Color notation was mostly developed by Kite Giedraitis. This is a brief summary. For a full explanation, see "Alternative Tunings: Theory, Notation and Practice". For a great webapp that converts to/from ratios, monzos and color notation, see Xen-calc It also does ups and downs.
Color notation has many features other microtonal notations lack:
- No new symbols: all new accidentals are familiar characters, hence they are immediately speed-readable.
- Furthermore, they are all on the QWERTY keyboard, making the notation easily typeable.
- Every new accidental has a spoken name (colorspeak), making the notation speakable.
- Most importantly, one can name not only notes but also intervals. As a result, color notation can name scales, chords, chord progressions and even prime subgroups and temperaments.
Colorspeak is designed to be an international language, a sort of microtonal Esperanto easily learned and spoken no matter what one's native language is. Almost every term in colorspeak is one syllable ending with a vowel. The five basic vowels are pronounced ah-eh-ee-oh-oo as in Spanish or Italian.
Color Names for Primes 3, 5 and 7
Every prime above 3 has two colors, an over color (prime in the numerator) and an under color (prime in the denominator). Over colors end with -o, and under colors end with -u. The color for 3-limit ends in -a for all, which includes over (3/2, 9/8), under (4/3, 16/9) and neither (1/1, 2/1).
3-all = wa = white (strong but colorless) = often perfect
5-over = yo = yellow (warm and sunny) = often major
5-under = gu ("goo") = green (not as bright as yellow) = often minor
7-over = zo = blue/azure (dark and bluesy) = often subminor
7-under = ru = red (alarming, inflamed) = often supermajor
The colors make a red-yellow-green-blue rainbow, with warm/cool colors indicating sharp/flat intervals. The rainbow of 3rds runs 9/7 - 5/4 - 6/5 - 7/6. Colors are abbreviated as w, y, g, z and r. Use z (azure or Spanish/Portuguese azul) not b (blue), because b already means flat. Mnemonic: Z looks like 7 with an extra line on the bottom.
A color and a degree indicates a ratio, and vice versa. Every ratio has a spoken name and a written name. For 3/2, they are wa 5th and w5. Colors and degrees always add up predictably: z3 + g3 = zg5 = zogu 5th. Zogu not guzo, higher primes always come first. Opposite colors cancel: y3 + g3 = w5.
The JI lattice consists of many rows, each one a chain of 5ths. Each row has its own color, and each color has its own row.
The next table lists all the intervals in this lattice. See the Gallery of Just Intervals for many more examples.
|ratio||cents||color & degree|
Yo and ru intervals tend to be major, and gu and zo ones tend to be minor. But interval quality is redundant (if a third is yo, it must be major), it's not unique (there are other major thirds available), and quality isn't used with color names (see #Color Names for Higher Primes below for why). Intervals on the far right or far left of the lattice are called not augmented and diminished, but large and small, written as L and s, and abbreviated as la and sa. La and sa can always be distinguished from solfege's La and saregam's Sa by context. Central, the default, means neither large nor small. This lattice shows the boundaries between the large, small and central zones:
The general term for large/small/central is magnitude. Only intervals have a magnitude, notes never do, and L and s never appear on the staff. A ratio's magnitude is the sum of all the monzo exponents except the first one, divided by 7, and rounded off. 0 = central, 1 = large, 2 = double large, etc. 81/64 = [-6 4>, and 4/7 rounds to 1, so 81/64 = Lw3. 135/128 = [-7 3 1> = Ly1. Unfortunately, magnitudes do not add up predictably like colors and degrees do: w2 + w2 = Lw3.
Colors can be doubled or tripled, which are abbreviated bi- ("bee") and tri- ("tree"): 49/25= bizogu 9th = zzgg9 and 128/125 = trigu 2nd = g32. Bi- is only used if it shortens the name: 25/16 = yoyo 5th not biyo 5th. Likewise with magnitudes: double-large is lala and triple-large is trila. For quadruple, etc., see #Exponents.
