True story: J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, three trumpet parts in D and all three trumpet players playing on piccolo trumpets in a. A written c’’ is being discussed—the first trumpeter refers to it as the sounding pitch (d’’), the second as the written pitch (c’’), and the third as the note in relation to the key of the trumpet being played (f).
I can see referencing the note as either the written or the sounding pitch. Personally, I prefer the following conventions: for situations that involve transposition (orchestral and chamber music and Jazz combo music using the Real Book in C) I prefer to refer to the sounding pitch; for band and big band, I prefer referring to the written pitch. No real convention that I know of for this.
Regardless of the above, there are a number of conventions for designating pitches; I suggest we use the Musical Pitch Notation of Helmholtz with one variation. Helmholtz was one of the early acousticians, and his method is international. My variation is that rather than use the superscript i, iii, etc. we use ‘,’’’ etc. for notes from middle C and above. (Easier than using superscript.)
Using this method, c’ designates middle c, one note above is d’, etc. An octave above c’ is c’’ (C in the staff) and c’’’ for the C above the staff. c’’’’ is an octave above that. An octave below c’ is c (what we call “pedal C”), and octave below that is C. A B below middle C (c’) is b; a B below c is B, a B below C is BB (a C an octave below C is CC, but we don’t venture there too much). An alternative to using apostrophes would be to use numbers: c’ would be c1, c’’ would be c2, etc.
Adopting a convention for naming notes would save typing—it is easier to write b’’ (or b2) than “B below the C above the staff.” A convention such as Helmholtz’s eliminates the whole “high note, low note mentality, which can have some psychological benefit. An excellent source of music theory online can be found at Dolmetsch Online
I’m curious what conventions our members use.