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Old 08-16-2019, 09:07 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post

One thing that bothers me with any symbol system is lack of reasons for design pertaining to the symbols themselves. For example, the sequence 'A B C...' is logical in itself, but when applied to actual pitches, why is 'A' applied to the pitch that it is? Why not 'C' or 'F' or whatever? There is no apparent logic behind it.

That is why base-12 dozenal counting makes the most sense to me.

The analog clock (12 o'clock, 1, 2, 3, ... 11, back to 12) describes the cyclic aspect of time.

Circle of Fifths describes the cyclic aspect of musical tones and harmonies.

Musical notation could use 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, T, Y (then back to 0) for the twelve notes, just arrange them around a circle like the Circle of Fifths.

When you want to assign a key: just make that added notation at the start (or at the start of a new section), "0=Piano A3" or "0 = Guitar A3 position 5"

* note the letters chosen for ten and eleven are debatable and vary, dozenal's proposed-official description uses T and a backwards-E, it's best to use letters which don't conflict with existing use or old ones (like A and B would be bad choices since those are old note names), and the other important aspect is that they are each single token identifiers, not two tokens like "10". Ideally the letters might not even be from the english alphabet which is technically possible with unicode but still slower to type on a keyboard layout.

However the awkwardness of the piano remains, that it centers everything around Middle C when the note alphabet actually is defined as beginning with the 440 Hz "A".

Which brings up a different and very important notational system: Scientific Pitch Notation

It is highly confusing to say in specific situations: "Play the C". There are five C's possible, which one do you want? "I mean middle C. Now play the A which is two octaves lower than that." Ok well why not say "C4 then A2" ? Or does that phrase mean "C4 then A1" ?

It is also incredibly confusing in vocals. "Sing the C. Let's see if you are a soprano." Ok but which C? How is that C compared? What if I sing in my low register which is C3, but the other musician meant the higher one which is C5? It would be far better for the choir director to say what they mean: "Sing the C5." In the current generic system, they say: "Sing the C. No, the higher C. No, up one more octave. Ok, that C." Which is ridiculous.

Scientific pitch is a pitch standard—a system that defines the specific frequencies of particular pitches (see below). Scientific pitch notation concerns only how pitch names are notated, that is, how they are designated in printed and written text, and does not inherently specify actual frequencies. Thus, the use of scientific pitch notation to distinguish octaves does not depend on the pitch standard used.

The notation makes use of the traditional tone names (A to G) which are followed by numbers showing which octave they are part of.
The system begins at a frequency of 16.352 Hz, which is assigned the value C0.
The octave 0 of the scientific pitch notation is traditionally called the sub-contra octave, and the tone marked C0 in SPN is written as ,,C or C,, or CCC in traditional systems. Octave 0 of SPN marks the low end of what humans can actually perceive, with the average person being able to hear frequencies no lower than 20 Hz.
The octave number increases by 1 upon an ascension from B to C. Thus, A0 refers to the first A above C0 and middle C (the small octave's C or simply c) is denoted as C4

Using scientific pitch notation consistently, the MIDI NoteOn message assigns MIDI note 0 to C−1 (five octaves below C4 or Middle C; lowest note on the two largest organs of the world; about one octave below the human hearing threshold: its overtones, however, are audible), MIDI note 21 to A0 (the bottom key of an 88-key piano), MIDI note 60 to C4 (Middle C), MIDI note 69 to A4 (A440), MIDI note 108 to C8 (the top key of an 88-key piano), and MIDI note 127 to G9 (beyond the piano; one octave above the highest note on some keyboard glockenspiels; some notes above the highest-pitched organ pipes).
This creates a linear pitch space in which an octave spans 12 semitones, where each semitone is the distance between adjacent keys of the piano keyboard. Distance in this space corresponds to musical pitch distance in an equal-tempered scale; 2 semitones being a whole step, 1 semitone being a half step. An equal-tempered semitone can also be subdivided further into 100 cents. Each cent is ​1⁄100 semitone or ​1⁄1200 octave. This measure of pitch allows the expression of microtones not found on standard piano keyboards.

Which brings up the additional point of tones and semitones. Although it has been glossed over in previous replies. A fundamental problem with the current music system is that it relies on a base unit of a semitone. Which is ridiculous. The base measurement should not be described in terms of a "half something". It is the fault of history, it's a kludge, along with the story of the piano previously posted, squeezing the black keys in there. A good system uses a unit of 1 as it's base unit, that is just by definition. Normalization is applied to everything in science. The speed of light is c, which results in E=mc^2, and many other notations involving c. The speed of light is not "a semi-c which represents 1/2 of c because we first measured c with units of two but then later made a system which required half of that value in all the equations and instead of normalizing the value of c into the unit of one, we use (1/2)c in all equations". The base unit of music should be called a tone. Not called a "semitone".

Last edited by; 08-16-2019 at 09:12 AM. is offline   Reply With Quote