Re: A note on notes (Bruno Repp )

Subject: Re: A note on notes
From:    Bruno Repp  <repp(at)ALVIN.HASKINS.YALE.EDU>
Date:    Fri, 11 May 2001 10:24:24 -0700

John Croft wrote: And my point was simply that "tone" merely replaces one ambiguity with another. Answer: I don't agree. Many words are polysemic, yet can be used consistently in different contexts. What I am suggesting is that the words "tone" and "note" be used in a consistent way in a scientific context, a way that reflects the distinction between printed symbols and acoustic events. Roy Patterson wrote: My experience is that note is used for the sound events in common language, and if it is you will have little success trying to restrict its usage in science. Answer: I believe you are unnecessarily pessimistic. The point of scientific language is to be more consistent and precise than common language. Take the term "significant", which means "important" in common language but means "statistically reliable" in the context of an ANOVA. Similarly, "note" should mean only a printed symbol in the context of a discussion of materials used in a scientific experiment. Jim Beauchamp, in a message addressed to me directly, mentioned "MIDI-note numbers", for which I am grateful. MIDI jargon often gives rise to yet another terminological conundrum. A MIDI note is neither a note (a printed symbol) nor a tone (a sound). Rather, it is a message signaling an action on an electronic instrument. A MIDI-note number is not a pitch, although it is often called "MIDI pitch". Rather, it indicates the location on a keyboard where an action is to be (or has been) carried out. This, too, is worth keeping in mind when discussing research done with MIDI equipment. --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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