A440 Pitch Standard

A440 or A4, which has a frequency of 440 Hz, is the musical note A above middle C and serves as a general tuning standard for musical pitch.

It is designated A4 in scientific pitch notation because it occurs in the octave that starts with the fourth C key on a standard 88-key piano keyboard. On MIDI, it is note 69.

A440 is widely used as concert pitch in United Kingdom and the United States.

The A above middle C is sometimes referred to as Concert A. (The C above Concert A is called Concert C.)

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Concert Pitch

Concert pitch refers to the pitch reference to which a group of musical instruments are tuned for a performance.

Concert pitch may vary from ensemble to ensemble, and has varied widely over musical history. In the literature this is also called international standard pitch. The most common modern tuning standard uses 440 Hz for A above middle C as a reference note, with other notes being set relative to it.

The term “concert pitch” is also used to distinguish between the “written” (or “nominal”), and “sounding” (or “real”) notes of a transposing instrument – concert pitch here refers to the pitch on a non-transposing instrument. Music for transposing instruments is transposed into different keys from that of non-transposing instruments—for example, playing a written C on a B♭ clarinet or trumpet produces a non-transposing instrument’s B♭. This pitch is referred to as “concert B♭”.

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