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Scientific Pitch Notation
Piano Key Frequencies & Pitch Notation
By Brandy Kraemer, About.com Guide

Scientific Pitch Notation Keyboard

Piano keys labeled with scientific pitch notation and note frequencies

                 View Large Keyboard | 450x1600

About Scientific Pitch Notation

Pitch notation is a system of letters, numbers, and/or symbols used to easily reference a specific note or frequency, and a few variations of pitch notation exist. The main system used in the U.S. is “scientific pitch notation” (or SPN), which was first proposed in 1939 by the Acoustical Society of America.

SPN may be formatted in the following ways:

  • C4
  • C4
  • C(4)
  • C[4]

When writing SPN accidentals, the sharp or flat sign may be placed between the note and its number, unlike the image above. However, placing the accidental after the number avoids confusion with chords; G7 may indicate a G-sharp 7th chord.



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