Tuning pitch

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by thepublican, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. thepublican

    thepublican New Member

    in general what pitch (not note) do brass band tune to? Is it the equivalent to A=440hz that symphony orchestras tune to? Or is it slightly higher or lower?
    Many thanks.
  2. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    AFAIK, some bands like to be on the bright side - certainly much of the older 'yellow' music tends to sound better with a higher pitch. My personal preference is for A440, but I know our MD likes it higher (I caught him tuning us to A446 once, naughty boy!)
  3. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Active Member

    Although anything other than A=440 sounds 'sharp' to me, tuning to A=442 is a good idea, as this is the pitch of most modern tuned percussion.
  4. That is what I have found from the percussion instruments that I have played. However, there is some confusion about the matter. I keep up frequent correspondence with a very experienced and sought-after percussionist who tells me that my own glockenspiel, at A=442Hz is outdated and that 440 is the norm. The bandmaster in one of the bands in our area swears that their glock, being set at 442 is out of tune; they tune to 440. It does seem strange to have one section of the band tuned differently from the rest, whatever one's preference of pitch.

    I am pleased to have this cleared up.
  5. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Active Member

    Well, your "very experienced and sought-after percussionist" needs to check some manufacturers' specs. All the sites I have checked (inc. Yamaha, Adams and Bergerault) seem to use 442 as standard.
  6. thepublican

    thepublican New Member

    Many thanks for the answers.
    Now a supplementary question! Has anyone tried a 'Snark' tuner as a practise aid, and if so do they work?
    Many thanks,
  7. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Yes, they do work. And I’m sure it won’t be so long until a band has every member with one clipped to his/her instrument. Which I can only assume will be the musical equivalent to driving with your eyes transfixed on the speedo in an attempt to avoid speeding fines.
  8. I had also found that on manufacturers' sites. I did not seek to contradict you. As I said, however, there is confusion around the subject.

    Where my friend's information comes from, I'm not sure. What I didn't mention was that he mainly plays in concert bands - and doesn't have much time for brass bands. Whether concert bands are different, I doubt but don't know, but I imagine you will know yourself. The fact does remain that they chap is very experienced and sought-after. Of course, he isn't the first very experienced person, and won't be the last, to have a misconception or two.
  9. Mello

    Mello Member

    Philip is correct, Yamaha Tuned Perc such as Vibes Xylos etc have been at A=442 for a number of years now.
  10. ... but not too many things in life are that black-and-white. I know a good many people in building that still talk in terms of feet and inches, and it is over 40 years since the industry went metric.

    My friend's belief that it is 440 Hz and the ideas of the other band that I mentioned suggest that it might be taking time to work through into people's thinking. Perhaps the cost of replacement instruments is maintaining the older standard to a degree.

    There are also some manufacturers still offering A=440 as an option, so presumably someone is still buying that tuning in new instruments.
  11. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    I always find that the middle a on my tenor horn sounds miles out with the glock on 1st and 2nd valve, but ok if I just play it with the 2nd valve down - is this normal, or is the glock wrong?
  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    I’m not certain whether there is some confusion here or not.

    Tenor Horns are pitched in Eb and that means that when you play what you believe to be a C as written on your band part (which is transposed treble clef music) the pitch actually produced is a Concert Pitch (as on a Piano, etc) Eb.
    So your: C, open, is concert Eb; B, 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] valve is concert D; A, 1[SUP]st[/SUP] and 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Valve is concert C; ...... ; E, 1[SUP]st[/SUP] and 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Valve is concert G; and so on. Someone will (please) correct me if I’ve made an error.

    It could be that the A or E you are playing with your 1[SUP]st[/SUP] and 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] valves are not the concert pitch C or G taped by the percussionist. His A will be your F# (2[SUP]nd[/SUP] valve).
  13. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    They only smack the stuff, so its not right to blame the drummers totally, but,

    Hey ho
  14. Is English your first language, Ian?
  15. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    Have a word with your "much sought after drummer friend" he may know.
  16. That would be a waste of time. Your lack of literacy is a lost cause; sadly, you cannot even quote correctly what someone else has written. Similar goes for your ability to debate anything; your comments are and predictable as they are meaningless and vacuous. I can only guess why you parroted Mr Sparke. Perhaps you thoght that he won one over me by placing his observation in quotation marks. I'd suggest that you re-read the thread again, but I fear that too would be a waste of effort.
  17. Pastit

    Pastit Member

    Well that's you told, Robbo
  18. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    I did laugh when I first read this, just like I laugh when someone makes a joke (or tries to) about my own playing or a section that I've played in. Life can be too short to worry about some things.

    It would be really interesting to hear some more about tuning. Like: why A440 was settled on, whether some of our continental friends play at a higher pitch and whether the adjudicators are hot on such things. When the weather really warms up I sometimes wonder whether my tuning slide will be long enough to pull back to A440 or whether it might be OK for all the band to play a little sharp.

    It also comes to mind that brass instruments play out of pitch due to imperfect harmonics (variations in the harmonic series) and normally fixed length valve tubes sections/loops, etc. and then there's the need or not for compensating valves. How near (in pitch) do you need to be in reality for the public just to enjoy a good tune? It might also be that slightly sharp percussion is a good thing, both as it might carry through the band better and maybe it also has a better chance of being in tune (with the rest of the band) in warmer weather. Is A442 a compromise or something associated with other playing groups?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  19. That is exactly the type of debate to which I wish to contribute, and which I hoped I would be starting. A joke among peers is one thing, but this kind of nonsense is something else entirely. Just about every time drums or percussion are mentioned on a thread, the same tired old prejudices emerge. This is not just from the like of poor Ian (I am sorry to have had to respond so scathingly), but also from people of some stature. It seems clear enough that Philip Sparke did not welcome my having pointed out that, while, as he says, most manufacturers have, more or less, settled on A=442Hz, bands and individuals clearly have not all yet done so. This is a discussion forum, and we need to be open to discussion of what is observed to happen in practice. Otherwise, nothing will be learned. The level of debate seems more often to be at adolescent level than at the level of senior practitioner or someone that is used to academic rigour - such as what might expect from a Professor of his or her subject.
  20. katieeuph

    katieeuph Member

    Eh?? Firstly. your reply comes over as being a tad rude (whether or not that was your intention). Secondly, if you're after a debate full of academic rigour, I'm not sure you're in the right place!

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