AudioVisualizer for Alternative Music Notation Systems

Use the controls above to see how scales, intervals, and melodies appear in different alternative notation systems. (These systems may not fully match the original systems that they are modeled after; see below.) Several sample melodies can be automatically displayed using the Melodies button, or you can play your own melody on an on-screen keyboard, using the Keyboard button. Click the four buttons at the top of the page to change the staff, the pattern of solid and hollow noteheads, or the position of the staff relative to the notes. (Audio not working?)

The Notation Systems

The alternative music notation systems that can be displayed are a representative subset of all of those shown on the Music Notations: Guided Tour and Music Notations: Gallery pages. They do not necessarily fully correspond to the original notation systems that they are modeled after. For example, some of the original systems use: circular noteheads, nonstandard stems, nonstandard stem placement, nonstandard ledger lines, a vertically oriented staff instead of the standard horizontal staff, etc. These kinds of features are not shown here, nor is any kind of rhythmic notation.

The AudioVisualizer is designed for creative exploration of many different possibilities. When you select a notation system, it is initially displayed with the inventor’s intended notehead pattern (i.e. the pattern of black/solid and white/hollow noteheads) and position of the notes relative to the staff. If you use the buttons at the top of the page to change the notehead pattern or shift the staff up or down, you depart from what the inventor intended. For example, shifting the staff up or down may result in more ledger lines than would normally be used. (Some inventors would instead add another octave’s worth of staff lines, or might have their own particular implementation of ledger lines. For example, a system might visually distinguish between (a) the ledger lines that represent the same notes as staff lines, only an octave higher or lower, and (b) those that do not.)

The AudioVisualizer is still a work in progress, and we intend to add more of the notation systems shown on our Guided Tour and Gallery pages, as time and energy permit. In order to cover a representative range of systems we began by including one system from each of the main line-pattern groups (“5 lines per octave, a whole step apart,” etc.). Then we added similar systems that differed only in staff position or notehead pattern (the “low-hanging fruit“). We encourage everyone to explore all the systems on our site and to follow our Blog to hear about future developments.

HTML5 Audio

The AudioVisualizer uses HTML5 audio to provide sound, allowing you to hear the notes as well as see them. HTML5 audio is supported by the most recent versions of most browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer. (HTML5 audio does not work in Internet Explorer 8, but the visual display should still work.) There may be some uneven performance of audio in some browsers (for example, melodies may not play all the way through in IE9). Loading the audio files, which happens when you first visit this page, may take about five times as long in Safari as it does in Firefox. Overall, we have had the best luck with Firefox and recommend using it if you can.


The AudioVisualizer was created by Paul Morris for the TwinNote music notation and Clairnote music notation websites. He adapted and expanded it so it could support additional alternative notation systems and be used here on the Music Notation Project website.