New International Manual
of Braille Music Notation



  • Preface
  • Compiler's Notes

  • Purpose and General Principles
  • Basic Signs
  • Clefs
  • Accidentals
  • Rhythmic Groups
  • Chords
  • Slurs and Ties
  • Tremelos
  • Fingering
  • Bar Lines and Repeats
  • Nuances
  • Ornaments
  • Theory
  • Modern Notation

  • General Organization
  • Keyentals/index.html">Accidentals, Key & Time Signatures
  • Rhythmic Groups
  • Chords
  • Slurs and Ties
  • Tremelos
  • Fingering
  • Bar Lines and Repeats
  • Nuances
  • Ornaments
  • Theory
  • Modern Notation

  • General Organization
  • Keyboard Music
  • Vocal Music
  • String Instruments
  • Wind and Percussion Instruments
  • Accordian
  • Instrumental Scores

  • Authorities for this work
  • National Signs of 16 Countries
  • Index of Signs in Standard Braille Order
  • Tables of Signs

    Other Resources
  • Contact instructor
  • Send mail to class
  • Main BRL page
  • Contractions Lookup
  • Contractions List
  • Intro Braille course
  • Transcribers course
  • Specialized Codes course



    1-1. The characters for the notes are formed from dots 1, 2, 4, & 5. The absence or presence of dots 3 and/or 6 determines the note values. Each note or rest has two value possibilities.

    Signs from Table 1 A.
    C D E F G A B Rest Type
    Wholes or 16ths
    Halves or 32nds
    Quarters or 64ths
    8ths or 128ths

    Prefix for 256th notes, i.e., (etc.)

    Distinction of values

    Separation of rhythmic groups

    Larger values; 8ths and larger

    Smaller values; 16ths and smaller

    Brevis, i.e., (etc.)

    Brevis rest

    1-2. For dotted notes, dot 3 represents each print dot following a note. It is placed immediately after the braille note. No other sign comes between the note and its dot(s). Dotted rests are treated the same as dotted notes.Esample 1-2 is in four-four time. The measure ends with a double bar sign: .

    Example 1-2

    1-3. The sign for 256th notes is used as a prefix and is followed by 16th notes or rests. When a note or rest of different value intervenes, the prefix is repeated before the next 256th note.

    1-4. When the value of a note is not apparent form the number of notes and rests in the measure, the general sign for distinction of values or specific signs for small and large value are used. Example 1-4 is in four-four time;a space is a bar line. In (a), the distinction of value sign is placed between a half note and the four 32nd notes that follow it. In (b) the specific sign for smaller value is used.

    Example 1-4.

    1-5. One of the uses for the smaller value sign ocurs when it is not clear whether the first note of a piece has a smaller or larger value. Example 1-5 begins with an anacrusis to the four-four measures.

    Example 1-5

    1-6. Large and small value signs are expecialy useful in cadenzas. They should be used when ever a combination such as half notes and 32nd notes occur either in a cadenza or a passage of measured music.

    Example 1-6

    1-7. THe whole rest is used for a complete measure of rest in any time value. For two or three consecutive measures of rest, use form (a) below. For four or more measures of rest, use form (b). j when the square (brevis) rest appears in print, use form (c).

    Example 1-7

    B. Octave Marks

    1-8. Octave marks, rather than clefs on a staff, indicate specific pitch locations in braille music. Octaves are numbered from one to seven, beginning with the lowest C on the normal, seen-octave piano. Each octave begins on C and includes all the notes up to, but not including, the next C above. THe fourth octave begins on the "middle C" of the piano. (Because of the number of "signs" in this manual, the origional term, "mark", is used for the many references to octave marks throughout the manual.)

    1-9. The octave mark is placed immediately before the note to which it applies with no intervening signs. Example 1-9 shows the octave marks from 1 to 7 placed before quarter-note C.

    Example 1-9.

    1-10. The first note of a piece must be preceded by its octave mark. For the succeeding notes the following rules apply:

    (a) if the next note forms an ascending or descending second or third, it does not recieve an octave mark even if it is in a different octave.

    (b) if it forms an ascending or descending fourth or fifth, it only recieves an octave mark if it is in a different octave from the preceding note.

    (c) if it forms a sixth or more, it must always have its own octave mark.

    1-11. These rules are illustrated in the following example from the "Cologne Key" of 1888.

    Example 1-11.

    1-12. The example aboce contains a time signaature on the first line cosisting of a number 4 in normal cell-position followed by a number 4 in lower-cell position to represent 4/4 time. Each measure of four beats is separated by a space, representing the print bar-line.

    1-13. When the print contains "8va" and "loco" the first note of the "8va" (or "eba") should receive two octave marks, the marks, the first showing its position on the print staff and the second showing its actual sound. Any octave marks necessary during the passage must show the actual sound. The first note after the end of the passage is given a double octave mark to show that its position os the staff corresponds to its actual sound. Example 1-13 illustrates this technique for transcribing "8va" and "loco".

    Example 1-13

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