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A note on notes

The following comment may strike some as pedantic, but I believe it
is good practice to keep scientific terminology in order. I would
like to suggest that, in scientific articles or exchanges on
music-related subjects, the word "note" not be used when referring to
sounds. Although this usage is common in everyday language (and
sometimes hard to avoid, I admit), the term "note" should refer only
to a printed symbol on paper. The audible consequence of playing a
note on an instrument is a tone. Notes have neither pitch nor
duration, only tones do. The term "note" in music is analogous to the
term "letter" in language, which also denotes a written symbol, not a

If anyone disagrees with this proposal, I'd be interested in the


Bruno H. Repp
Research Scientist
Haskins Laboratories
270 Crown Street
New Haven, CT 06511-6695
Tel. (203) 865-6163, ext. 236
FAX (203) 865-8963
e-mail: repp@haskins.yale.edu