Colors using only one prime above 3 are called primary colors. Thus gu and yoyo are primary and ruyo is non-primary.
Degrees can be negative: 50/49 = biruyo negative 2nd = rryy-2. It's a negative 2nd because it goes up in pitch but down the scale: zg5 + rryy-2 = ry4. Negative is different than descending, from ry4 to zg5 is a descending negative 2nd. There are also diminished unisons, which raise the pitch but diminish the quality. For example, if 11/8 is notated as a P4, two of them are a m7 of 121/64 = 1102¢. Going from a yo M7 = 1088¢ up to this m7 raises the pitch, and 121/120 is a dim unison.
Compound, abbreviated co- or c, is a conventional music theory term that means widened by an octave. 15/4 is a compound yo 7th = coyo 7th = cy7. 5/1 is a double-compound yo 3rd = cocoyo 3rd = ccy3. 9/1 is a tricowa 2nd = c3w2. More examples in the Gallery of just intervals. Mnemonic: co- as in co-pilot means auxiliary, thus a 9th is a co-2nd. See #Prime Subgroup Names below for another mnemonic.
Notes are named zEb, yyG#, etc. spoken as "zo E flat" and "yoyo G sharp". Notes are never large or small, only intervals are. Uncolored notes default to wa. The relative-notation lattice above can be mentally superimposed on this absolute-notation lattice to name every note and interval. For example, D + y3 = yF#, and from yE to ryF# = r2.
Prime Subgroup Names
Just as wa means 3-all or 3-limit, ya means 5-all and includes wa, yo, gu, yoyo, gugu, etc. Ya = the 2.3.5 prime subgroup = 5-limit. Za = 7-all = 2.3.7 = no-fives 7-limit. Yaza = 220.127.116.11 = the full 7-limit. Nowa means without wa, and yaza nowa = 2.5.7.
Prime 2 (even more colorless than wa) is clear, abbreviated ca, and yaza noca = 3.5.7 = Bohlen-Pierce. 2-limit intervals like 2/1 are called wa not clear, for simplicity. Nowaca means without 2 or 3, thus 5.7.11 is yazala nowaca. Clear/ca is only ever used in the terms noca and nowaca, and in certain theoretical discussions. However, an additional mnemonic for "co-" (compound, widened by an octave) is "clear-over", in the sense that the ratio's numerator is multiplied by 2.
Color Names for Higher Primes
Colors for primes greater than 7 are named after the number itself, using the prefix i- for disambiguation as needed:
Lo = 11-over, lu = 11-under, and la = 11-all = 2.3.11. Because "lo C" sounds like "low C", lo when by itself becomes ilo ("ee-LOW"). But when with other words, it doesn't need i-, as in 11/7 = loru 5th. La when by itself becomes ila, to avoid confusion with the solfege note La, and also with la for large. Lo and lu are abbreviated to 1o and 1u on the score and in interval names and chord names, e.g. ilo A = 1oA, ilo 4th = 1o4 = 11/8, and C ilo seven = C1o7 = 1/1 - 11/9 - 3/2 - 11/6 on C. Lolo is 1oo, trilu is 1u3, etc. The associated color is lavender (mnemonic: "e-leven-der"), which refers to both ilo and lu, since they are only 7.1¢ apart. Lavender is a pseudocolor that implies the Lulu aka Neutral temperament. IIo notes could be called lovender, and lu notes could be called luvender. Both are "shades" of lavender.
Tho = 13-over, thu = 13-under, and tha = 13-all. Tho and thu are abbreviated as 3o and 3u on the score and in interval names, e.g. 13/8 = 3o6 = tho 6th, 14/13 = 3uz2 = thuzo 2nd.
Prime subgroups: yala = 18.104.22.168, zalatha nowa = 22.214.171.124, and yazalatha = 126.96.36.199.11.13 = the full 13-limit. Noya is a descriptive adjective, not used in actual prime subgroup names, that indicates the absence of 5 and the presence of higher primes, e.g. zala, latha and zalatha are all noya. Likewise, there's noza, noyaza, etc.
