432Hz: Crazy Theory Or Crazy Fact

This article stems from a 3 month "experiment" of a sort and a conclusion to a few drunken nights research into the subject: 432hz as a standard tuning reference, and is it actually better or worse than the standard 440hz. If I had some glasses, I'd called them the Speculation Spectacles and then start reading this.

Ultimate Guitar
Now to introduce you to this idea is relatively simple. Most tuners or tunings are tuned to the standard 440hz = A reference point, and this is apparent around the western world: practically any and all types of recorded music tune to this standard.

The History

Pythagoras, the ancient Greek all-round smart person, was attributed a tuning with a reference of 432hz for an A now simply called Pythagorean Tuning. It is/was based on a tuning ratio of 3:2, whereas most Western musical tuning is based on a ratio of 1:1 (not really sure what means, but its an easily researchable topic). Complicated tuning ratios and mathematics aside, the traditional 440hz scale looks like this (with the 432hz scale mentioned further down).

The sound of the scale reportedly makes the sound of perfect 5ths sound harmonically rich and "smooth" while 3rds (particularly major and minor), which have relatively complex tuning ratios of 81:64 and 32:27 respectively, sound dissonant. To counter-act this problem with certain intervals, the Pythagorean Scale idea came along. A Pythagorean Scale is simply put, any scale that is comprised entirely of perfect 5ths and octaves. An example would be that old chestnut, C Major. The dissonant intervals that arose from the Pythagorean tuning are known as "wolf intervals" due to their sound (presumably, it sounds like a wolf).

This tuning and scale were thought to have been wide-spread in the ancient world, but now are both rarely heard about (bad pun) in modern music, mostly due to that wolf interval and modern music generally being more harmonically exploratory (in Pythagorean tuning, this approach would've caused the wolf interval to show up more).

The "Experiment"

A few months ago, I tested out the 432hz reference on my guitar, tuned to D standard and occasionally Drop C. I've been using this tuning up until right just now where I decided to try 440 again to see if there'd be any discernible difference. To test it out during recording, I did a cover of "Jane Doe" by Converge a month or so after I started to use the tuning. (Shameless self-promoting linkage).

But turning back towards the point, overall I noticed a difference in the way things sounded: Individual notes played in a scale sounded relatively indifferent to each other, while the higher up the fretboard I played, the more noticeable a slight discrepancy in notation became, until the point where I was confused over if my intonation was out of whack or if it was just the tuning. I also noticed that an open A# perfect 5th power chord (as if there's any other type of power chord) sounded "clean", fully tuned and warmer than an open A#maj7 barre chord, which sounded slightly out of tune but with a lot of "colour" to it, if that makes sense (people with synesthesia will know more about that). In comparison, another guitar tuned to 440 in E standard playing the same chords sounded flatter and duller overall, but with much less underlying dissonance, having more consonance. Even when tuning the strings to as close as 432 as possible, the dissonance was still there, and it changed the way I started writing riffs, where death metallish dissonance actually sounded nicer than playing melodies that used diatonic chord patterns.

Another thing I sort of stumbled on, was that the guy who initially told me about this, had recently "converted" the entire "Periphery II" album from (what was apparently) 440hz to 432hz. All it needed was some editing in Audacity to change it. I heard the song "Racecar" (actually from the first album) in 440 then 432. The overall sound difference was noticeable, the 432 version sounding warmer, clearer and instantly sounded more listenable (given my opinion on Periphery, that's something, right?) but the 440 version felt tighter, with more aggressive energy.

You can actually try this experiment yourself (very thankfully, for free as free can be): Download Audacity, which is freeware, follow these steps in this video and discern whether or not there's any difference.

The Crazy Parts

Okay, so 432hz doesn't seem to be a big deal up until you understand why its suddenly been cropping up in places: Crazy conspiracy theories.

According to the weird side of the internet, a torrent of reliable and factual information (haha, yeah right), during World War 2, a certain Mr Goebbels (crazy Nazi propaganda minister) was thinking of more and more ideas that allowed for complete superiority over the general populace (as if murdering people wasn't enough) when he stumbled upon the idea of changing standardized musical tuning to something that would cause stress or anxiety in casual listeners, hence the change to 440. He pushed this idea heavily but it was ultimately rejected once the war actually started. Then (internet reliability still in effect), the NWO (yes, really) implemented the change seemingly overnight because they felt like it, and now the supposed reason that the modern lifestyle is full of stress and conformity is because of a slight uptuning in instrumentation across popular music. It's now safe to take off the tin foil hat.

Crazy Nazi theories aside (without a mention of Hitler, until just now), there might be some weight to the "tunings make you feel different" idea. According to another internet page (which I lost the link to), 432hz is tied with the Music of the Spheres, where planets and celestial bodies (another name for planets, I think) generate their own frequency. Its not entirely ignorable: Science previously discovered that the static on your TV is actually the sound and energy of dying stars, and that anything producing energy actually produces some kind of sound, whether loud or quiet (that includes atoms vibrating). This possibly means that, given our knack for living on earth, we're "tuned" to the cosmic hum of the planets rotation (kind of a cool idea actually). And for some reason, this is believed to be in the tuning of 432hz.

Maybe we've found why 3 is the magic number. Here are some comparative frequencies of other notes tuned with a reference of 432hz (these are the few notes I found the frequencies of):

A = 432hz
D = 288hz
E = 324hz
G = 384hz

The main thing to take note is, they're (almost) whole numbers, and are wholly divisible by 3. Apparently that means something, not entirely sure what myself, but according to some scientist (John Stuart Reid), after developing a "Cymascope" (after cymatics) which is essentially a really colourful oscilloscope or a more interesting variation of cornstarch-in-a-subwoofer, made a note that any notes tuned to 432hz: "432 Hertz pops out as a triangle, every time we image it. We thought there was something wrong with the CymaScope - but after trying for more than an hour we concluded that the number 3 was somehow universally connected to 432 Hertz." Pretty interesting stuff. However, the same site startes delving into "chakra" and "third eyes" and blurring supposedly real science with stoner's dreams and all that, maybe with some grain of truth to it, but I couldn't test it myself.

So Overall...

I don't know, really. What a rubbish conclusion, I hear you pre-emptively cry, but I guess the overall point is to try and clear up the lack of solid info there seems to be (and there still is, if this article is anything to go by) but if it has helped, then it's at least opened a mind or two to the concept of different tuning reference points OR... Shown you why it's all complete rubbish, and that whatever works for you, works for you. Have a good one.

This story was written by a UG user. Have anything interesting to share with the community? Submit your own story!

