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Hi, Steve,

Thanks, but even eliminating the Hogwood and other period conductors, 
there was still variation in pitch. If one doesn't know the tuning and 
one doesn't know the speed, how can one set playback speed? This is true 
of tapes as has been discussed as well, especially the pitch trajectory.

Do you recall Jerry Farbis's message to this list from Steinway from 
2012 quoting a 1980 letter from Fritz Steinway?

So you don't have to go hunting:

> 
> March 31, 1980
> 
> Dear John [Steinway]:
> 
> The last time we met, there was a discussion of pitch prompted by a letter from a customer who wished to know if their old Steinway could be tuned to a-440.
> 
> Helmholtz has 20½ pages on the “History of Musical Pitch in Europe” which shows that it varied all over the map over the centuries.  The most significant information I can find relative to pianos and as a standard for piano design is the following:
> 
> 1834:  A gent named Scheibler proposed and was adopted at the Stuttgart Conference a standard of c-256, or a-440.
> 1859:  “French Pitch” was established by a super tuning fork at the National Conservatory in Paris at a-435.
> 
> All this effort seems to have settled nothing as various musical organizations continued to use a variety of pitches according to their traditions or whims.  However, we poor pianomakers had to have some standard, and:
> 
> 1868:  Mason & Hamlin used “French” pitch	435
> 1870:  Steinway [dealer] (London) used	454
> 1879:  Steinway (U.S.A.) used “American” pitch	457
> 1880:  Steinway (U.S.A.) tuning fork measured	458
> 1891:  American Piano Manufacturers Association
> 	adopted the “International” (French) pitch	435
> 1918:  American Federation of Musicians adopted
> 	the “Stuttgart” pitch	440
> 1926:  Music Industries Chamber of Commerce, U.S.A.
> 	established and adopted International Standard Pitch	440
> 
> So, the original so-called Stuttgart Pitch seems to have won out in the end and has been used ever since 1926.
> 
> Interestingly, I can find no reference to pitch as used by German pianomakers.
> 
> In the early days of Steinway, only God knows what pitch was used as a design parameter—probably either “Stuttgart” or “French” pitch.  During the 1870s it seems to have been rather high, varying from 454 to 458.  In 1891, however, Steinways must have agreed to and used 435 until 1926 when the International Standard Pitch of a-440 was adopted world-wide.
> 
> As far as old pianos are concerned, I would say that one should tune them to 440.  If something lets go, chalk it off to age rather than to any difference of design parameter.
> 
> Best to all, As ever
> 
> Fritz Steinway
> 
> 
> 
> ========Forwarded Message========
> Date:      Fri, 17 Aug 2012 09:28:57 -0400 
> From:     Gerald Fabris <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Steinway pitch chronology - share
> Earlier this week, Steinway & Sons company forwarded to me some interesting 
> information about the history of frequency standards for tuning pianos.  It 
> might be of interest to ARSClisters.  It's uploaded to share here:  
> 
> https://www.box.com/s/8b2f850ad816d6eb0cd6
> 
> 
> Jerry Fabris, Museum Curator
> Thomas Edison National Historical Park
> National Park Service
> United States Department of the Interior



On 2019-04-13 12:34 p.m., Steven Smolian wrote:
> Neither.  Playback speed.
> 
> The process idea is ridiculous.  The recording companies during the acoustic era  were as obsessed with quality as their successors.  There simply was no official playback speed before 1925 and actually later.
> 
> Those using original instruments tune to a different A when recording.  My Hogwood Haydn symphonies state A=415.  I suspect it is true for the "authentic" Beethoven performances in this file as well.
> 
> More time should have been given between examples to allow the ear to avoid hearing a group of 4 chords.
> 
> What this file clearly shows for most recordings is the variety of ambiences.  A couple are from fugitive broadcast recordings and have their resonant sound constricted by the original or umpteenth dub of it.
> 
> Thanks for the post.
> 
> Steve Smolian.
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Richard L. Hess
> Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2019 12:03 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] LP playing speeds
> 
> Hi, Doug and Steve,
> 
> This raises the issue: are these variations in orchestra tuning,
> recording process, or both?
> 
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnhlQUBsd6g
> 
> Cheers,
> 
> Richard
> 
> 
> On 2019-04-12 10:00 p.m., Steve Smolian wrote:
>> Hi, Doug,
>>
>> It's not that I have perfect pitch- I don't.  I do hear differences in tone, however.  Maybe I only think I do, in some cases, but I'm certain of it in others.  But I've worked with enough professional musicians to know that it matters to them, especially string players.
>>
>> Steve
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Douglas Pomeroy
>> Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 9:13 PM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] LP playing speeds
>>
>>    Hi Steve,
>> Years ago I started checking the pitch of every single recording which came my way.The tape recorders without servo circuitry, like the Ampex 350 and most non-pro decks are especially difficult to fix. There is some software available for making gradual corrections over time, but these programs are not a panacea.
>> I would add that a range of 15 to 20 cents is close the the limit of human hearing acuity, at least for those of us without perfect pitch. But I totally agree we should correct alldetectable errors.
> 
-- 
Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada                             647 479 2800
http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.