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Your piano is designed to sound its best when tuned to A-440 (A above middle C vibrates at 440 cycles per second), the international pitch standard. At this pitch, power and tonal range are optimum and your piano will match the pitch of other instruments. When your piano varies from A-440, pitch adjustments are required to bring it back to standard. By always maintaining your piano at standard pitch, you create long-term tuning stability because the strings and structure stay in equilibrium. You also ensure proper ear training because you always hear your music in the correct key.
Why does a piano's pitch change?
Piano strings change pitch for two primary reasons: the initial stretching and settling of strings when the piano is new, and soundboard movement due to humidity variation. In the case of new pianos, the pitch drops quickly for the first couple of years as the new strings stretch and wood parts settle. It's very important to maintain any new piano at the proper pitch during this period, so the string tension and piano structure can reach a stable equilibrium. (Most piano manufacturers recommend three to four tunings the first year, and at least two per year after that.)
Aside from this initial settling, climate change is the main cause of pitch change. That's because the piano's main acoustical structure -- the soundboard -- is made of wood. While wooden soundboards produce a wonderful sound, they also react constantly to climate changes. As the relative humidity goes up, the soundboard swells, increasing its crowned shape and stretching the piano's strings to a higher pitch. Then during dry times the soundboard flattens out, lowering tension on the strings and causing the pitch to drop. The drop in the dry season tends to exceed the rise during humid times, so the net result is a drop in pitch each year that the piano isn't serviced.
If a piano has gone without tuning for an extended period, its pitch may have dropped far below A- 440. This means that each of its approximately 220 strings needs to be tightened considerably, adding tremendous additional tension to the piano's structure. The problem is that as each string is tightened, the additional load causes the pitch of previously adjusted strings to change. Thus, it is impossible to make a substantial change in pitch and end up with a fine, accurate tuning in one step. Instead, a process called "pitch raising" must first be done, in which all strings are raised to their correct average tension levels. Only then can the piano be accurately tuned. In other words, accurate tuning is only possible when all strings are so close to their proper tension that only small further changes are needed during tuning. These small changes then do not disturb the tuning of other strings.
Like your car, your piano is a major investment which deserves regular servicing to keep it working well and preserve its value. Most importantly, the well-maintained piano sounds better, plays better, and gives you and your family a wealth of musical pleasure.
Damp- Chaser Systems
BENEFITS TO YOUR PIANO
Installed out-of-sight inside the piano, the System combats both dry conditions and highly humid conditions, keeping the humidity level in the piano consistent continuously.
● Stabilizes pitch and permits tunings to hold much better and longer (the tuning will not go sharp or flat when the weather or room humidity changes)
● Minimizes the expansion and contraction of action parts which provides optimum touch and predictable keyboard control
● Prevents rust on the strings and metal parts
● Minimizes felt deterioration, reducing the harsh tones that come from flattened hammer felt in low humidity or the muffled tones from swollen hammer felt in high humidity
● Minimizes glue failure throughout the piano
● Protects your piano's investment value year after year
Major Piano Manufacturers Recommend the System:
"The usage of Dampp-Chaser humidity control systems effectively compensates climatic changes within the piano's environment and is for that reason beneficial in terms of stability and long term reliability."
"The installation of a Dampp-Chaser Humidity Control System can, in our opinion, provide a degree of climate control for the piano which may not otherwise be attainable."
"The best way to preserve the value of fine grands and uprights is to automatically regulate the humidity right within the instrument .. with a System from Dampp-Chaser Corporation." - Nikolaus Schimmel
"...Yamaha fully endorses the use of the system with Yamaha pianos in areas that are subject to extremes in humidity. Without such a system, it is very difficult to control the humidity around the piano."
"Your Dampp-Chaser humidity control systems are the best and most carefully designed systems we have seen."
"The Dampp-Chaser Climate Control System helps retain both the regulation and pitch of top quality instruments, thus stabilizing the tonal character inherent in a particular make or instrument as well as its long-term value." - Ursula Seiler
"Baldwin recommends the Dampp-Chaser system as a valuable means to help ensure the longevity and stability of our pianos."
Cost with parts, shipping, and installation: Grand piano $685, upright piano $550
Price includes an advanced system with smart bar, shipping, delivery and installation
If your instrument displays a lack of sensitivity or a decreased dynamic ranges, it's a candidate for regulation. If you notice that the keys are not level (some higher or lower than the rest), the touch is uneven or that the keys are sticking, the need for regulation is indicated.
Regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of a piano compensating for the effects of wear, the compacting and settling of cloth, felt, & buckskin, as well as dimensional changes in wood and wool parts due to changes in humidity. The action is comprised of over 9,000 parts which require adjustment to critical tolerances to be able to respond to a pianist's every command.
While tuning corrects the pitch of your piano, it is only one component of a complete maintenance program. Regulation attends to the touch and uniform responsiveness of your action. Regulation ensures that your instrument is capable of producing a wide dynamic range -- a critical factor, particularly in pianissimo passages.
All upright and grand pianos need periodic regulation to perform their best. The frequency of regulation is dependent upon the amount of use, exposure to climatic changes, and the instrument's quality, age and condition. New pianos may require regulation in their first year because settling and compacting of parts sometimes necessitates adjustment.
No amount of practice can compensate for a poorly maintained action. Poor legato touch, chord playing where all notes of the chord don't speak clearly, a gradual loss of subtlety in phrasing and an inability to execute quick passages or note repetitions evenly may be the fault of the piano -- not the player.
Your piano is a major investment that deserves to be protected through regular servicing by a qualified technician. Properly maintained, your piano will sound its best and give you and your family a lifetime of enjoyment.
Registered Piano Technician
A Registered Piano Technician (RPT) is a member of The Piano Technicians Guild who has demonstrated competence by passing a series of three rigorous examinations on the maintenance, repair and tuning of pianos.
The mission of the Piano Technicians Guild is to promote the highest possible standards of piano service by providing members with opportunities for professional development, by recognizing technical competence through examinations, and by advancing the interests of its members. We shall always strive to provide the best possible piano service to the piano community. Always aim to provide service in an ethical way, keeping the piano users needs and best interests uppermost.
A piano's tone changes with use. As the hammers wear and compact, the tone often becomes too bright and harsh, robbing the pianist of the ability to produce a sweet sound. As parts wear, the regulation (adjustment of the mechanical parts that transmit motion from the fingers to the hammers) becomes uneven, and the pianist loses control over volume and tone. This is most noticeable in quiet playing. A delicate pianissimo passage becomes very difficult or impossible to play, and some keys may not sound at all if played very lightly.
Ageing of the piano's strings and structure also can diminish its tone.
Other factors that affect the sound you hear from your piano are:
ROOM ACOUSTICS -- Hard shiny surfaces such as windows and bare floors reflect high frequencies, making a piano sound bright and loud. High ceilings or large adjoining rooms add resonance. Rugs and upholstered furniture soften tone and add warmth.
THE LID -- Both grands and verticals sound louder and brighter if the lid is opened.
YOU -- Your ears are sensitive and will perceive sound differently if you have spent all day in a quiet office or at a loud construction site.
Does my piano need voicing?
Your piano may benefit from voicing if:
Your piano sounds different than when you purchased it.
You don't like the sound even after it has been tuned.
The tone varies radically from note to note.
You cannot achieve a range of tones (mellow to bright) at different volumes.
The piano has lost its ability to play softly.
Before deciding if a new piano needs voicing, make sure it is well-tuned and well-regulated. Then, play a wide variety of music on it. Most voicing procedures are long-lasting, so give yourself some time to explore the sound of a new instrument before deciding to change it.
How often voicing is needed depends upon the piano's usage and its intended audience. Pianos in concert halls and recording studios often receive minor refinement of the voicing before each performance. A home piano may need some initial voicing to customize it to the owner's taste, then once every one to five years to maintain its tone.
Your piano and your musical needs are unique -- your own schedule for periodic voicing is a matter for you and your technician to decide. To find out how voicing might improve the tone of your piano, ask for a demonstration on one or two notes.
Before you or your technician can fully evaluate the tone of your piano, it must be well-tuned. Tuning is the first step in improving the sound of any piano and may actually provide the tone you desire. If the tone is still not satisfactory. Your technician will inspect the action, hammers and strings. If these components are severely worn, major repairs may be required before an improved tone is possible.
Moderately worn hammers can be re-shaped with sandpaper to remove string grooves and restore their original rounded shape. Next, the hammers are aligned to strike each string squarely.
Action regulation should be checked or adjusted. This ensures an even, powerful response from each key.
