Notebook, 1993-



"The acuteness or gravity of any particular sound, or of the tuning of any instrument. Pitch can most scientifically be defined as the rate of vibration. Rapid vibrations mean a high tone, slow vibrations a deep one. It seems strange that one cannot represent a fixed tone, as, for example, middle C, to the mind by a set number of vibrations, but the standard of pitch has always been a variable one and the note in question might consist of more or less vibrations according as it belonged to a higher or lower standard of pitch. Thus the note A, which in Paris at present has 435 vibrations, in 1854 was given 448, and in 1699 had only 404, while Handel's tuning-fork, dated 1740, gives the same note 416 vibrations. The standard of pitch has been gradually rising since the days of Bach and Handel, in whose time it was about two-thirds of a tone deeper than at present. Concert-pitch does not mean any definite pitch, but merely the pitch which this or that manufacturer chose as best suited to his instruments. It was, however, always a high pitch. In 1859, the French government reformed the matter of the varying and acute concert-pitches by establishing the pitch of one-lined A [the scientists' A3] at 435 vibrations per second. Prof. Charles R. Cross, in his "Historical Notes Relating to Musical Pitch in the United States," says: "In 1889, the National Music Teachers' Association at its Philadelphia meeting adopted the French pitch, and the National League of Musicians at Milwaukee, in March, 1891, also urgently recommended the adoption of this standard. For several years prior to this date, the question of bringing the standard pitch used for pianos and organs into unison with the low pitch which had come to be the generally accepted pitch for orchestral use, had been agitated by a number of persons engaged in the manufacture of pianos and organs, and . . . . The International pitch is, of course, identical with the French pitch, . . . The proportions of pitch in true intervals, according to scientific law, would be as follows: [see text] . . . . Thus, if middle, or one-lined C has 260 vibrations per second, this note being a perfect fifth above it would have the proportion of three to two, ie., three halves of 260=390 . . . " [Elson, Louis C. Professor of Theory of Music at the New England Conservatory of Music. Elson's Music Dictionary. Boston: Oliver Ditson Co. MCMV.] ]

C  O  N  S  I  D  E  R  A T I  O  N  S
Pitch and/or stress accents denoting presence or absence of aspiration

The acute [ é ]

The grave [ è ]

And the circumflex [ ê ] accents



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