Note names instead of frequency values in spectrum view

Request for an option to label the spectrum graph (in both the spectrogram track and the spectrogram plot) with the musical notes displayed (C#4, Gb2, A3, etc) instead of the frequency values, along with some degree of horizontal graph lines to aid with understanding of the information.

Rationale: For audio engineers, the current tools are very useful and important (this is also a field of mine), but for musicians, frequency values are less useful. Musicians operate in a wold of notes, based on divisions and multiplications of base frequencies. Whether extracting chords and melodies from a recording or self evaluation of a performance, musicians use Audacity (and similar products) differently from audio engineers. Other than multiples of A440, note frequencies are not nice, even, rememberable numbers (List, for discussion’s sake), and discovering melodic information visually is frustrating in a frequency-only display. It would be very useful, however, for spectrum graph information to be visible similarly to some spectrograph tuner apps commonly available (Like SoundAnalyzer or PitchLab).

It seems as though this should be simple, as it’s only a labelling/display change and not a major programming & mathematics challenge! :wink:

It also seems related to a request already on the Feature Request wiki page (Cents qualifier for pitch-class/octave (2 votes). For example 443 Hz displays as A4+12, meaning “12 cents sharp of A4 in equal temperament (A4 = 440 Hz)”.)

Thank you for your consideration.

You might want to try playing with Chris Cannam’s Vamp analysis plug-ins - they work a treat with Audacity.

See the foot of this page in the Manual:

This site should get you the downloads:
(I dowloaded the Queen Mary plugin set, halfway down the download page, when I needed to do some QA testing for an Audacity Vamp-related bug that we fixed a while back).

Here’s an example where I used Key Detector: Key…
Vamp output.jpg

Those look like some very helpful tools for my purposes, thank you!

However, they are not all-platform friendly, and I am having trouble getting them to load in Linux (even though they say the Queen Mary set is compatible… but that’s for another thread).

I think my initial feature request needs to stand, even if I can figure out how to make the Vamp plugins work.

I’ve added you “votes” to the Feature Request list: Missing features - Audacity Support

Thank you!

I’m not a Linuxer - but I can get that Queen Mary set working on my Windows PC and my Macbook Pro


I am also very interested by this feature. It would be very useful for musicians.

I’ve added your vote, but I suspect that it will be less useful than you think. At around 440Hz, a semitone is only about 15 Hz, so you would need to zoom in a very long way to be able to identify the note. Also, musical instruments typically have complex waveforms that can make it difficult to pick out the fundamental frequency.

Hi Steve,
I am thinking about guitar (or bass): open chords have generally their fundamental frequency on E, A and D strings: 82.4 Hz, 110 Hz and 146.8 Hz. And they can be clearly identified using Audacity (if there is not too many other instruments), using a 32768 window size for the spectrogram. But you are obliged to use a frequency/notes table for each note, because only the A frequency is easy to memorize.

Yes I can see it being useful in those kind of cases (which is why I’ve also logged my support for this feature).

I’d like to add my suggestion to this thread. I’ve been working on a spectrogram view that seems to reveal the notes in time sequence, but it would be great if the frequency scale would show the notes in addition (preferred) or instead of the frequencies.
musical spectrum.jpg
spectrogram settings.JPG

Sort of an old thread.
I tried Audacity with the Queen Mary plugin set, with the goal to identify notes, similar to what you have done.
But my result was terrible, it only picked 2 notes at the start of the file and nothing else after.
The piece of music is just a single instrument.

I’m looking for a way, with Audacity, to identify notes in folk tunes to learn to play them.
Looked at some pay program that’s well marketed (don’t want to name them) and it also didn’t really work.