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 16)

    Signs from Table 16

    Syllabic slur
      Syllabic slur for first & second language
      Syllabic slur for third & fourth language
    Syllabic slur variation for single verses in one language
       Beginning and end pf phrase

    16-1. A vocal solo part is transcribed like an instrumental part except for the transcription of slurs and accommodations for the vocal text.

    16-2. Lines or sections of word text are alternated with lines or sections of the corresponding music for that text. Text parts are identified with the prefix ;2, the first initial of the voice, or by placement on the braille page.

    16-3. Music parts are identified with the prefix ,', the initial of the voice part, or by placement on the braille page. If intervals appear in the music, a note should be included to indicate the direction for reading the intervals.

    16-4. In some countries text is written before music; in other countries music precedes text. Examples in this chapter reflect some of the different possibilities for presenting vocal music in braille.

    16-5. It is helpful to add directions such as "rit.", "accel.", and "a tempo", to the braille vocal part if they appear only in the accompaniment of the print copy.

    16-6. Music and its text are not vertically aligned as in print. Therefore, the correlation of syllables and notes must be made very clear using the signs illustrated in Examples 16-7 to 16-10.

    16-7. The slur C between notes indicates that one syllable of text is sung on those two notes. The sign is doubled if one syllable continues for more than four notes. The signs ;B and ^2 are reserved for phrases; they are not used for the correlation of syllables with notes.

    Example 16-7.

    16-8. When two or three syllables or vowels are merged on one note, the sign B or L is placed after the note affected. In the word text, the syllables or vowels to be merged are enclosed between the signs 8 and 0 .

    Example 16-8.

    16-9. When songs are printed in two or more languages, the number of syllables in a measure may vary between the different texts. Slur signs followed by “finger” signs are used to indicate to which language they apply. In the third measure of Example 16-9, the first slur applies to both languages; the second slur applies only to the second language.

    Example 16-9.

    16-10. When there is a difference in syllables in a melodic repetition of one verse or between two verses of the same language, the slur _C indicates that the slur applies to one set of words only.

    Example 16-10.

    16-11. Breath signs are placed where they occur, and an octave sign is not required for the next note. Printed breath symbols vary in shape, and the symbol used by one composer for a half breath may be used for a full breath by another composer or music publisher. When it is not clear whether a half or full breath is intended, a transcriber's note should be included describing the shape of the print symbols with their braille representations. Example 16-11, in print only, shows the common symbols used in print for either a half or full breath.

    Example 16-11.

    16-12. Except for printed repeats in the music, the only braille repeats advised are the measure repeat for short measures and the braille segno (for very long and obvious repeats such as the final repetition of an aria after the middle section).

    16-13. Words or phrases of the text are repeated by using the sign, 9 , placed before and after with no intervening space. If the repetition is to occur twice (to be sung three times), the sign is doubled either before or after (not both). If more than twice, a number is combined with that sign. The number shows the repetitions. Example 16-13 in braille only, shows both ways of marking "Amen" when it is to be sung six times.

    Example 16-13.

    #E9,AMEN9 (or) 9,AMEN9#E 16-14. Temporary divisi parts or alternative notes are written as intervals or as in-accords. If written in small print, the small-type sign, ,5 (Table 1 A), must be used.

    16-15. A separate indication of vocal range should be brailled as printed.

    Example 16-15.

    16-16. Hyphens printed between syllables for vertical alignment with notes are not included in braille.

    16-17. When tenor parts are printed in the G clef an octave above actual pitch, they are generally transcribed in braille at the actual pitch to be sung.

    16-18. A vocal ensemble or choral score is a logical extension of the format in use for solo music with lines or sections of music for each voice part. When the text is the same for all parts, it is given only once; when text varies, it appears separately for each voice.

    16-19. Keyboard accompaniments do not appear as a part in a choral score. They are transcribed separately and usually include an outline of the important themes, voice entrances, or other features of the ensemble. Instrumental accompaniments have their own score, including piano if used, also with an outline of the vocal music.

    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.