Ever wondered why you need to have the numbers on your ukulele tuning device (if you have a multi-instrumental one, that is) at 440? It’s because the current Concert Pitch of A is 440Hz. To save confusion when playing with others, we all want our instruments to sound in tune with each other. To do that, we need a standard. A = 440 Hz is the only official standard and is widely used around the world.

But what, the note of F does that mean?

Good Vibrations

Things that make noises vibrate. The number of times that a vibrating object completes a cycle in one second is called frequency. The unit frequency is measured in is called hertz (Hz). One hertz equals one cycle per second.

Matching numbers to names

The way a piano is laid out is in octaves. An octave is the distance between two musical notes that have the same letter name. It is called an ‘**octave**‘ because there are eight notes in a scale (‘octo’ is Latin for ‘eight’). From the left to right, you’d start with octave 2, in which A vibrates at 110 cycles per second. In octave 3 it’s 220, octave 4 it’s 440, and in octave 5 it’s 880 cycles per second. We measure from octave 4 which contains middle C and in that octave A = 440 cycles per second.

If you’re a beginner, it may be interesting to know what the numbers on your tuning device mean, but you may not want to know more at this stage. I recommend getting to grips with your instrument and working your way through our courses, starting at the beginning. If you’re a confident player and want more theory to put into practice, then Intermediate 2 might be for you.