140 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    The interval ratio is how you understand the difference between the different tuning systems. Pythagorean tuning is more than just tuning down slightly. Equal temperament tuning (standard Western tuning method) has all of the notes (A - G#) set an equal distance apart (ratio 1:1). Pythagorean tuning has the intervals set at a ratio of 3:2. This makes the perfect fifth sound more in tune than equal temperament. However the other notes sound more and more dissonant as you move away from the fifth. The thirds particularly sound like crap. To summarise, you literally can't use pythagorean tuning on a guitar because the frets are fitted to play notes in equal temperament. Of course you can tune down to A=432Hz, but that's just tuning down in equal temperament. Pythagorean tuning is an entirely different thing. Somebody might end up scoring a lower mark on a theory paper if they used this article for learning purposes.
    if i had seen this, i wouldnt have typed up my paragraph saying the same thing. there needs to be a way that people can disprove/dispute articles that are full of crap. if someone sees this and goes around talking about tuning to 432, itl be like a plague of ignorance.
    For all the trouble the writer went to for this article, I find it quite amazing that they didn't come upon the scale of the neck and this very important part of temperament. Speaking of which, perhaps the writer will pen a new article about the True Temperament series of guitar necks that is out there. Google the words, I'm not trying to plug anyone's product. Finally, if anyone would like to look into a topic that is relative to this, the world of microtones, google "Neil Haverstick microtones" and check out a song called Birdwalk.
    Uni Verse
    He may or may not, but I will. Thanks for bringing that up, and the info!
    i really wonder how Pythagoras measured 432hz in the year 5000BC, he must have had an app for his iStone.
    Pythagoras lived in V age BC. And frequency measure was know for many ages before him. Electronic tuners are a new method, but they work on rights that was known for many ages.
    Pythagoras didn't measure 432 Hz or any other frequency- he didn't have the tools to do so. Nor did he say anything about absolute pitches, as far as I know. Thus, this connection of 432 with Pythagoras is bogus. Same goes for all the other claims of 432 having been a standard before the 19th century, when it found a couple of supporters (Giuseppe Verdi, for instance) among many other competing standards. Tune as you please, but there's nothing magic about 432 or any other frequency.
    Yeah GUITAR TWUNT is right you would have change the frets or us a fretless to use the actual Pythagorean tuning. You should also take on Indian music if you like messing around in different tuning systems. Tuning to 432 hz is essentially a downtuning. Their are actually quite a few records that are not in 440 I know some old metallica songs arent its just because they probably just tuned to each other and didn't bother checking on a electronic tuner
    Good work guys. Every flaw in this article I wanted to point out has been addressed. My faith in humanity has been restored!
    I was about to say just what GUITAR TWUNT explained, but in a far more expository (and probably convoluted) manner. Thank you for saving me the trouble of thwarting misinformation. I like to think of it as altruism, but it's probably just being a gratuitous know-it-all.
    You were correct in thinking the intonation was off on your guitar when you were tuning the strings less tightly relative to what the guitar was set up to play, let alone how the placement of the frets assumes a 440Hz A.
    It's been said before but I thought I'd reiterate: Pythagorean Tuning is TOTALLY different than just tuning your guitar with A=432 as a reference. You are still tuning with the equal-tempered tuning system if you do this.
    So I know this article is old, but I just found it because I've been doing a bunch of reading today about the A=432hz idea. I'm not going to get into the technical details, because that shit is way over my head. I will say this, though. I have an electronic tuner that lets me change the reference frequency from the default 440hz. I changed it to 432, and tuned my acoustic guitar based on that, then strummed out a few songs. My guitar has never sounded better. I'll be tuning all my instruments to A=432 from now on.
    Pythagorean/Stradivari/Verdi Tuning (A = 432 hz, C = 256 hz) Calculated using the Pythagorean method of 3:2 ratio for dominants, 11:8 for sub-dominants, 2:1 for octaves. Note Frequency (hz) - Mid Low (1 octave below middle C) C 128 D 144 E 162 F 176 G 192 A 216 B 243 - Mid (middle C) C 256 D 288 E 324 F 352 G 384 A 432 B 486 - Mid High (1 octave above middle C) C 512 D 576 E 648 F 704 G 768 A 864 B 972 Modern Standard Tuning (A = 440 hz, C = 261.63 hz) Sources: http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.... and http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.... NoteFrequency (hz) - Mid Low (1 octave below middle C) C130.81 D146.83 E164.81 F174.61 G196 A220 B246.94 - Mid (middle C) C261.63 D293.66 E329.63 F349.23 G392 A440 B493.88 - Mid High (1 octave above middle C) C523.25 D587.33 E659.26 F698.46 G783.99 A880.00 B987.77 - - - - - - - As you can see, Every note in the Pythagorean tuning is a round number, and every note is divisable by 3. In the standard 440 model, only A and (some) G notes ever have round numbered frequencies. After tuning my guitars and bass to 432 I think I'm going to keep them that way. Sound is fuller, more toal colors which allows for greater tension and resolve contrasts and overall possibilities for harmonic dissonance!
