Re: A note on notes (Bruno Repp )

Subject: Re: A note on notes
From:    Bruno Repp  <repp(at)ALVIN.HASKINS.YALE.EDU>
Date:    Thu, 10 May 2001 18:47:11 -0700

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. Answer: 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? Answer: 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 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(at)

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