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Saturday, 6 August 2016

Musical notation


In music, a note is a small bit of sound, similar to a syllable in speaking a language. In some Western countries, like United Kingdom, the USA and Germany, the notes are given a letter of the alphabet according to their pitch. From lowest sounding to highest sounding: A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

Music notation systems have used letters of the alphabet for centuries. The 6th-century philosopher Boethius is known to have used the first fourteen letters of the classical Latin alphabet. Though it is not known whether this was his devising or common usage at the time, this is nonetheless called Boethian notation.

Solmization (or Solfège) is a system of notation whereby the musical notes of the diatonic scale are designated by syllables and manual signs. The system was introduced by Italian music theorist Guido d'Arezzo in the 11th century. His six-note ascending scale went as follows: ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la.

The note A or La
The syllables are generally accepted to be derived from The Hymn of St. John written by Paulus Diaconus in the 8th century.

UTqueant laxis
REsonare fibris
MIla gestorum
FAmuli tuorum
SOLve polluti
LAbii reatum
Sanct Ioannes

"Ut" was changed in the 1600s in Italy to the open syllable Do, at the suggestion of the musicologue Giovanni Battista Doni, and Si was added to complete the diatonic scale.

In modern musical notation, staccato signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence. It has been described by theorists and appeared in music since at least 1676.

For centuries, Guido d'Arezzo's system was followed, proving its great value. And yet, there was still room for improvement. A Miss Sarah Ann Glover (November 13, 1785 – October 20, 1867) was interested in that very topic. Her father was Curate of St Laurence's Church, Norwich, England, and she developed the Norwich sol-fa learning system to aid teachers with a cappella singing. The Norwich sol-fa system, which was concerned with making note relationships aurally apparent, changed "si" to "ti" so that every syllable might begin with a different letter.

Sarah Ann Glover

The Rev. John Curwen (1816–1880), a Yorkshireman and Protestant minister, was serving a Congregational church at Stowmarket, less than 30 miles from Norwich. Curwen felt the need for a simple way of teaching how to sing by note through his experiences among Sunday school teachers. With Glover's help and a thorough study of all possibilities and previous experimentation, Curwen came up with the tonic sol-fa system of annotation, which was designed to aid in sight reading of the stave with its lines and spaces. His system popularized the anglicized solfège syllables: doh, re, mi, fa, so, la, and ti. By the end of the nineteenth century, this notation was very widespread in Britain, and it became standard practice to sell sheet music (for popular songs) with the tonic sol-fa notation included.

Depiction of Curwen's Solfege hand signs


NASA has worked out that the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Perseus cluster of galaxies is emitting soundwaves – and that sound is in fact a B flat. It’s the lowest note detected in the universe and is a million billion times deeper, far, far below the human range of hearing.

Only about one in every 10,000 people has perfect pitch—the ability to identify a musical note just by hearing it, with no reference note.

When Nina Simone recorded "Ne Me Quitte Pas" for her June 1965 I Put a Spell on You album she reached an E2, the lowest voice on record by a woman.

According to information put together by, Axl Rose has a greater vocal range than any other popular music singer. The Guns N' Roses vocalist has sung notes that span more than 5 octaves, and just a few semitones under 6 octaves. They range from the high of an F1 (in "There Was A Time") to the low of a B flat 6 ("Ain't It Fun"). This is a greater range than Mariah Carey who has managed to span the slightly smaller gap between F2 and G7 on her recordings and Prince who reached both a B6 and an E2.

American singer Tim Storms holds the Guinness record for the world's lowest voice. His vocal range can reach notes as low as G-7 (0.189Hz), an incredible eight octaves below the lowest G on the piano. The notes are so low that only animals as big as elephants are able to hear them.

Comptons Encyclopedia, Europress,

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