    Interesting read, but where's your references? A website which you "lost the link to" is hardly a trusted source. But you're probably still in high school so I guess that's ok.
    Wow. "You're probably still in high school???" This sounds like the comment of, well, someone still in high school.
    What if someone has a pitch detector that is set to detect 440 hertz but tells the user that it detected 432 hertz. Nothing would surprise me anymore about any untruth.
    I'd like to add some information to this: Many ancient sites reflect the number 432 in their alignment to stars and planets and the earths path through space. Avebury and Stonehenge for example, yield the numbers 432. "The connection of Stonehenge to the 25,920 year orbital procession of the equinox and the number 432 is obvious. If you take the first 30 stones in the outer ring of 360 degrees, divide that by 30 which gives you 12, and then divide 25,920 by 12 you get 2,160. which is the approximate diameter of the moon. When you divide the 60 stones in the second circle of 360 degrees by 60 you get 6. 25,920 divided by 6 equals 4,320. By dividing the 20 stones in the center circle of 360 degrees by 20 you get 18. 25,920 divided by 18 is 1,440. If the second circle of 60 stones equals 25,920 years then each stone equals 432 years around the 12 sectors of the 25,920 year procession. The center circle stones would be 20 x 432 which equals 8,640 years The center stone in the center circle would be divided in half at the time of the equinox making two stones for a total of 20. 1,440 is one sixth of 8,640. Again in the numbers of scientific concert pitch we see the numbers 144, 216, 432, 864. The earths wobble or spiral action gives us our time count of 86,400 seconds in a day and 43,200 seconds in 12 hours. 12 x 60 equals 720, and 2 x 360 equals 720. I must also mention that it takes 72 years for the earth to travel one degree around the 25,920 year procession of the equinox. Many stone circles have shown that these precise numbers also foretell of the changing of the poles and their past positions according to balanced alignment. Many stone circles were laid down to warn future generations of the passing of certain orbital astral bodies that from time to time may cause cataclysmic events. Those accurate calenders of astrological time keeping were altered by the formation of the first corporation sole known as the Roman Church. Stones worldwide were destroyed or moved, many vandalized and inscribed with the cross to convert them to the Roman Church. Natural time keeping by the Roman Church was forbidden and the stone Norse weoh calenders of Europe and most of the standing stone circles in greater Britain and Brittany were either cracked, pulled down or altered."
    I've been tuning my guitars and drums to A432 for about a month now. Based on my experience, there is something very different about it. I couldn't tell right away in an A/B test like that one on YouTube (
    (except noticing the flatness compared to A440). But the difference showed up after my first hour of playing acoustic guitar at 432Hz. Here's what I noticed. 1) I've been playing for a couple of hours on my own! (That, in itself, was odd. I haven't lasted that long since I was a teenager playing along to my old record player. For as long as I can remember, I only ever noodle for about half an hour before I get bored with the repetition of cliches that tumble from my muscle memory.) 2) I'm really enjoying the sound of the guitar - each note. Chords are even better (man...) 3) I can actually feel the vibration of the guitar body going right into my rib cage. It seems easier to improvise - almost as if my brain were processing each moment in a more efficient way. 4) I've been bending strings like Hendrix and haven't had to retune yet - not even the G and B strings. 5) It's funny, but I could swear that the string attack sounds less "spiky" and more smooth... 6) Singing and playing strummy anthems like "Hey Jude" or Primal Scream's "Movin' On Up" attained a new level of awesomeness and it was very hard not to dance! Very, very much more "into it". (Commercial possibilities anyone?!) After two or three days of playing in 432 a lot, I noticed that I was generally in a really buoyant, untroubled mood, more "in the moment" and felt more like being cheerful around people than usual. I think that 432 may actually be more efficient at synchronizing hemispheric brainwave activity than 440, based on my background in psychology, and the time taken for these effects to show up. This was not an instant "zap" difference that I could have spotted in an A/B listening test with my thinking, comparing, analyzing left hemisphere. It was more like a change that I could only see by looking back over time. ("My, haven't you grown? You were only this big last time I saw you...") It's not that the music sounds that different, so much as it gradually coaxes you into a more perceptive listening state somehow. All of the effects I had felt were as real to me as the feeling of being cold, hot or hungry. However, when I mentioned this to friends, one of them essentially told me that I must be imagining this because I wanted to believe it, that he couldn't hear a difference after 5 minutes - and in any case, he was fundamentally opposed to anything endorsed by people that may wear a tinfoil helmet or feel inclined to change their name to "Lancelot White-Eagle Camelot" and wear multicoloured hemp waistcoats. Upshot? I think 432Hz is a real improvement over 440 for its potency and enjoyability, but it has one hell of a new age PR problem!
