H (music)

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H (or h) is used in music

  • as a name for the note B , which is a whole tone above the note  A (or a). This naming of the root note H, which at first seems illogical, has the following historical cause:
The first seven letters of the alphabet were initially sufficient to denote the clay stock used in the Middle Ages , with A naturally followed by B. At the latest in the 11th century with Guido von Arezzo , a division of the tone B into a higher ( b durum ) and lower variant ( b molle ) was established, which in the script is represented by an angular ( b quadratum ) and round ( b rotundum ) Form of the letter b were distinguished. From the b quadratum today went natural sign and the cross appears from the b rotundum was accidentals b.
Because of the visual similarity of the b quadratum with the letter h and the consequent use of the printing type h for the b quadratum, in the 16th century in Germany as well as in Scandinavia and in the West Slavonic area the designation H was used for the 7th level of the since Zarlino (1571 ) standard scale beginning with C.
In the Anglo-Saxon language area, our B is still called B today, while there our B (i.e. the lowering of the B by a semitone ) is called "B flat".
  • to identify chords with the root H. This is the capital letter for the Major - triad , the lowercase letter for the minor -Dreiklang.
  • to identify a main voice in the musical text, mostly used in dodecaphony . In the Unicode block of musical notation characters represented by the character ? (U + 1D1A6 MUSICAL SYMBOL HAUPTSTIMME).

See also


  • Joseph Franz Schwanenberg: Thorough treatise on the uselessness and inappropriateness of the H in musical alphabets along with e. Note regarding the artificial sounds . Wappler, Vienna 1797 ( digitized version )

Individual evidence

  1. Wilibald Gurlitt, Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (Ed.): Riemann Musiklexikon . 12th edition. Material part. B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1967, p. 357 .