Saturday, September 06, 2014

Catnip for human ears?

Vice Motherboard reports on audiophiles obsessed with tuning instruments to 432 Hz, instead of the standard 440 Hz. They claim that tuning to 432 brings with it immeasurable aesthetic and spiritual benefits; some within the movement have even blamed tuning to 440 on the Nazis.

Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin isn't buying it:
“We can fix pitches anywhere we want,” Levitin writes, “because what defines music is a set of pitch relations. The specific frequencies for notes may be arbitrary, but the distance from one frequency to the next—and hence from one note to the next in our musical system [the intervals we discussed earlier]—isn’t at all arbitrary.”
UC San Diego cognitive psychologist Diana Deutsch suggests simply resolving the dispute with a controlled experiment--but laments that there is no funding for such at this time.

Either way, it's a fascinating story, well told by Chris Hampton for Motherboard.
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