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VC VOX POP | "What is Your Preferred Tuning A-Pitch Frequency?" [Q&A]

The Violin Channel recently caught up with 30+ of the world’s top string players to find out …

'What is your preferred tuning A-pitch frequency?"

The Violin Channel recently caught up with 30+ of the world’s top string players to find out …

Violin Virtuoso Itzhak Perlman:

"I like A=442 as it is slightly on the sharp side, but A=440 is fine also ... what's important is that everything is in tune ..."

British Cello Soloist Steven Isserlis:

"I don't mind, I go from A=430 up to A=443 ... just not down as far as A=415 as I'd find that distracting ..."

German Violin Soloist David Garrett: 

"Normally I go for A=442 ... I know in Berlin the orchestras are quite high at A=444 ... but A=442 I think is a good medium ..."

Canadian Violin Soloist James Ehnes:

"Anywhere between A=440 and A=442 is fine with me ... my violin is set up to work best at that range of tension, and that is what my ear is most used to ... below A=440 starts to sound and feel “soggy” to me, and above A=442 can seem shrill ..."

Korean-American Violin Soloist Sarah Chang:

"A=442 ... it keeps my violin sounding bright without over-stressing the wind and brass players ..."

Australian Soloist, VC Artist Violinist Ray Chen:

"A=442 ... it makes everything sound sweeter ..."

VC Young Artist Violinist William Hagen:

"I think A=442 is great ... I really don't like a flat A, but when the A is too sharp it can make everything sound really severe and tight ..."

Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster, VC Artist Violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley:

"At the moment, I'm most comfortable with A=442 - a compromise between higher European A-frequencies, and lower American ones .... I feel if the A gets too high (A=444) it pinches the resonance of the instrument ..."

Milwaukee Symphony Concertmaster, Frank Almond:

"I like a little over A=441 ... the funny thing is that I’ve noticed most groups that tune to A=440 or A=441 end up playing a little over A=441 anyway ... in Europe it always seems like the sky's the limit…..."

Dallas Symphony Concertmaster, Alexander Kerr:

"A=441 ... it lends just enough brightness to the sound without losing the sensation of being able to dig into the string..."

Canadian Violinist, VC Artist Nikki Chooi:

"A=441 ... it's not too high, not too low - just right ..."

American Soloist, VC Artist Violinist Stefan Jackiw:

"I find that this changes with humidity ... during dry weather I prefer A=440 ... during humid weather I prefer A=442 or even higher ..."

VC Artist Cellist Kian Soltani:

"A=442 ... simply cause it's the best ..."

Time For Three Violinist, VC Artist Charles Yang:

"I'm currently on tour in Europe and the band tunes to A=442 - I like it! ... it makes my instrument sound brighter ..."

French Violinist Augustin Dumay:

"I prefer the A=440 which is used in England, as it seems to me musically balanced, and protective of an exaggerated tension for the instruments ..."

British Violin Soloist Nicola Benedetti:

"The UK A=440 is a little flat for my liking but I have to stay flexible, otherwise I'd be in trouble ... I don't have perfect pitch so the adjustment is less painful for me than it can be for some ..."

Canadian Violin Soloist Lara St. John:

"I find A=441.5 to be my perfect A - but I am pretty adjustable ... A=441.5 sounds really good on a violin, and it's kind of mid-Atlantic ..."

American Violin Soloist Anne Akiko Meyers:

"A=442 ... it's a happy place that's just higher than 441 but lower than 443 ..."

Russian-American Violin Soloist Philippe Quint:

"My preferred pitch is A=442 ... however I now frequently ask to meet with the Principal Oboe before the concert to get the orchestra's "Official A" ... so not to spend 5 minutes re-tuning my violin onstage ..."

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine:

"I most frequently perform at A=440, 441, 442 and 415, with occasional forays into A=430 and even A=392 ... A=440 has always been my favorite because of its resonance .... trying A=460 is on my bucket list though ..."

VC Artist Violinist Benjamin Beilman:

"I’m not so picky – probably somewhere between A=441 and A=442 ... A=440 sometimes feels a little sleepy and anything over A=443 feels over caffeinated ..."

VC Artist Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu:

"This particular violin likes somewhere between A=441.5 and A=442 .... I find it gives the most natural ring and vibration ... but hey! Most of the time I don't get to choose ..."

Cellist Zuill Bailey:

"My preference is A=441 ... I find that harmonics ring low and I want to make sure that nothing sounds flat ... "

Violin Soloist Vadim Gluzman:

"I am blessed (or cursed?) with perfect pitch so it is a sensitive subject ... but I am happy between A=440 up to A=443/444 ... string players often tend to like higher tuning, but it often causes our intonation to go quite a bit "north" ..."

Violin Soloist Arnaud Sussmann:

"I like A=441 ... it's a nice middle ground between the very high "A" people tune to in Europe and the standard A=440 ... I feel instruments start sounding a bit under too much tension when the pitch rises above A=443 ..."

New England Conservatory Faculty Member, Violinist Paul Biss:

"I have learned long ago not to insist on one ... in general, though, I prefer not to go higher than A=442 ... I think the instrument rings better that way ..."

Curtis Institute Faculty Member, Violinist Ida Kavafian:

"I think we should be able to adjust to any pitch ... I can’t stand when students make an excuse for the A not being where they expect - it’s a poor excuse for bad intonation ... however, when I’m in charge, I ask for A=441 ..."

Veteran New England Conservatory Cello Pedagogue, Laurence Lesser:

"I don’t have perfect pitch, but since that’s kind of like “hearing” colours, I’ve gotten used to A=441 ... above and below just sounds different  .... A=441 is the colour I like ..."

VC Artist Violinist Paul Huang:

"A=442 or A=443 if possible ... for me it just rings better when the A is a higher frequency and it sounds more brilliant ...."

VC Artist Violinist Tessa Lark:

"Flexibility in this realm is important so I don't have a preference ... but my natural A frequency when I sing is A=432 .... the perfect pitch in me was relieved to find out that many of my favorite composers (Bach, Mozart, Debussy & Chopin) wrote their masterpieces using 432Hz tuning ..."

VC Artist Violinist Bella Hristova:

"I like A=441 ... I think the violin sounds really brilliant at this frequency ..."

VC Young Artist Violinist Kerson Leong:

"When I practice alone, I always lean towards a lower A pitch for no apparent reason ..."

VC Artist Violinist Fedor Rudin:

"I don’t have one, I feel as comfortable with A=443 as with A=415 ... but the tuning does help create a different atmosphere and sound projection ...."

VC Artist Violinist Igor Pikayzen:

"I don't swear by a particular pitch frequency, and when you travel you obviously graciously accept the A that the orchestra tunes to .... but if I would have to choose I'd go with A=442 or A=443 - for me, it just sounds more in focus to my ear!"

VC Young Artist Violinist In Mo Yang:

"???? ... no matter what your preferred A there are still many ways to play out of tune ..."

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