Braille slate



  • 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
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    (Table 13)

    13-1. Wherever possible, standard braille notation should be used in all kinds of music. When modern braille notation from this chapter is used, a transcriber's note of explanation should appear in the same volume.

    A. Notes with Unusual Shapes

    Signs from Table 13 A.

    Black note head with no stem

    X-shaped note head

    Vertical stems that designate quasi-notes

    Diamond or triangle-shaped note head

    End of a slanting line to designate approximate pitch (quasi-note)

    13-2. Print notation for modern music has not been standardized. A diamond-
    shaped note-head may indicate keys pressed silently on the piano,
    "breathy" notes on the flute or any number of other exotic things.
    Therefore, the braille notation indicates the shape of the note rather
    than its meaning. If a diamond-shaped note indicates an artificial
    harmonic in string music (par. 17-20 (b)), or if an X-shaped note in
    percussion music indicates a particular instrument (par. 18-16), the
    modern signs should not be used. The signs in this chapter are intended
    for unusual, modern print notation.

    13-3. These signs may be doubled by repeating the second character of the sign, i.e., is a series of black note heads.

    13-4. When no specific note value appears, the value of an eighth note is used as in Example 13-5.

    13-5. In Example 13-5, whole notes appear as well as black note heads.
    The whole notes do not receive the normal four beats of classical music.
    However, because the print symbols are identical to whole notes, the
    normal braille signs for whole notes are used. There is no key or time
    signature in this music for trombone; dotted bar lines are used (Table 1
    A) and normal expression marks.

    Example 13-5.

    13-6. Example 13-6 is for flute. There is no time signature. The first measure
    indicates flutter tonguing which is notated normally, as a repetition-type
    of tremolo. Measure three has diamond-shaped notes. Because of
    varying beats in each measure, grouping is not used for the 32nd notes,
    but the slurs accurately reflect the print grouping.

    Example 13-6.

    13-7. Example 13-7 from the same flute piece has X-shaped notes. According
    to the performance directions, these are "tapped-key” notes. All
    performance notes are, of course, included in transcriptions.

    Example 13-7.

    13-8. Example 13-8 has 20 stems obviously representing more than just the
    14 possible half steps between the beginning and ending notes. By
    including some enharmonic notes, the transcriber conveys the idea
    without specifying which quarter-tones to use. That is up to the
    performer. A note in the transcription should make it clear that pitches
    in braille, as well as the stem signs in the print, are only approximate.
    The slanted line across the beginning of the group is a modern way of
    indicating short appoggiaturas.

    Example 13-8.

    13-9. In Example 13-9 the end of the slanting line is indicated as a quasi-note,
    an approximate pitch. If a time value indication had been given, the length of the
    glissando could have been included as a value sign or with
    an indication in an in-accord part. This example includes a dotted bar
    line and clef signs. The small value sign precedes the 32nd notes in the
    absence of a time signature.

    Example 13-9.

    B. Tone Clusters

    Signs from Table 13 B.

    Tone cluster with natural sign

    Tone cluster with flat sign

    Tone cluster with sharp sign

    Tone cluster with no accidentals specified

    13-10. In print, a tone cluster is a thick bar or other shape placed between
    two notes of a chord to indicate that all the notes between must be
    played simultaneously. Sometimes one or more accidentals are
    included. In braille, the tone cluster is treated as a chord, so
    the appropriate sign is placed between the written note and its interval. The
    tone-cluster sign has 3 parts. Dots 4-5, ^, start the cluster followed by
    any printed accidentals; if there are none, dots 2-6, 5, is inserted. The
    sign ends with dots 1-2,

    13-11. A tone-cluster sign may be doubled by repeating the final character, i.e.,

    13-12. In the next example, each tone cluster is notated differently in print.
    In (a), an arrow with a point on both ends is printed next to the stem
    between D and its fifth below. The symbols for both a sharp and a
    natural are printed just to the left of the arrow, so both accidentals
    appear within the cluster sign in braille. In (b), stem signs on both sides
    of the two F’s join to surround both F’s and the space between. This
    indicates the cluster. No accidentals appear in print or in braille. In (c),
    a thick vertical bar connects the two notes to indicate the cluster. A
    sharp precedes the 2nd octave A, and a natural precedes the 3rd octave
    A. Therefore, those alterations are shown with the specific notes rather
    than within the cluster sign.

