For a long time, I’ve used a quick notation for jotting down songs with minimal of effort but also with conveying the general idea and feel of the song.
I have no name for the notation, nor do I claim to have invented it since it was pretty much borne out of the PLAY command in QBasic (more on QBasic in a future article that I have half-written - it’s going to be gold).
Over the years I have a collection of pieces of paper with this notation scribbled down every time I either thing of a nice riff/melody or transcribe something. Or perhaps I just see some music somewhere and want to write it down quickly so I can play it without printing the full score.
The general gist of the notation rules are as follows:
Notes: a b c d e f g Modifiers: + for sharp, - for flat, nothing for natural Timing: -> to hold the note for a bit (timing is not the aim of the notation, evidently), the longer the arrow the longer you hold the note Shift: ^ for up an octave, v for down an octave, this is hard to represent on the screen but super easy to write as either a hat or beneath the note Other: throw a bit of “RPT” for bits that repeat
Here are some examples of some awesome boogie songs I have recently transcribed:
Carmen - Throw Down
e- ^d- b- d- b- a- g- a- b- b b b- a e- RPT
Aaron Broomfield - Polyphase
Key: Ab major
a+ c+ ^a+ g+ f c+ a+ d+ f f ->
a+ a+ d+ c+ a+ g+ -> a+ a+ d+ c+ -> a+ a+ d+ c+ a+ g+ -> vf vd+ vf g+ ->
f f g+ g+ f f g+ ->
One thing that I have noticed from typing out those strings (it’s actually a handwritten format, not destined for the keyboard) is they are actually not too bad to type, either, if you ignore the octave shifts.
There are a few shortcomings of course, but I suppose it could be improved if I thought about it. Some of the shortcomings include:
- timing is not precise
- octave shifting is hard to type, but for a handwitten format, is this really required?
- initial octave and tempo is not clear, but it’s supposed to be quick and dirty
PS. On a side note, maps are now rendered on some place names on Hawkesbury.org, which is a neat little feature taking advantage of Google’s Maps geo-coding. More work to be done of course!