How to determine frequency

Win 7 Aud 2.2.2

Please, what steps to I take to determine if my entire Audacity recording is 440 hz or 432 hz.

Thank you. I’ve really tried to find an answer that I could understand :frowning:

If the entire recording is 440 Hz, it will sound like “beeeeeeeeeep”, and the spectrum will be just one single peak close to 440 Hz.

I think what you meant to ask was “how do I determine what pitch the instruments are tuned to?”
It’s difficult to do that unless you know a bit about music. The easiest way is to find a part in the music where the most prominent note (preferably the only note) being played, is an “A”. Select that note and copy it to a new track, then add a few seconds of silence after the note. Select the copied note and the silence, and open the “Plot Spectrum” effect. If the note is an “A”, there will be a prominent peak, either close to 440 Hz, or close to an exact multiple of 440 Hz. The larger the “Size” setting in Plot Spectrum, the more precisely the frequency will be shown. With a size of 8192, you should be able to read the pitch to within about +/- 2 Hz.

Note that the music may not be tuned to 440 Hz or 432 Hz. 440 Hz is the internationally agreed standard tuning, but there is no reason to assume that a recording will necessarily follow this standard.

Also, unless you are using studio quality playback equipment, it is highly likely that the playback equipment will play the music a little higher or lower than the actual recording. For example, if the RPM of a turntable is accurate to +/- 1%, then that’s about +/- 4 Hz relative to A 440 tuning.

Also, before you waste too much time on this, I’d suggest doing a bit of research to verify whether the claims made in this post are true or false: Hz Conversion - #13 by steve


A couple more comments…

Although virtually all music is tuned to A=400, most songs use a subset of the available notes, so some songs won’t have any ‘A’ notes.

All real-world sounds have harmonics and overtones so you rarely find a pure 440Hz tone in nature. Different instruments have different harmonics & overtones and that’s why a guitar playing an ‘A’ sounds different from a saxophone playing the same-exact note, and its the reason that two different singers sound different when singing the same song.

Most music contains several simultaneous notes on multiple instruments with thousands of harmonics and overtones (which you can see if you look at the spectrum).

Many horns & woodwinds can’t be re-tuned (because pitch depends on the length of the “tube”). Pianos take a long time to re-tune. So in most cases it not practical to use non-standard tuning. (A rock band with just guitars, bass, and drums, can easily do it.)

However, it is easy to change the pitch of a recording up or down by changing the playback (or recording speed) on a tape recorder and there are stories of songs being accidently mis-tuned back in the analog tape days. It’s not that unusual for amateur recordings to get out-of-tune when using a regular consumer soundcard. Of course it can be done intentionally (with digital or analog).

Most people can’t tell the difference between A=440 and A=432 without a reference. For example, a musician will notice that their instrument isn’t in-tune with the recording if they try to play-along with the recording. Or, 1 out of 10,000 people have [u]perfect pitch[/u] (AKA absolute pitch) which means they can identify/name the note being played and they might notice that it’s “off”. But “perfect pitch” isn’t really perfect and 432 is close to 440, so they’ll probably just hear it as a regular ‘A’.

You can generate 432 or 440Hz tones (or any frequency you like) [u]Generate menu[/u].

[u]Chart of musical note frequencies[/u]

Thank you sooooooo very much !!