    Example 13-12.

    C. "Fan-shaped" Rhythmic Groups

    Signs from Table 13 C.

    Accelerando within rhythmic group Ritardando within rhythmic group Steady rhythm End of rhythmic group as shown in print

    13-13. When the ligatures or beams of a rhythmic group are fan-shaped
    rather than parallel, the notes of the group are to be executed as an
    accelerando or a ritardando. Standard note values are used, but the
    group is preceded by the sign for accelerando or ritardando and
    followed by the termination sign. If the ligatures start together and fan
    outward on succeeding notes, an accelerando is indicated. If the fan-
    shape is reversed, a ritardando is indicated.

    Example 13-13.

    13-14. When the fan-shape changes within a rhythmic group before the
    ligatures end, the signs above are used where the changes take place.
    The sign for a steady rhythm is used if the ligatures become parallel
    rather than fan-shaped within the print ligature. Example 13-14 is from
    music for Bayan. Between the first and last chords, the print has stems
    only, so the sign for vertical stems is used and doubled.

    Example 13-14.

    D. Other Signs

    Signs from Table 3 A & B.

    1/4 step alteration of pitch

    3/4 step alteration of pitch

    Time signature: 4 over quarter note

    Time signature: 3 over 8th note

    Signs from Table 10.

    Fermata with square shape

    Fermata with tent shape

    13-15. The signs in this section of the chapter are not restricted to modern
    music only. Although more commonly found in modern music, they
    should be used where ever the print signs are found.

    13-16. Altering a pitch by one-quarter step is not a modern invention. It is
    included here because it appears more commonly in modern than in
    standard music. The print signs vary. Arrows pointing up or down,
    numbers indicating specific microtones and other means are used. One
    of the more common symbols for a 1/4 step higher is a sharp with only
    one vertical line. For 3/4 tone higher, a sharp symbol with three vertical
    lines is used. In that print system, the symbol for 1/4 tone flat is a flat
    printed backwards. Fortunately, these are usually accompanied by
    footnotes or explanatory notes that must be included in the transcription
    as well as an indication of the braille signs being used. In Example 13-
    16, the print uses small arrows plus the footnote to explain the meaning
    of the arrows. Music for a blind teacher should also include a
    description of the type of print indication that appears.

    Example 13-16.

    13-17. Composers do not agree on the meaning of unusual fermata signs. The
    fermata with a “square” shape has been used as "a very long pause" and
    also as "a short pause" by different composers. The same is true of the
    fermata with the shape of a “tent” or an “umbrella”. Therefore, the
    shape, rather than the meaning, is included in braille. The initial sign for
    a fermata on a bar line, dots 4-5-6, or for a fermata between notes, dot 5,
    can be added to these signs as in the example below.

    Example 13-17.

    13-18. When a note appears in a time signature, it is preceded by dots 6, 3.
    The note C is used to represent the value shown in print. The first time
    signature below is 3 over a dotted 16th note. The next is 4 over a dotted
    16th. The music is from a solo for string bass.

    Example 13-18.

    13-19. Other unusual time signatures include two time signatures side-by-
    side and signatures with more than one upper number. Sometimes these
    numbers are separated by a space, sometimes by a plus sign and
    sometimes by a hyphen. In general, print is followed. When plus signs
    are involved, each nation uses its own sign. Example 13-19 gives two
    illustrations. In the first, two time signatures are together in print and in
    braille. The second time signature is 4 plus 2 plus 3 over 8.

    Example 13-19

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    Copyright © 1999 The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.