Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Instagram Rss
Get news and offers Search...
 

Which pitch?

Wed 20 May 2009

You may have seen the phrase ‘period instrument orchestra’ floating around in relation to the OAE. Well this means that we use instruments like those from the time that the music was written in so our performances are what the composers themselves would have actually heard. But not only are the instruments the great great grandparents of what you will hear a modern symphony orchestra playing on, the pitch has also changed over the years. Modern orchestras using modern instruments play at a pitch where the note ‘A’ is equivalent to 440 hertz. In Baroque music (Bach and Handel’s time) we generally play at A=415 and for classical music (Mozart, Haydn) at A=430. To give you an idea of the difference, A=415 is about a semi-tone lower than A=440. To the untrained ear, what does this all mean? That if you played the same note on a modern instrument and an ‘old fashioned’ one, that the latter would sound a bit lower.

Read More