Does the Earth’s vibration have anything to do with music? The science of “scientific pitch” seems to think so, and this band understands the resonance.
What does it take to rise in less than two years from a band that was busking the streets of Pasadena and Santa Barbara to being a favorite on the circuit of bars, taverns, clubs and festivals all around Southern California?
Talent, practice and a kick-ass repertoire of Grateful Dead songs, bluegrass, country blues, old time and folk music have worked well for Los Angeles roots band The Storytellers. But Giuseppe Verdi, the 19th century opera composer, and a 20th century German physicist, each have something to do with it as well.
Verdi was a proponent of the concert pitch being set at 432 Hz, an idea that began in 1713 by the French physicist Joseph Sauveur. An early researcher on musical pitches and their frequency, Sauveur’s goal was to standardize orchestral tones (that had been creeping upward). Verdi composed his famous Requiem according to what was then the French standard diapason normal pitch for the A-note at 435 Hz, but he later agued to set at it 432 Hz for orchestras.
In more modern times, 1952 to be exact, German physicist Winfried Otto Schumann identified global electromagnetic resonances that are a function of the space between the Earth’s surface and the ionosophere. Electromagnetic waves, excited by electrical currents in lightning, create a standardized resonance or “beat” to the planet. These sound waves – measured at 432 Hz – are universal and affect the human brain as much as vibrations in rocks, the oceans, animals – and sound.
Ever since, 432 Hz has been referred to as the “scientific pitch.” It is not the prevailing standard today, however 432 Hz tuning has a broad collection of proponents who read a lot more into it than science has so far documented.
One theory is that sounds that are set to scientific pitch help the left and right hemisphere of the human brain to better synchronize (in addition to stimulating proper melatonin production and DNA replication). With music that is tuned at 432 Hz for the A, sounds produced in a composition resonating with those natural Earth vibrations offer a harmonic convergence of creative and analytical thinking.
“440 Hz is considered ‘standard pitch’ and there’s little about The Storytellers that is standard,” explains Storytellers guitarist Scott Diehl. “The 8 extra vibrations per second seems insignificant but the difference in sound is profound. 432 Hz is a warmer, richer sound due to the longer wavelength and our audience can hear it and feel it. It places our music in harmony with the vibration of the universe.”
When The Storytellers play, it sounds nothing like a Verdi opera or German-accented physics lecture. The combination of 3-part vocals, guitars, bass, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and percussion, tuned to 432 Hz, brings audiences into a groove that lasts through a set and beyond. To audiences, it’s just great music with a groovy aural buzz.