An alternative music notation system that makes music easier to read and understand.
Play the Notes You See
Clairnote SN gives each note its own vertical position on the staff. The relationship between the notes you see and the notes you play is simple, direct, and consistent — not complicated by key signatures or accidental signs.
Notes appear in one of four basic positions on the staff: (1) on a line, (2) "sitting" just above a line, (3) on a ledger line between two lines, and (4) "hanging" just below a line. Adjacent staff positions are always a half step apart (1 semitone).
The vertical positions on the staff alternate regularly between spaces and lines (including ledger lines). This consistent visual pattern makes individual notes easier to identify and interval relationships easier to see.
Notes an octave apart look the same because the staff's line pattern repeats with each octave. If you can read one octave you can read them all. This makes it easier to identify notes, to identify the interval between notes more than an octave apart, and to play music in a different octave than the one in which it is written.
Play the Intervals You See
Clairnote SN represents intervals clearly and consistently. As with notes, the relationship between the intervals you see and the intervals you play is simple, direct, and consistent. For example, you can see the difference between the whole steps and half steps that make up scales. Whole steps are always line-to-line or space-to-space, while half steps are always line-to-space or space-to-line.
Similarly, you can see the difference between major and minor thirds, the building blocks of chords. Major thirds are always line-to-line or space-to-space, while minor thirds are always line-to-space or space-to-line. Being able to see these differences makes it easier to play music by reading the interval relationships between notes.
Clefs and Octaves
In traditional music notation the notes represented by the lines and spaces of the staff change depending on the current clef (treble, bass, alto, tenor, etc.). Piano music entails reading in two different clefs at once. In Clairnote SN the lines and spaces of the staff look the same in every octave and always mean the same thing in every octave. There is no need to learn to read different clefs. Clairnote SN's clef symbols simply indicate the octave register of the staff.
Key Signatures and Accidental Signs
In traditional music notation the notes on the staff may be altered by accidental signs (sharps, flats, naturals, double sharps, double flats) or by one of fifteen different key signatures that you have to learn and keep in mind in order to play the correct notes. With Clairnote SN you can simply play the notes as they appear on the staff and learn common patterns as you go.
Clairnote SN's key signatures and accidental signs do not complicate the process of reading notes. They only provide supplemental information — all the same information conveyed by traditional notation, like the current key, when a note is an accidental (i.e. not in the current key), and the different names of enharmonically equivalent notes.
Intervals and Chords
In traditional music notation different intervals and chords may look the same (e.g. major and minor thirds and triads). In Clairnote SN the differences between intervals are always clearly visible making it easy to see the relationships between notes and understand the common patterns of music found in chords, scales, keys, etc. Improvising and playing by ear involve playing by interval (by relative pitch), so clearly seeing each interval as you play supports learning these skills. See Intervals, Chords, and Scales for more illustrations and discussion.
Sheet Music Videos
Sheet Music and Software
There are currently over 600 works in the Clairnote SN Sheet Music collection, all available to download for free as PDFs. They were created with LilyPond – free (open-source) music notation software that anyone can use to create new sheet music from scratch or to automatically convert traditional music files into Clairnote SN. See Software: LilyPond. The available sheet music includes a collection of fiddle tunes, a piano lesson book, and a sight-singing lesson book.
Here are a few well known pieces from the Clairnote SN Sheet Music collection (PDF files):
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, arranged for piano
- The Blue Danube Waltz (Main Theme) by Johann Strauss Jr., arranged for piano
- Greensleeves Traditional English melody, arranged for four-part vocal harmony
- Das Wohltemperierte Clavier I, Praeludium I by J.S. Bach
- Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven, for piano
- The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, for piano
- Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin, for piano