Gian Marco Sanna
Violinist, Founder and artistic director of The Geminiani Project, London
The Verdi Tuning
Hello, I’m Gian Marco Sanna, the founder and leader of the Geminiani Project based in London. I’m going to tell you my story in five minutes. I left Italy in 1997, I went to France, I went to Germany for a few months, and I lived in Portugal, in Spain. I went around. At a certain point, I decided to move to England, to London, and I decided to start fresh a new project. I didn’t have a very clear idea of what I wanted to do, but I knew it had to be something new, something — I don’t know, I had this feeling of something real somehow. Anyway, I wasn’t sure.
And I started doing research on the internet, just to make up my mind. And I started seeing posts on Facebook, for example, of people publishing things about music at A=432 [Hz]. I didn’t know almost anything about that. So I was quite unprepared. I started going deeper and deeper, and I saw that there had been funky music, for example, since 2002 or something like this. I mean, Some people had recorded at 432. I said, “Hmm-mm, this is funny. This is something that deserves a little bit curiosity, and more effort from me.” So I went deeper and at a certain point, I started to ask myself, what is this 432? I started to understand, and discover, and I opened a window toward a new universe.
I was really amazed. I thought, “OK, this might be my new project. But I need to know much more than this.” That was in 2012, only four years ago. And I was sure that as funky music and pop music — I mean Pink Floyd was recording at 432, for example, much before that. I was like “Why?” there must be something in this. There must be something true in this.
I started asking myself as to why A=440? Why did they sell me this story about 440, all my life I was told, the A pitch went up and up and up, and then after, we stopped at 440. Yeah, but now for example, in Germany, the Berlin Philharmonica they’re tuning at, I think, 446. Where is this going to stop? This is like the Babel Tower — I don’t quite understand.
I said, “No, no, no, no, this has to stop somehow. This is not fair.” And on top of that, every day I was going on the internet, I was finding out, I was discovering more and more interesting things. Like the quality of the frequency, and what it does. Because one thing is to say, “I play at 432, but I’m not really sure really sure why.” No, no, no! I found out extremely interesting things.
Experiments from, OK, the Nazi soldiers and Goebbels, I guess, he did experimentations on soldiers at 432, 440, 450! And he found out that when he was playing the very same piece, from the very same recording, at 440 or 450, the heart rate was rising, the blood pressure was rising, the aggressivity was rising. Like a free Red Bull, if you want, if you accept the term. So it was pretty much that. So, he thought “if the frequency has this power, I can use this power,” right? For bad reasons. So, I thought if there is a way to use this power for bad reasons, there must be a way to use this power for good reasons, too. I wanted to do that.
And by the way, why is it called the Geminiani Project? Because I was in London, in 2012, when I found out that there was the 250th anniversary of the death of Francesco Geminiani, who was an Italian violinist and composer, who moved to London in 1714. And he was very successful. He became the court musician; so I thought, “that is the guy. That is the name, I want to pick that name. He’s Italian, like me, in London — OK. Probably it will bring me luck!” So that’s why I did it.
Going back to the frequency, I founded the Facebook page, and then I founded the company, and what happened is that I started tuning myself at 432. It was very hard for one or two days; it was quite hard, I won’t lie. But, at the same time, it was different. I had a Nicolas Lupot from the end of the 18th century, almost 250 year old violin, and I was struggling all the time to get it balanced. The “wolf” — it’s a technical word — the wolf is like when two notes like B and C for example, to close notes vibrate at the same time; so you play a C, and the B part of the violin starts vibrating too. They don’t match, they don’t go together. It goes like this, “woooohh!” It’s a crazy note if you want. And we call it “wolf”, because it goes like this [audible imitation]. The best Stradivarius, they have all have the wolf, the ones, all have the wolf.
And what happened? I started tuning at 432, and the wolf disappeared! I’m not joking! I mean, I was like — OK, it must be a coincidence. And after other “coincidences,” — you know, the violin was much more balanced, much sweeter.
