Pitch shifting to 432 Hz doesn’t improve music (2023)

The problem is that like the shills pretending to be skeptics, you’re ignoring the science that exists, and you’re defaulting to woo-woo bullshit because you don’t want to take the time to learn about what’s real.

What we know: hearing is a resonance phenomenon. If tissues in your hearing apparatus didn’t resonate, you wouldn’t hear anything. If other tissues didn’t resonate in response to sound waves, you would feel anything, either. We also know that some frequencies are more resonant than others, hence the use of scientific pitch (256 Hz) tuning forks in audiology to detect certain types of hearing loss; a tuning fork in a 440 Hz based equal temperament doesn’t work for that sort of thing, because the resulting resonance is too superficial. It’s also why a 256 Hz tuning fork can be used to detect bone fractures, whereas a C fork in 440 tuning doesn’t work.

Essentially, temperaments work like wavelength bands in the light spectrum: move the reference pitch up or down, and the entire temperament moves up or down, producing different resonance results as a whole. Some wavelengths of light are harmful to human health; particularly people with diseases like porphyria (very specific wavelength bands in the yellow, green, blue and purple regions) or xeroderma pigmentosum (UVA). Likewise, some sound frequencies can have effects on human tissue that differ depending on the placement of a temperament in the general spectrum of sound. That’s why 432 Hz tuning advocates describe feeling 432 Hz tuning more internally (primarily in the nerve plexuses and bones), and 440 Hz tuning more externally (primarily in the skin and sternum). I’ve experienced this myself, even before I knew anything about 432 Hz tuning. For example, Pantera tuned to 432 Hz; when I had a broken knee, I couldn’t listen to them, because my knee would resonate and the fracture would grind and cause me a lot of pain. That was before I knew anything about 432 Hz tuning, and when I didn’t know they tuned to that frequency.

My brother had a similar experience when he came over to jam while nursing a fractured rib. I also put on some 432 Hz cello music when he came for Christmas dinner a few weeks later, and it made him ill. So there are definitely different effects from 432 Hz tuning than from 440 Hz tuning or any of the other reference pitches.

All the numerology stuff is nonsense, because a) numerology is a pseudoscience, b) the measurements of heavenly bodies used in 432 Hz discussions are not precise, but are rather generalizations (numerology only works if the numbers are precise), and c) there is no objective correlation of cause or effect between measurements of sound frequency and measurements of planets and astronomical distances. Any correlations are purely symbolic, and inaccurate symbolism when you consider that numerology relies on precise numbers to have meaning. So even if you’re using that symbolism in some sort of magical ritual, the imprecision of the correspondences would neutralize any intended effect, because 432 Hz tuning of any kind doesn’t really “align with the planets”.

The cymatics stuff is nonsense because there are all sorts of errors in the cymatics thing that falsify it as any sort of tool for determining differences in how 432 Hz tuning affects things, and even if that weren’t true, it wouldn’t tell us anything about how it affects human tissue on the cellular level. All you have is pretty patterns in sand or water, not a map of microbiological effect. It doesn’t tell us anything about how that resonance affects solid and liquid matter in a cellular structure, and no one has done any tests to determine such effects at the microscopic level.

Yes, 432 Hz tuning does feel different, and it can enrich the visceral experience (and hence the emotional experience), but that’s not evidence of any objective healing or mystical effect. No studies have been done to determine the effects on neurological tissues, so we don’t know how much of what people report is placebo effect and how much is actual physiological effect of resonance on brain chemistry. People claiming they had a mystical experience or an enhanced healing experience is not enough to make claims, especially when people claim to have had such experiences while listening to music rendered in 440 or other tuning systems.

I’ve been listening to 432 Hz music for decades and didn’t even know it. Some of my favorite bands tuned to 432 Hz and didn’t say anything about it, or they lied about it when asked. I have some pretty serious health problems, variegate porphyria being one of them, yet listening to that music never healed me of any diseases. My experience with bone fracture pain also tells me that if you have a bone fracture, you don’t want to see a 432 Hz band play live, or even listen to their music reasonably loud at home if you don’t want to feel some excruciating pain.

Another problem you’re having is that you’re faulting our host here over some imaginary issue. He’s not trying to discount anything valid, or dismiss actual 432 Hz music; he’s only pointing out the nonsense associated with pitch shifted 432 Hz music, which is not the same as music actually tuned and recorded in 432 Hz. It was never his purpose here to investigate the differences between actual 432 Hz tuning and 440 Hz tuning. Pitch shifted music may still have similar resonance-inducing effects, but aesthetics-wise, it’s not the same as listening to actual 432 Hz music, because you don’t get the instrument timbre changes and changes in non-harmonic overtone presence.

The reality is that most people cannot hear the difference even when it’s real 432 Hz tuned music, and unless they’ve been told that the music was tuned and recorded in 432 Hz, they’re not going to know. They might feel something they don’t normally feel from 440 Hz music or feel it more intensely, but unless they have perfect pitch, they’re not going to know that it’s not standard tuning. For example, most people don’t know that Stone Temple Pilots tuned to 432 Hz, or that Disturbed switched to 432 Hz a couple albums back after touring with them and learning their secret. Nobody knew Pantera tuned that way either, or that Down and Crowbar tune 432 Hz. None of these bands say anything about it, because they DON’T want people to develop a bias, either for or against their music.