If tuning, hammer shaping and regulation are correct, the tone probably will be balanced but still may be too bright or mellow for your taste. If so, your technician might recommend voicing the hammers.
For a tone that is too loud, too bright or seems to die out too quickly, softening the hammers felt often is recommended. This is usually done by inserting needles into specific areas of the hammer to increase flexibility.
For a tone that is too weak or too mellow, hardening of the hammer felt may be necessary. This is usually done by filing away soft outer layers of hammer felt or by applying a chemical hardening solution.
Once the overall tone is correct, individual notes are voiced to make the tone as even as possible from one end of the keyboard to the other. In some pianos, certain notes still may sound different from their neighbours, no matter how skillfully the technician voiced the piano. This most commonly occurs about an octave below middle C, where the strings change from steel wires wrapped with copper to plain steel. Such irregularities are a result of design compromises, and usually cannot be corrected by voicing.
One of your piano's most important assets is its tone. Properly voiced, your piano can offer you a rich palette of music expression, and inspire good practise habits in every member of your family. However, piano owners are not always aware that tone can be customized to their own tastes and room acoustics, and to correct for deterioration and age. If the only service your piano has received is tuning, the sound can likely be improved by voicing.
Every piano has its own unique sound. One might be described as 'glassy,' another as 'warm'. One might have a 'full singing' tone, and yet another sounds 'thin.' Although the original design establishes the basic character of your piano's tone, your technician can modify it to better suit your taste or restore its original tone if it has deteriorated with age. The process of modifying a piano's tone is called voicing.
Tuning is the adjustment of the tension of all of your piano's strings to the correct pitch or frequency. Voicing is the adjustment of a piano's tone or quality of sound. Tone can be changed without affecting the pitch. For example, turning the bass or treble knobs on your stereo changes the tone but does not alter the notes the musician recorded. A skilled piano technician can voice a piano to change its tonal personality from mellow to bright or robust to delicate.
Tone varies, even among pianos of the same make and model. No matter what its size or cost, any good piano should provide a wide range of tones, from soft and sweet to loud and bright. The tone should be even from the lowest to the highest notes. Most of all, it should sound musical.
What does the perfect piano tone sound like? There is no single answer because everyone's taste varies. Also, certain tonal characteristics are more suited to specific styles of music. A bright, lively tone might be best for jazz, whereas you might prefer a rich and dark sound for Beethoven's music. There are many different sizes and models of piano available in the market place; you chose your piano because it sounded good to you.
Voice hammers - First hour billed at the same rate as tuning, $75 per hour thereafter.
New German "Abel" upright hammers - $995 parts and labour.
New German "Abel" grand piano hammers with custom weight and tail shaping - $1750
Hammers worn to wood moulding Worn out Hammers New Hammers
Piano keys eventually become soiled with accumulated oil and dirt from fingers. To clean your white keys, use a soft cloth dampened with water and a small amount of mild soap. Avoid solvents. Make sure the cloth is thoroughly wrung out, and wipe the keys back-to-front rather than side-to-side, so excess moisture and dirt will not seep down the sides of the keys. Clean only a few keys at a time drying immediately with a clean cloth.
Ivory keys are porous, and excessive moisture can penetrate and loosen their glue joints. Also, a dirty or brightly coloured cleaning cloth can transfer stains into the ivory.
Clean sharps in the same manner, but use a separate cloth for painted wooden sharps to avoid black stains on keys.
New ivory is no longer available. Limited supplies of old used ivory are available for individual replacements at $10 each installed. Matching yellowed ivory may not be possible. Old yellow ivory can be sanded on glass with 600 paper then buffed with ivory compound to whiten and restore lustre. If more than 10 ivory are chipped or missing it is usually recommended to replace the set with new keycaps.
Dust is very abrasive and can scratch the finish if wiped off with a dry cloth. To avoid scratching, dust the piano lightly with a feather duster. Alternatively, wipe lightly with a soft damp cloth to pick up the dust, followed immediately with a dry cloth. The cloths should be soft cotton such as flannel because coarse or synthetic fabrics can scratch some finishes. Wring out the damp cloth thoroughly so it leaves no visible moisture on the surface.
To avoid creating swirl marks, always wipe with long straight strokes rather than circular motions. Wipe with the grain for natural wood finishes, or in the direction of the existing sheen pattern for solid-colour satin finishes.
Because some exposed parts inside your piano are fragile, it's best to let your technician clean these areas.
