Clairnote: an Alternative Music Notation System
Clairnote is an alternative music notation system that makes music easier to read and learn. Each note of the chromatic scale is given its own vertical position on the staff, as shown in the image below. This provides the following advantages.
1. Key Signatures
It is not necessary to remember the key signature just to play the right notes. You simply play the notes as you see them on the Clairnote staff. There is no extra step of having to mentally process them first, according to one of fifteen different key signatures that you have to memorize and then constantly keep in mind as you play.
2. Accidental Signs
As with key signatures, reading accidental signs (sharps, flats, and naturals) is not required just to play the right note. Sharp, flat, and natural notes have their own distinct appearance on Clairnote ’s staff, so you simply play them as you see them, without having to mentally modify them first based on an accidental sign.
The representation of intervals is more precise, clear, and consistent. This makes it easy to read the interval relationships between notes and understand the basic patterns of music like scales and chords. Clearly seeing each interval that you play also helps with learning to improvise and play by ear, skills that typically involve playing by interval, or in other words, relative pitch. (See Scales and Intervals.)
The groups of two lines that make up the staff repeat at the octave, so notes one or more octaves apart always fall on “the same” line or space. This means that any given note always has the same consistent appearance on the staff regardless of its octave. This makes notes very easy to identify. (See octave illustration at the bottom of the intervals page.)
Since every octave on the staff has the same appearance, there is no need to learn to read in different clefs (i.e. bass and treble). Clairnote has alternative “clef” or register symbols that simply indicate the current octave or register of the staff. (See Clefs.)
- Clairnote uses a “chromatic staff,” a staff on which each of the notes of the chromatic scale has its own vertical position. Unlike on a traditional staff, the vertical distance between notes is always proportional to their difference in pitch — their interval. Chromatic staves can easily repeat with each octave (“cycle on the octave”) because they represent an even number of notes — the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. Traditional staves are based on the odd number of seven notes in the diatonic scale, and do not cycle on the octave. For example the note C may be on a line or a space, depending on its octave. Since Clairnote’s staff cycles on the octave, a given note always has the same appearence on the staff regardless of the staff’s octave register. (The advantages of various alternative notation systems that use a chromatic staff that cycles on the octave are covered in more detail by the Music Notation Project.) Return
- Clairnote has its own system of key signatures and accidental signs. These provide the same information that is conveyed in traditional notation. For example, they allow for the differentiation of enharmonically equivalent notes such as C sharp and D flat. They also indicate when a note is an accidental (i.e. not in the current key). The difference is that Clairnote’s key signatures and accidental signs are supplementary rather than integral or necessary to reading and playing music. Return