Actually, it's a melody of discord

Published Sept. 12, 2013

When we moved to Florida about 20 years ago, my family and I exposed ourselves to family dinner conversation dominated by my wife's Uncle Sydney. And routinely, we braced for Uncle Sydney's "Actually.''

This happened when one of us made a statement, any innocuous statement, and Uncle Sydney would correct us with "Actually, that isn't so." And off he went uninterrupted because my mother-in-law thought it was impolite to interrupt her brother's exercises of enlightenment.

At one meal, someone mentioned how much they enjoyed a certain current song.

"Actually," Uncle Sydney began, "no good music has been written since the 1940s."

I believed Uncle Sydney was full of gas, but had the good sense not to say so in front of the family. Both my mother-in-law and Uncle Sydney have long since passed on, but recently I learned something from the Internet that might actually explain why there hasn't been any good music since Sidney was a young man.

Several websites have been discussing the theory that all musical instruments, as dictated by the British Standards Institute, changed the official tuning pitch of music from 432Hz to 440Hz at the request of the corporate entity of the American Rockefeller family and — grab your hats, folks — Adolph Hitler.

The great classical composers wrote in 432. Stradivarius developed his violin to resonate at 432. Tones of 432 are beautiful, warm and relaxing. Tones of 440 create anxiety, anger and aggression. One supposes a capitalist institution could more easily convince a disgruntled public into adopting new spending patterns. One could also see how Hitler's inflammatory oratory could incite an already dissatisfied public to support a war against its own citizenry as well as the world in general.

After the war, the British Standards Institute continued its support for 440Hz. This could explain why the generation which grew up listening to music to the 432Hz frequency found the new rock 'n' roll sound attuned to 440Hz to be awful noise.

To be fair, the British Standards Institute cannot legally dictate what frequency is used to tune musical instruments. If you own a violin or piano, you can tune it to anything you want. You can calibrate your tuning fork anyway you want. But in general the music establishment around the world uses 440Hz.

A good measure of how the general public has reacted to this bit of information can be found in the comments section following the Internet article. One person wrote, "These articles are too superficial to be taken seriously." Another cited his own experimentation with 432Hz and found it to be more soothing and harmonious. He urged people to contact radio stations to go back to the original frequency.

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Am I personally ready to jump on a 432Hz bandwagon? Do I want to believe there was an international conspiracy to manipulate our emotions? Am I willing to accept the fact that Uncle Sydney wasn't just full of gas?


Jerry Cowling is a Brooksville writer.