    Hello - for the sake of mother earth and the health of her childrens, please pass on this Petition - save 432 hz pitch frequency - thanks a lot! Namste Claudia Hauri in english http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_43... in italian http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_43... in french http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_43... in german http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_43...
    Uni Verse
    I wish I could believe this will happen. It's easier for me to be selective about what A440 or higher pitched music I listen to, which is very little. When I do, it's not anything that will cause negative messages to be imbedded by use of pulsing dissonance. And it wasn't the Nazi's in the 1930's who first suggested it, either. It was the Royal Academy of Arts, in 1860. http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Society%20of... But I do appreciate your message and efforts. Love & Light to you and yours.
    Uni Verse
    I wish I could believe this will happen. It's easier for me to be selective about what A440 or higher pitched music I listen to, which is very little. When I do, it's not anything that will cause negative messages to be imbedded by use of pulsing dissonance. And it wasn't the Nazi's in the 1930's who first suggested it, either. It was the Royal Academy of Arts, in 1860. http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Society%20of... But I do appreciate your message and efforts. Love & Light to you and yours.
    I'm going to answer my own question: The second (symbol: s) is the base unit of time in the International System of Units (SI)[1] and is also a unit of time in other systems of measurement (abbreviated s or sec;[2]) it is the second division of the hour by sixty, the first division by 60 being the minute.[3] Between 1000 (when al-Biruni used seconds) and 1960 the second was defined as 1/86,400 of a mean solar day (that definition still applies in some astronomical and legal contexts).[4][5] Between 1960 and 1967, it was defined in terms of the period of the Earth's orbit around the Sun in 1900,[6] but it is now defined more precisely in atomic terms. Seconds may be measured using mechanical, electric or atomic clocks. Astronomical observations of the 19th and 20th centuries revealed that the mean solar day is slowly but measurably lengthening and the length of a tropical year is not entirely predictable either; thus the sunearth motion is no longer considered a suitable basis for definition. With the advent of atomic clocks, it became feasible to define the second based on fundamental properties of nature. Since 1967, the second has been defined to be: the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.[1]
    The only way to do a pythagorean tuning on a guitar is to break each fret into six pieces (one under each string) and move them individually. And you'd have to re-adjust for every different key you play in. In other words, normal guitars CANNOT EVERY IN ANY WAY play in Pythagorean tuning.
    Are you talking about in order for the guitar to be intoned correctly for 432 hz or are you saying the fret scale just doesn't work for this? Unless the Pythagoran tunings are so insane that they're based on micro-tonal tunings? I don't understand why you would have to move the fretwire for individual strings - I understand that straight frets isn't perfectly intonated in any tuning, but outside of that reason, what other reason would there be for moving the fretwire individually for every string?
    It's sort of hard to explain but I'll give it a shot. For and example take the fifth fret of a guitar and think of the notes on the 1st and 2nd strings. Those notes would be "A" and "E". In equal temperament tuning (the way guitars and pianos are normally tuned) those notes have the frequencies of 440Hz (for A) and 329.63Hz (for E). And that's all good, that's how they are with a straight fret. Now assume we are playing in the key of C major. To go to Pythagorean tuning you'd need to move the "A" to 436.05Hz and the "E" to 327.03Hz. You'll notice those are different by different amounts, so to make those notes in tune you'd need a broken-up fret so that one piece could be just slightly higher up than the other. Hopefully that makes sense?
    and I should have said in Pythagorean tuning those notes would be different by different amounts for each different key. But that's even harder to explain But that's why I specified C Major.
    Okay, so the concept of semitones and tones is slightly different, like the relationship of intervals?
    Yup. The "equal" part of equal temperament tuning comes from the idea that all of the semitones are equally spaces. In other tuning systems they aren't. Like the distance from C to C# would be different than the distance from F to F#.
    I hope you meant that the relationship of frequencies between consecutive semitones in the even tempered scale is a ratio. I.e. a#/a = f#/f = twelfth root of 2
    so strange stumbled upon 'lateralus' by tool on youtube converted to 432hz and the did some research on 432hz and now about an hour later i happen to come across the article on UG about the same topic that i had never heard about over an hour ago
