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


    (Table 13)

    A. Piano

    1. Organization and Use of Hand Signs

    Signs from Table 15 A.

    Right hand part
    Left hand part
    Solo part to be accompanied
    Right hand part when intervals read up
    Left hand part when intervals read down

    15-1. The signs in Chapter XV apply to music for keyed instruments such as harpsichord and clavichord in addition to piano. They also apply to electronic instruments with keyboards.

    15-2. Hand or part signs are placed before the first sign of the passage to which they apply.

    15-3. Hand or part signs must be followed by dot 3 if they are immediately followed by a sign containing dots 1, 2, or 3.

    Example 15-3.

    15-4. The first note following a sign from Table 15 A must have an octave mark.

    15-5. Keyboard accompaniments include an outline or a duplication of the solo part using the prefix .

    15-6. When accompaniment or orchestral-reduction keyboard parts include annotations about instrumentation, the words are brailled as printed.

    15-7. Passages played with alternating hands should, whenever possible, be written continuously in the part assigned to one hand. It is not always easy to decide which hand is the better for such a passage, but the general layout of the music is the best guide.

    Example 15-7.

    15-8. When a passage divided between the hands contains all the music, it is placed in one hand part as in Example 15-11.

    15-9. The abbreviation "sim" may be added when the pattern of alternating hands is continued in exactly the same form. Dot 5 should precede any added abbreviation, i.e., .

    15-10. A change of clef sign within a part does not affect the direction for reading intervals in that part.

    Example 15-10.

    15-11. When it is desirable to change the direction for reading intervals, use the hand signs indicating a left hand part with intervals reading down or a right hand part with intervals reading up. Examples 12-33 to 12-35 show these hand signs in theory textbooks, and the example below shows the use of the right hand sign in a portion of an extended piano passage.

    Example 15-11.

    15-12. When occasional notes require in-accords, care must be taken to mark clearly the hand to which such notes are assigned.

    Example 15-12.

    15-13. In florid music of Chopin and other composers, it is sometimes necessary to use the coincidence notes sign in each part.

    Example 15-13.

    (a) (in bar-over-bar)

    (b) (in section-by-section)

    Signs from Table 2.

    G clef in the left hand part F clef in the right hand part

    15-14. When clef signs are included for blind teachers of sighted students, modified clef signs are used to indicate that one hand part is printed in the staff allotted to the other. The direction in which intervals and in-accords are read or used is unaffected by these special clef signs.

    Example 15-14. 2. Piano Pedalling Signs from Table 15 A. Ped. or other indication for pedal down Star or other indication for pedal up Star and Ped. under one note Half-pedal Pedal up as soon as chord is struck

    15-15. Pedal indications such as the print star and "ped." are placed where they occur in print. They are usually transcribed into the left hand part unless the notes of the right hand part provide the clarity needed to place them accurately. It is advisable to treat the pedal depression and release as a pair, if possible, placing them both in the same hand part.

    15-16. Directions such as "con ped." should be transcribed according to the exact wording, and when "ped." is not followed by a star, it is better to write that abbreviation with the word sign.

    15-17. When the indications for pedal down, half-pedalling or the combination of a star and pedal are placed directly under a note or rest in print, they are transcribed before the note or rest indicated.

    15-18. The sign for pedal up follows the note, interval or rest. In Example 15-18 the pedal is held through a long rest; in Example 15-19 the pedal is released before the rest.

    Example 15-18.

    15-19. When the star appears under one note or chord and “ped.” is under the next, the sign for pedal up is not included.

    Example 15-19.

    15-20. When both the star and the “ped.” are printed under the same note, the sign is used.

    Example 15-20.

    15-21. Half-pedalling is indicated in print in a variety of ways. It usually involves a horizontal line that is bent in some way or arranged with an inverted V where the half-pedalling should occur. In Example 15-21, placing the sign for half-pedalling in the in-accord clarifies its position in print.

    Example 15-21.

    15-22. The sign for pedal up immediately is used when there is a visual clue that the pedal should not remain through the entire note. Example 15-22 is in 3/4 time. In the first measure the star is placed directly under the E-sharp in the left hand to indicate immediate release of the pedal. In the second measure, the star is placed slightly after the first beat, so the normal pedal release is used in braille.

    Example 15-22.

    15-23. Repeats may be used with pedalling as long as the meaning is very clear.

    Example 15-23.

    15-24. In Example 15-24, a repeat sign would indicate incorrectly that the pedal is lifted and depressed before the fourth beat. No repeat should be used in this type of situation.

    Example 15-24.

    15-25. If the pedal is only used during part of the repeated passage and the repetition is exact, the repeat sign includes the pedalling.

    Example 15-25.

    B. Organ

    15-26. The signs for right and left hand parts as well as the information in Paragraphs 15-1 through 15-14 also apply to the right and left hand parts of organ music.

    1. Organ Pedals

    Signs from Table 15 B.

    Organ pedal part Start of passage when pedal and left hand parts are written on same print staff Return to left hand only; pedal drops out Left toe (wedge ^ beneath a note) Left heel (u or o beneath a note) Right toe (wedge ^ above a note) Right heel (u or o above a note) Between foot signs, change of pedalling on one note Change without indication of toe or heel Foot crosses in front (dash _ above toe or heel sign) Foot crosses behind (dash _ beneath toe or heel sign)

    15-27. When a pedal part for organ is printed on a separate staff, it is transcribed as a separate braille part beginning with the prefix shown above. When the pedal part is written in the same print staff as the left hand part, the prefixes for organ pedal and left hand are combined as shown in Example 15-27. This combined prefix is used only where such a passage starts. Succeeding measures or sections carry the normal prefix for a left hand part.

    Example 15-27.

    15-28. When the pedal drops out, the prefix appears only once to confirm that fact. If it is clear from the music itself that the pedals are no longer in use, that prefix is not necessary. If the pedal returns, the combined prefix is used again. If there was no pedal part in the third measure of example 15-27, the braille would appear as follows.

    Example 15-28.

    15-29. When the pointed print symbols for toe and the rounded heel signs are placed under the staff, they indicate the use of the left foot. When these identical symbols are placed above the staff, they indicate the use of the right foot. In braille, these signs follow the notes or intervals and are treated like fingering signs.

    15-30. Horizontal lines above or below foot symbols generally indicate crossing of the feet, but they may have other meanings in some organ publications. The signs for foot crossing are placed before the note.

    Example 15-30.

    15-31. Some print publications have symbols for using the inside or outside of the toe and/or the heel. This does not happen often enough to warrant specific international agreement for the diversity of print symbols individual authors may use, but Denmark* 1 has devised braille signs for these unusual pedal signs that may be used.

    2. Registration

    15-32. Care should be taken to include all indications for registration, use and change of manuals, information about stops, etc.

    15-33. The tabulation of the details of organ registration at the beginning of a piece or movement should duplicate the print as far as possible.

    15-34. Print signs for "foot", "plus" and "minus" are brailled according to the national code of the country. The American code is used in this edition.

    Example 15-34.

    Gt. 8 ft. sw. coupled Sw. Stopped diap., clarabella and gamba (or salicional) 8 ft. Ped. Bourdon 16 ft. and Bass flute 8 ft. Gt. to Ped.

    15-35. Major changes of registration that occur during a piece can be set out as above, but most changes are placed as word text in the braille music.

    Example 15-35.

    15-36. Changes that occur should be put in the parts with careful attention to placing them in either or both hand parts as well as the pedal. As in Example 15-36, an abbreviation is often placed between staves and printed only once. When registration applies to more than 1 staff, it should be written out in all relevant parts in the braille. The abbreviations or words used in print should be used in braille.

    Example 15-36.

    15-37. When more than one type of registration is included in print, it is also included in braille. For Example 15-37, a print diagram provides registration information for “Electronic Or Pipe Organ” and also for “Drawbar Organs”. The words and/or series of numbers are transcribed in standard literary code.

    Example 15-37.

    15-38. There are many possible variations for the presentation of registration. Electronic keyboards sometimes have stops that show pictures of instrument types. In the print registration below, the instruments are pictured; in braille they are named.

    Example 15-38.

    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.