Whenever I receive my latest issue of *The Horn Call* in the mail, before reading the good stuff, I grimace and shake my head sadly at the bottom of the one of the early pages:

(In case you can’t read it clearly, that symbol on the left is supposed to be a subscript prime.)

This is called *Helmholtz pitch notation*, and it is an objectively **terrible** system.

In my practice journal and other notes, I use *scientific pitch notation*, also known as international pitch notation, or American standard pitch notation:

Scientific pitch notation is a far better notation system than Helmholtz.

**Scientific pitch notation is easier to read.**

There is no need to distinguish between an uppercase “C” and a lowercase “c”, which can be difficult, especially in handwriting. There is no need to count sequences of tiny prime symbols.

**Scientific pitch notation is easier to understand.**

There is no need to memorize the seemingly arbitrary octave ordering associated with different parts of the Helmholtz sequence: subscript primes (more primes is lower), uppercase, lowercase, and superscript primes (more primes is higher).

**Scientific pitch notation is easier to write.**

The subscript octave numbers in scientific pitch notation mix much more easily with the accidentals, such as F^{♯}_{4}. In fact, because each octave is designated by a simple digit, even using subscripts is not strictly necessary. The commonly used typographical and hand-written variations F^{♯}4, F^{♯}_{4}, and F^{♯}(4) are all easily recognizable as the F^{♯} above middle C, which could itself be written as C_{4}, C4, or C(4).

**Scientific pitch notation is easier to say.**

Although I’ve been thinking about the pitch notation system in *The Horn Call* for a long time, I only realized the issue of speaking the notation aloud very recently, when I was listening the Alyssa Widener’s YouTube video, “4 Exercises for your High Register.” Starting at about 02:35, you can hear her refer to “C3”. Then, starting at about 03:00, you can hear her refer to “G5”. I suppose that the corresponding Helmholtz pitch notations might be spoken aloud as “uppercase C” and “G double prime,” which is just unbearably awkward.

**Next steps?**

So, what do you think, dear readers? Is there any chance of convincing the IHS to leave the outdated and awkward Helmholtz system behind?

I wonder whether sending a letter to the editor of *The Horn Call* would be worth the effort.