Kite's color notation

Kite's color notation

The following is excerpted from Kite's forthcoming book, "Alternative Tunings: Theory, Notation and Practice", available at

Color notation provides a way to talk about ratios without using numbers, making microtonal music more accessible to people who aren't mathematically inclined. It's designed for just intonation, but like sagittal notation, it can be expanded to cover temperaments. Also, even those who never use JI still generally talk about ratios quite a bit, and this notation can be a useful tool. For example, temperaments can be named after the color of the comma(s) that are tempered out.


White = 3-limit, yellow = major, green = minor, blue = subminor, red = supermajor. The lattice looks like this:

Notes are named wC, bE♭, etc. Triads are named after their 3rd: Cy, Gb, etc. A y chord is a major chord.

Tetrads are named Cyy, Dgr, etc. The last letter refers to either a maj 6th or a min 7th, unless otherwise specified. Here's the main 7-limit chord types:

Chord progressions: the root of each chord has a color. C -- Am -- F -- G would be wCy -- yAg -- wFy -- wGy. The I, IV and V chords are assumed to have white roots unless otherwise specified, so Cy -- yAg -- Fy -- Gy. Here's Iyb -- IVyb -- Iyb -- Vyb in B flat:
Notation example 1.png


7-limit interval names

Note names

Chord names

Chord progressions, scales, keys and modulations

Staff notation

Paradoxical intervals

Higher primes