preliminary proposal: New Unicode characters for Arabic music half-flat and half-sharp

Hans Aberg haberg-1 at
Mon Mar 30 18:28:09 CDT 2015

> On 31 Mar 2015, at 00:48, Johnny Farraj <johnnyfarraj at> wrote:
> That's a good point. I was thinking in the confines of equal temperament.

The basis for music from Middle Ages, from West down to Persia at least, is the Pythagorean tuning. Then in Western art music, CPP (Common Practise Period), one adds 5-limit Just Intonation, whereas in Turkish, Arab and Persian music, one adds a microtonal interval.

The equal temperament E12 is a Pythagorean tuning approximation: if one computes continued fractions of log_2 3/2, to find approximations of the pure 5th 3/2 in equal temperaments, one gets the convergents 7/12, 24/41, 31/53, 179/306, …

Here, the 7/12 is the pure 5th on note 7 in E12. The 31/53, the pure 5th on note 31 in E53, is used in the AEU (Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek) description of Turkish music. It very close to the Pythagorean tuning - going higher up in ETs is not much of a point.

>> On Mar 30, 2015, at 6:06 PM, "Doug Ewell" <doug at> wrote:
>> Johnny Farraj <johnnyfarraj at yahoo dot com> wrote:
>>> The Arabic half-flat and half-sharp symbols do not mean exact
>>> quartertones, but that's understood by Arabic music performers as the
>>> exact intonation is then learned by ear. That fact does not make them
>>> impractical to use, as they are used extensively in Arabic music
>>> notation.
>> This is true for Western (European) music notation as well. Nothing
>> about the classical written notation indicates which tuning system is to
>> be used -- equal, just, Pythagorean, etc. -- and for many pieces the
>> choice is left to the performer, but the notation is equally valid for
>> all.

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