On the score and in note names, the 1o accidental either raises by 33/32 or lowers by 729/704. The meaning will usually be clear from context, however it's safer to write at the top of the page either "1o4 = P4" or "1o4 = A4". Likewise, 3o6 should be noted as either m6 or M6. While the note 11/8 above C can be written two ways, either as 1oF or as 1oF#, the interval 11/8 can only be written one way, as 1o4. Likewise, 13/8 above C is either 3oA or 3oAb, but 13/8 is only 3o6. This is the rationale for using large/small/central rather than major/minor. 11/9 is ambiguously major or minor, but unambiguously central. Intervals names and chord names become unambiguous for la and tha intervals. Another rationale is that commonly used intervals and chords are all central, and get concise names: gu 3rd not gu minor 3rd, A gu not A gu minor, etc. (see #Chord Names below).
So = 17-over, su = 17-under, and sa = 17-all, abbreviated as 17o, 17u and 17a. Iso is an alternate form of so, to distinguish it from the solfege syllable So. 17/12 = 17o5 = iso So. Isa is an alternate form of sa, to distinguish it from sa for small, and from the Indian saregam syllable Sa.
Ino = 19-over, nu = 19-under, and na = 19-all, abbreviated as 19o, 19u and 19a. Ino because "no 3rd" could mean either 19/16 or thirdless. Inu is an alternate form of nu, to distinguish "the nu chord" from "the new chord".
The prefix i- is only used when confusion is possible. Thus 19/15 = nogu 4th, not inogu 4th, and 188.8.131.52.19 (implied by 12edo) is yasana not yasaina.
Twetho = 23-over, twethu = 23-under, and twetha = 23-all, abbreviated as 23o, 23u and 23a. 184.108.40.206.23 = yaza23a = yazatwetha. 23/16 = 23o5 = twetho 5th, and 23/22 = 23o1u2 = twetholu 2nd. 529/512 = 23oo2 = bitwetho 2nd (not twethotho, because that means 23-over 13-over).
Similarly, tweno/-nu/-na = 29o/29u/29a, thiwo/-wu/-wa = 31o/31u/31a, etc. The abbreviations are twe-, thi-, fo-, fi- and si-.
Mnemonic (sung to the tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"):
Yaza latha sana twetha twena thiwa thisa / Fowa fotha fosa fitha fina siwa sisa
Unfortunately seventy can't become se- because that already means 17-exponent (see #Exponents below). Setho means 1317-over, so it can't mean 73-over. So starting at 71, one might use the longer form: 71o is seventy-wo, 73o is seventy-tho, etc. 103o is hundred-tho and 113o is one-ten-tho. Or one might use these terms:
Note that 23/16 = 628¢ is a 5th, not a 4th. Furthermore, 31/16 = 1145¢ is a 7th not an 8ve, and 37/32 = 251¢ is a 3rd not a 2nd. For any prime P, the degree of the ratio P/1 is chosen to minimize negative intervals. It is determined by its 8ve-reduced cents, and how it relates to 12edo:
This makes the "pseudo-edomapping" <7 11 16 20 24 26 29 30 32 34 37...]. An alternative method would use the actual 7edo edomapping, but that requires using every other 14edostep as boundaries, harder to remember and much less convenient than the 24edo boundaries used here. Since negative intervals will arise no matter what, convenience is prioritized. For the first 26 primes, the 24edo-based degrees correspond to 7klmrs-edo.
Exponent syllables aka multiplier syllables provide a way to shorten names that have repeated syllables. For example, 250/243 = 21 * 3-5 * 53 is a yoyoyo unison which shortens to triyo 1sn. Exponents can apply to magnitudes (Wa-22 = sasasawa 4th --> trisawa 4th) or octaves (13/1 = cococotho 6th --> tricotho 6th).
