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Tue Mar 31, 2020, 11:56 AM

 

A Musical Analogy That Can Be Applied to Democratic Primary Politics, Perhaps.

Last edited Tue Mar 31, 2020, 12:38 PM - Edit history (1)

Today, most musical organizations agree that the A above middle C has a frequency of 440 Hertz. While stringed instruments can be tuned to other frequency standards, wind instruments are not as flexible. In most orchestras, the oboe, which is the least flexible in its ability to change its pitch, gives the A to the orchestra, which tunes to that note.

Oboists are strange people, to be sure. I know this because I used to play the oboe, on a semi-professional basis. Oboists are fanatical about making their own reeds, which they make to center around the 440 Hertz A. Since we are required to provide the pitch to the orchestra, we have tuning forks or electronic tuners we consult to make sure our A is precisely at 440 Hertz in the environment where music is to be played. That helps to avoid arguments. Most oboists detest the role of giving the A. Many string players might prefer a slightly sharper pitch, which leads to all sorts of strange conflicts.

A, however, was not always set at 440 Hertz. In times past, the standard pitch was considerably sharper or flatter. Some musical organizations, like baroque orchestras, tune to A = 415 Hertz, for example. So baroque wind players have to have a completely different instrument to play in such orchestras.

Purchasers of vintage wind instruments must also be careful that their instruments are capable of playing at today's A = 440 pitch, since many instruments made prior to about 1930, were made to play at a higher pitch. That occasionally cause problems for beginning school musicians when their grandfather gives them their otherwise fine trumpet or clarinet.

It is impossible to make euphonious music unless everyone agrees on the standard pitch. At different times, European orchestras, for example, played at various non-standard pitches, different for each country. It was chaotic for wind instrument musicians from other places to try to play with groups from other nations.

So, an international standard of A = 440 Hertz eventually became the recognized pitch, and everything got easier.

Democrats and Republicans do not agree, pitch-wise, and cannot play musically together. From time to time, different pitches come into even established parties, like the Democratic Party. When that happens, discord and a lack of harmony occur. Before any music can be played harmoniously, all of the players have to agree what the A is for that party. If that does not occur, there is no possibility for the entire party to play in tune together, and that party often fails to please the audience.

I suggest that we all tune to one pitch. That works best. Just don't ask me to give the pitch. I don't play any longer.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Reply A Musical Analogy That Can Be Applied to Democratic Primary Politics, Perhaps. (Original post)
MineralMan Mar 31 OP
The Velveteen Ocelot Mar 31 #1
ancianita Mar 31 #2
MineralMan Mar 31 #3
The Velveteen Ocelot Mar 31 #4
MineralMan Mar 31 #5
TomSlick Mar 31 #6

Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Tue Mar 31, 2020, 12:13 PM

1. A4 has been all over the place for centuries.

 

Mozart's A4 was 421-425 Hz. (This would explain why some of his music, notably his Coronation Mass when pitched to the modern A440, is so painful for sopranos, and maybe it means the Queen of the Night's aria in The Magic Flute shouldn't be quite as fiendishly difficult). In Germany during the late Renaissance it was often much higher, to the point where lutenists were breaking strings - but the very bright sound that resulted was popular at the time. Recently some bel canto-style opera singers wanted A4 set to 432, which was what Verdi used, and which takes into consideration the passagio (change in register) of the singers' voices.

This, of course, is a digression from your point, which is that some parts of the Democratic party are out of tune with the rest of it. In the current context I would suggest that the problem is that a few of the oboists suck at making reeds and aren't interested in fixing their problem. They'll just keep playing and enjoying the dissonance.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 31, 2020, 12:17 PM

2. +1

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 31, 2020, 12:23 PM

3. Most oboists are fanatics about the pitch they give.

 

I finally switched to carrying a crystal-controlled electronic tuner. In the case of pitch arguments, I simply handed it to the person complaining about my A and had them tune their instrument to that tuner's pitch, which was always the one I used. Oddly enough, the complainer was always a violinist. But that's a different issue.

All of the reeds I made for myself centered on that pitch. Oddly enough, A4 on the oboe is probably that instrument's least stable note, pitch-wise, which is why oboists hate giving the A, and is also why all oboists carry a pitch standard with them at all times. I used to use a tuning fork, but finally switched to a high-quality electronic tuner, since arguments occur. My A, always played with the tuner sitting on my music stand, was bang-on at 440 Hertz, since I could see the needle of the tuner's meter centered as I played it. The tuner would also play the note through its speaker, if someone was still dissatisfied with the pitch I gave.

I often wished to be relieved of that duty. I'm sure other oboists have felt the same at times. It is too often a point of contention.

As for the Soprano's F6 in that aria, I have great sympathy. Mozart's pitch standard was far more forgiving, indeed.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 31, 2020, 12:27 PM

4. There's an app for that. I have one on my iPhone.

 

Not that I need it, since I don't play the oboe. But it's kind of fun to see exactly how out of tune my piano is, though for now there's nothing I can do about it since I'm not letting anybody in the house.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #4)

Tue Mar 31, 2020, 12:30 PM

5. Yup. I have a tuner app on my cell phone.

 

However, in my oboe playing days, the cell phone did not exist.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Tue Mar 31, 2020, 11:46 PM

6. Interesting history.

 

I've always played in bands that usually tune from the bottom up - starting with the tuba with the other voices joining from low to high, first the other bass/baritone voices (euphoniums, bassons, bass clarinets, baritone sax), next the tenor trombones, next the alto voices (alto sax and horns); to trumpets, and ending with the clarinets, flutes and oboe. In my high school and college days, bands tuned to a B-flat. These days the band tunes to an F. (Tuning to F is really helpful to trombones that have an F-attachment - where concert F is played in first position on both the B-flat and F side.) Then, someone who can be relied upon sounds an A for the saxes, clarinets and flutes.

The benefit of cellphone and other small electronic tuners is that every should be close to tuned to the 440-A standard before the band is tuned.

To your analogy, the 440-A is accepted as truth. The country would be greatly improved if we could agree on obvious truths.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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