The mission of the Music Notation Project is to raise awareness of the disadvantages of traditional music notation, to explore alternative music notation systems, and to provide resources for the wider consideration and use of these alternatives.
We think that traditional western music notation has some unfortunate aspects that can be improved upon (as discussed on our home page), aspects that make reading and learning to play music much more difficult than it needs to be. Our overarching goal is to help make reading, writing, and playing music more enjoyable and easier to learn.
The Music Notation Project is a not-for-profit organization that is sustained by the contributions of supporters and volunteers. Please consider contributing to our efforts. Our five-person governing board is Kevin Dalley, Michael Johnston, Doug Keislar, John Keller, Paul Morris. Although we are a not-for-profit entity, we are currently not incorporated (and do not have 501(3)(c) status).
The Music Notation Project was established in January of 2008 to carry on the work begun by its predecessor, the Music Notation Modernization Association.
Please feel free to contact us at the following email address:
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Are these notations really just for obscure atonal, chromatic, twelve-tone music, and not suited for the tonal diatonic music that everyone likes?
No, notations with a chromatic staff actually represent the interval relationships that are fundamental to diatonic music much more accurately than traditional notation does (see Interval Relationships on our home page and the Intervals Tutorial). So we think this approach offers advantages for tonal diatonic music (or any kind of music).
Are you advocating that musicians and students should abandon traditional notation and learn one of these notations instead?
We would not want to dissuade anyone from learning to read traditional notation as an important skill for musicians to have. It will likely remain the established lingua-franca of western music for the foreseeable future. However, we would encourage anyone who is interested to also explore the notations on our site and the ways in which traditional notation might be improved.
If this approach to music notation was such a good idea why hasn’t it caught on long ago?
That is a question that has no easy answer. There is at least one major factor that has only recently begun to change — see the next question.
What about the practical matter of not having any music available in these notations?
For a long time this has been a seemingly insurmountable problem, but given the progress of technology it will become less and less of an issue, see Software.
There are a lot of alternative notations out there. Which is the best one?
One of our goals is to provide resources for conducting evaluative research to try and determine which notation systems are most promising as alternatives to, or potential replacements of, traditional notation (see Evaluative Research). However, a preference for one notation over another is inevitably somewhat subjective. At minimum we would like to inform the public about the various issues, approaches, and notations, and provide them the resources to have a well-informed opinion.
Do you really expect a significant number of people to change the way they read music?
Who can tell? As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
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