TALK: Perfect Pitch: 432 Hz Music and the Promise of a Frequency, Ruth Rosenberg (Music, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Event Date: 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Music 1145

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 3:30-5 pm Music Room 1145, UC Santa Barbara

432 Hz music is a relatively recent internet-based phenomenon that has attracted listeners and musicians from all parts of the world. Increasingly connected via social media, a community of listeners has emerged that is diverse in musical taste and proclivity, but has in common a belief that music tuned to the standard pitch of A-440 Hz is “out of tune” with nature and humanity. Instead, they find music tuned to an A-432 Hz standard provides a better listening experience and could be beneficial to listeners physically, psychologically, even spiritually. Drawing from research into the historical and scientific claims made by 432 Hz advocates, as well as from data collected from dedicated 432 Hz listeners, this talk will examine the promise of—and skepticism towards—the concept of “frequency” in this context. It will ask how the 432 Hz phenomenon relates to other internet-based forms of music consumption, self- tracking and wellness trends, and what Anahid Kassabian has called today’s culture of “ubiquitous listening.”

RUTH E. ROSENBERG is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she teaches courses in musicology and ethnomusicology. Her first book (and ongoing work) concerns the place of music and sound in 19th-century French travel writing. Her most recent work concerns the history of tuning standards and the 432 Hz music phenomenon, with special focus on the experiences of dedicated listeners.

Cosponsored by UCSB Ethnomusicology Forum, Music History and Theory Forum, and the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music (CISM)