The Current System -- FAIL!

If you look deeply, you will come to understand that the current musical system is hopelessly out of date. It is completely unsuitable for expressing contemporary musical ideas, and this has been so for several hundred years. This may seem too great a claim, especially if you are not a professor of musical theory. If you are a professor, you will be able to easily follow my logic, and understand what I'm saying. If you are not, it may require some patience. If you have the patience to understand, I have the patience to explain. Please do not assume that simply because the claim is radical, it is therefore incorrect. When Copernicus stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, he met with a similar reaction. It is a natural reaction, please be aware.

What is a musical system?

Primarily a system for exploring, expressing, learning and communicating musical concepts

So at the root it is a conceptual system, which must have:
  1. a written notation -- how to express this conceptualisation visually
  2. a sol-fa -- how to express this conceptualisation vocally ie whilst singing

I will illustrate how the current system fails on both these counts

1) the written notation

Currently music is conceptualised as notes (eg C, F#, Dbb) which need to be considered in relation to a tonal centre or key:

C Major: C D E F G A B
G Major: G A B C D E F#
Notice the second note (supertonic) in the key of C major is D, also the fifth note (dominant) in the key of G major is also labelled D.
But this is not necessarily the same musical note.
On a piano they both resolve to the same white note.
But a trained singer or a violinist will sound them at slightly different pitches.


Now consider:
B Major: B C# D# E F# G# A#
F Major: F G A Bb C D E

Again, the same note on a piano.
Again, a singer or a violinist will sound them slightly different pitches.
But this time the notation actually makes a distinction!

Now one of the first skills when learning the piano should be to learn the notes. And almost no music teacher even attempts to do this! It is scarecely believable. They themselves are unable to do this. The blind are leading the blind.

And how can you learn a note if it doesn't even have a unique name? how can you learn the black note between A and B? Every white note has a unique name, but no black note has a unique name.

It is because the whole musical system is working around the magic number 7. There are 7 notes in a diatonic scale. Humans have been singing seven notes scales for thousands of years.

But the piano ( and the modern musical tuning system since 1700 ) is working around the system of 12, from which you choose 7 to make a particular scale. It is this whole problem of attempting to represent everything from the basis of 7 that is causing the problem. if you simply start from scratch with a basis of 12 (as I am doing) the problem evaporates and the complexity dissolves.

Go back to the first example.
C Major: C D E F G A B
G Major: G A B C D E F#

Now why are we giving the idea that there is something 'unnatural' in the key of G? Look, the last note is ' sharpened '. But there is nothing sharp about this key. It is only sharp if you are contrasting it with the C Major scale. Yes, then it is significantly higher than the F in C Major. About half a tone. Revolving around the tonal centre of G is no less beautiful than revolving around the tonal centre of C. This system represents every key with respect to C Major; the further removed the tonal centre is from C Major, the more botching is required. ) This is doomed to failure.

2) The great Sol-Fa argument

If you have watched ' the sound of music ', you will remember Maria teaching the children 'Do Re Mi' (here).

Now this system is terrible. Since it is a vocal expression of an existing conceptual system, and this conceptual system is based on C D E F G A B, Sol-Fa also uses only seven elements: Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti.
  • Absolute SolFa
    In some countries (Do = C, Re = D, Mi = E etc)

  • Relative SolFa
    In others Do always represents the { first note of the scale / keynote / tonal centre / tonic }, Re always represents the { second note of the scale / super tonic } etc.

And both sides have been arguing against one another for hundreds of years.

Both of these are retarded. Both are inadequate. For a start, what happens if you are playing using absolute SolFa, and you want to hit a Bb, because you want to modulate from C -> F ( the key of F Major has a Bb). There isn't any standard. So what do you sing? 'Ti-flat'? Let's go further, let's say you want to sing a melody in the key of Gb minor. Try it. You will have to sing 'Ti-double-flat'. It leads to a complete nonsense, for anything beyond utterly basic melodies in the scale of C Major. Useless!

Now look at relative Sol-Fa. Again, there is no mechanism for handling accidentals. You run into exactly the same problem. But at least you can sing in any key. But consequently you lose something: the absolute Sol-fa fans will remind you that they are actually learning an identifier for each note. 'Do' is always going to represent approximately the same pitch. So this method could help develop perfect pitch.

Toneme System handles BOTH absolute AND relative together, and encompasses 12 tones, not 7. So it is completely capable of expressing any melody line.


The interval between C and G is considered to be a ' perfect fifth ', which is 7 semitones.
The interval between C and E is considered to be a ' major third ', which is 4 semitones.
In Toneme System, the interval will simply be denoted by the Toneme-Gap (ie number of semitones). Much simpler.

Comparison of the existing musical system versus Toneme System

The existing current musical system:

  • starts with a basis of seven notes ( its basis is the C major scale )
  • the further you move the tonal centre from C, the more ugly the conceptualisation, (hence notation) becomes
  • infinitely many notes get generated the further the music modulates from the established tonal centre
  • total disparity with the piano keyboard, the guitar fretboard and any modern fixed pitch instrument -- it doesn't even provide unique names for the five 'black notes'
  • distinguishes between F# and Gb, yet fails to distinguish between 'D' in C Major and 'D in G Major', this must be inferred
  • Basic unit is the tone, which divides into a semitone
  • Sung form (Sol-Fa) is based on 7 notes, divided between countries ( absolute vs relative ), making no provision for accidentals

Toneme System:

  • is based on the 12 tonemes -- it is not based on any particular key, all of the keys are symmetrically arranged on the circumference of a circle with an empty centre, so eg Gb Major will be just as cleanly conceptualised (hence represented) as C Major
  • is completely contained within these 12 notes, no more notes get generated
  • is completely in accord with fixed pitch instruments, providing a unique label for every note
  • makes no attempt to distinguish between [ F# and Gb ] or [ 'D' in C Major and 'D in G Major' ] -- it is consistent between all keys! it is up to the skill of the musician playing a non-fixed pitch instrument to produce the desired note.
  • Basic unit is the Toneme Interval, which corresponds to a semitone
  • Sung form is based on 12 absolute pitch values ( consonant sound ) + 12 relative-to-tonal-center indicators. that is 24 symbols. it dissolves all of the problems inherent in both Sol-Fa systems