We've seen bi- for double and tri- for triple. Quadruple and quintuple are abbreviated quad- and quin-, as in quadyo or quingu. Colorspeak syllables usually end in one of the five basic vowels. Quad and quin are both exceptions, so quad may optionally be spoken as "kwah", and quin as "kwee".
Except for quad, all exponent syllables are prime numbers. Septuple is sep-. Above 7, all exponent syllables are the root color word plus -e. Eleven-fold is le- = "eleven exponent", pronounced as in "legitimate". Thirteen-fold is the- as in "thesaurus". Note that sep- means seven-fold and se- means seventeen-fold.
Exponents can be combined: sextuple = tribi-, 8-fold = quadbi-, 9-fold = tritri-, 10-fold = quinbi-, 12-fold = quadtri-, 14-fold = sepbi-, 15-fold = quintri-, 16-fold = quadquad-, etc. The component syllables are simply the number's prime factors in descending order, except that quad replaces bibi and comes before tri.
Exponents affect all subsequent syllables until the -a- delimiter occurs: trizogu = z3g3, but trizo-agu = z3g. The "a" in la- and sa- also acts as a delimiter: trilayo = L3y, not L3y3, which would be trila-triyo.
Long color names use hyphens to make the name easier to parse. There are strict rules for hyphenation, to ensure uniformity.
- Put a hyphen before every -a- delimiter
- Put a hyphen after the magnitude (after the final la- or sa-)
- Put a hyphen after coco-, trico-, etc.
- Put a hyphen before and after "seventy", "eighty", etc.
The hyphen after the magnitude is omitted if it would create a subunit of 1 syllable. Thus layo, lalagu and sagugu are all unhyphenated. However, the last rule always holds, e.g. 284/243 = 22 * 3-5 * 71 is a sa-seventy-wo 3rd.
Converting a Ratio to/from a Color Name
Often a ratio can be converted by breaking it down into simpler ratios with familiar color names, then adding. For example, 45/32 is 5/4 times 9/8, which is y3 plus w2. The colors and degrees are summed, making y4. The magnitude is not summed, and must be found either visually from the lattices above, or from the monzo directly. 45/32 = [-5 2 1>, and (2+1)/7 rounds to 0, so it's central, and 45/32 = y4.
For more complex ratios, a more direct method is needed:
Converting a ratio: Find the monzo by prime factorization. To find the color, combine all the appropriate colors for each prime > 3, higher primes first. To find the degree, first find the stepspan, which is the dot product of the monzo with the "pseudo-edomapping" discussed above <7 11 16 20 24 26 29 30...]. Then add 1, or subtract 1 if the stepspan is negative. To find the magnitude, add up all the monzo exponents except the first one, divide by 7, and round off. Combine the magnitude, color and degree to make the color name. If the interval is > 1200¢, octave-reduce as desired (e.g. a 9th may or may not become a compound 2nd). Add one co- prefix for every octave removed. Combine repeated syllables so that three yo's becomes triyo, etc. For the exact combination "grammar", see Color notation/Temperament Names.
Example: ratio = 63/40
- monzo = [-3 2 -1 1>
- color = zogu
- stepspan = <7 11 16 20] dot [-3 2 -1 1> = -21 + 22 - 16 + 20 = 5 steps
- degree = 5 + 1 = a 6th
- magnitude = round [(2 + (-1) + 1) / 7] = round (2/7) = 0 = central
- interval = zogu 6th or zg6 (63/20 would be zg13 = czg6)
Converting a color name: Let S be the stepspan of the interval, S = degree - sign (degree). Let M be the magnitude of the color name, with L = 1, LL = 2, etc. Small is negative and central is zero. Let C be the number of "co-" prefixes. Let the monzo be [a b c d e...>. The colors directly give you all the monzo entries except a and b. Let S' = the dot product of [0 0 c d e...> with the pseudo-edomapping. Let M' = round ((2 (S - S') + c + d + e + ...) / 7). Then a = -3 (S - S') - 11 (M - M') + C and b = 2 (S - S') + 7 (M - M'). (Derivation here) Convert the monzo to a ratio.
