Concert “A” Pitch Since 1511

In modern times, just before a concert begins, an oboist or keyboard player
plays an "A" to which all other musicians check the tuning of their instruments.
In North America, most musicians use "A-440 as a basis for tuning.
Many Baroque and Early Music performers tune to A-415.

It's easy to take our modern, standardized concert "A" pitch for granted,
but as you can see from this chart, things were not always so uniform.
Earliest pitches determined from old organs and tuning forks.

(Listed in ascending order of pitch, lowest to highest)
(Hertz=vibrations per second)

Year

Hertz

Source

1648

A - 403

M. Mersenne: spinet

1762

408

Johann Matheson (cited in Grove Dictionary)

1740

415

G. Silberman: tuning fork

1751

423

George Frideric Handel: tuning fork

1619

424

Michael Praetorius: 'church pitch'

1823

428

Opera Comique, Paris

1880

432

Italian Congress, Milan

1859

435

French Government Commission Standard

1885

435

Vienna International Conference Standard

1939

440

Present Day U.S. Standard Pitch

1834

440

J.H. Scheibler, Stuttgart

1878

447

Vienna State Opera

1879

452

British Army

1874

455

Old Philharmonic Pitch, London

1859

456

Viennese 'high pitch'

1880

460

Old Austrian Military Pitch

1511

504

A. Schlick 'high pitch'

1636

504

M. Mersene 'church pitch'

1636

563

M. Mersenne 'chamber pitch'

1619

567

M. Praetorius 'church pitch'

NOTE: "hertz" = vibrations per second
The word "hertz" is named for German
physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.

Earliest pitches determined from old organs and tuning forks.

Source: New Groves Dictionary and various Public Domain reference sources


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