Where can I view not traditional Western cleff based transcriptions of music, but rather ones that map directly to the physical differences in pitch being written down?

So instead of something based around the ABCDEFG scale, one based, for example, around the chromatic scale (or around smaller divisions of pitch)? I'd just like to be clearly able to see the patterns in music without the black and white keys, or seperate strings, of different instruments getting in the way. Are there any books I can read, or websites, or videos I can watch that present music theory this way and let me view it from a more "physics" point of view?

  • 1
    Here we go : physics.mcgill.ca/~guymoore/ph224/lecnotes.pdf
    – user506602
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 3:38
  • 5
    Anyone considering answer this question should realize it has been radically altered in its conception by the edit of user45266. The original question seems to be looking for some form of notation, perhaps akin to "piano-roll" style that equates all chromatic distances. The edit has transformed it into a question about an "entirely physics-based understanding" of music, which is impossible, as music is about 90% a cognitive/psychoacoustic phenomenon that depends much more on processing constraints of the human auditory system than on basic physical phenomena.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 3:51
  • @Athanasius I reverted the title to something more in line with the original (while still cutting it back).
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 3:57
  • You could transcribe it to semitones, but the 7-note name system can be mapped to multiple tunings and interpreted in multiple intonations as well, so different theorists would probably come up with different representations.
    – awe lotta
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 4:44

1 Answer 1


Midi files are such a thing -- they describe, with flat numbers, the basics of what's going on in the music. Typically they are not read by humans and I'm unaware of any robust tools for doing so, though there does seem to be a few homebrew ones available by searching for "midi visualization".

The other thing that comes to mind is the music animation project which has produced visualizations like this:

  • You can even see visualizations of MIDI clips in at least some DAWs (I know I did when working with ACID Music Studio).
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 11:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.