Philosophy and Pythagorean 432 Hz tuning Versus 440 Hz Tuning

I am alerted that I was about to reviving a 3 year old conversation, the only thread I found that mentioned 432 Hz tuning. I opted not to revive that thread, but start a new one. This was that thread:

I have a 1912 Kimball Upright player piano that I totally restored, inside and out when 18 years old, working after hours on it at a piano store I worked for. I have had several pump organs, all from the 1800’s, before the Rockefeller Foundation and some others (allegedly) pushed to change the tuning from 432 Hz, to 440 Hz. This they had done with the British something or other organization of international something. All tuning changed. I had a musician over playing my piano some few years back and I hopped onto a century and a half old reed organ expecting to do an awesome duet between the two instruments. A fail. The instruments aren’t tuned to each other. The reed organ has, I suppose, that original 432 Hz tuning, and the piano was put to the now standard (since around the 2nd World War) 440 Hz scale.

There was a Dr. Horowitz, who had some Youtube lectures on that topic, and I had them bookmarked; shared them frequently on social media, years back. Youtube has snuffed out all of those interviews and lectures, and it’s not common to find that many people know about the topic (including myself, in depth).

Nicola Tesla, who absolutely was never mentioned in any government school textbook I ever saw, said:

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

― Nikola Tesla

The remarkable “Sonic Geometry” video might be familiar to many of you. It’s 30 minutes long, and an absolute gem, that if I taught school anywhere, I’d show it multiple times a semester, certainly for sure in any of the math, sciences, humanities and the arts. There is a natural and beautiful order to things, and I think the 432 Hz frequency, is that ideal, which is what my old 1800’s era Reed Organ surely is tuned to, and which all music I put out I wish to have tuned to. I feel angry that it has been changed, in light of the natural harmonics and mathematics of 432 Hz. I’ve seen some musicians here and there push to go back to that tuning, but they’ve not broken into the mainstream. It would be “hippy’s” the “shamanistic,” “mystics” and even “conspiracy theorists” who would clamor for a return to Pythagorean tuning of 432 Hz.

So, that there is my question, can I put my whole Ardour system to be tuned to 432 Hz?

Something I was looking at in recent weeks gave frequencies of tuning, and 432 Hz, was not an option (I think it was in one of the DAW’s I was testing before finding Ardour).

I’ve determined that the next time I have a piano tuner come tune my piano, I’ll have it tuned to 432 Hz, to match my 1800’s reed organ. I’ll encourage anyone showing up to play guitars, banjo’s or anything else to tune into that ideal tuning, if they want to integrate into anything played in this space of mine.

This is a bit of a philosophical post, and an important topic for the philosophical and the music lover, I would think. I’m sure there are very astute and amazing minds here that would have interesting insights to share, and I’d be riveted to what you opine.

P.S. I saw this video a few weeks ago, and of note is the amazing mathematics based on 9 that is mentioned near the end, at minute: 1:10:00

about global tuning, i know that Reason 12 has global tuning in preferences - expressed in hz

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Oh man, What a delight. I just got lost in some youtube vids, listened to a keyboard guy (song writer) who was very seemingly open, down to earth and authentic, in a way that feels rare to me. This was the interview: then I listened to one of his pieces of music, Nocturne in Paris.

Then I started to think of that 1800’s era reed organ of mine, and how I want to bring everything around me back into the tuning of that instrument, and have a revolution of 432 Hz tuning, and the positive vibe to come of it. I now click back to this thread and find this delicious response from you which encourages me. I’ll need to go search out Reason 12. Thanks a ton for this.

And boy, don’t I wish my Mac pro “Audio” settings window looked like that, all those tons of options. I’m on a 2010 Mac Pro, which is important to me to see how long I can keep it legitimate and functional, despite Apple backstabbing me in nefarious ways to upgrade (My 2005 Mac Pro didn’t make 5 years before it couldn’t even process a flippin’ web page without it seemingly such a chore). If I would have had a newer Mac, I likely would not have found Ardour, which fortunately, installed on my older system.

Off to investigate Reason 12! It looks a bit pricey for me, but I’ll have to add it to a wish list.

It appears I don’t even have the option of it, unless they would sell older versions that would work with my older OS. This is a screen shot from their bot on their website:

440 and 432 are just numbers, which would have been different if we had a different number of hours per day, minutes per hour, or seconds per minute. Or if the Earth rotated at a different speed.
But getting your instruments in tune with each other is important…
Tuning is dealt with by instruments and not by the DAW. Some instruments have controls to adjust the tuning, others don’t. Having said which, the DAW can tell MIDI instruments what tuning you want, if those intruments support the appropriate MIDI messages. At the moment Ardour can only do this on a per-track basis. There is some useful information here:


A Hz is one cycle per second. What is a second? One-sixtieth of a minute, which is one-sixtieth of an hour, which is (approximately) one-twenty-fourth of the amount of time it takes the earth to rotate once. A second, like the Hz, is an entirely man-made construct given the arbitrary length of time it takes the planet we live on to spin around its axis. It is not a fundamental constant in our universe. (We have to make up for the rounding errors with a leap second added to the UTC roughly every other year, after all.)

The 432Hz conspiracy theory illustrates some interesting mathematical patterns, but keep in mind, if centuries ago humans had decided that a second was a different length of time than what we accept it to be today, no one would be arguing that 432Hz is somehow more in tune with the universe because the numbers would all work out differently. Mathematical patterns are everywhere, but they have no supernatural meaning.

The earth is approximately 150 million kilometers from the sun. What is special about the number 150 million? Nothing. I’m sure there are a lot of interesting patterns that could be found if a mathematician played around with it, but just like a second, it is a man-made, arbitrary description of distance…just a spatial one instead of a temporal one.


OP asked one single (and legitimate) question:

Let’s ignore the conspiracy noise.

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Since Ardour does not make any sound by itself, no.

But Ardour can inform MIDI synth plugins, which can be tuned via MTS (MIDI Tuning Standard) messages to change their tuning. It can also be used for micro-tonal music.

However currently tuning is per synth, not globally: see MIDI pitch adjustment - #11 by x42

Aha! the SI conspiracy :supervillain: It’s not 150, the earth is 93 million miles away from the sun :slight_smile:

All the esoteric issues aside, there are valid cases to change the tuning. Many physical instruments do sound different at different tuning. This can be due to resonances of the instrument body, or behavior of strings (think of drop D tuning), etc.