In music, a pitch class is a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octaves apart, e.g., the pitch class C consists of the Cs in all octaves. “The pitch class C stands for all possible Cs, in whatever octave position.” Important to musical set theory, a pitch class is, “all pitches related to each other by octave, enharmonic equivalence, or both.”Thus, using scientific pitch notation, the pitch class “C” is the set

To avoid the problem of enharmonic spellings, theorists typically represent pitch classes using numbers beginning from zero, with each successively larger integer representing a pitch class that would be one semitone higher than the preceding one, if they were all realised as actual pitches in the same octave. Because octave-related pitches belong to the same class, when an octave is reached, the numbers begin again at zero.

This cyclical system is referred to as modular arithmetic and, in the usual case of chromatic twelve-tone scales, pitch-class numbering is regarded as “modulo 12” (customarily abbreviated “mod 12” in the music-theory literature)—that is, every twelfth member is identical. One can map a pitch’s fundamental frequency f (measured in hertz) to a real number p using the equation.

In music, a pitch class (p.c. or pc) is a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octaves apart, e.g., the pitch class C consists of the Cs in all octaves. “The pitch class C stands for all possible Cs, in whatever octave position.”Important to musical set theory, a pitch class is, “all pitches related to each other by octave, enharmonic equivalence, or both.” Thus, using scientific pitch notation, the pitch class “C” is the set

Also, the same numbers are used to represent both pitches and intervals. For example, the number 4 serves both as a label for the pitch class E (if C = 0) and as a label for the distance between the pitch classes D and F♯. (In much the same way, the term “10 degrees” can label both a temperature and the distance between two temperatures.) Only one of these labelings is sensitive to the (arbitrary) choice of pitch class 0. For example, if one makes a different choice about which pitch class is labeled 0, then the pitch class E will no longer be labeled “4”. However, the distance between D and F♯ will still be assigned the number 4. Both this and the issue in the paragraph directly above may be viewed as disadvantages (though mathematically, an element “4” should not be confused with the function “+4”).

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