Another one minute story. I have a violin diploma, and I have another violin, not as good as this one, and it was screaming all the time! I don’t believe I have a bad sound. I don’t believe I have a screaming sound, I don’t believe so — and the violin was screaming in my ear, and I didn’t understand why. I was 25 years old at the time; so I decided, probably the violin is not my instrument. So, I decided to take another diploma, in viola. Because, I thought, the viola is lower, so it suits me better. I took the diploma in viola, and also the viola was screaming. It wasn’t the violin, and it wasn’t the viola: It was the frequency. It was only the frequency.
So I was very happy, much happier than before with this new frequency, which was new to me, but after I found out interesting things, like the perimeter of the Giza Pyramid, multiplied by 432, gives you the equator of the planet; and the height of the same pyramid, multiplied 432 gives you the polar circumference of the planet. I mean, coincidences again. So it’s not: I don’t believe in coincidences. But anyway, let’s say so.
So I started doing everything at 432! Teaching, playing, I had to refuse many jobs from orchestras; they asked me to audition, and I’d say no. Because I had decided for another kind of life. Suicide? Probably, but I’m happy this way.
So I started living in another way, and now, I have to say, that every time, every single time that I have a student that has to take an exam in a school –these are private students who come to me, so I teach them at 432 and they know it – then, when they go to the exam, the piano is tuned at 440, and so I have to tune the violin at 440. Oh, my God! It’s like “I don’t want die!” It’s so aggressive! It gives me the feeling of acidity, aggressive! Really back to that feeling of screaming, somehow.
And teaching privately, I found another Italian, about 34 years old, who is an engineer, with application in motorbike competition, so he’s a very enthusiastic motorbiker. And I started talking about the 432 hoping that he could understand. And he was looking at me, like “uh-oh, this guy’s crazy.” I was like “OK, I shut up now,” if you want to change your teacher, go ahead. No, he said, “no, actually, I believe you. And you know why? Because we in engineering motorbike preparation and so forth, when we have a part, a piece of the bike that we want to be more flexible, for example, we bombard this part at a certain frequency.” So I was like “What?!” Frequency does that? I was amazed!”
And after that, I started discovering Masaru Emoto, and how the frequency can change the shape of water. It shapes depending on the frequency. It’s amazing. Now they’re making objects, small objects, fly at a certain frequency. This is amazing. So the frequency is powerful. It’s so powerful, much beyond what we thought until now, because nobody talked about this; nobody said anything about that. Of course, I have my theory, but — you know, power is a very tricky thing. So, who’s in charge? Who wants to have power, wants to keep the power? Obviously, you can put two plus two together. This, in my opinion, is what happens, right?
And I’m very happy about this. The Camerata started just naturally. I mean, you have a project, you must have a camerata, you must have a string ensemble. And that’s the best way, in my opinion, to feel the difference between the two frequencies.
It was very tough, it was very tough at the beginning, but eventually, now it’s getting much better. And you saw it in the concert last night. Roberto Valdes, for example, he never played at 432. And he came from Portugal, as a friend, and he’s an international soloist, a very renowned soloist and teacher. And he came from Portugal, just to try! To help me, of course, but also to try. [inaudible 16.00] the viola player never played at 432 either; the double bass player, Jochen [Heibertshausen], a very curious, very interesting person, and a very good musician, actually; he never played at 432 — enthusiastic.
And it was tough, it was very tough at the beginning, but in the end, I believe that this is the only way that I can, at least, pursue it. I can’t see myself doing anything else, really. And it’s not because I’m here, now, but I’m here now because of this. It’s the other way around!
Moderator Benjamin Lyloff: Hello. So we had a fantastic concert yesterday, and specifically, the whole tuning in the church, the warmth that we experienced from the sound, it changed people throughout the evening. And 20 years ago, the Schiller Institute started this campaign for the Verdi tuning, which was supported by a lot of prominent singers, because for singers, also, it’s a big deal to all the time have to sing higher and higher. And at that time, there were a lot of singers who caught onto that; but somehow, the general musical world did not really catch on. But it seems like right now, there are some circles, more and more people, more musicians doing this. So can you tell me more?
Sanna: Absolutely, yes. Absolutely. I believe that, when I found this, because it was an underground movement, but it was — I forgot to say this; it was an underground movement, but it wasn’t about Classical music, and it was almost like a secret movement somehow. And I thought, there must be full of ensembles at 432. And I remember myself researching for like one week, every day, eight hours per day. I couldn’t find one single group. So, I thought, OK, that’s it, that’s me: that’s going to be me.
