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Re: A note on notes

John Croft wrote:

This is an Americanism -- possibly from deriving from the influence of the
German "ton" -- hence the use of "12-tone music" in the US and "12-note
music" in the UK. I agree that it would be helpful to distinguish the sound
from the printed symbol, but in British English the term "tone" refers to an
interval (equal to two semitones, American "whole-tone"), so this seems an
undesirable way to draw this distinction for speakers of British English.


Not so. The first meaning of "tone" listed in the Oxford English
Dictionary is "A musical or vocal sound, esp. with reference to its
pitch, quality, and strength". The interval meaning is listed only
under "4b". This additional meaning is no impediment whatsoever to
using "tone" with its primary meaning.

Andy Vermiglio wrote:

"The audible consequence of playing a note on an instrument is a tone."

Does this hold true for untuned percussion instruments?


Perhaps I should have said "sound" for greater generality. My main
point was that "note" should not be used to refer to musical sounds.


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