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Shaped Notes

Is there an option in Noteworthy to change the round note text to the traditional shapped notes, do, re, me, amd so forth? If not does anyone know where I can find a program that will write in shapped notes? Thank you for your time. John.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #1
I have never seen an option in NWC to use shaped notes. I also have never heard of a sequencer or notation program that would accomplish this. I shall watch this message thread though, and see if someone names one that would do this. I think it would be sorta cool!

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #2
I have a need to have configurable note heads, as well. Sometime back (way back) I put in the NWC Wish List to give an option to make the notehead an "x", for spoken places in the staff that need some rhythym (and so you'd still use quarter notes, eighth notes, etc.) Especially good with the kids' songs.

Why don't you add shaped notes to the wish list as another idea for "configurable notes"? My wish hasn't been granted yet, but you never know... : >

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #3
I also think that user-definable note-heads would be handy.
Please forward the request to the wish-list.
There are other programs which implement this (no names come to mind at the moment, but I would expect all the multi-hundred dollar ones to do it).


Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #4
If necessary, I would pay for an upgrade to allow the creation of shaped notes. I hope this option will be considered. Thank you.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #5
While user configurable note heads are definitely on my list of things I would like to see. Lets remember that shaped notes are a bit more complicated. It is not just a matter of changing the note heads to different shapes, the notes would have to change depending on the key signature that you were using in order for "do" to correspond to the key note. Transposition becomes quite a bit more challenging.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #6
>> Note shape depends on key.

This is true, and is truly complicated.

>> Transposition becomes more difficult.

I don't think so. The beauty of shape notes is that
transposition doesn't change the shapes--just shifts them
on the staff. You'd probably need an "audit shape notes"
tool, which wouldn't be any more complicated than handling
shape on note entry.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #7
Shaped Notes are most often used by singers and vocalist. It is true that the (DO) is placed on whatever line or space of the initial key signature, and a change of one key would either be a (TE) or a (RE), depending on whether you go up or down. Also the standard seven notes take on a different name when you sharp or flat them. I was taught that all songs begin and end with a tonic chord, (DO, ME, SO, DO). All this is really irevelent, because it should be a simple feat for a programer to add a function that after you write a song in round notes, the computer could just transpose the score for you. Now having said all that let me say this, A song wrote in shaped notes is NOT played any different than a song wrote in round notes. Any trained quartet singer can read his notes and automatically switch from a (DO) to a (SO), or any other example you can think of. This is most difficult with round notes, because if you sing you could'nt really care less what line or space the note is on, only what shape is it? Piano (or whatever your instrument) players could'nt care less what shape a note is, only what line or space is it on? Players would'nt care if all notes were shaped like chicken heads. This is why it is important to have notes that the singers can read.
Thank you for your time, and for bearing with me.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #8
I just have one more comment. I wouldn't expect anything elaborate. Shaped notes are primarily for singing melodies that are relatively simple, such as hymns. A way to do it, even if it wasn't very sophisticated, would be nice.


Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #9
The normal arrangement of shaped notes is just like round notes: placed on a staff, with tails, flags, open and
filled-in shapes, dots, etc.: and a trained musician would have no trouble.

The shapes are for 1) untrained 2) singers 3) trying to harmonize 4) unfamiliar 5) a-cappella music.

1) Trained musicians don't need them, and can ignore them.
2) As normally used, shapes are keyed to the key--this is not a useful concept for a musical instrument that plays absolute notes: and for instruments like guitars, chord notation is more useful.
3) A simple melody doesn't gain much from note shapes. But for an untrained (or informally trained) singer trying to read unfamiliar words quickly, pick out a specific part from multipart harmony on two staves, blend with other voices, the shapes give a quick indication of what chord is intended as well as what part a particular voice plays in it.
4) It doesn't take much practice with any particular song to get past the point where shape notes are useful. Once you've heard the harmonies sung correctly and you know where your part fits in, the shapes can be ignored.
5) If you have instrumental accompaniment, you can use it to fill in the harmonies. Only if that is not available are you compelled to get whatever harmonies will be gotten, from the untrained voices.