But it’s not any more like this now. Now, you go on YouTube, you go on Facebook, and people claim — like I have a colleague in Bulgaria,Ivan Yanakiev who has another ensemble in Bulgaria, and there is a Russian guy who is teaching only 432, I can’t remember his name now. In Brazil, it’s starting in Brazil. Italy is full of people crazy about the 432 tuning! So it’s spreading so fast and so quick.
Because, in my opinion, it is what you felt last night! It’s not because it was me playing and Roberto Valdes; it could be Heifetz, it could be the guy on the street, it’s the same. I mean, it’s not about the musical, technical thing, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the feeling that you have, when you play and you receive something at that frequency, the original frequency. Because it’s called “the original frequency,” and there must be a reason for that.
But, it’s more about that. So people are realizing this, and they feel it! I tell you only this: The first concert with the Camerata Geminiani in London, 2013. June 13, 2013, I believe. We played the concert, but we didn’t say anything, because I was sure, somebody would kill me on the stage. Because I’m a heretic, or I’m the devil or something! People aren’t ready for what they don’t understand. So, instinctively, every one of us, being unready for what we don’t understand, what we don’t know, we try to avoid it until we know a little bit more.
What happened, is that we played a concert. We played quite well, you know. And at the end of the concert, arrives this quite old man, with his son and a lady. And he told me this, I remember it like yesterday; he told me, “Listen, I go to Barbican Hall, I go to Royal Albert Hall, every weekend. I know what music is. I know quality. Ok, you probably made some mistakes, this and that, but what the heck did you with the sound! What is your trick? I never heard such a sound!” And he was amazed. “Probably you used gut strings? But no, because I’ve heard baroque ensembles, and they don’t sound like you. What happened?”
And then I explained to him, and he was like, “Oh my God! No, no, we have to go to a pub and talk about this.” Because he couldn’t believe my words. This is what happens with 432.
And people are more aware of this, because this is a fresh moment; this is a moment of awareness, where people are like waking up. Some people wake up in an aggressive way, and just say, “you’re against me, we’re enemies!” or something. They want to fight. Some other people ask questions, they ask themselves and others around them, and they try to understand, what is going on. So this is, in my opinion, this is my feeling, — in my opinion, this is a good moment. Twenty years ago, when they started, when the Schiller Institute started experimentation with huge names! I was shocked. Tebaldi, I was like, “oh my God, this must be something that I will have to research.”
But there was no internet. I remember passing by a newspaper shop and saw Renata Tebaldi on the front page: “Renata Tebaldi sues the Italian Commission of Musician because of this and this and that — because they didn’t apply what Verdi asked them!” And I think I was 18 years old, I was studying at the Italian Conservatory in Milan; and I couldn’t understand it! I mean, I understood that some scandal was there. But there wasn’t any internet — forget about that! There weren’t even CDs, it was a miracle if you had long-playing records. So I understood that, but I couldn’t go any further. You turn on the TV and nobody is talking about it; after that newspaper, even if you buy it, the end of the story is there, that’s it. So you couldn’t get any more information. You were pretty much cut off from anything.
So that was probably not the right time then. I’m not saying that those experimentations were useless, absolutely. On the other hand, very useful now, but probably now is the right moment. This is my personal opinion.
I feel this from musicians that are no long looking at me with squared eyes, “Huh? What did you smoke last night?” It’s not like that any more. It’s more like “OK, I got your point.” Like, “Yeah, probably he’s right. I don’t have the right information to say, no. Probably he’s right, so let me see.” So, a door is opening, in each one of the people I speak with, whether with my mouth or my violin, but there is something. There is something, and it’s spreading much faster than I thought — way faster, than I thought.
Question: I just want to say, it took a bit of time before Giuseppe Verdi’s ideas came in as a campaign again, because he was a politician and he fought for this. So we represent that, and I think he would be very grateful.
Sanna: Oh, I think so too, absolutely. And I’ll take these last moments, because I have plane to catch — but I just want to thank everybody for inviting the Camerata Geminiani. I want to thank Roberto Valdes for participating in the concert. And I want to thank each one of you, everybody that made this possible. And thank you for coming to join us in this musical adventure. OK, I hope to see you soon.