For last weeks performances of Charpentier’s Medee the Band were using what is now known as French baroque pitch where the A is tuned to 392 a whole step lower than today’s standard for modern orchestra’s of A=440. For most of the repertoire the Band perform we use the pitch reference of A415 but in actuality the standardization of pitch didn’t actually come about until quite recently. While we accept A440 as today’s modern ‘concert pitch’ (a standard ratified by the International Organization for Standardization in the 20th century) even this is subject to variation particularly in the US where several of the leading orchestra’s will tune to A442, 443, or even a little higher.
While she was in town I sat down with violinist Catherine Martin to have a chat about pitch variations, why A392 had been chosen for this particular project, and about equal tension stringing. Here is what Catherine had to say: