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
  • 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



    14-1. Because of these successful international agreements and also because of continuing work on the development of data bases with listings of transcriptions prepared in different countries, the following general points may be helpful as the use of braille music also becomes more international.

    A. Preliminary Pages

    14-2. Whether or not a country follows the agreement not to use contractions in literary braille, it is extremely important to have no contractions on the title page and on note pages. This applies to the name and address of the organization where the music might be obtained as well as to the title of the composition and the composer. Notes about national signs and special signs must be uncontracted.

    14-3. If an I.S.B.N. number appears in print, it is very useful to librarians internationally. It is suggested that I.S.B.N. numbers be included on all braille title pages.

    14-4. A note page or section should include:

    A. Any signs not listed in this manual.
    B. National signs for plus, minus, oblique stroke, italics, etc. if used in the transcription.
    C. Signs for accented letters.
    D. Descriptions of editorial markings, print indications such as arabic or roman numerals to mark position signs in string music, indications such as arrows or other unusual visual aids in print. These items are essential for blind teachers working with sighted students.

    B. General Features on Music Pages

    Prefix for music; music parentheses
    Prefix for literary material such as vocal text,
    instructions, or other literary information
    Coincidence of notes in more than one part
    Hyphen for unfinished measure
    Prefix for print pagination or print page turn
    Prefix for editorial markings
    Music asterisk
    Equals sign in a metronome marking

    14-5. The prefix indicates a line or section of music. It is used in different ways in different countries. Within a sentence it indicates a return to the music code. When it is within a line or section of music it indicates parentheses (round brackets). In that case, the sign precedes and follows notes, fingering or other features that are parenthesized in print.

    14-6. In several countries, the prefix precedes every line or section of vocal text to distinguish between literary and music code. See Example 16-7. It is also used to indicate literary material in other settings.

    14-7. When the sign appears within a measure of keyboard or instrumental music, it will be found in more than one part. In that setting, it indicates a coincidence of notes in two or more parts. Example 15-13 illustrates its use in keyboard music, but the coincidence sign is useful in any type of ensemble, i.e., it can be used to coordinate a vocalistŐs note(s) in a modern ensemble piece.

    14-8. When dot 5 is followed by a space it acts as a hyphen to indicate that the measure is unfinished. It is used at the end of a braille line, before a break in a measure for the insertion of text, and also at the end of a double bar in an unfinished measure that will be completed later as the piece continues.

    14-9. The prefix indicates a print page turn. This may be used by itself or may be followed by the print page number. It will be found in different locations, i.e., at the beginning of a section of music, in any corner of the page of music, in the midst of the music itself, or centered in any margin of the page. Fortunately, most countries realize the value of including a reference to the print page numbers.

    14-10. Both print and braille page numbers can be included at the beginning of a section or other location by using a combination of upper- and lower-cell numbers such as the following indication for page 13 in braille and page 10 in print. The order may also be reversed (print page first), and that order will remain constant throughout a publication.

    14-11. Other uses for upper- and lower-cell number combinations include page number with staff number, section number with measure number, section number with staff number, etc.

    14-12. An unfinished measure at the beginning of a piece or movement is numbered 0, zero. Measure numbers are followed by dot 3 if they come before the concluding part of an unfinished measure in the body of a piece. The numbers may appear in upper- or lower-cell position. The following indicates the section of a piece beginning with the anacrusis to measure 16 and ending in measure 32.

    14-13. In keyboard music written bar-over-bar, measure numbers appear in the margin and are not preceded by number signs. The one number applies to all staves in that system, i.e., right hand, left hand, pedals. When an additional number (with no number sign) appears one cell before the left hand prefix, this indicates the system number on the print page. Example 14-13 shows the beginning of measure 16 at the beginning of the third staff on the print page.

    Example 14-13.

    14-14. The inclusion of system numbers is an additional help to teachers of sighted students. They are often included in section headings, and many pieces are transcribed with one section of braille for each print system.

    14-15. The sign precedes a musical feature added by the editor rather than the composer. A common editorial marking consists of writing slurs with dotted lines as shown in Example 6-10. Other examples of editorial markings are shown below where the crescendo and decrescendo are printed with dashed lines to indicate that they are editorial. In braille, each is preceded by the sign for an editorial marking. The ritard is also editorial, but it is printed in parentheses, so it is brailled as a word in parentheses.

    Example 14-15.

    14-16. The international sign for an asterisk in music is >59 . This sign precedes the music to be referenced, and it is repeated at the beginning of the footnote. See Example 8-9.

    14-17. The international code for metronome markings uses dots 2-3-5-6 to represent the print equals sign and the note C to show note values. Any words included with the metronome marking must be included in braille. Example 14-17 shows several representative metronome markings including (c) which usually occurs between sections of music along with a change of meter.

    Example 14-17.

    (b) CIRCA

    14-18. A tempo or mood indication at the beginning of a piece or at the beginning of individual parts is followed by a period unless it is the only item on a braille line. The general order of initial items is mood, metronome marking, key and time signature.

    14-19. Information at the end of a piece such as time of performance should be brailled with whatever abbreviations are used in print, i.e., "6 min. 30 sec." If symbols, rather than words or abbreviations, appear in print, the appropriate signs are used in braille.

    Example 14-19.

    Developed by
    Shodor logoThe Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.

    Copyright © 1999 the
    North Carolina Central University
    and the Governor Morehead School for the Blind

    Copyright © 1999 The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.