To remove smudges and fingerprints, first dust using the damp/dry cloths as above. If heavier cleaning is necessary, dampen your cloth with a small amount of mild soap solution. A common product is Murphy's Oil Soap, available at most grocery and hardware stores.
Before using polish on your piano, be sure it is actually necessary and beneficial. In general, most manufacturers recommend against using polishes because of the potential for damage to the finish and contamination of other parts of the instrument.
Common household products such as "lemon oil" or inexpensive "furniture polish" should be avoided. Despite the labels' claims that they "protect" the finish or "feed" the wood, they offer no protection from scratching and can actually soften the finish if over-used. Worse, they often contain silicones and oils that contaminate the wood, complicating future refinishing or repairs. Silicone is especially dangerous because of its tendency to spread within the piano, sometimes causing extensive internal damage. Avoid aerosol products altogether since the over-spray can contaminate piano strings, tuning pins and action parts.
An appropriate polish can help to restore lustre to a dulled finish or reduce the tendency of some finishes to show fingerprints. However, it should be applied sparingly and infrequently, and all excess should be wiped clean with a soft dry cloth so no visible film remains. To prevent scratching, always dust before polishing. Specific recommendations follow.
If your piano's finish appears gummy, oily, or streaked, it may be contaminated with too much or the wrong type of polish. Adding more polish will not correct this problem. Instead, the finish should be thoroughly cleaned, then evaluated for any further treatment.
To remove accumulations of old polish, use a cloth dampened with a mild soap as in item 3 above. Wring the cloth thoroughly to minimize wetting of the finish, and dry the surface immediately. Test a small area first to make sure the washing does not cause white marks or softening of an older finish.
If stronger cleaning is necessary, look for a product called "wood cleaner and wax remover" at hardware or wood workers supply stores, or ask your technician for a suggestion.
Once the original finish is clean, you can either leave it as is or enhance the gloss and clarity with an appropriate polish according to the finish type listed below.
The two most common piano finishes are lacquer and polyester. Either material may come in clear, black, white, or other colours. Check your piano's owner information booklet to determine the type and recommended care of your piano's finish, or ask your technician or dealer for help if you're not sure.
Most, but not all, American-made pianos have lacquer finishes. They may be satin (dull sheen), semi-gloss, or high gloss.
Cleaning -- For general dusting and cleaning of lacquer finishes, see items 2 and 3 preceding. Be especially careful to avoid scratching high gloss finishes by using only very soft, clean cloths and wiping with light pressure. For satin finishes, always rub in line with the existing sheen.
Polishing -- Satin finishes are intended to be dull and will normally have a poor appearance if a gloss-producing polish is applied. If desired, a polish may be applied to gloss or semigloss finishes. Two common products are Guardsman Furniture Polish and OZ Cream Polish. Your technician may carry these or other products especially recommended for piano care. Note the precautions under item 4 regarding selecting and applying polishes.
When cleaning or polishing a lacquer finish, avoid hard pressure on sharp corners and edges since the finish can easily wear through to bare wood.
Most Asian and European pianos have polyester finishes in satin or high-gloss (called high polish). This material is harder and more scratch-resistant than lacquer, and best maintained by simple dusting and cleaning.
Cleaning -- Use the same procedure as for lacquer.
Polishing -- Satin polyester looks best when simply kept clean. Avoid gloss-producing polishes, which leave satin finishes looking shiny but scratched. High-polish polyester finishes need only be kept clean to maintain their gloss. However, high-wear areas such as the music desk may eventually develop a hazy appearance caused by many fine scratches. These areas can be buffed back to a high gloss using a product designed to remove tiny scratches from fibreglass boats or plastic windows in convertible cars. Two such products are Meguiar's Mirror Glaze #17 Plastic Cleaner, and Meguiar's s Mirror Glaze #9 Swirl Remover--available from marine supply, auto-parts, or automotive paint supply stores. Your technician may carry special products for this purpose, or can recommend a local source.
