Suppose we have a violin or a contrabass, they can play midnote pitches. I guess there must be a way of notating that in classical sheet music,llll how?

I realise that it is a small chance it could ever be used anywhere but still.

Concerning 12 note sheet music: What about guitar bends that can be halfway, quaterway down or up? How are vocal pitches notated?

  • 2
    That seems to be several questions at once, all with different potential answers. There are several systems for notating pitches outside of 12-tone equal temperament, and some are used exclusively for some instruments (guitar being a good example). Note that no guitar bends are ever down, it's not possible to bend down. Jan 16 '17 at 17:44
  • @ToddWilcox - Ah, good old Ben, son of Mr. and Mrs. Down... There is, however, a strangely named 'pre-bend'.
    – Tim
    Jan 16 '17 at 18:13

I googled "How to notate microtones" (I've been wondering too) and found this. It's on a flute website, but it should work for all musical purposes.


Basically, there are certain accidentals that you can use for quarter tones and micro tones, which apparently does happen.

Wikipedia also explains, and here's an image of some of the wacky accidentals:

enter image description here

So for a pitch between C and C#, you could write "C1/4#" (third on the image, except for A instead of C)

  • Good catch. As I mention in my comment, this is only one of several systems for notating microtonality, but it is a good example. Jan 16 '17 at 17:47
  • Wow, i have indeed seen such notation a few times. Never wondered what those numbers meant. I can see the Sharp and Flat signs differ, that's so much to learn for microtonality. Jan 16 '17 at 17:50
  • For once, tab works well! 1/4 with an arrow speaks volumes, but is somewhat lacking on a proper stave, not that the weird signs were ever used much. I can't even access them on my qwerty board.
    – Tim
    Jan 16 '17 at 18:10
  • There are several more systems two examples above. Explore sections 4.18 to 4.38 of w3c.github.io/smufl/gitbook for a recent attempt at producing a comprehensive "standard" set of music notation symbols.
    – user19146
    Jan 16 '17 at 18:25
  • Also see here lilypond.org/doc/v2.19/Documentation/… (look for "Quarter tones")
    – leonbloy
    Jan 16 '17 at 18:41

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