PCP Teaser

Lecture: Music Representations

After working through the material of this lecture, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How can music be represented? What are the differences between sheet music, symbolic, and audio representations?
  • What is the twelve-tone equal-tempered scale refer to? How are notes specified using the scientific pitch notation? What is an octave number? What are pitch classes and chroma values?
  • What is a piano-roll representation? What does it encode? How can it be visualized?
  • What is a MIDI representation? What are the main parameters?
  • What does an audio representation encode? What is a waveform?
  • What is a sinusoid? What are the three parameters that specify a sinusoid? What does the unit "Hertz" (Hz) refer to?
  • What is the relation between a MIDI note number and its center frequency? (See Eq. 1.1.)
  • What does the unit "cent" measure? How is it defined? (See Eq. 1.4.)
  • What is the difference between intensity and loudness? What are equal-loudness contours?
  • What does the unit "decibel" (dB) measure? How is it defined? (See Eq. 1.6.)
  • To which musical properties does timbre refer to?
  • What is tremolo? What is vibrato?

Reading Assignments

Müller, FMP, Springer 2021
Chapter 1: Music Representations

  • Introduction of Chapter 1
  • Section 1.1: Sheet Music Representations
    • Section 1.1.1: Musical Notes and Pitches
  • Section 1.2: Symbolic Representations:
    • Section 1.2.1: Piano Roll Representation
    • Section 1.2.2: MIDI Representations
  • Section 1.3: Audio Representations
    • Section 1.3.1: Waves and Waveforms
    • Section 1.3.2: Frequency and Pitch
    • Section 1.3.3: Dynamics, Intensity, and Loudness
    • Section 1.3.4: Timbre



There are a numerous videos at YouTube on sound, waveforms, and their properties. Some of the videos may be too basic for you, others may give you additional explanations. Explore YouTube videos by yourself. Here are some pointers to start with.

Music Acoustics and Sound Production

In the lecture, we had some further discussions on the physics of music and how sounds are generated by musical instruments. In the following, you find some materials, links, and videos connected to the field known as Music Acoustics:

Question & Answer Session

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