In a culture where entertainment music is provided by electronic technologies, there is very limited demand for "high folk" music from "low-trained" folk: thus, the only place you'll be likely to see shape notes is in churches where a-cappella congregational singing is considered an essential part of worship.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #10
(Please note new e-mail address for those interested).
I've been singing as long as I can remember and since I started reading music have *always* used standard notation. I take my hat off to those who can read tonic sol-fa - it seems to me to be extraordinarily cluttered at times, and surely slower to convert into pitch than standard notation - a series of runs in a Bach motet would be horrendous! Having said that, I dare say a trained sol-fa singer would prove me wrong, but I tend to agree with Tony's comment in reply 8 - <Shaped notes are primarily for singing melodies that are relatively simple, such as hymns>.
But most certainly crossed head notes would be extremely useful, for spoken passages and percussion. One for the wish list!


Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #11
Well I hope this is the last time I am compelled to pen a reply on this matter. However, after reading reply # 10, offered by Stephen Hutcheson, I must say I am offended and insulted.
He attemptes to make the point that shaped notes are for the untrained. <1) Trained musicians don't need them, and can ignore them.> This is hardly a point, musicians don't need them because they were never intended for musicians in the first place. (THEY ARE FOR SINGERS.)
I am not totally in disagreement with his statement #2.
However his statement #3 is simply wrong. <3) A simple melody doesn't gain much from note shapes. But for an untrained (or informally trained) singer trying to read unfamiliar words quickly, pick out a specific part from multipart harmony on two staves, blend with other voices, the shapes give a quick indication of what chord is intended as well as what part a particular voice plays in it.> I can not begin to tell you how many things are wrong with this quote. First off, a melody is not supposed to gain from shaped notes, the melody is the same wether the melody is shaped or round notes. Secondly, untrained (or informally trained)people do not read shaped notes. Third, the shapes give NO indication of the chord being intended, this is determined by there position.
Now lets move on to statement #4 <4) It doesn't take much practice with any particular song to get past the point where shape notes are useful. Once you've heard the harmonies sung correctly and you know where your part fits in, the shapes can be ignored.> RIDICULOUS, Absolute Fantasy, I suppose this fellow only sings things that he can first hear someone else sing, that way he can memorize his part and not bother with reading any notes, (Which is a good thing considering his knowledge of them.) What do you suppose would happen if this guy had to sing a song he had never heard, (be a real good thing if you could read notes at this point,) it might not go over too well.
Forgive me for saying this but it is rather infuriating for someone who knows so little about what there saying to be here speaking as an expert, it almost makes me wish I would never have started this thread. Only one word of advice, in the future, when you don't know what your talking about, keep your mouth shut.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #12

Here's an exert from response #10, <5) If you have instrumental accompaniment, you can use it to fill in the harmonies. Only if that is not available are you compelled to get whatever harmonies will be gotten, from the untrained voices.> THIS IS JUST INSULTING. So insulting I am having trouble composing a response that lets me keep my statis as a gentleman.
Moving on, His final statements,<there is very limited demand for "high folk" music from "low-trained" folk:>
These sir are fighting words. I will not sit by and be blindly run down by someone of your limited foresight. Most of what you say has a funny smell about it. Keep that in mind please.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #13
I'm not sure exactly what offended John. Set the pistol down, carefully, ... we're all on the same side ... I think. At any rate, I have also asked for shape notes, and if I had them, I would use them exclusively.

1) Singers are not musicians? Not my meaning: I'll call anyone who makes music a "musician." I differentiate between vocal and instrumental music, and agree that shape notes are useful only for the former.

2) I was thinking of "training" primarily as in "reading music" and not "voice control." I suppose there are groups who concentrate on "voice training" and skip the musical theory; I haven't had contact with any, though.

3) Part of standard musical training is to sight-read the standard round notation, from the lines. [My training, though, was cut very short and mostly forgotten, and I still find the shapes helpful. Without shape notes, I do not believe I could sing, say, tenor, on a song I had never before heard or studied.]

4) I can see that I expressed myself poorly. It is, of course, the singer, not the song, that gains from shape notes. What I should have said is that, in my experience 1) Nobody seems to publish unharmonized melodies in shape notes, 2) People who sing the melody don't seem to be aware of them, and 3) I find them much more helpful reading other parts than I do reading the melody. 4) The first observation seems to indicate that the last two can be generalized.