    the whole converting is crap. Your just turning everything down 8hz. Its not about the tuning of instruments in the song aka your drums are 8 hz lower
    Further study by the author will disclose that we have moved from Just Intonation as he describes, which would involve a different instrument for each key we choose to play in, to Equal Temperament, which straightened out problems like that by moving the notes around to be evenly spaced mathematically. Cracking the cover on Helmholtzs "On the Sensations of Tone" will yield a much deeper insight to this and similar concepts. Reading and comprehending a treatise on Harmony( western music theory) will fill in the spaces for you. Researching the history, methods and madness of the now defunct "Creem" magazine, should give you enough journalistic clout to make this an interesting addictive music blog, instead...
    Actually, most bands and orchestra's still follow Just Intonation because it creates a clearer sound, for example, using any software or device you have capable of doing so generate a major chord, then raise the fifth by 2 cents and lower the third by 14 cents, in a minor chord the third is 16 cents sharp. Compare the two chords your self and you will notice that the just intonated chords has less dissonance (even in the major chord) because it is the theoretical "perfect tuning" for a major or minor chord. The reason this can't be applied to guitar is because you would have to resize the frets, it can't work on piano or any other keyboard because you would have to retune the instrument for every chord. However, as someone else mentioned, a violin, trombone, trumpet, clarinet, etc is capable of retuning each note it plays using lips for the winds or the players finger for the violin.
    I am not a musician but one thing i can't stand is when someone brings up an idea or relays others ideas, people get on the defensive(suppressing voice) because it wasn't written in some bogus university writing or some reference of some book. When are people going to wake up that just because it is written and approved(by who? Are they some god who approves things?)doesn't mean it is an absolute or even right. It may very well be a mind control tactic, since everything we do is controlled by someone else who thinks they own us. This type of badgering is really passed on from those control freaks and is emulated through people who have not the guts to step outside the circle of garbage. It reminds me of how the FDA does not approve some things that somebody swears can cure cancer, and the ones that are approved have the same if not worse side affects. If i was terminal, i know what i would do and that would be try anything, whether written in some book or not because i was going to die anyway and they are not my mother or god. Or how about the mechanic with a certificate against the back yard worker. The backyard worker who does a far better job because they thrive on that type of work, whether they have approval or not. Certificates and paper are just utter garbage to control and suppress. The article is trying to give an idea that he has tried himself and has also heard of. Does he say it is an absolute? Of course he doesn't but there are people who do and maybe it is time we started to listen to them because listening to corrupt governments and the like has gotten us nowhere but in the hellhole of earth. We all live here and we all have a natural right not to be controlled, it is that simple. Why don't you go and try it for yourself to prove it and if you do agree with it, i bet you get the same flack but at least in your own heart you know. Another thing it isn't 3 that is the absolute it is 9 the divine. 3 and 6 however are right up there with 9. One thing that is for sure is that we are all getting angrier and i bet some of this music and control has everything to do with it. People telling other people what they should do, how they should live, parent their children, why the hell should we even bother being here? It has become a hellhole. Gee, we have to even pay to live on this planet and we pay some other human being as if they own it. They claim we are free but then say we need licences to do things and if we don't pay for a licence we are fined for doing our natural birthright. Who are these people? I had a thought about using a song in 440hz and then another in 432hz, on a boxer before a fight-to see if by using 440hz, he would be aggressive and lose the fight and if using 432 would be calmer and more focused. One thing is for sure-We all have the right to search for truths and answers. If it wasn't for conspiracy theorists, we wouldn't be looking through a computer monitor and be able to communicate to people from around the world. Without ideas, we are just dead! There is no need for suppression, it is criminal. One day we will fly! Yeah Right! As If!
    Just as important, how did morbidguitar waste half his coffee break reading about this BS in the year 2012.
    What did I just read? Nazis, Pythagorean, NWO...? Sounds like a load of rubbish to me. Tuning to 432Hz is just down tuning down by 8Hz. Big whoop.
    So you read something, and dismissed it because some of the words challenged your willingness to go further? Are you really a musician, with this kind of attitude? Have you tried it? Did it feel the same? Different? Or you just don't have the time/energy/curiousity to find out for yourself?
    no. Each notes frequency is tuned down by a factor of 0.94446. That just happens to be 8hz for A4.