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A few hours ago I asked and self-answered "Does tuning music to A = 432 Hz versus A = 440 Hz have a measurable effect on listeners?". Since then, based on comments and another answer, it's become clear that

  1. The source of the debate I was asking about apparently stems from an anti-semitic, pseudo-scientific conspiracy theory, and
  2. The primary article cited (and referenced in several of the other papers cited) comes from a junk journal called EXPLORE.

While I look further into these issues myself, I'd like to gauge the community's feeling of whether the entire Q&A should stay or go. So far there are multiple downvotes on both the question and my answer, but no close votes or explicit suggestions the question should be closed or deleted. On the other hand, I can imagine the post(s) could give offense, lend support to pseudo-science, or simply lead to an excess (by SE standards) level of commentary.

Is there value in the Q&A, if only to make the point that a frequently discussed "issue" is meritless? Would it be sufficient to update my own answer to reflect the dubious nature of the evidence (or at least of the source[s] that published it)? Should the whole thing just be deleted?


UPDATE: The lead answer currently has 19 upvotes, so it clearly has significant value to the community.


UPDATE #2: The lead answer is currently at 51 votes. Seems like a keeper. In light of the response to the OP as well as the discussion here, I'm in the process of critiquing the studies I cited and will update after I've posted my conclusions.

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  • I have heard a thousand "reasons" why 432Hz is better, one being a conspiracy theory that 440Hz was favored by the Nazi party... but I've never any anti-Semitic conspiracy theories supporting 432Hz. – Edward Apr 23 at 2:17
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    I always thought 432 Hz was undertuning (making it sound like it's out of tune). I think it should stay, I have plenty to learn out of it. – Clockwork Apr 24 at 20:41
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    @Clockwork - it would only sound out of tune to those with AP. With everyone playing the piece lower, how could it sound out of tune? – Tim Apr 26 at 8:49
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    Unfortunately, the majority of dvers didn't leave their reason/s for their actions. Those would be so enlightening... – Tim Apr 26 at 9:01
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    @Tim I can usually tell if an isolated piano note is A440 or A432, and I don't have AP, A440 is such a familiar sound when everything is tuned to A440 (this was mentioned in Adam Neely's A432 video). Though I've also listened to entire songs that were in nonstandard tuning without noticing. – Edward Apr 27 at 19:24
  • @Edward - I frequently play many songs that I know (and don't know well) in various keys, knowing the original keys, and they do not sound different in each key. So they could be m3 or more away from the 'original' key, and it would make no difference - to me. – Tim Apr 27 at 19:56
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    @Tim I do the same, and same. But if you started playing a song that I'm very familiar with in the "wrong" key, it's fairly likely that I'll notice in the first few seconds (and then immediately stop caring/noticing.) You've probably heard of the "Levitin effect", and I think 440 vs 432 is a similar kind of effect. – Edward Apr 27 at 21:19
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I've seen way too many 432Hz evangelists. It seems wrong to me to not address it, if we are to build a body of music-related knowledge. I'd certainly prefer to have our page on the google search for "432Hz vs 440Hz" rather than... who knows what else...

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I support luser droog and Edward's answers, and for what its worth, I know your answer there is getting downvotes - that isn't your fault, but stems from a debunked study - but the question is good, and the top voted answer by Graham helps explain both the flaws in that study and his own insight.

If you wanted to avoid the downvotes, you could delete your answer, but the rep loss won't amount to much against your overall rep. Up to you.

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    I think the downvotes are valuable in that they show others that the "evidence" is to be questioned. My working plan it to update with information explaining the sources and why they are called into question. – Aaron Apr 23 at 12:45
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I think adding to the answer would be the best course. I wasn't aware of the anti-Semitic aspect and it would be good to address this information head on rather than hiding it IMO.

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The question you asked isn't bad. It addresses a popular topic and I see no reason to close it.

In your answer you posted quotes from several articles. As another answer points, these articles are bad and the journals that published them have low reputation. I have voted down your on answer because I don't want it to seem like SE legitimizes these articles.

For a person not involved in research it might not be obvious how publications in peer reviewed journals by seemingly professional scientists may represent poor quality research. This also demonstrates a certain crisis in present science.

The trouble with conspiracy theories, "fake news" etc. is that it is much easier to write an untrue statement than to disprove it. This should be a job of journal reviewers, but they fail. Other answers pointed out some issues with the articles you quoted, but there is much more. Should we go in details through each of them and criticize them in detail? Would it even then fit in the scope of SE? As the topic is interdisciplinary (music, physics, statistics, medicine), would it be in the scope of Music SE?

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    We seem to be in sync on this. The answer definitely warrants downvotes, but the overall discussion is useful so that people can understand the question's origins and how it proliferates in seemingly legitimate ways. I'm doing some additional research and plan to update my answer to explain some of the flaws in the sources cited. – Aaron Apr 26 at 3:16
  • @Aaron Maybe you should write a second answer? That one will stick to the debunked point of view, and the other would point out why it is wrong. – Clockwork Apr 26 at 10:57
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    @Clockwork I wonder which way would make the commentary more visible: to make it part of the existing but heavily downvoted answer, or to have it separate but maybe with links from one to the other.... – Aaron Apr 26 at 12:33

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