Clairnote music notation is an alternative music notation system designed and introduced by Paul Morris in December 2013. Clairnote makes music easier to read and learn while still conveying all of the same information conveyed by traditional notation.

Contact Information

Please contact us at the following email address with any questions or inquiries:

Frequently Asked Questions

Why use solid and hollow notes to help indicate pitch?

Clairnote uses solid and hollow note heads to help represent pitch. Solid notes represent one of the two whole tone scales and hollow notes represent the other. This alternating binary “6-6” pitch pattern makes it easy to identify notes and more importantly, to clearly see the intervals between them.

Why are the staff lines a major third apart?

The staff lines in Clairnote are spaced a major third apart, which is similar to traditional notation where lines are either a major or minor third apart. This is an optimal distance for making intervals clear, not too close or too far apart. If lines were closer together, say a whole step apart, then larger intervals would become harder to recognize since there would be a lot of lines between the notes. If lines were further apart you would face the opposite problem because there would not be enough lines between the notes to visually judge the distance between them. Having lines a major third apart provides an optimal distance between these two extremes, in addition to being similar to the distance between lines in traditional notation. Additionally, a major third is a multiple of a whole step (whole step = 2 semitones, major third = 4 semitones), so the staff aligns with the two whole tone scales and complements the 6-6 pattern found in the note heads.

Why use symbols from traditional notation?

Clairnote uses most of the same symbols that are used in traditional notation to maintain a helpful degree of continuity with it. The goal is to make it easier for musicians to learn and read both systems interchangeably. Traditional symbols for rests, time signatures, articulation marks, dynamics, ties, slurs, ornaments, and note names are all used in Clairnote and retain their standard meaning. Duration symbols such as flags, stems, and dotted notes, also have the same meaning as in traditional notation. The exception is that Clairnote uses solid and hollow note heads to help represent pitch more clearly, and so half notes are distinguished from quarter notes by having a double stem.

Why does Clairnote have its own key signatures, accidental signs, and clefs?

Clairnote has its own approach to key signatures, accidental signs (that are optional), and clefs. These provide the same information found in traditional notation, but in a clearer and more direct way. For instance, Clairnote ‘s key signatures and accidental signs distinguish between notes like G# and Ab (notes that are enharmonically equivalent in 12-tone equal temperament). Clef symbols in Clairnote only indicate the octave register of the staff. (They do not change which notes are represented by the lines and spaces of the staff, as in traditional notation.)

Is there an online forum or email listserv where I can discuss Clairnote?

There currently is no online discussion forum dedicated solely to Clairnote, but please join the Music Notation Project’s Google Group to discuss Clairnote or alternative music notation in general.

Is there a Clairnote email newsletter?

Instead of a newsletter we have a blog. Following the blog is the best way to stay informed of developments and news related to Clairnote. Two convenient ways to follow the blog are by email or by RSS feed using your favorite feed reader.

What is the copyright status of Clairnote music notation and the Clairnote website?

Clairnote music notation and except where otherwise noted the content of the Clairnote website are the work of Paul Morris and are copyright © 2013 Paul Morris. Both the Clairnote music notation and except where otherwise noted the content of the Clairnote website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by request.

Who gets credit for the Clairnote website?

The Clairnote website is proudly powered by WordPress, using a Twenty Twelve theme customized by Paul Morris. Illustrations of Clairnote were created using LilyPond and Inkscape. Home page AudioVisualizer drop down menu code adapted from this code courtesy of JavaScript-Array.com. Documentation for HTML, CSS, and Javascript provided by Mozilla Developer Network.