Example: interval = sgg2 = sagugu 2nd
- S = 2 - 1 = 1 step, M = small = -1, C = 0. Monzo = [a b -2>
- S' = <7 11 16] dot [0 0 -2> = -32. S - S' = 1 - (-32) = 33.
- M' = round ((2·33 + (-2)) / 7) = round (64 / 7) = 9. M - M' = -1 - 9 = -10.
- a = -3 (S - S') - 11 (M - M') + C = -3·33 - 11·(-10) + 0 = -99 + 110 = 11.
- b = 2 (S - S') + 7 (M - M') = 2·33 + 7·(-10) = 66 - 70 = -4
- Monzo = [11 -4 -2>, ratio = 2048/2025.
Notes on the staff default to wa. Non-wa notes have a color accidental like g, ry, etc. Like conventional sharp/flat accidentals, they apply to every such note in the measure and in the same octave. Unlike conventional accidentals which apply to a note (e.g. A), color accidentals only apply to one specific "version" of that note (e.g. A flat or A natural). For example, the yo accidental in the first chord applies to all the D-naturals in that measure, but not to the D-flats.
Staff notation can optionally include a color signature written above the staff. This makes color notation more similar to Johnston notation.
Color notation can optionally be made more similar to Sagittal notation by including two more accidentals, p and q (long forms po and qu = "ku"), to indicate raising/lowering by a pythagorean comma. (See Sagittal-JI-Translated-To-Colors.png.) For example, yF# = ypGb, and zEb = zqD#. This allows trills to always be written as a 2nd, less cluttered.
L and s never appear on the staff. Tripled colors are written as y3 not y3 or yyy. In MuseScore, color accidentals are made by adding fingerings to the notes, then editing the fingering text. A fingering can be copied from one note and pasted to another note. The font used here is Arial Black.
This 10-page score uses the free open-source font Petaluma Script. The letters are 9pt, except that a "z" between two staff lines is 8pt. File:Evening Rondo colors.pdf
Triads are named after their 3rd, e.g. a yo chord has a yo 3rd. A yo chord rooted on C is a Cy chord = "C yo" = C yE G. Qualities such as major and minor aren't used, because a chord with an 11/9 3rd is hard to classify. Thirdless dyads are written C5 = w1 w5 or C(zg5) = w1 zg5. The four main yaza triads:
Tetrads are named e.g. "C yo six" = Cy6 = C yE G yA. The 11 main yaza tetrads, with chord homonyms (same shape, different root) equated:
A 9th chord contains a 3rd, 5th and 7th. An 11th chord contains all these plus a 9th. A 13th chord contains all these plus an 11th. The 5th, 9th and/or 13th default to wa. The 6th, 7th, and/or 11th default to the color of the 3rd. Thus Cy13 = w1 y3 w5 y7 w9 y11 w13, and Cy9 and Cy11 are subsets of this chord. However, if an 11th is added, it defaults to wa. See z7,11:
Alterations are always in parentheses, additions never are, e.g. z7(zg5) and z,y6. An alteration's degree must match a note in the chord, e.g. Cz7(y6) is invalid. But an exception is made for sus chords, where degree 2 or 4 alter the 3rd: C(z4) = w1 z4 w5. The sus note defaults to wa: Cy9(4) = w1 w4 w5 y7 w9.
Omissions are indicated by "no". The Hendrix chord might be Ch7z10no5. Unless using po or qu, enharmonic substitutions aren't allowed. 7/3 is a 10th, never a 9th unless it's a qu 9th (e.g. Ch7zq9no5). A no3 tetrad can also be written as a 5 chord with an added 6th or 7th: Cy6no3 = C5y6, and Cz7(zg5)no3 = C(zg5)z7.