The History of Musical Pitch in Tuning the Pianoforte by Edward E. Swenson
On July 27, 1987, at its meeting in Toronto, the International Society of Piano Builders and Technicians unanimously renewed their support for A=440 as the international pitch standard for piano manufacturers and for modern piano and orchestral tuning. The advantages for the acceptance of A=440 by all makers of modern musical instruments for use in concert halls and recording studios seems obvious. Unfortunately, the question of musical pitch is even more complicated today than it was fifty years ago when an International Conference in London also recommended the international use of A=440. The history of musical pitch as it relates to piano tuning has important consequences. Stringed-keyboard music written in the Baroque and Classic periods (including the music of J.S. Bach, Handel, Joseph Haydn, W.A. Mozart, C.P.E. Bach and Beethoven) was originally intended to be played at a low pitch which ranged from A=420 to A=430, nearly a semitone lower than A=440. Obviously, the musical result of playing harpsichord and early piano music at A=440 is considerably different from the less brilliant low pitch the composers originally intended. In the Romantic Period pitch skyrocketed upward well past A=440 and it fluctuated wildly according to location and performing arena. For example, in 1879 Steinway in New York used a tuning fork which produced A=457.2. While Chickering in Boston preferred A=435, the international pitch standard established by a French Commission in 1859. Still it is likely that most of the late 19th-century pianos (grands, squares and uprights) built in the United States after the Civil War (1865) were tuned at a pitch higher than A=440.
There is a rapidly growing trend to play Baroque- and Classic-period music on period instruments. Major cities such as London, New York, Amsterdam, Vienna and Toronto now have orchestras which are solely devoted to performing early music on period instruments at original pitch. Recently all of Mozart's symphonies and piano concertos and the piano concertos of Beethoven have been recorded using period instruments.1 Performers in early music ensembles will never consider using A=440 as a pitch standard because music written before 1830 sounds closer to the composer's original intentions when performed at low pitch. 2 At present there is still no trend to play music of the late Romantic period at high pitch.
My interest in the history of musical pitch was stimulated during a meeting of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Restauratoren (A German society of conservators & restorers) in Salzburg, Austria in 1986. During this meeting, which was held at the musical instrument collection of the Carolino Augusteum Museum, I had the opportunity to examine a piano built by the prestigious firm J.B. Streicher in Vienna. Glued on the soundboard was a printed label which gave the instrument's serial number, the maker's name and location and finally the indication "440." Was it possible that Streicher intended his pianos to be tuned at A=440 in 1839? Was it possible, as early as 1839, to measure musical pitch in cycles per second? My European colleagues unanimously rejected the idea that Streicher could have intended "440" as a pitch indication. Instead it was suggested that this number was a production number or part of a date. Subsequently I found in Mantua, Italy still another Streicher piano which had a similar label with the same 440 indication. When I returned home I began to study the available sources on the history of musical pitch. I was able to confirm that Streicher was indeed recommending A=440 as the ideal pitch standard for his pianos as early as 1836.
In 1880 Alexander Ellis wrote an important essay on the history of musical pitch for the Society of Arts in London. 3 Apparently Ellis was unaware that Streicher in Vienna had advocated the use of A=440, but from his research I found the missing link between Streicher and a German physicist named Johann Heinrich Scheibler (1777-1837). Scheibler invented one of the first accurate methods for measuring musical pitch. He called the device a "tuning fork tonometer." It consisted of 52 forks tuned from A 219 2/3 to A 439 1/2 at 69 degrees Fahrenheit. The device and his amazingly accurate method of measuring beats were described in Scheibler's book The Physical and Musical Tonometer . 4 Ellis' research confirms that there was a connection between Scheibler in Stuttgart and Streicher in Vienna. A tuning fork with the name "Streicher" written in ink on one of the prongs and measuring A=443.2 was found in Scheibler's collection of forks after his death. 5 Scheibler's recommendation for A=440 as an international pitch standard had been adopted by a Congress of Physicists (Deutsche Naturforscherversammlung) in Stuttgart in 1834. It is very likely that the Streicher piano company adopted Scheibler's recommendation for A=440 shortly after the Stuttgart Congress. The label advocating A=440 in the Streicher piano built in 1839 indicates that Streicher supported the establishment of a pitch standard and that he was up to date with the latest developments in musical acoustics.
Scheibler measured the pitch of many early tuning forks with his tonometer. Many of the forks still existed when Ellis measured them again with more sophisticated technology. Ellis points out with admiration and amazement in his essay, that Scheibler's pitch measurements were extremely accurate.
