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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
C. "Fan-shaped" Rhythmic Groups
Signs from Table 13 C.
Accelerando within rhythmic group
Ritardando within rhythmic group
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.