The y,z7 chord is called the h7 chord ("har-seven"), because it's part of the harmonic series. Ch9 = Cy,z7,w9 and Ch11 = Cy,z7,w9,1o11. The s7 ("sub-seven") chord is part of the subharmonic series. It's the first 7 subharmonics, with the 7th subharmonic becoming the root. Cs9 = Cr,g7,w9 and Cs11 = C1o11(1or5,1og9). Note that s9 is not s7 plus a 9th, but a completely different chord. Usually the 9th ascends from the root, but in a sub9 chord it descends from the top note, and becomes the new root. Thus the s7 chord is contained in the upper four notes of the s9 chord, not the lower four.
Cs6 = Cg,r6 = 12/(12:10:8:7). Other than the s6 chord, all harmonic/subharmonic numbers must be odd, Ch6 and Ch8 are invalid. For any odd number N >= 7, ChN is 1:3:5:7...N and CsN is N/(1:3:5:7...N). Additions, alterations and omissions refer to degrees, not harmonics or subharmonics: Ch7,11 adds w11, not 1o11. Ch9no5 omits w5, not y3. However, all numbers > 13 refer to (sub)harmonics, e.g. Ch9,15 adds y7 and Ch19no15 omits it.
Chords can be classified as bicolored (e.g. g7 or r6), tricolored (e.g. z7(zg5) or z,y6), quadricolored (e.g. s6(zg5) or h7,zg9), etc.
Chord Progressions, Keys, Scales and Modulations
The tonic is always wa. The root of each chord has a color, which defaults to wa. C - Am - F - G7 might become Cy - yAg - Fy - Gy,w7, spoken as "C yo, yo A gu, F yo, G yo wa-seven". If the root isn't wa, the root color is added to each interval's color. Thus yAg = yA + (w1 g3 w5) = yA + wC + yE.
In relative notation, the previous example becomes Iy - yVIg - IVy - Vy,w7, spoken as "one yo, yo-six gu, four yo, five yo wa-seven". Never use lower-case roman numerals for minor chords: ii becomes IIg or IIz. A IIIy chord has a w3 root, which is 32/27 not 81/64. The latter would be a LwIIIy chord (use L and s, not # and b; #IIIy is invalid).
In adaptive JI, chords are just, but roots move by tempered intervals. Comma pumps are indicated with brackets roughly halfway through he pump: Cy - yAg - [y=w]Dg - Gy - Cy. The pattern is [old=new]: the previous chord implies yDg and the following chord implies wDg. See Comma pump examples.
Keys and scales are loosely named after the colors used. Wa is assumed present. In 5-limit JI, the key/scale of A minor is A gu. The Bbh7 - Ebh7 - Bbh7 - Fh9 example in the staff notation section is in Bb yo zo. Like chords, scales can be classified as bicolored (A gu), tricolored (Bb yo zo), etc.
Analogous to the relative and parallel major or minor, one can modulate to relative gu, parallel ru, etc. Modulating from a yo key to the relative gu means using gu chords on yo roots. Modulating from yo to the parallel gu means using gu chords on wa roots. Going from yo zo to the relative gu means using chords with gu and/or ru in them on yo roots. Going to the relative ru means using the same chords on zo roots. Going from yo zo to the parallel gu ru means using the same chords on wa roots. One can also modulate fourthward or fifthward, abbreviated 4thwd or 5thwd. Modulating in either direction is modulating waward. Modulating from a yo key to the relative gu, then from there to the parallel yo is modulating yoward. A root movement by a yo interval (e.g. Iy - yVIg) is a yoward move. Likewise, there's guward, and yaward includes both. Likewise, there's zoward, ruward, zaward, iloward, etc.