THE TUNING FORK
At about the same time Cristofori invented the first piano in Italy, the tuning fork was invented in England by Royal trumpeter John Shore in 1711.6 Ellis provides detailed information on the history and care of tuning forks. I have attempted to extract the most useful information from his research. 7
Tuning forks vary slightly with changes in temperature. Contrary to the effects of heat on organ pipes, tuning forks are flattened by heat and sharpened by cold. When Ellis made his experiments on tuning forks he took the following precautions in handling them:
1. Tuning forks should not be touched by the bare hand or carried in the pocket.
2. When a tuning fork is sharply struck, the blow causes heat and therefore slightly flattens the fork.
3. Tuning forks are tuned by filing which causes heat and unsettles the molecular structure of the metal. After filing a fork, it should rest for about a week and then be rechecked. It will often rise by several beats in ten seconds in the course of cooling and settling.
4. Tuning forks are damaged by wrenching & twisting the prongs which is usually caused by dropping the fork.
5. Rust will slightly flatten a tuning fork and is generally more serious at the bend than on the prongs. Modern forks are plated or blued to protect them from rust.
Before turning to specific evidence about pitch level measurements for tuning pianos, here is a quick overview. It is very important to note, that, although pitch was generally much lower from 1600 to 1825, pitch began to rise in the early 19th century. A=440 was already recommended as a pitch standard in Germany in 1834. It appears that very few musicians found the standard pitch desirable. By 1879 Steinway in New York used a tuning fork which measured A=457.2 and in London, Steinways were tuned to A=454.7! Tuners don't need to worry about tuning Steinways from the late 19th century at A=440.
In England I saw three tuning forks, enclosed in a special box, which were used by a Broadwood Piano Co. tuner around 1850. The forks were used for piano tuning in different settings. Broadwood's low pitch equalled A=433 and was close to the A=435 pitch recommended by a French commission in 1859. Broadwood's medium pitch was 445 and the highest fork was tuned to A=454. Generally singers preferred low pitch, the medium pitch was probably used for home tuning and high pitch was used in tuning pianos to the orchestra and in concert settings. In the midst of this chaos, it is little wonder that the establishment of a standard, international compromise pitch soon became desirable.
CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED TUNING LEVELS FOR EARLY PIANOS
EXTRACTED FROM THE RESEARCH OF ALEXANDER J. ELLIS
By comparing the date and place of a piano's manufacture to the information given below, at least a general indication of the correct tuning level can be determined. It is clear that much research still needs to be done on the history of musical pitch in the United States.
YEAR PITCH PLACE & SOURCE
c. 1715 A= 419.9, England. Crude tenor fork, possibly made by John Shore, the inventor of the tuning fork.
c.1740-1812 A= 424.1, Eutin, Germany. Tuning fork owned by Franz Anton von Weber, father of Carl Maria von Weber.
c. 1750 A= 424.3, London. "Common music shop fork."
1751 A=422.5, London. Handel's tuning fork. The box which contains the fork bears the inscription: "This pitchfork was the property of the Immortal Handel and left by him at the Foundling Hospital, when the Messiah was performed in 1751."
c.1754 A= 422.6, Lille, France. Tuning fork found in the workshop of M. Francois, musical instrument maker.
1754 A=415, Dresden. Fork used to tune the catholic church organ built by G. Silbermanmn.
1776 A= 414.4, Breslau. Marpurg's pitch for clavichord tuning.
1780 A= 421.3, Vienna. Tuning fork of the Saxon organ builder Schulz who lived in Vienna during Mozart's lifetime.
1780 A=421.6 Vienna. Tuning fork used by the piano builder Stein. The fork was inherited by his son-in-law Streicher who Ellis calls "the present great pianoforte maker." A= 421.6 is probably the pitch which Mozart used to tune his fortepianos and clavichords.
1780 A= 422.3, Dresden. Tuning fork in the possession of Dresden court organist Kirsten.
1783 A=409, Paris. Fork of Pascal Taskin, Paris Court tuner.
1796 A= 436, St. Petersburg. Giuseppe Sarti's measurement of the pitch of the St. Petersburg opera. Chladni in his book on acoustics mentions that this pitch was "very high."
c. 1800 A= 422.7, London. From an old tuning fork belonging to the
Broadwood piano makers.
c.1810 A=430.0, Paris. Tuning fork belonging to M. Lemoine, a "celebrated amateur."
c.1820 A=433, London. "Pitch approved by Sir George Smart, conductor of the Philharmonic. "
1823 A= 424.2, Paris. Spontini's tuning fork for the Paris Italian Opera.
c.1825-1830, A= 435. Dresden. Tuning fork owned by Kapellmeister Reissiger.
c.1826 A=427.2, London. Old fork belonging to the Broadwood piano makers.
c.1826 A=427.6, London. An old fork belonging to the Broadwood Co.
