Pitch – a tricky wicket almost without boundaries

Despite what is widely believed, there never has been and probably never will be a universally agreed and used pitch standard for music. As a small example, there are still many Victorian church organs in the UK that play at their original ‘Old Philharmonic’ pitch – about a quarter of a tone higher than today’s theoretical norm of A440. And several famous orchestras play just a bit higher than that as well.
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So what are we going to do about ‘1610’ then?

My previous two blog entries highlighted issues we’d really like to know about but don’t. Prior to that I had sketched the general background and begun to lay out the dilemmas that confront those wishing to perform the music. Let’s take those a bit further forward.

Monteverdi based all the mandatory Vespers music (response, psalms, hymn, Magnificat) on the plainchant melodies traditionally associated with those texts. Continue reading