MAIN CHARACTERISTICS of NOTUS music notation.
 
NOTUS is a remarkably coherent and complete system of music notation. The description of the Notus Handbook Part 1 contains a list of all the aspects of conventional notation that have been either adjusted or replaced with an unambiguous and more intuitive solution in NOTUS. The following ten points can be used as a guide for following the score examples below.
 

1. NOTUS does not work with clefs. Instead it uses a simple system of ‘octave numbers’, as illustrated by the keyboard diagram below.

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2. NOTUS has an octave anchor: this is a page-wide, three-line staff with a black box at the start containing an octave number in white. One octave anchor offers the space to notate the notes of one octave. These notes always appear in the same order, regardless of the octave number. The note C is unique in NOTUS as it has its own symbol, which is always found in its fixed position under the three lines of the staff. This special symbol is a notehead with a thick, slanted line running through it at an angle.

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 Thanks to the unique design of the NOTUS octave anchor, only this diagram has to be learned in order to be able to read the notes of every octave, as the notation of the notes in the remaining octaves is done by simply changing the octave number at the beginning of the staff. In conventional notation, however, one must learn a new staff position for each note of each clef in each octave. The two examples illustrate the simplicity of NOTUS notation vs. conventional notation.

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3. Notes from higher and lower octaves than the octave anchor are notated on smaller staff structures that are placed above or below the octave anchor as required. These are referred to as ‘octave segments’. They are always made up of three horizontal lines. The positions of notes on these octave segments correspond exactly to the note positions on the octave anchor. The unique C symbol is also used here in the same way as on the octave anchor.

The note G, for example, always appears on the middle staff line, whether one is looking at the octave anchor or an octave segment. As a result, the meaning of term ‘octave’ as an interval is understood and remembered from early on in the learning process.

An octave number is not placed before an octave segment as the pitch can be derived logically based on the octave number of the octave anchor. The notes of an octave segment above the octave anchor are one octave higher than those of the octave anchor and the notes below the octave anchor one octave lower. There are a number of simple ways that allow one to notate up to seven octaves in NOTUS on a single staff.

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4. Despite a general restyling in NOTUS, the signs for note and rest values remain largely similar to those of the conventional notation. Some changes can be seen in the signs for rests longer than a quarter rest and the sign for the double whole note. Below are the adapted signs.

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5. In NOTUS, meaning is ascribed to the position of the note stem relative to the notehead. A stem affixed to the right side of the notehead (whether upward- or downward-pointing) implies that the music is for the first instrument or first melody, or – in the case of piano and similar instruments – that the music is to be played by the right hand. A stem affixed to the left side of the notehead is for a second instrument on the same staff, a second melody or the left hand.

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6. In NOTUS, ties are notated using a thick, gray line made up of two symmetrical line (at gently opposing angles) with a rounded join in the middle. The bend in the middle can point up or down. All tied notes are notated in the same shade of gray, as are any dotted notes incorporated in a tied note. This makes tied notes visibly distinguishable from regular notes; the difference between notes that are to be sustained and notes that are to be played separately is immediately clear. The result is a more precise and accurate performance as there are no longer any pauses or rhythmic interruptions due to hesitation in note reading.

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7. In NOTUS, semitones are notated using two variations on the usual notehead. One to lower pitch – the FLATnotehead – and one to raise the pitch – the SHARPnotehead. The conventional accidentals – flat, sharp and natural – are not used in NOTUS and, consequently, nor are the many rules regarding their use. ‘Forgetting’ to raise or lower notes according to the key signature is a common occurrence in conventional notation, but in NOTUS here it is practically impossible to do so. Because the FLAT- and SHARPnoteheads are self-contained, they can be notated throughout the score, in addition to their use in the key signature, adding clarity but not clutter. Beginners will find they are able to read scores in all keys very early on in the learning process, despite not having studied these specific keys.

• The naming convention for semitones has been simplified: an s (for sharp) or an f (for flat) is added to the letter of the note name, e.g.: 2As = the tone A from octave 2, raised by a semitone.

• Enharmonic tones/notes are literally visual in NOTUS because the rectangular appendages of the FLAT- and SHARPnotes of two enharmonic tones occupy the same position. This is indicated by the red dots between the notes in the diagram. This simplifies the study of semitones as well as the number of notations to be learned: only five positions for the rectangular appendages on the NOTUS staff must be learned, allowing one to then read the semitones of every octave. In conventional notation, by contrast, to achieve the same result, one must learn 70 different notations as there are 35 semitones, each with a double notation due to their enharmonic quality.

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8. NOTUS introduces the ‘tonic signature’, which enables one to immediately discern the relative major or minor key and its corresponding scale. The tonic signature appears as a widened octave segment consisting of two parts that are separated by a dashed vertical line. In the left part a regular notehead indicates a major scale and a small notehead (such as is used for ornamentals) indicates a minor scale. The staff position of these noteheads tells one the tonic of the key in question.

To the right of the dashed line is the key signature for the major or minor key, with FLAT- and SHARPnoteheads replacing the flat and sharp signs of conventional notation. Additional guidelines for the notation of keys other than major, minor and exotic keys can be found in the Notus Handbook Part 1.

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9. In NOTUS, tuplets are indicated in conjunction with their note value. The preference is to use the note value of the time signature. The note value tells the musician the total duration in which a tuplet is to be performed. In the case of complex groupings, the note value of the notes comprising the tuplet is expressed in relation to the note value of the total duration.

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10. In NOTUS, the repeat signs have been redesigned and divided into two groups. In the first group are signs for immediate repeats after notes or passages are played for the first time, and in the second group are delayed repeats, used when passages are to be repeated later in a composition. The different repeat signs are described in detail in Notus Handbook Part 1 and compared with the Italian terms used to indicate different kinds of repeat, e.g., prima volta, secunda volta, and da capo, del segno, fine, etc. Below one can see the signs for an immediate repeat of a passage after it has been played for the first time.

A passage that is not repeated immediately but instead later on in the composition is marked off using two Section signs. A Section Reference sign (in the form of a stylized wedge shape) indicates in the composition the place where the passage is to be repeated.

 

 

Some comparitive sheetmusic. On the left side sheetmusic in conventional notation and on the right side the same sheetmusic in Notus music notation. If the image is too small, please click on your browers ZOOM + sign.