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


    XVIII. WIND AND PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS (Table 18) A. Wind Instruments 18-1. Wind instruments make use of all the standard signs including others that have special meaning for winds. Signs from Table 18 A.

    Letter O over or under the note
    Plus sign over or under the note

    Signs from Table 16C.

    Half breath
    Plus sign over or under the note

    18-2. The letter O signifies an open sound and often indicates for the player to remove a mute or adjust for a non-muted sound. This sign generally follows the note.

    18-3. The plus sign usually indicates the place where a mute is to be added or a muted sound used. This sign may be found either preceding or following the note in transcriptions from different countries.

    18-4. Breath symbols consist of commas, double slanted lines, and various other kinds of print marks. In some publications a comma indicates a full breath and in other publications it indicates a half breath. The same is true for the other symbols. The transcriber should determine the intended meaning, if possible, and include a transcriber's note describing the shape of the print symbol(s) with their braille representations.

    18-5. Breath signs are placed where they occur, and an octave sign is not required for the next note.

    Example 18-5. (Solo Tuba) 18-6. Parts for transposing instruments are brailled using the pitches that appear on the print page. When this happens in an ensemble or with keyboard accompaniment, each part may have a different key signature. The key signatures should appear at the beginning of each parallel or section.

    Example 18-6.

    18-7. When two-note chords appear in music for winds, interval signs or in-accords may be used, according to national preference.

    18-8. Directions such as "solo" should be included as in print.

    18-9. Accompaniments are brailled separately, and they usually include an outline of the solo part as shown below or a duplication of the solo part as in Example 18-6. Both examples are the same in print.

    Example 18-9.

    18-10. For unusual modern notation, see Section XIII, Modern Notation, as necessary. Example 18-10 is from a modern piece, but the tremolo repetition in thirty-second notes is standard notation. It indicates flutter tonguing to the performer. Use standard notation wherever possible.

    Example 18-10.

    (no time signature)

    B. Percussion

    18-11. For melodic percussion instruments such as bells, xylophone, and harp, standard braille music notation is used. 18-12. For non-melodic percussion instruments, music is usually printed in one of two ways described below. A note should be included giving details of the print presentation including the number of lines used for the percussion “staff”.

    (1) A 5-line staff is printed with notes to represent the instruments to be played by one player. Each different note represents a different instrument; the notes are arranged melodically or in chords depending upon whether the player will be "hitting" one or more devices at the same time.

    (2) Notes for each instrument are not written on a 5-line staff. Time signatures and note values are provided, but the notes are written along a single horizontal line, or, in some cases, two or three horizontal lines.

    18-13. The 5-line staff for non-melodic percussion instruments has a time signature, note values, dynamics, and other details of performance. It does not usually have a normal clef sign. For braille transcription, notes are transcribed as if they are in the F clef. All other performance details are transcribed in the standard way. In-accords or intervals are used and intervals are doubled normally. Example 18-13 is from a solo for two tom-toms.

    Example 18-13.

    Signs from Table 18 B.

    Left hand
    Right hand

    18-14. In print, letters such as R and L are commonly used to indicate the use of the right or left hand. In braille, the percussion hand signs follow the notes and are treated like finger signs. Example 18-14 is from an exercise book for snare drum. Example 18-14.

    18-15. Indications for changing instruments, sticks, brushes, etc. are included as printed when words are used. If drawings or symbols are provided instead of words, there are two possibilities. Special signs may be devised or short abbreviations used, such as "hs" for hard stick. A transcriber's note should explain the signs or abbreviations at the beginning of the piece.

    18-16. Example 18-16 is a fragment of music for two cymbals played in a variety of ways. The fact that the notes are X-shaped is noted in the list of instruments and does not have to be repeated in the music. All of the other symbols are pictorial in print. In this example, the “slur into nowhere”, ;C, means that the tone from the cymbal is allowed to continue to ring.

    Example 18-16.










    18-17. Percussionists speak of "flams", "rolls" and use other terminology that differs from keyboard music, but the notation on the print page is followed as if it is keyboard music. Example 18-17, a drum solo, has a flam (short appoggiatura) and rolls (repetition as 16th and 32nd notes). This type of percussion music can be found either on a staff or on a single print line.

    Example 18-17.

    18-18. When there is a print explanation showing which notes are assigned to which instruments, this must be included and may be transcribed as shown in Example 18-18. When several parts appear on one staff, they are played by one performer and are transcribed with chords or in-accords. When they appear on individual staves, as below, they are transcribed separately.

    Example 18-18.

    18-19. When the notes appear on a single line, a single note name is provided for the notes with their time values. The note C is commonly used, the note D is sometimes used, and, as below, other notes may be selected.

    18-20. In Example 18-20, printed on a single line, the direction of stems indicates different instruments. The notes for small drum all have stems that go down; the notes for triangle all have stems that go up. The instruments are identified at the beginning and stems become the identifiers for the rest of the piece in print.

    In braille, a note is assigned for the drum and a different note is assigned for the triangle.

    Example 18-20.

    =_]= SMALL DRUM


    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.