The superficial point of this experiment is that most people are not going to prefer 432 Hz pitch shifted music over the original if they don’t have a preconceived bias, and that people naturally tend to not like music tuned to a pitch higher than 440 Hz in absence of any knowledge of the difference. The deeper point being made here is that if people don’t know how a band tunes, they’re not going to know there’s a difference. That means any effect is largely subliminal programming via changes in resonance; it feels more intense, so people tend to like it more. They’re either going to like what they feel because they’re unconsciously looking for that sort of experience (i.e. one that they can associate with the effects of a particular drug they like, a meditation/paranormal experience, or a traumatizing or escapist emotional experience they value), or they’re not.

That’s why the Beatles were so huge with the counterculture and rebellious youth in general. They tuned 435, then 432 after meeting Ravi Shankar; pretty much any temperament tuned to any pitch reference between A and Ab in 440 tuning is going to produce deeper tissue resonance, and perceptual effects that some people might compare to marijuana. It’s why all my favorite bands that tuned 432 Hz were famous and successful despite the odds. All of the bands I mentioned were panned by critics, and some didn’t receive a lot of industry support, yet they all became highly influential. That’s a subliminal effect on a key audience looking for visceral sensations (i.e. thrill seekers, drug users, rebellious teens, fetishists), nothing more. Other people looking for some other meaning complain about how music tuned to 435 or 432 sounds flat, stoney, old-timey, etc. (why some people don’t like listening to classic rock and psychedelic rock from the era when most pianos were still tuned to 435 Hz).

Lots of people claim to have spiritual awakenings, healings or orgasmic experiences listening to well performed music in 440 Hz or higher tuning, so there’s nothing inherently spiritual or healing about 432 Hz tuning. For example, my cousin once described the music of Coldplay as “spiritual”, and claimed to have had a mystical experience while listening to their music; they originally tuned to 446 Hz, and later switched to 444 Hz, which he didn’t know at the time. I think their music is airy, spacey, sometimes manic (qualities I don’t equate with spirituality), it reminds me of a methamphetamine high, and I hate Chris Martin’s voice, but you get the point. It’s all highly personal and subjective. Different people associate the same sensations with different things.

432 Hz tuning is good for some types of music, but not all types of music. Even then, it provides an almost insignificant edge once you figure in talent, message, subjective audience experience, etc. It’s a great alternative standard, but that’s all it is. Any other claim is a snake-oil claim.

There are plenty of practical considerations for tuning 432, like making it easier on vocalists and bass players because of reduced tension, timbre differences regarded as aesthetic, the subtle psychological effects of enhancing emotional reactions in an audience by resonating their bones and nerve plexuses, etc., but anything beyond that is speculation and pseudo-science. Verdi, the guy who first suggested 432 Hz as a Western music pitch standard was himself an atheist, and his considerations were purely scientific and pragmatic. It’s a fuckton easier to sing bel canto in 432 Hz tuning than in 440 Hz or higher tuning, it puts less strain on stringed instruments, and you get better acoustic instrument projection than with 440 Hz tuning because of the mid-bass and midrange frequency amplification. It’s also easier to keep an audience from falling asleep during a performance, because of the increased visceral stimulation. Tonal openness and better projection are also why it became a preferred reference pitch in Indian classical music (actually, it’s “Ohm” tuning of C# at 136.10 Hz, but that puts A4 ever so slightly sharp of 432 Hz.)

BTW, your notion of right brain and left brain function is based in pseudoscience. The brain doesn’t really work that way. You need to stop reading all the New Age snake-oil crap on the internet and learn some science of how things actually work. I hear bullshit all the time in 432 Hz discussions, like how we only use 10% of our brain, right vs. left hemisphere functions, how our body tissues are literally sound (they’re not), etc. Stop spreading such nonsense. All you’re doing is feeding the shills and stifling further scientific inquiry. And yes, if you’re not a musician or anyone collaterally employed in that industry, then you are a wannabe discussing matters that don’t pertain to you.

Worse, you’re just parroting nonsense you read on the internet written by people who know nothing at all about music, science or history, let alone anything about mysticism or occultism. Learn about that stuff, not about mystical movement bullshit or conspiracy theory nonsense. No one is going to save the world with 432 Hz music; India can’t even save its own people with classical music or any of the mysticism associated with it, and no one ever healed their terminal cancer by listening to Pantera, so that aspect of this discussion is pure bullshit.

The government and the music industry aren’t trying to enslave or sicken the masses with 440 Hz music; if that were true, there wouldn’t be so many different tuning clubs (alternative pitches, alternative tuning standards, drop tuning, etc.), and most bands you like never would have been signed, because the reality is that most people don’t adhere to a universal tuning standard. Most popular artists tune above or below 440 Hz, according to aesthetic or practical purposes. For example, a lot of pop artists tune somewhere around 444 Hz, because it makes the music sound bright and stimulating. Big band jazz musicians also preferred to tune sharp of 440 for the same reason.

This is particularly true in classical music, where the standard varies from country to country; it’s not 440 Hz everywhere. Most places in Europe, it’s 442 Hz. Some places it’s as high as 448 Hz. It even differs from city to city in American orchestras. Pitch wars are all about sounding slightly different to gain a competitive edge. That’s ultimately what this is all about: doing whatever it takes to make money over competitors. People get tired of the same old shit, so you do something a little different to renew their attention. It worked for me; since I posted 432 Hz versions of my songs last July, my following has tripled. As a musician, all I care about is that people are getting my stuff and liking it. If that meant tuning 444 Hz instead of 432 Hz or sticking to 440 Hz, that’s what I’d be doing. 432 Hz just happens to work for my type of music, and affect my target audience the way they want to be affected.

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