Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Post by punyama » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:50 pm

Hey guys, I was wondering if using 415 Hz tuning for Bach is a good idea if you’re going to play other repertoire in 440? Does it really matter or is it just preference?

Do you think tuning down to 415 Hz makes for a big effect for the sound or do you think it’s basically just playing a half-step down?


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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: tuning

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:29 pm

It doesn't matter in the slightest except it would confuse your strings to keep changing by a semitone. If you are playing a modern instrument, the notion of a historical pitch can't apply in the way it might with a historical type instrument and technique.
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Re: tuning

Post by simonm » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:07 pm

I don't think it matters a whole lot. Whatever you like the sound of. What you might find is that your guitar sounds better at a different pitch to A/440. My only concern with 415 is would be that the strings might be very "floppy" but you can only find out by trying it out. Have fun.

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Re: tuning

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:07 pm

simonm wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:07 pm
I don't think it matters a whole lot. Whatever you like the sound of. What you might find is that your guitar sounds better at a different pitch to A/440. My only concern with 415 is would be that the strings might be very "floppy" but you can only find out by trying it out. Have fun.
^^^^ This. Technically, lower tension created by the lower tuning base will alter intonation and may affect action height. The lower the tension, the higher the action needs to be to avoid string buzz. I keep the action super tight on all my guitars so this would be a problem for me, maybe not you. My thinking would be to try it. If it works and you are happy, go for it.

Having said that, I see no compelling reason to deviate from A=440Hz. Such a change makes you out of sync with teachers, other players, and recordings. Personally, I would leave it at A=440Hz.
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Re: tuning

Post by dta721 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:25 pm

I just want to throw this into the mix:
https://roelhollander.eu/en/tuning-freq ... ert-pitch/

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Re: tuning

Post by artdecade » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm

Rob MacKillop experiments with different tunings - especially on his lutes. That said, some things do sound better at historical pitch, but altering your tuning for solo work seems to be a bit more of an intellectual exercise. Try it and see what you think. The main issue will be that the strings will certainly play differently (more elastic) and that may cause you to alter your technique (for better or worse).
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Todd Tipton
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Re: tuning

Post by Todd Tipton » Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:16 am

For a while, I got into HIP instruments in a big way. Well, at least renaissance guitar, baroque guitar, and vihuela. Sadly, I had to abandon them; there were only so many hours in the day. From my work with them, I learned a tremendous amount that I try to bring to the modern instrument. From that perspective though, I don't see moving from A440 to something else is a musically significant change. If anything, it may go the opposite of what I often do.

See, a craved for a more and more delicate attack and lighter texture for much of the early repertoire. When I discovered period instruments, I found what I was looking for. I've now returned to solely the modern instrument but it has completely changed the way I approach early music. I often play with a capo at the 1st fret. Sometimes I play at the 3rd fret. Rarely, I may even use a capo at the fifth fret. And it has nothing to do with trying to match some historical pitch. Even if there were such a thing, it doesn't really matter anyway. This (the modern guitar) is the instrument I have. And I love to play music that wasn't written for it. A modern piano was good enough for Glenn Gould, and I can maybe better understand why so many early musicians enjoy his Bach renditions.

I often find that the capo, thinning out the texture, and focusing on a most delicate touch is what really brings much of the early music to life the way I think it should be. For example, I'll mention some of my current repertoire. First, a set of the following pieces:

Mille regres, Narvaez
Recercar decimoquinto, Crema
Fantasia que contrahaza la harpa...yada yada yada, Mudarra
La compagna, Da Milano

For this set I use a capo at the first fret. For me, it is a perfect balance. I am clearly playing a modern guitar. While there are some lute techniques used, most of what I do is modern guitar techniques or something half way in between. A capo too far up the neck (like placing it on the 3rd fret to imitate a vihuela as is often done) doesn't sound the best. I love the first fret capo because it really allows the modern instrument to shine and stand on its own terms. On the other hand, it takes the "difficult edge" off of the music. I find playing without the capo far more difficult. I am constantly fighting the bigness and boomyness of an instrument the music was never written for. The capo takes all of that away. The light texture sounds more natural, much fuller. It better allows me to let the music play itself instead of me fighting the music.

Another set I play is handled completely different:

It is a self compiled PARTITA by Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello. I think Brescianello wrote a number of great pieces. However in my opinion, there isn't a single Partita he wrote where every movement is worthy. (Hey, I don't know what good music is, but I know it when I hear it). I didn't concern myself with trying to immitate a colascione. I'm honestly not sure exactly what the instrument he wrote for sounded like anyway. Who cares? I have this modern instrument, and I have this small collection of great music. Here, I found a capo up on the 3rd fret really brings the music to life with the least amount of effort. I even throw in some campanella (usually as ornamentation) in a few places that gives a striking resemblance to a baroque guitar. Sparingly, I even use some rasgueado. To be convincing, it requires a most delicate and controlled right hand. I could never achieve those results with a capo at the 1st fret, heaven forbid try to play without one!

I'll be very honest. I don't play the lute suites because I have a life...lol. I am most drawn to the cello suites arranged by Stanley Yates. Yes, many people talk about some of his decisions as an arranger...yeah, I get it. But, who DOESN'T make their own changes anyway? Besides, he even provides a comparison score of the original transposed to the same key and placed on the treble cleff. The biggest reason I play his arrangements is because the over all texture seems to fit the music more than it fits the odern instrument. He even recommends using a capo at the first fret.

That is my 2 cents. That is my experience. Your mileage may vary. ;-)
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Re: tuning

Post by PeteJ » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:45 pm

Agree about the use of a capo and getting a lighter sound for early music.

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Re: tuning

Post by Zen » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:44 am

I found A415 very nice for playing Bach but ultimately decided to stay with A440 to train my ear to the standard being played by (most of) the rest of the world.
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