Topic: A=392 on a new Brandenburg Recording....

http://audaud.com/2014/12/bach-brandenb … ics-2-cds/

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Re: A=392 on a new Brandenburg Recording....

Many scholars feel that a'=392 Hz was the most common pitch used by Bach and his German contemporaries like Telemann, Zelenka and Graupner. The pitch level of a'=415 Hz is a compromise promoted by the record companies and manufacturers of reproduction woodwinds like Moeck.

Christopher Brodersen
Maker of Historical Keyboard Instruments
Reviewer/contributor - Fanfare Magazine
Amateur bassoonist, baroque oboist, baroque bassoonist

Re: A=392 on a new Brandenburg Recording....

Was that really the case?  Do we have surviving instruments at that pitch?

oboe (French, Viennese, baroque), bassoon (German, French, baroque), shawm, dulcian

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Re: A=392 on a new Brandenburg Recording....

The composers didn't dictate the pitch but  there was no world or even country standard. The church organ in one town would play at one pitch while the wind players, who mainly played outside, might have another. Just down the road things might be different. This explains some of the strange mixtures of keys in some original scores & parts. 'A history of performing pitch - the story of A' by Bruce Haynes (pub by Scarecrow Press in 2002) is a comprehensive study of the subject.

Re: A=392 on a new Brandenburg Recording....

Ian White wrote:

The composers didn't dictate the pitch but  there was no world or even country standard. The church organ in one town would play at one pitch while the wind players, who mainly played outside, might have another. Just down the road things might be different. This explains some of the strange mixtures of keys in some original scores & parts. 'A history of performing pitch - the story of A' by Bruce Haynes (pub by Scarecrow Press in 2002) is a comprehensive study of the subject.

That's an excellent book on the subject. As for 'surviving instruments', as Ian says, the local church organ is often the best indicator of pitch standards of the time. Provided, of course, that it has stayed at the pitch level of the 1700s and 1800s (not very likely).

As for 'surviving instruments' other than organs, it goes without saying that oboes and bassoons are only approximate indicators of pitch. Recorders and flutes are a little better. The best of all are tuning forks, but this device was invented rather late, in 1711--by trumpeter John Shore--and so a survey of tuning forks can give only a partial view of a period when the average pitch level was gradually rising in Europe. The few that have survived, such as Handel's at 409 Hz and Pascal Taskin's at 412 Hz, show how variable pitch was even in the latter part of the 18th century.

Christopher Brodersen
Maker of Historical Keyboard Instruments
Reviewer/contributor - Fanfare Magazine
Amateur bassoonist, baroque oboist, baroque bassoonist