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A cluster is a range of simultaneously sounding pitches that may change over time. The set of available pitches to apply usually depends on the acoustic source. Thus, in piano music, a cluster typically consists of a continuous range of the semitones as provided by the piano's fixed set of a chromatic scale. In choral music, each singer of the choir typically may sing an arbitrary pitch within the cluster's range that is not bound to any diatonic, chromatic or other scale. In electronic music, a cluster (theoretically) may even cover a continuous range of pitches, thus resulting in colored noise, such as pink noise.

Clusters can be denoted in the context of ordinary staff notation by engraving simple geometrical shapes that replace ordinary notation of notes. Ordinary notes as musical events specify starting time and duration of pitches; however, the duration of a note is expressed by the shape of the note head rather than by the horizontal graphical extent of the note symbol. In contrast, the shape of a cluster geometrically describes the development of a range of pitches (vertical extent) over time (horizontal extent). Still, the geometrical shape of a cluster covers the area in which any single pitch contained in the cluster would be notated as an ordinary note.




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