pitch — American National Standards Institute pitch notation


The pitch representation permits the encoding of Western musical pitches using the standard system for pitch designations adopted by the American National Standards Institute (e.g. `G#4').

The pitch representation distinguishes three types of data tokens: pitches, rests, and barlines. Pitches may be encoded using pitch letter-name, accidental, octave designation, and pitch deviation (in cents). In addition, pitch provides limited capabilities for representing phrasing and slurs.

Pitch tokens consist of up to four logical parts — without any intervening spaces. The first part is the pitch letter-name; only the upper-case letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are permitted. The second part is an optional accidental: the octothorpe (#) for sharp, the small letter `b' for flat, the small letter `x' for double-sharp, and two successive small letter `b’s for double-flats. Triple and quadruple sharps (x#, xx, etc.) and flats (bbb, bbbb, etc.) are permissible, however a given pitch token may not be modified by sharps and flats concurrently.

The third part of a pitch token is the octave designation. The number 4 is used to designate all pitches between middle C and the B a major seventh above, inclusive. Octave numbers are incremented by one for each successively higher octave, and are decremented by one for each successively lower octave. Negative octave numbers are not permitted, so the lowest pitch in the pitch representation is C0 (16.35 Hz). Only a single octave digit is permitted, so the highest pitch pitch is B9 (15,804 Hz).

If a given pitch deviates from equal temperament, a fourth part is added to a pitch pitch token denoting the cents deviation from equal temperament. This consists of an integer value preceded by either a plus or minus sign.

By way of example, the following pitch token encodes a note 19 cents flat from A440 (in this case A435 Hz):

` A4-19`

Once again, no intervening spaces are permitted within a single note. Notice that the order of signifiers is important for pitch encodings. Pitch letter-name is followed by one or more accidentals (if appropriate), followed by an octave designation, followed by cents deviation (if appropriate) — where cents deviation is an integer preceded by the plus or minus sign.

Several notes may be encoded concurrently in a single spine by using the Humdrum multiple-stop convention: notes within multiple-stops are separated by single spaces. The following example encodes a C-minor chord as four pitches in two pitch spines — each spine containing a double-stop.




C4 Eb4

G4 C5



Pitch tokens may be modified by the presence of additional signifiers. The open brace `{' denotes the beginning of a phrase. The closed brace `}' denotes the end of a phrase. The open parenthesis `(' denotes the beginning of a slur. The closed parenthesis `)' denotes the end of a slur. The semicolon `;' denotes a pause.

Rest tokens are denoted by the lower-case letter `r'.

Barlines are represented using the "common system" for barlines — see barlines.


It is recommended that files containing predominantly pit data should be given names with the distinguishing `.pit' extension.


The following table summarizes the pitch mappings of signifiers and signifieds.

A-G absolute pitches letter name 0-9 octave designation, where C4 equals middle C; also cents deviation (when preceded by minus or plus sign) b flat bb double flat bbb triple flat # sharp x double sharp x# triple sharp xx quadruple sharp r rest = barline; == double barline ( slur start ) slur end { phrase mark (start) } phrase mark (end) ; pause sign - negative cents deviation-nus sign) + positive cents deviation —– ————————————————————

Summary of pitch Signifiers


A sample document is given below:


**pitch **pitch *pelog *slendro =1 =1 A#4+20 Bb4-80 A4 . A4 . =2 =2 A4 {(G3+5 r G3+73 . G#3-2) r r r Db4+18 Db4 Db4+77} *- *- ———– ———–


The following Humdrum commands accept pitch encoded data as inputs:

cents translates pitch to cents deg translate pitch to deg degree translate pitch to degree freq translates pitch to freq hint calculate harmonic intervals from pitch input kern translates pitch to kern mint calculate melodic intervals from pitch input pc translate pitch pitch to pc semits translate pitch pitch to numerical semits solfa translate pitch pitch to solfa solfg translate pitch pitch to solfg tonh translate pitch pitch to Tonh trans transpose pitch score vox determine active and inactive voices in a Humdrum file

The following Humdrum command produces pitch data as output:

pitch translates cents, degree, freq, fret, kern, MIDI, semits, solfg, specC, and Tonh to pitch – ————————————- ————————————————————————————-


The following tandem interpretations can be used in conjunction with pitch:

meter signatures *M6/8 key signatures *k[f#c#] key *c#: tempo *MM96.3 —————— ————

Tandem interpretations for pitch


` barlines, **cents, **deg, **degree, **freq, **hint, **kern, mint, **pc, pitch, **semits, **solfa, **solfg, **specC, **Tonh`