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I can't find the references at the moment, but I gave a paper at a long-ago 
ARSC about this issue.  I'm depending on memory for the dates, but it'll be 
pretty close.

The U.S. Navy adopted A-440 in 1916.  The National Bureau Standards did so 
in or about 1918.

I'm pretty sure that the bands of most or all U.S. Armed Service bands that 
were in training and later participated in WW I were equipped with A-440 
instruments.

It is my speculation that many older instruments were given by masters to 
servants or found their way into hock shops, which thus made such 
instruments available to poorer musicians.  I've not seen any writing about 
this issue during the formative jazz band years.  Those more versed in the 
reminiscences of the early layers may have encountered comments about 
adjusting or not adjusting tunable instruments and, where impractical, 
living with the sound.

In the early 1960s I contacted a piano tuner through Steinway, a fellow 
whose responsibilities included the instruments used by Victor during 
Caruso's day.  He told me that they always tuned tuned to A= 440.  I believe 
I included this somewhere in one of my American Record Guide columns then as 
a result.

Each orchestra has a collection of tuning forks, or, at  least, used to, and 
their period of use is often documented.

As to older situations, read "The Story of A" by - can't recall his name. 
It carefully explain s and documents pitch issues over the centuries when a 
court in Germany hired an Italian or French court composer who then had 
instruments made for use during his tenure.  It also talks about the issues 
of different pitches for instrumental and instruments with vocal music and 
organ keyboards that played in either of two pitches, depending on the type 
of service.

Pitch is also affected by temperature.  The way concert halls are and were 
heated had a direct effect as well.

It's really complicated and fascinating.


Steve Smolian

Original Message----- 
From: Tom Fine
Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 6:12 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] speaking of pitch

http://www.stereophile.com/content/fifth-element-89

This is a good telling of John Marks' tortured journey on discovering a 
seemingly small but very
audible pitch error.

I did some further reporting with people I know who are very familiar with 
the EMI classical
library. Apparently, the fast-pitched tape from which all digital media have 
been mastered came from
Capitol USA, and no one can locate the original 2-track master tape made by 
Carson Taylor, from
which the first edition USA albums were mastered.

Now, after all of this consternation, it seems to me that one could do as I 
did -- own the HDTracks
96/24 download and then simply apply pitch-correction software to it. I 
couldn't hear any audible
degradation after doing that and, in fact, it sounded better because it 
turns out that once it's in
A=440 (to which Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra strictly tuned), the music 
relaxes and flows
better, just from that very slight slow-down in tempo.

My personal opinion is that John Marks' dream of remastering this recording 
from the 4-channel
Dynatrack tapes will never happen, but I do hope that Carson Taylor's 
original 2-track master (ie a
second-generation tape, made directly from the Dyntrack session tapes) will 
be found and this pitch
error then corrected in all current in-print media.

-- Tom Fine