Tuning to the Rest of the Universe

I’m burdened and blessed to be a Slytherin. I have specific, ambitious goals and I’ll do anything to achieve them. I’m more selfish than I should be. I’m not really that nice. I partake in the Dark Arts.

Clearly, I’m not the epitome of oneness with the cosmos. My proclivity is to be self-centered — it’s just how I’m made. And yet I ultimately know that I’ll only be happy if I embrace myself to be in concurrence with the universe. The problem is, modern music can’t even do this. So how can I?

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That’s right. In the Resonance Project Foundation’s viral Facebook post, the above graphic demonstrates how tuning the A natural to a frequency of 432 Hz coheres to the natural fabric of physical existence. Yet most music worldwide is tuned to 440 Hertz per the International Standards Organization’s (ISO) decision in 1953.

In Nassim Haramein’s post, he states that “tuning to 432Hz makes sense because it creates such incredible resonance naturally in the structure of space as evidenced by this image of a 432Hz frequency being played into a fluid medium and imaged, a process known as Cymatics.” (See Cymatics in action in the image below.)

440hz Music - Conspiracy to Detune Good Vibrations from Nature's 432hz

Photo courtesy of Why Don’t You Try This?

Nassim Haramein continues: “The story of how we all ended up tuning the note A to 440Hz is a long one with many different factors coming into play, the point is to move forward with our new knowledge of physics, frequency, vibration and the universe in general and work toward increasing coherence and resonance by tuning our minds and literally our instruments in music to naturally occurring highly resonant frequencies.”

Now, like anyone who’s taken one argumentation course in college, I consider myself to be a Master of Logic. And I think this whole 432 Hz thing provokes more than one question. First of all: Are we saying that tuning our instruments to 432 Hz sounds better? Or that we should tune to 432 Hz simply because it is in harmony with the universe? They are different questions, and the way we approach them should be distinct.

As for the latter, I do take issue with its reliance on the naturalistic fallacy. We cannot readily deem something good because it is natural. I could go on about Plato and moral non-naturalism, but let’s suffice to say: not all natural things are good, therefore we cannot deduce that something is good because it is natural. Thus, tuning the A natural to 432 Hz may be congruous with mathematical patterns, but this does not necessarily mean musicians should do it.

And now the former: Does the universal consonance of 432 Hz tuning suggest that it produces higher quality music? Should instrumentalists tune their A natural to 432 Hz because it sounds better?

In this blogger’s experiment, participants were given different frequencies for the same melodies and chose their favorite. Try it on your own — this guitarist alternates between the two below.

In the study, 432 Hz and 440 Hz tied. Now, there are certainly some unaddressed confounding variables that make it challenging to decide if the data is valid. After all, the familiarity a listener has with 440 Hz music could bring it to a tie with the 440 Hz samples, even if 432 Hz tuning’s harmony with the universe results in a natural predisposition to prefer it.

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Photo Courtesy of: Larry Jacobsen

But the fact of the matter is, equal temperament is a huge part of the equation that we don’t mind so much on the science side. Equal temperament allows musicians to play the twelve major keys since every pitch is the same distance from the next. Equal temperament requires that the A natural is tuned to 440 Hz. So while I don’t think we have enough reasons to re-standardize how we tune our instruments, I think there’s something to be said for how equal temperament allows music to be in harmony with itself.

Seeing how the music world shifted from one standard of tuning to the next to is what’s really amazing, though. Personally, I don’t think contemporary 432 Hz tuning is a sign of humanity’s separation from their universe. We definitely changed how we play music, but we made it better. Players and listeners alike know that music transcends its own discipline — the universe is not always good, but we can tinker with it so we can find the parts of it that are. With music, even a Slytherin like me can touch the world of which they are more than a part.

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