Lost in pitch space

I’ve received great feedback from many people around the world about pitch bracket notation. One question I’ve heard a few times is, how do you prevent from getting lost while reading a melody line. After all, the pitch of a note is relative to the sequence of pitch brackets on the melody line. This is an excellent question which I will address in this post.

In traditional notation, notes are written on and between the five staff lines. You can think of this as a number line which counts up one scale step at a time. The fact that the staff uses both lines and spaces for notes is not important. The number line analogy still fits. Now, to identify the pitch of a note, one must see where the notes falls on the number line. Given the clef in use, the musician can rapidly determine the pitch by counting the number of steps along the number line. So, the pitch of a note is relative to the number line.

In pitch bracket notation, a melody line represents a sequence of additions and subtractions. To identify the pitch of a note, it is necessary to add and subtract the bracket values preceding the note. In that sense, the melody line can be thought of a special number line that is customized to one particular melody. Writing matching pitch brackets makes reading melody lines much easier. Also, the size of the brackets can be adjusted to aid in reading the melody line. Typically, the inner most nested brackets are smallest and the outer most brackets are largest. So, reading pitch bracket is more involved than reading staff notes but pitch brackets are a more succinct means of expressing patterns of pitch.

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