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 10)

    10-1. Text and symbols are used to add expression to music. When words or abbreviations appear, they should be transcribed as text rather than substituting symbols. The braille should not contain contractions.

    10-2. Literary material is always preceded by a word sign, . This includes single letters, abbreviations, whole words and groups of words.

    10-3. Dynamics and abbreviations are preceded by the word sign and placed without any intervening spaces where they occur in the music. The first note following such nuances must have an octave mark.

    10-4. Dot 3 represents the period or dot following an abbreviation. Dynamics such as p or f are followed by dot 3 if the next sign contains dots 1, 2, or 3. If two dynamics follow each other, each must have its word sign, but dot 3 is not necessary between them unless it represents a period.


    10-5. The opening signs for crescendo or decrescendo when printed as diverging or converging lines are placed before the affected notes. The closing signs are placed after notes where termination occurs (and after all other signs normally following those notes). See Example 10-17.

    10-6. The ending signs should not be included if another dynamic follows immediately.

    10-7. For indications of one or two words, use a word sign before every word or abbreviation. Do not leave a space before or after a single word or a short group.

    Example 10-7.

    10-8. For longer literary indications, the word sign is placed before the first of the group of words and after the last. This is followed by a space, and the next note must have an octave mark.

    10-9. When longer literary expressions start within a measure, the measure is interrupted with a music hyphen followed by a space. It resumes after the space that follows the final word sign.

    Example 10-9.


    10-10. When there are no parentheses in print, there should be no parentheses in braille. When parentheses do occur, they follow the word sign in braille, i.e., (dolce).

    10-11. The signs in Table 10 are given common names, but other terms are used for the same print symbols, i.e., the dot may indicate spiccato; the short line may indicate louré or tenuto, etc. The descriptions in the parentheses are more dependable than the names.

    Signs from Table 10.

    Staccato (dot)
    Staccatissimo (pear-shaped dot)
    Mezzo-staccato (dot & line)
    Agogic accent (short line)
    Accent (horizontal "V" pointing to the right)
    Reversed accent (horizontal "V" pointing to the left)
    Martellato (thick "V")

    10-12. An octave mark is not required for the note following one of these articulations. When a nuance begins with a word sign, i.e. , , an octave mark is required for the next note.

    10-13. Expression marks represented by symbols that appear directly above or below notes in print are usually placed before the notes in braille. The exceptions are the fermata signs; they follow the note. Most of the signs may be doubled if they apply to four or more notes in succession. Music commas, fermatas and swells may not be doubled.

    10-14. Example 10-14 shows doubled staccatos with in-accords. These signs affect only the in-accords where they appear. In some formats doubling may continue from one measure to another if it continues in the same in-accord part.

    Example 10-14.

    10-15. When two or more signs are combined, an order similar to that in the next example is recommended:

    Example 10-15.

    More signs from Table 10.

    Beginning of first line of continuation
    End of first line of continuation
    Beginning of second line of continuation
    End of second line of continuation
    10-16. The next note following the beginning or ending of a line of continuation must have an octave mark.

    10-17. The next two examples illustrate a variety of dynamics as well as lines of continuation.

    Example 10-17.

    10-18. Dynamics and words of expression are generally placed in the right hand part of keyboard music unless they specifically apply to the left hand.

    10-19. When dynamics occur during the course of sustained notes, an in-accord is used in braille to reflect the changes accurately.

    Example 10-19.

    10-20. Repeats may be used with nuances if the change of nuance is clearly indicated.

    Example 10-20.

    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.