432 Hz Tuning for the Native American Style Flute
I have noticed since I became involved in making Native American style flutes that I have a natural affinity with what is called 432 Hz tuning. Even before I became aware that there was such a thing as the lower 432 Hz tuning I felt a natural aversion to bringing my flutes up to the standard 440 Hz when I was tuning them. My ear and heart seemed to intuitively prefer the lower – some would say slightly flat – sound of a flute that was tuned around 432 Hz. When I discovered that others were also more comfortable with this slightly flatter sound I was relieved to know that I was not abnormal.
The tuning of musical instruments in western societies has, like most things in our highly regimented society, become standardize. The standard that has been established is 440 Hz for the note called A above the middle C on a piano. All the other notes are tuned in relationship to this A.
This standard of tuning is rather recent in origin having been established in the late 1800s and then formalized by the American Federation of Musicians in 1917. Around 1940 the United States introduced 440 Hz worldwide, and finally in 1953 it became the ISO 16 - standard.
Before 440Hz became the standard a variety of tunings were used.
A = 432 Hz, known as Verdi’s ‘A’ after the renowned composed Guiseppe Verdi who advocated for is use, is an alternative tuning standard that many propose as mathematically consistent with the natural vibrations of the physical universe. Music based on 432 Hz transmits; it is believed, beneficial healing energy because it is a pure tone of the math fundamental to nature.
According to Brian T Collins, a musician and researcher, the standard pitch (A=440 Hz) does not harmonize on any level that corresponds to cosmic movement, rhythm or natural vibration. The greatest musicians, such as Mozart and Verdi, based their music on the natural vibration of A = 432 Hz. It is believed that earlier composers such as Bach wrote for an even lower tuning.
I have discovered that there is a growing musical and metaphysical movement for recovering optimal integrity in the music industry and in spirituality through changing back to the 432 Hz tuning.
According to Richard Huisken, music tuned to 432 Hz is softer and brighter, giving greater clarity and is easier on the ears. Many people experience more meditative and relaxing states of body and mind when listening to such music. Researchers and musicians, such as Coreen Morsink (pianist and music teacher), report that they feel calmer, happier and more relaxed when playing music at 432 Hz.
It is believed that music based on this natural tone is more transparent, more marked, gives an obvious musical picture and the overtones and undertones moves more freely. Music based on 440 Hz represents stuffed emotions and blocked energy. By lowering the pitch by just 8 Hz, you become more flexible and spontaneous. It is said that the 432 tuning releases your energy and takes you into a beautiful state where relaxation is natural.
The 440 Hz tuning is well established and if you are going to be playing with other instrumentalists you should have a flute that is tuned to the 440 standard so that you are in harmony with the other instruments. However when you are playing solo as long as the flute is tuned to itself – that is consistent through the scale – it does not matter to what standard the flute is tuned you will sound fine.
The ultimate truth is in the individual flute players’ ear and heart. I encourage you to do your own research and learn about and listen to music in the 432 Hz tuning. If it appeals to you I can tune one of my Native American style flutes to 432 Hz for you. I think you will be pleased with the result.