play at 432, I understand that and in fact, I also frequently perform at 435-430, depending on the weather. There is no shortage of LP instruments, and that is what I play at least half the time.
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Airflyte

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2017, 12:16:07 PM »

A pitch standard can be enacted suddenly, but that doesn't re-tune all the pianos in orchestral use. Tuning a diapason normale piano to 440 is so much increased tension that it damaged many pianos of that period. It probably took 25-30 years for the new standard to be completely adopted in practical use.

An LP clarinet with an original barrel is likely your best bet for working at 432. Temperature has a noticeable effect on the pitch as well. If you play a wind instrument in a cooler room, it willl play flat. It will be sharp in a warmer room.

Far more wind instruments have been built to the 440 standard than any other standard, and among those are many instruments from a period of superior materials as well as superior manufacturing and sufficiently advanced tuning technology. Any attempt to move the standard from 440 should be resisted.

If one wishes to play at 432, I understand that and in fact, I also frequently perform at 435-430, depending on the weather. There is no shortage of LP instruments, and that is what I play at least half the time.

Good reply Sorcerer.  I'm just about ready to call 432Hz "Home". This will in one fell swoop will make my Music collection irrelevant to my future musical endeavors.

It will also change my use and application of the saxophone - there's no way I'm giving up my vintage Martin or Buescher built horns if I don't "have" to. 

This video has me seriously thinking about it : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Zt8x6PM1HY
It's Danzi's Clarinet Sonata Concertante

The clarinetist, Dennis Doughterty had his Selmer Series 9 modified to play at 432Hz. He goes into detail about this in the comment section (72mm barrel is just the beginning)  The pianist of course is also tuned to the same.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 12:26:44 PM by Airflyte »
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Offline Windsong

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2017, 06:25:01 PM »
As I was listening to that great link you posted, Airflyte, my wife walked into the room and said, "Oh that's beautiful music.  That's lovely."
I agree.  I really like that composition. 
Thanks for that.
The Clarinet Pages forum court jester, and expert bubblegum welder.

Offline Airflyte

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2017, 07:52:48 PM »
Yeah, no problem Windsong.
"The Clarinet @432 and the Untempered Klavier featuring the Rich Sound of Verdi's A" 

It definitely resonates with me too.

Keep in mind, Franz Danzi was a virtuoso cellist that happened to write wonderful compositions for woodwinds.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 07:56:19 PM by Airflyte »
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2017, 02:35:44 PM »
From the youtube link, I quote part of Dennis Dougherty’s reply re. re-tuning the clarinet:

“ … Ember Woodwinds (Masters on the Canary Islands of Spain) made a special long barrel for me at 72mm for the 50yr old Selmer Series 9 (built for A-440).  Then the upper tone holes had to be enlarged and lower ones decreased & the bore of the clarinet had to also be decreased on the lower joint to give it 12ths with a 3.17 cent rise in pitch when the register key was pressed (to match orchestral and piano octave stretch preferences ). I then tuned major and minor semi tones whenever possible. … “

All this makes me wonder about the tolerances and the precision that typically accepted for a well-tuned clarinet. I can’t imagine blowing the instrument to a precision of .1 cent, let alone .01 as implied above. Are there some general expectations for tolerance in cents  +/– ?

And in tuning the 12ths, anyone have comments regarding the “stretch” mentioned? Is that relevent to non-orchestra uses?  And wouldn’t it vary as it progresses up the horn?

Is "equal temperament" according to an electronic tuner, the recommended compromise for general purposes?

Thanks to The Clarinet Pages // Windy
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Offline Airflyte

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2017, 04:57:19 PM »
It appears that a particular temperament is based on it concert pitch first and then the intervals "fall into place". I know it's not that easy.

I honestly don't understand all the math at this point but I do find it fascinating. So now would be a good time to mention Maria Reynold - the person responsible for making the piano in the video just about "sing" with Dennis' clarinet. I'm just about to read this handbook http://www.eurythmy.co.nz/Files/Handbook/handbook-2.pdf


For Dennis to make irreversible changes to a pro-level Selmer tells me all I need to know at this point.
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2017, 06:37:24 PM »
I t would have been much easier to use an LP clarinet and turn up the AC (lower the temp) than rebuild the Selmer. While the results were acceptable, the measure seems as extreme as it's is unnecessary. MInor adjustments to the pad clearances on an LP could get dead on A=432Hz.

Pick the pitch standard, then find it's era, would be my approach.
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2017, 05:54:40 PM »
In my Reply #8 above, the engineer in me is compelled to ask about tuning tolerances that musicians generally expect in a clarinet. What kind of accuracy is realistic, in terms of +/- cents? ... for those notes that CAN be made accurate. And, within the moving target effect of emboucher and air pressure. There must be a tolerance to shoot for, before meeting diminishing returns.

Nobody has answered yet, so I'll venture a guess ... 2 cents? What's YOUR opinion?
Windy  •  The Clarinet Pages

Offline Airflyte

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2017, 06:13:19 PM »
In my Reply #8 above, the engineer in me is compelled to ask about tuning tolerances that musicians generally expect in a clarinet. What kind of accuracy is realistic, in terms of +/- cents? ... for those notes that CAN be made accurate. And, within the moving target effect of emboucher and air pressure. There must be a tolerance to shoot for, before meeting diminishing returns.

Nobody has answered yet, so I'll venture a guess ... 2 cents? What's YOUR opinion?

Assuming the listener does not have "perfect pitch" , +/- 5 cents either way is accepted by common folk as undiscernible. Of course the player would want to be on the sharp side rather than the flat one.
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2017, 09:06:05 AM »
  That's encouraging! Meanwhile, I re-discovered one mini-bible on tuning at:
https://www.clarkwfobes.com/pages/tuning-and-voicing-the-clarinet

I had this on file, but overlooked it because it was too much to take in before I got my own feel for the situation. Now I re-read it and shout YES! Great info!

Also, I am excited to find a wonderful tuning aid in the form of a smartphone app that makes a pitch graph for whatever I play, up to 5 minutes long. Limitation, it does not have resolution to see a few cents difference, but along with any typical tuner, it's hugely helpful! It's made for singers, but .... It's free! Go to:
http://www.singscope.com/en/

I played up a chromatic scale and got a full pitch graph in seconds! Best to play fairly fast, to keep a steady breath and to get the most view on the screen.
Windy  •  The Clarinet Pages

Offline Airflyte

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Re: Lowering concert A by 8 Hz.
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2017, 11:36:08 AM »
Ok, I want conduct a simple test of two tones. Not talking Chevy Bel-Aire here - it's just two different pitches of Concert A.

I'm going to provide two links to click on: Link number one is A=440. Link number two is A=432.

The best way to do this is "right click" on the link and "open in new tab". You should now have three tabs open including this one of course. Go ahead, jog back and forth between the two. Comments are disabled, that's probably a good thing.

Does one sound better than the other? Do they both have the same appeal?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFOl-9SNxLY (A=440)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ8KdqhHk0w  (A=432)

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