1826. A=428.4, London. An old fork belonging to the Broadwood Co.
1829 A=425.5, Paris. Pitch of the piano at the opera.
1829 A= 434, Paris. Tuning fork used by the piano maker M. Montal.
1834 A=441.8, Berlin. orchestra and opera.
1834 A= 436.5, Vienna. Pitch given by Scheibler as one of the tuning standards for the Vienna Opera.
c. 1834 A=445.1, Vienna. The highest fork which Scheibler measured in Vienna and to which he attributed the "monstrous growth in the upswing in musical pitch."
c. 1834 A= 434, Paris. Pitch of the Paris opera.
c.1834 A=433.9, Vienna. Orchestra fork measured by Scheibler and referred to as "Vienna minimum."
1834 A=440.2, Stuttgart. Congress of Physicists, based on Scheibler's proposal of "the mean of the variation of Viennese grand pianos by temperature." Scheibler was the first person to recommend the adoption of A=440 as a standard pitch for piano tuning. The piano builder J.B. Streicher in Vienna began to include the indication "440" on his soundboard labels shortly after 1834.
c. 1834 A=443.2, Vienna. Streicher's fork as measured by Scheibler.
1836 A=443.3, Paris. Tuning fork for pianos built by Woelfel in Paris.
1836-39: A= 441, Paris. Opera pianos. Tuning fork owned by M. Leibner who tuned the pianos of the opera at the pitch of the orchestra. In 1849 it agreed precisely with the oboe of M. Vorroust.
1839 A=425.8, Bologna, Italy. Tuning fork used by Tadolini, the best piano tuner in Bologna, Italy.
1839 A=448, Hamburg. Opera pitch.
Date unknown. A=440.5, Paris. Opera. Fork said to have been adjusted by Pleyel.
1845 A=439.9, Turin Italy. Tuning fork.
1845 A=446.6, Milan, Italy. Tuning fork.
1845 A=445.4, Vienna. Fork used at the Vienna Conservatory.
1849-54 A=445.9, London. Broadwood piano company's original
medium pitch tuning fork belonging to tuner Alexander Finlayson, who died in 1854.
1852-1874 A= 452.5, London. Average pitch of the Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sir Michael Costa (1846-54). Broadwood's tuner Mr. J. Black tuned to this pitch. Broadwood retained this pitch for concerts until 1874 when it was raised to A=454.7.
1854 A=446, Paris. Fork used to tune Pleyel pianos.
1854 A=450.5, Lille, France. Opera orchestra.
1856 A=446.2, Paris. Opera pitch. From a tuning fork sent to the French Society of Pianoforte makers.
1856 A=446.2, The Hague, Holland. Conservatory of music pitch. Fork sent to the French commission.
1857 A=448.4, Berlin. Opera. Tuning fork sent by the conductor Taubert to the French Society of Pianoforte makers.
1857 A=444.9, Naples. San Carlo opera theatre tuning fork sent to the French Society of pianoforte makers by E. Guillaume, conductor of the opera orchestra.
1859 A=443.5, Braunschweig, Germany. opera orchestra pitch. Fork sent to the French Commission by Kapellmeister Franz Abt.
1859 A=444.8, Turin, Italy. Opera orchestra. Tuning fork sent to the French Commission by director M. Coccia.
1859 A=444.8, Weimar. Orchestra fork sent to the French Commission.
1859 A=444.8, Württemburg, Germany. Fork of the concert orchestra.
1859 A=435, Karlsruhe, Germany. Pitch at the German opera. Kapellmeister Jos. Strauss felt that this pitch fatigued his singers the least and was the best pitch for the performance of operas from all periods. Strauss' fork became the pitch standard for the French Commission's Diapason Normal.
1859 A=435.3, Paris. Fork representing the French Commission's Diapason Normal Pitch. Presented by the Commission to John Broadwood & Sons Piano Co. in London.
1859 A=435.4, Paris. The French Commission Diapason Normal as actually constructed by Secretan and preserved at the Paris conservatory.
In the United States this pitch was sometimes called "International pitch." It was recommended by Chickering in Boston as the ideal pitch for tuning Chickering pianos.