Temperament Names and Comma Names
Main article: Color notation/Temperament Names
Temperaments are named after the comma(s) they temper out. Commas are named using an alternate format that omits the degree. Meantone is the Gu temperament. Srutal is Sagugu. Porcupine is Triyo or y3T, where "T" stands for temperament. Certain commas over 90¢ use the -bi suffix, e.g. Mavila is Layobi or Ly#2T, because Layo is Schismic. Certain wa commas use yet another alternate format, e.g. Mercator's comma is Wa-53 or w-53.
Multi-comma temperaments have multiple commas in their name. Septimal Meantone is Gu & Ruyoyo and Dominant Meantone is Gu & Rugu. Untempered primes are included with a plus sign. The 220.127.116.11 prime subgroup with 81/80 tempered out is Gu + za.
MOS and MODMOS scales can be named as e.g. Triyo. Individual modes can be named as 2nd Triyo, 3rd Triyo b7, etc. See Naming Rank-2 Scales using Mode Numbers.
Ups and Downs, Lifts and Drops, Plain and Mid
Color notation merely renames ratios more conveniently, and strictly speaking, it only applies to just intonation. However, ratios are often used to loosely describe intervals in edos, and colors can be used as well. A more precise notation uses ups and downs (^ and v) as "virtual colors", accidentals that always map to exactly one edostep. Ups and downs are used on the score just like color accidentals are. Notes are named e.g. up C sharp = ^C#. Some edos (5, 7, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, etc.) don't require ups and downs.
Unlike actual colors, virtual colors generally add up to something simpler, e.g. three of 22edo's ups adds up to an A1. Unlike actual colors, virtual colors combine with major, minor, etc. Intervals are named upmajor 3rd = ^M3, up 4th = ^4, downaug 5th = vA5, etc.
Plain means neither up nor down, analogous to natural meaning neither sharp nor flat. Mid, abbreviated ~, means exactly midway between major and minor. The mid 4th is midway between perfect and augmented, i.e. halfway-augmented, and the mid 5th is halfway-diminished. There is no mid unison or octave. Mid simplifies 72edo notation: m2, ^m2, v~2, ~2, ^~2, vM2, M2. In 72edo, upmid (^~) means one edostep above mid, but in 53edo it means one half edostep above mid. Mid is only used in relative notation, it never applies to notes and never appears on the staff. In 24-edo or 31-edo, the 3rd of C~ is vE or ^Eb, but in 41-edo, it's vvE or ^^Eb.
Chords are named similarly to color notation, with the various qualities downmajor, upminor, mid, etc. replacing colors. Major is the default quality, thus C = C major and Cv = C downmajor. The 6th, 7th and 11th inherit their quality from the 3rd, thus C upminor 9th = C ^Eb G ^Bb D. Chord roots can have ups and downs, as in Cv - Gv - vA^m - Fv or Iv - Vv - vVI^m - IVv. In roman numeral notation, chord roots can be downflat, mid, etc., as in Iv7 - vbIII^m6 - IVv7 or I~7 - ~III - V7. Lower-case roman numerals are never used for minor chords, because vii could mean either seven-minor or down-two-minor. Instead vii is written either VIIm or vIIm. See the notation guide for edos 5-72
Rank-2 temperaments can be notated with ups and downs as well. Plain and mid are also used in this context. Certain temperaments require an additional pair of virtual colors, lifts and drops (/ and \). Notes are named lift C = /C, downdrop F sharp = v\F#, etc. Intervals are named drop 4th = \4, uplift major 3rd = ^/M3, etc. Plain means neither up nor down nor lifted nor dropped. There may be upmid or liftmid intervals. Chords are named C-up add lift-seven = C^,/7 = C ^E G /Bb, C uplift-seven = C^/7 = C ^/E G ^/Bb, etc. See pergens.
