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440

From 432 Hertz to 440 Hertz

As early as 1885, the Music Commission of the Italian Government declared that all instruments and orchestras should use a tuning fork that vibrated at 440 Hz, which was different from the original standard of 435 Hz and the competing 432 Hz used in France.

In 1917, the American Federation of Musicians endorsed the Italians, followed by a further push for 440 Hz in the 1940s.

In 1953, a worldwide agreement was signed. Signatories declared that middle “A” on the piano be forevermore tuned to exactly 440 Hz. This frequency became the standard ISO-16 reference for tuning all musical instruments based on the chromatic scale, the one most often used for music in the West. All the other notes are tuned in standard mathematical ratios leading to and from 440 Hz. This tone standard is now universally accepted, which is why a piano in Toronto sounds exactly the same as a piano in China. Weirdly, no one can say for sure why this frequency was chosen in the first place. In fact, there those among us who vehemently disagree with this standard. In fact, they consider the 440 Hz middle “A” to be an abomination against nature.

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