Clairnote and Clairnote SN

There are two different “flavors” or variants of Clairnote music notation:

  • Clairnote, also known as Clairnote DN (Dual Noteheads), the original variant
  • Clairnote SN (Standard Noteheads)

(On this page we use “Clairnote DN” for clarity in distinguishing the two. Elsewhere on this site “Clairnote” tends to be used instead of “Clairnote DN”.)

The differences between Clairnote DN and SN are illustrated in the following comparison:

Illustration of Clairnote DN and Clairnote SN music notation systems

Basically, Clairnote DN uses hollow and solid noteheads for pitch, while Clairnote SN does not. Clairnote DN gives half notes double stems to differentiate them from quarter notes — its only difference from standard music notation’s rhythm notation system. Clairnote SN uses the standard rhythm notation system without modification, with hollow noteheads for half notes and whole notes, and solid noteheads for quarter notes, eighth notes, etc.

Clairnote DN has a highly visible 6-6 pattern of alternating solid and hollow noteheads. Clairnote SN has a more subtle 6-6 pattern of alternating line notes and space notes, and uses ledger lines to provide this regularly alternating pattern. In Clairnote DN the differences between pitches (and between intervals) are more obvious.

Why Use Clairnote SN?

Clairnote SN has more in common with standard music notation since they use the same rhythm symbols. This makes it easier to learn both of these systems at the same time and to use them interchangeably, switching back and forth between them “bilingually”. So Clairnote SN may make more sense for musicians who already know standard notation well, or who want to learn to read standard notation at a high level of proficiency.

Why Use Clairnote DN?

Clairnote DN offers clearer and more obvious distinctions between pitches and intervals, by using solid and hollow notes for pitch. This may be a better use of the highly visible difference between hollow and solid noteheads, especially if learning standard notation “bilingually” is not a goal. And even if it is, some find they can switch between Clairnote DN and the standard system just fine without any real difficulty.

Musicians should consider their own goals, particularly whether they include becoming a proficient reader of standard notation. Some may prefer Clairnote DN and others may prefer Clairnote SN. Both offer similar advantages over standard music notation.

Clairnote (DN) and Clairnote SN on this Website

Most pages on this site have both Clairnote DN and Clairnote SN versions. You can think of the site as two parallel sites, one for each system. You can switch between these two sites/systems via the links in the main navigation menu, under “Clairnote Music Notation” or “Clairnote SN Music Notation”. Clairnote DN is simply called “Clairnote” in most places on the site. “Clairnote” is never used for Clairnote SN.