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    Scientific Pitch Notation Explained

    A brief article that explains Scientific Pitch Notation

    by Matt Edwards • July 08, 2021


    You will notice that many of our string charts list note names followed by a number.  For example, we say the range of our Jolie Harp is C2 to G6.  What, exactly, does that mean?

    When we say that a harp starts on the note C, we need some way to communicate which C we mean.  We have adopted the use of Scientific Pitch Notation (SPN).  SPN is a way to identify a specific musical pitch using the musical note name and a number which identifies the pitch's octave.

    In this system, Middle C on a piano is C4. The number, or octave, changes on the C notes. So the C one octave above middle C would be C5 and so on.  A440 = A4

    This diagram of a piano keyboard shows how this works.

    Here are some common instruments and their tuning labeled with SPN:

    • Guitar - E2, A2, D3, G3, B3, E4
    • Violin - G3, D4, A4, E5
    • Mt. Dulcimer - D3, A3, A3 A3

     



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