Glossary / Crash Course
Over = prime in the numerator. Under = prime in the denominator. All = over, under or neither: wa = 3-limit, ya = 2.3.5, yaza = 18.104.22.168. Exponent = repeated syllable: triyo = yoyoyo = 125-over.
|prime||-o ("oh") for over||-u ("oo") for under||-a ("ah") for all||-e ("eh") for exponent|
|3||—||—||wa (white)||—||tri ("tree")||cubed|
|5||yo (yellow)||y||gu (green)||g||ya||—||quin||^5|
|7||zo (azul)||z||ru (red)||r||za||—||sep||^7|
Higher primes: 29o = tweno, 31o = thiwo, 37o = thiso, 41o = fowo, 43o = fotho, 47o = foso, 53o = fitho, 59o = fino, 61o = siwo, 67o = siso.
Pronunciation: exponent syllables like bi or tri are always unaccented. To emphasize the prime limit, the first occurrence of the highest prime is always accented: Biruyo, Bizozogu. In longer names, the 1st occurrence of sa/la and/or of lower primes may also be accented: Sasa-gugu, Zozotrigu.
|quad||quadruple, exponent of 4||Diminished temperament = 648/625 = Quadgu = g4T|
|Wa-||w-||alternate interval format, only used for 3-limit commas||Mercator's comma = Wa-53 = w-53|
|-bi||#2||as a suffix, 2nd smallest comma in the row segment||Meantone = 81/80 = Gu = gT, Father = 16/15 = Gubi = g#2T|
|la||L||large, augmented by 2187/2048 from the central ratio||32/27 = wa 3rd = w3, 81/64 = lawa 3rd = Lw3|
|sa||s||small, diminished by 2187/2048 from the central ratio||27/16 = wa 6th = w6, 128/81 = sawa 6th = sw6|
|nowa||remove 3 (wa) from the prime subgroup, i.e. no-threes||2.5.7 = yaza nowa, 2.5.7 with 50/49 = Biruyo nowa|
|noca||remove 2 (clear) from the prime subgroup, i.e. non-8ve||3.5.7 = yaza noca, 3.5.7 with 245/243 = Zozoyo noca|
|nowaca||remove both 2 and 3 from the prime subgroup||5.7.11 = yazala nowaca|
|plus||+||add an untempered prime to the temperament||Blackwood = 2.3.5 with 256/243 tempered out = Sawa + ya|
|and||&||joins commas that are tempered out||7-limit Porcupine = 22.214.171.124 with 250/243 & 64/63 = Triyo & Ru|
|i-||disambiguation prefix||no 3rd = omit the 3rd, ino 3rd = 19/16|
|-a-||delimits an exponent such as bi-, tri-, etc.||Trizogu = z3g3 = 1029/1000, Trizo-agu = z3g = 343/320|
|co-||c||compound (conventional term for widened by an 8ve)||7/4 = zo 7th = z7, 7/2 = compound zo 7th = cozo 7th = cz7|
|-ward||-wd||refers to the direction of chord root movement||Iy - IVy = 4thwd, Iy - Vy = 5thwd, Iy - yIIIy = yoward, Ig - gIIIg = guward|
|har||h||refers to a harmonic series (otonal) chord||4:5:6:7 = C har seven = Ch7|
|sub||s||refers to a subharmonic series (utonal) chord||7/(7:6:5:4) = C sub seven = Cs7|
|po||p||adds a pythagorean comma, to change the degree||15/14 = ruyo unison = ry1 = ruyopo 2nd = ryp2|
|qu||q||subtracts a pythagorean comma||49/48 = zozo 2nd = zz2 = zozoqu unison = zzq1|
Temperaments use "virtual colors" represented with ^ v and / \:
|up||^||raised by some comma|
|down||v||lowered by some comma|
|lift||/||raised by some other comma|
|drop||\||lowered by some other comma|
|plain||♢||neither up nor down nor lifted nor dropped|
|mid||~||for 2nds, 3rd, 6ths and 7ths, exactly halfway between major and minor
for 4ths, halfway-augmented, and for 5ths, halfway-diminished
- For translations of color notation terms into other languages, see Color notation/Translations. Translating avoids using sounds not in one's native language. For example, in many European languages, "th-" for prime 13 becomes "tr-".