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Handpan 440hz or 432hz?

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December 18, 2020

You can choose your Handpan to be on the 440 Hz frequency or 432 Hz, but… what do the Hertz mean exactly? I’ll try to write this Entry in the most simple and objective way possible without getting into details nor personal opinions and stick to what is know about these 2 frequencies.

So… what exactly is a Hertz?

They are a measure developed by humans to measure sounds, vibrations, and frequencies. To speak of a frequency means what the word itself says, the frequency of the oscillations per second. For us to understand it, the membrane of the note of the handpan or of the instrument in question will vibrate the number of times per second in which it is tuned.

So what’s better, a 440Hz or a 432Hz handpan? Well it depends ... if your intention is to play with other people who have handpans or with musicians who have other instruments, I recommend that you buy your handpan at 440Hz since it is the tuning in which most instruments are tuned by standardization. There is a universal tuning on earth and practically all instruments are tuned based on 440hHz, which to expand a little more information would correspond to the note A4 (La4).

Example:"If our handpan is tuned to a frequency of 440 Hz, it means that if we take the A4 as a reference, this note will vibrate 440 times per second" Then each note has its own number of Hz per second but everything will be regulated based on to that A4.

What if my handpan is at 440Hz and I meet someone else who has one at 432Hz and we want to play together? It’s very simple, you will notice that there is an assonance, a sonic rarity will be created and you will notice that something does not fit, that it doesn’t sound right and this is because although we have the same notes and therefore the same scale, its notes do not vibrate the same number of times per second and therefore it will give you the feeling that your instruments are out of tune.

I recommend that whether you are going to play individually or collectively that you buy it in 440 because you never know if at some point in your life you are going to meet someone who wants to play with you and you cannot do it for this matter.

Is there much of a difference in sound if my handpan is on 440Hz or 432hz? The answer is NO. The variation is so small that it is almost negligible at the level of the human ear. We tuners do have a more developed ear since we spend thousands of hours working with frequencies, but for people in general, this frequency variation is practically negligible. What you will notice when you play a different frequency than yours is that you will have a sensation as if the handpan is out of tune, but it is basically due to the habit of the ear.

I’ll write more about the frequency 432 Hz at some other moment.

To be continued…

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RAMÓN SEIJO
Girona, SPAIN

My name is Ramón Seijo, I am the author of this blog and the person behind each Soyuz Handpans sound sculpture.

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