braille music notation

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by EflatTenor, Oct 15, 2005.

  1. EflatTenor

    EflatTenor New Member

    After many years playing from hearing, I'd like to try braille. I searched a bit on the internet, but because most of the sites give examples with pictures, it left me no wiser then before. Is there anyone who uses braille to read music, or knows somebody who does? Is it possible (after a lot of practise of course) to play 'a prima vista' (maybe reading with your left and playing with your right hand)? How does the music notation work? (e.g. an letter 'a' for the note 'a'? And duration, dynamics?)

  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  3. RDH

    RDH New Member


    I hope I can explain you a little how the notation system works.

    I don’t know what program you use to read ordinary text, so I’ll write the numbers between brackets after the sign it is in text.

    The points one two four and five are used to represent the note. Unfortunately is the note a not in accordance with the letter a, eg the letter g (1,2,4,5) represents the note f. The other points, three and six represent the note value. I’ll use te letter g, note f to give examples.

    g (1,2,4,5) means note f, value quaver (8th) or 128th

    } (1,2,4,5,6) means note f, value crotchet (4th) or hemi-demi-semi-quaver (64th)

    Q (1,2,3,4,5) means note f, value semibreve (half) or demi-semi-quaver (32nd)

    = (1,2,3,4,5,6) means note f, value breve (whole) or semi-quaver (16th)

    It isn’t difficult to see whether it is eg a whole note or semi-quaver.

    At the beginning of a piece stands an octave mark, so you know in which octave you have to play. There are signs for bar lines, dynamics, ties, articulation etc.

    I think it is as difficult to learn as for sighted people to learn the music notation. It’s just practise, practise, practise. I think it isn’t possible to ‘sight read’ with braille, maybe just with hymn tunes, if you only have to play half notes, it simply isn’t possible to read that fast.

    I hope I helped you a bit and good luck!
  4. EflatTenor

    EflatTenor New Member

    Thank you for the information,
    two months later and I know most of the sign's, and, as RDH said, I can 'sight read' simple tunes.

    As this is a well-visited brassband-forum, I was wondering if there are other blind brassplayers. What experience do you have with playing in a band? Difficult? What do other, sigted, players think of us, blind hornblowers?
  5. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    You may already be a member but if not are you aware of the National Library for the Blind? They have the second largest collection of Braille music in the world and the largest outside the US. I know because my wife is the music librarian!

    Phone number is 0161 355 2045, email

    However they have very little Braille music for brass because there isn't much demand for it. They have loads of piano, organ, guitar music or you could borrow solo songs with piano accompaniment and transpose them. If you want a particular piece they don't transcribe music into braille but can put you in touch with someone who will - be warned it may not be cheap though.