What frequency do you tune A to?

I have been looking at websites that sell recorders (Blockflöten), and am amazed to find that Moeck and others are advertising instruments predominantly at A = 442 Hz. A = 415 Hz is a great rarity these days, whereas I dont remember that being the case 30 years ago. I do not know whether the higher pitch represents the preferred choice of those who play recorder nowadays.

But this leads me to ask at what frequency members of this forum tune a1 on their harpsichords. My ears prefer something a little sharper than 415 Hz; but I will not quibble about that. Are your instruments at 415 or 440?


I tune my hps to a=492Hz, usually in mean-tone. Probably not relevant here, but it does answer the question. And I almost never play with other instruments.

Isn’t c the new, or rather the old, a ? It’s a bit of a pain to tune a
non-ET starting with a.

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Are recorders used mostly with modern instruments these days? For a long
time, Moeck also sold a baroque ra[n/c]ket pitched at 440. I got to try
one once and ohmigod was that fun, sort of like having a nice dog in
your lap that likes to be petted. (Fingerings are a bit funky, of
course.) I don’t know if all their other historical woodwinds were also
at 440. If so, that may have dampened enthusiasm for them. They didn’t
sell well enough for them to keep producing them after their workpeople

Why do you choose 392 – for French music?


Yes! I always thought that Bruce Haynes’ book would have been more appropriately called The Story of C. But it is not difficult to calculate A from C or vice-versa. Other instruments seem to have standardised on an A these days. (Though when I heard Les Siècles ensemble the other day the oboe gave both A and B-flat.) My clock chimes the hours on an E-flat.

OK: so what is your C tuned to?


A=442 is the pitch many mordern orchestras are tuned to (I wonder why not A=440), but how recorder’s players need to play with modern orchestras?

I tune at 415.3 when using an electronic tuner, or just adapt to what I find on my harpsichord (slighter higher during summer, usually). My main harpsichord has its scaling to 415 with a small margin, so I don’t risk tuning 440. It has transposable keyboards, though, so it would be useless doing that.
More, I find usially annoyimg the 440, even when hearong opera or modern orchestras or instruments, because I then hear everything half tone upper. Beethoven ninth in eb minor. :hot_face:

Ps did you know we in Italy even have a state law ruling A=440? Gazzetta Ufficiale.

HIP groups are free, though.

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I suppose that since recorders are not very expensive, those wanting them pitched at 415 can buy from specialist makers.


not a recorder player, of course, but i have seen recorders been made in a similar way to transposing keyboard with harpsichords nowadays. the recorder is sold with two middle joints and swapping them would either result in an A at 440 hz or at 415, keeping the sound of the instrument itself more or less the same, since the headjoint is the same

This is not an ideal solution; but even so, I only found one such instrument advertised last night, and cannot find it again!


Yes - for 17th-century French music, and for anything else I play on it. More importantly, it’s the pitch, so far as is known, of the instrument it’s a ‘copy’ of.
It sounds better now @ 392 {with stringing adjusted for this pitch} than it previously did @ 415 {with stringing planned for that pitch} - more relaxed sound, better fundamental.


My clavichord is c = 256, but of course I don’t play with other

There are historical winds with swappable middle joints. The resident
oboist reports that they don’t work perfectly and it’s best to use a
different reed. Don’t know about recorders.

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Oh, I lied. I don’t know what pitch it is. About 1/2 step lower than
modern pitch but since it doesn’t play with other instruments, I get to
go the Honey Badger Don’t Care route.

Because of the fretting and unequal temperament, I don’t think it’s
possible to tune it starting on A. At least I wouldn’t know how to go
about it.

My experience has been the same as Dale’s (I play mostly 17th or early 18th C French music.) My 1976 Dowd Blanchet, originally strung in steel music wire and fizzy phosphor bronze at a = 415 transposing to 440, now lives much more happily with Rose wire (iron and brass) at a = 392.

I can’t be precise about this, but I seem to recall that 18th-century woodwinds were sometimes provided w/ alternative middle joints just for this purpose. How often? How many extra joints? Somebody else will surely know more about this than I do.

If available, the right alternative joint for a recorder would surely be an easier solution than tuning the hps {or organ!} to a different pitch.


Yes, plastic recorders are very inexpensive, indeed. I have the complete Baroque set from piccolo to great base (C). In today’s money the great base would set me back over $ 4500— not very cheep and the other instruments I have were made from not so cheap wood (Some are made in ebony and ivory (in the mid-seventies the ivory limitations were not very much in place). A tenor instrument then cost me close to $2500 in today’s currency.

But I do not think that I can sell these instruments for nearly what they cost new, though they are all in perfect condition.


| Pickett David Pickett Regular
July 8 |

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I suppose that since recorders are not very expensive, those wanting them pitched at 415 can buy from specialist makers.


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I recall reading about sets of flute joints (“cors-de-rechanges”) that the spread of pitches is not across a modern semitone but rather are used to finesse the pitch within a given pitch-standard, also that often one joint shows a lot more wear, hence use, that the others. And again, that the joints tend not to work equally well.

A=415Hz. I play mostly late baroque music, c. 1690-1750, and therefore I tune either to Barnes Bach or to French ordinaire Rousseau (reasons for my choices are complex and explained in my UT book).


My instrument, which I believe is a “twin” of yours (and sold about a year ago), was restrung by Don Angle in Rose wire, but kept at 415/440. It sounds quite fine there, but I have always been intrigued about trying to lower it since you first mentioned it. Do I recall correctly that it required you to change the string scaling?