I am currently learning music theory so I found some assignments related to writing down tones in sheet.

However I am a bit confused when it comes to different note names.

For example I have to write down "H" and "h1" note. Are they the same note, on the same place inside sheet (the third line)?

Also is F sharp 1 between first two lines and F sharp 2 on the fifth line?

And what's the difference between capital D and d note? For example D2 and d.

  • There are several conventions for labelling letter names with which octave they're in. All I can really suggest is that you find the textbook or worksheet where the convention YOUR course uses is described.
    – Laurence
    Sep 13 at 17:03
  • H sounds like a German note name, not used all over the world. Where are you? Also, which stave are you asking about. We need more info.
    – Tim
    Sep 13 at 17:14
  • @Tim it is evidently the treble clef.
    – phoog
    Sep 13 at 18:47
  • "I found some assignments" Where? What sources? Your post seems to combine both Scientific notation octave numbers with Helmholtz letter case, also is the source using German H for pitch B? Are you mixing together assignments from various sources? Sep 14 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


There are two frequently used systems

In both of them the octave starts with C note, and all notes with higher pitch belong to the same octave, up to the next C.

However the octave numbering differs between the two notations.

  • In Scientific notation middle C (the note on the first added line below the staff in violin key) is called C₄. The octave above is C₅, next is C₆ and so on. Similarly the octaves below use descending numbers: C₃, C₂, C₁...
  • In Helmholtz notation middle C is called c' (called: one-line C), the one octave above is c'' (two-line C), another octave up is c''' (three-line C) and so on. C one octave below middle C is c (small C, small letter), then one octave below is C (Great C, capital letter), and then octaves below are C, (C contra) C,, (C sub-contra), C,,, (C sub-sub-contra)... Sometimes the , and ' marks are replaced with lines drawn above the letter, there are also other variations, e.g. might be used instead of c', which is perhaps what happens in your score?

The literature often leaves it up to the reader to find out which of the notation system is being used.

Since you mention H note, please also be aware of another conflict: H in German notation corresponds to B in English notation, and B in German notation is B♭ (B-flat) in English notation.

  • But the OP's example use letter case and numbers, so it looks like a jumble of Scientific and Helmholtz. Sep 14 at 14:57
  • @MichaelCurtis As I wrote, sometimes numbers are also used in Helmholtz notation, making you having to guess. Sep 14 at 15:12
  • So, C4 scientific would be c' or C1 Helmholtz? Sep 14 at 15:17
  • 1
    @MichaelCurtis yes, though a superscript should be used to distinguish (which is c') from C₁ (which is C,). But I can believe some people may omit superscripts as well... Sep 14 at 15:54
  • Helmholtz notation is derived from the Guidonian gamut, although that system counts octaves starting from A and uses double small letters instead of ' for the high octave and Greek letters instead of , for the low octave (but its compass is so limited that there is only one note in the low octave, Γ). Until I realized that, I could never keep straight which octave was which in Helmholtz notation.
    – phoog
    Sep 14 at 18:04

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