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What frequency is middle C on a modern organ?

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  • What frequency is middle C on a modern organ?

    What frequency is middle C on a modern organ?

  • #2
    If the organ is tuned to A440 on the equal tempered scale, 261.6256 Hz. Note that on the equal tempered chromatic scale, adjacent notes are related by the twelfth root of 2, so you can generate a frequency chart using Excel. Here is the octave from middle C to the C above middle C:
    C 261.6256
    C# 277.1826
    D 293.6648
    D# 311.127
    E 329.6276
    F 349.2282
    F# 369.9944
    G 391.9954
    G# 415.3047
    A 440
    A# 466.1638
    B 493.8833
    C 523.2511

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by toodles View Post
      If the organ is tuned to A440 on the equal tempered scale, 261.6256 Hz. Note that on the equal tempered chromatic scale, adjacent notes are related by the twelfth root of 2, so you can generate a frequency chart using Excel. Here is the octave from middle C to the C above middle C:
      C 261.6256
      C# 277.1826
      D 293.6648
      D# 311.127
      E 329.6276
      F 349.2282
      F# 369.9944
      G 391.9954
      G# 415.3047
      A 440
      A# 466.1638
      B 493.8833
      C 523.2511
      Thank you very much! I assume most organs today are tuned by this standard. What frequency were instruments in Bach's time? We don't know??
      Music has progressed from an art to an exact science.

      Comment


      • #4
        Music has been both an art AND a science for a long time.

        Ever since the first time two people tried to tap a rhythm together or make a melody, there has been some element of 'science.'
        Ever since someone tried to repeat the same musical idea twice, taking note of rhythm and pitch, there has been some element of 'science.'

        The amount of detail may have varied but, compared to the amount of detail in the rest of society, music has never been far from that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Note that G÷C=1.5 (roughly), and E÷C=1.25 (roughly). The scale is mathematical in nature, but not exact. If it were too perfect, it would sound sterile and uninteresting.

          To answer your question about frequency, the answer is: No one knows with absolute certainty. A-440 was not standardized in the United States until roughly the mid-20th century. My square grand piano from the 1870s is approximately 1/2 step lower than my other organs and pianos. However, the pump/reed organs vary depending on the maker and year. My 1929 upright piano is approximately 1/4 step low. When I attempted to raise it to A-440, it was not happy.

          All we know with absolute certainty is that pitch varied greatly over the years. Exactly where and when pitch varied and changed in history is a subject for debate, but factual information is being discovered from time to time and changing the topic of conversation.

          Michael
          Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
          • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
          • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
          • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

          Comment


          • davidecasteel
            davidecasteel commented
            Editing a comment
            It also varies by country. "Concert Pitch" in the USA is A = 440 Hz now, but in years back it was 435. Many church organs today are basically tuned to 440 in order to be compatible with other instruments that may be played
            with them. I think most churches tune their pianos to agree with the organ (it's much easier to tune a piano than to do it to a pipe organ).

            FWIW, some older electronic organis used a Top Octave Synthesizer chip to generate the highest 13 frequencies of the instrument, and then used divide-by-2 processes to produce the lower octaves. The most common TOS chips were fed a high frequency input (usually 1MHz or 2MHz) and divided that frequency by these factors to produce those highest pitches: 478, 451, 426, 402, 379, 358, 338, 319, 301, 284, 268, 253, and 239 (those actually produced very close approximations to the pitches of even temperament C5 through C6 using a 1MHz input--the worst case was E5, which was 0.1cent flat)..I actually think that was an incredible achievement of technology--finding that set of factors that worked that well with a commonly-found oscillator frequency.

            (I goofed. The above is not pertinent to a thread about pipe organs. It's good information, though, if I can be forgiven.)
            Last edited by davidecasteel; 06-29-2020, 04:30 PM.

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            David,

            Good point about the standard being different in different countries. The practice with some symphony orchestras in Canada and the US is to tune to A-442. The idea is that the raised pitch will create excitement in the sound.

            Michael
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