Music: The Pitch Game

The house lights dim, the stage brightens, the oboe sounds an A and the orchestra tunes up. To audiences, all A's sound pretty much alike—but not to trained musicians or to those rare individuals with perfect pitch. The Metropolitan Opera orchestra, for example, tunes up to an A that vibrates at 440 cycles per second—theoretically, the international pitch standard. In Pittsburgh, though, the symphony raises the pitch to 442, half a notch higher than the New York Philharmonic's 441.5. In Berlin, the Radio Symphony Orchestra soars to 446, enough to make singers'...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!