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Octave Designations in Music

Module by: Terry B. Ewell. E-mail the author

Summary: Description of the system to identify music pitches in text. This is the system employed by the Acoustical Society of America and many music journals.

There are many ways in which to designate pitches by text. In this module we introduce a system of identification developed by the Acoustical Society of America. The lowest C on the piano keyboard is C1. The next C above that is designated C2, the C above that is C3, and so forth. The pitches above each C receive the octave designation of the C they are above as given below on the piano keyboard:

Figure 1: The graphics of the keyboard in Figure 1 are modified from Tobias R. – Metoc, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Klaviatur-3-en.svg (Accessed 01 May 09). It is licensed for public use under the Creative Commons Attribution License.
Figure 1 (graphics1.png)

Here are octave designations with notation:

Figure 2
Octave Designations in Notation

For a video on octave designations see:

Octave Designations (2 minutes) RealPlayer | Windows Media | iPod or QuickTime Player |youtube

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