1859 A=435.34 Paris. Secretan made a dozen tuning fork copies of the French Diapason Normal. Excluding one of these forks which is clearly too flat, A=435.34 is the general average pitch of the other eleven forks.
1859 A=441, Dresden. Opera. Tuning fork sent to the French Commission by Kapellmeister Reissiger, who wrote: The great elevation of the diapason destroys and effaces the effect and character of ancient music, of the masterpieces of Mozart, Gluck and Beethoven.
1859 A=446, Budapest. Opera.
1859 A=448, Liege, Belgium. Conservatory of music tuning fork.
1859 A=448, Lyons, France. Opera orchestra tuning fork.
1859 A=448.1, Munich, Germany. Opera tuning fork.
1859 A=448.8, Leipzig, Germany. Conservatory of music fork.
1859 A=449.8, Prague. Pitch of the opera orchestra.
1859 A=456.1, Vienna. Sharp Vienna pitch from a fork in the possession of the Streicher Piano Co. The Viennese orchestral pitch as used before the introduction of the French Diapason Normal.
1860 A=445.5, London. Copy of Broadwood's medium pitch fork made for the society of the arts.
1860 A=448.4, London. Society of the Arts tuning fork.
1862 A=437.8, Dresden. Court theatre.
1862 A=445, Vienna. Piano pitch based on the tuning fork of Kapellmeister Proch. The opera tuned during this period at A=466.
1862 A=454, Vienna. Piano pitch based on tuning fork owned by Kapellmeister Esser. (Compare this pitch with the one above from the same period.)
1869 A=443.1, Bologna, Italy. Liceo Musicale.
1869 A=448.2, Leipzig, Germany. Tuning fork used by the Gewandhaus orchestra.
1874 A=454.7, London. Fork representing the highest pitch used in Philharmonic concerts. Used as the highest pitch used by the Broadwood Piano Co.
1876 A= 446.7, London. Concert pitch.
1877 A=449.9, London. Standard fork used by Collard piano Co.
1877 A=454.1, London. From a tuning fork used by Hipkins to tune for the Crystal Palace concerts.
1878 A=446.8, Vienna. Opera pitch.
1878 A=448.1, London. Tuning fork made by Walker.
1878 A= 436, London. Standard pitch of church organs taken from Metzler's tuning fork.
1878 A=445.1, London. Society of Arts pitch.
1878 A=449.9, London. Covent Garden opera orchestra during performance as measured by Hipkins.
1878 A=451.9, London. British army regulations. Pitch for wind instruments.
1879 A=445.5, London. Her Majesty's opera orchestra during performance from a fork made by Hipkins.
1879 A=449.7, London. Pitch of the opera orchestra at Covent Garden during performance.
1879 A=454.7, London. Tuning fork used by Steinway & Sons to tune pianos in London.
1879 A= 455.3, London. From a tuning fork representing the concert pitch used by the Erard Piano Company.
1879, A=457.2, New York. From a tuning fork used by Steinway & Sons!
1880 A=444.9, London. Her majesty's opera. From a tuning fork of the theatre as measured by Hipkins.
1880 A=446.2, London. Tuning fork used by John Broadwood and Co for in house tunings but not for public concerts.
1. See, for example, the complete set of Mozart Piano Concertos, recorded at low pitch by Malcolm Bilson, fortepiano with the English Baroque Soloists conducted by John Elliot Gardner, Archiv recordings.
2. Experiments have shown that a low pitch A tuning fork held between the F-holes of a Stradivarius violin (originally constructed to play at low pitch) produces a richer and stronger resonance than a high A=440 fork.
3. Long out of print, Ellis' studies have been reprinted by Frits Knuf publishers in Amsterdam in 1968. This book can be found in any good music library.
4. Johann H. Scheibler. Der physikalische und musikalische Tonmesser Essen: Baedeker, 1834. Scheibler also wrote a treatise on organ tuning: A method for correctly tuning the organ in equal temperament by means of beats and the metronome, Krefeld: Schüller, 1834.
5. Alexander J. Ellis."On the History of Musical Pitch," Journal of the Society of Arts, (March 5, 1880). Reprinted in Studies in the History of Music Pitch, Amsterdam: Frits Knuf, 1968, p. 44. Ellis measured the pitch of the Streicher fork at A=442.78
6. Ellis, op.cit., p. 15