I'm trying to find out whether my knowledge of the theory is correct, so this question might look a bit silly.
There's the term pitch. Pitch allows objectively tell whether two sounds are equal, and which one is higher (if not). This can be expressed using two approaches:
- using frequency of the sound (e.g., 440Hz is objectively lower than 441Hz, and objectively equal to 440Hz); this allows arbitrary precision, and easy to operate with for a computer.
- using human terms (for example, F4 is higher than C♯4, and lower than A♭4); this is precise up to the difference between two adjacent alterations.
The problem I'm facing at this moment is related to the second approach. It is obvious for me, that there are three entities needed to fully define a pitch:
- octave (exact portion of pitch space, from C to the next H),
- tone (C, D, E, F, G, A, or H), and
- alteration (♯, ♭, ♮, etc.).
My concerns is that I wasn't able to find usages of the word "tone" in that sense. So my question is whether this is the correct term for this entity. If it is not, which one is?
In this question the OP calls this entity using the term principal note, but I think it is even more confusing, since notes have pitch, not the opposite. Also, there are no other usages of this term in this sense.
The closest thing I was able to find is pitch class, but it is still different: for example, D♭ is not a separate tone (it is one of the possible alterations of D), but it forms its own pitch class, along with all the other D♭'s (see the link for a better definition).