String tension is directly proportional to the square of the frequency.
In this case, to increase the pitch from 430 to 440 results in an
increase in tension of (440/430)squared ie around 4.7%. Thus if your
theorbo is strung at a general nominal tension of, say, 4Kg per string
the string tension will only increase by around 0.19Kg to 4.19Kg.
Accordingly, unless the instrument is already at the limit, if it were
me I'd tune up to A440 if you wish to play in this concert and the
conductor still doesn't intend to perform at A430 (I presume he's using
Incidentally, if you use a robust theorbo technique and play close to
the bridge, rather than a gentle lute style of plucking, my experience
is that you will be heard - other than in the loudest orchestral
tuttis. There is really no need to employ irritating fillers between
passages simply just to be heard! Such fillers should, I suggest, only
be used where there's a real musical need for them......
From: Gary Boye <boy...@appstate.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, 8 August 2017, 1:50
Subject: [LUTE] A440?
Lute List members, Help!
I've been asked to play on some Lully excerpts from Le Bourgeois
Gentilhomme in early October. I have a theorbo, lute, Baroque guitar
. . no problem. But the conductor wants to do it A440. All of my
instruments are strung for A430 (and one A415).
My initial response is to say no, but I want to encourage some early
music performance here, so my only options would appear to be:
1) Re-string an instrument for A440 ($$$!)
2) Try some type of capo (OK for guitar, less so on theorbo)
3) Try to finger it at F#m or Fm and stay tuned low
4) Tune high and risk it (!)
5) Try to convince them to play at A430 (seems doubtful)
It's frustrating, but again, I'd like the experience of doing
to encourage some early music performance here . . . Any thoughts
Dr. Gary R. Boye
Erneston Music Library
Appalachian State University
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