4) may seem like fantasy, but I assure you that I have worked with untrained singers, and many people learn songs in just this way. In congregational singing (where you can't expect members to have any musical training), there are many people who learn songs only this way, and if you want to introduce new songs (which I do), you have to take them into account. And there are many more (like me) who can only sight-read "a little:" these are the ones for whom shape notes are particularly important. I have introduced many songs I had never heard before into such an environment,
and exerted considerable effort trying to get as "high-folk" music as possible without excluding "low-folk" voices.

It is a lot of effort, and most religious groups faced with this problem avoid it: either replacing congregational singing (with choirs or performing bands) or recommending that the congregation sing only the melody (while filling in the harmony with a choir or organ.) Neither of these is an option for us.

I didn't mean to confuse, much less insult, anyone who will support my plea for shape notes. Those of us who want to introduce acappella music to untrained singers find them indispensable.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #14
All right, so there is a need for shaped notes, even if we don't all agree on how they should be used. Lets have a proposal. Let the user define a note shape with a character in a font, and a point size adjustment for staff scaling. What about half and whole notes - do we need a separate character for these? Now, how do we place the note on the staff? I guess it is a note property (which does not exist yet, but should, if only to give it an invisible setting).

All I need is the note with the x as a head, but this is more general.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #15

I'm not sure that this is more general. I tend to think that shape notes are more specific. I have not come across them, but then I've been a musician for much longer than I've been a vocalist! ;-)

I don't expect that I would need them, but if there are many users who ask, and it does get implemented, I'm sure that definable/configurable noteheads would be a spin-off that would benefit others of us, too.

From what I have just read, shape notes provide a set of cues based on the shape of the note head (I'd love to see and example - anyone got any?). I imagine they might prove useful to jazz improvisation as well, but I doubt they get used in that genre. Anyhow, NWC would need to include an "Audit Shape Notes" tool that went through and adjusted each note head to be different. Hence EVERY note would need to be editable to have its notehead defined, and hence the spin-off for us "drumheads" who just want Xs and diamonds.


Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #16
From the heated discussion above, I would not want to make any assumptions about what shapes these notes should be! Like you, I just want the little x's.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #17
1) Yes, there are different "shape note" schemes. There are two or three that are used by "preservationist" organizations: see samples and historical detail from the sites listed by the Open Directory Project: "" Some of these groups suppor t new compositions in the historical style of music, and set with the historically appropriate shape notes (and so would be in the market for composing software)

For these shapes, the stem attachment would be an issue: they go to the middle top or (middle bottom) of a note rather than the side. (Chords are not done on one stem, or generally even on one staff.)

The most common shapes in "common" use are the 7-shape "Aiken" scheme, which at least use the standard sideband stem, although the stem might need to be continued to the top or bottom of a note, and some shapes are flipped depending on which way the stem goes.

In all these schemes, half and whole notes are the same shape as the respective quarter notes, just outline instead of solid.

I won't mention neumes if you won't.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #18
>>I won't mention neumes if you won't.<<

No, we're very polite here and don't call people rude neumes.


Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #19
The type of shaped notes with which I am familiar are defined as follows: do-equilateral triangle, re-upside down semicircle (like a cup with a line across the top), mi-diamond, fa-right triangle with one side of the right angle on the staff (like a flag), sol-round (same as ordinary note), la-rectangle (longest side on the bottom), and ti-similar to a triangle with point down and curved on top. (like an ice-cream cone).

There are only SIX shapes here that are new. That's all that I would need. However, I don't know the name of this system and was not aware there were others. By the way, accidentals do not change the shape of a note, even though the pitch would be altered.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #20
Directed to all, but espicially Stephen Hutcheson.
Please forgive me for my earlier outburst, it was uncalled for. I only ask that you realize that I have so much respect and admiration for people that sight read unfimiliar notes that I have a hard time with anyone calling them "Simple Folk". It is unquestionable that I am very passionate about the matter, and I ask everyone to overlook my venting.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #21
Its getting complicated (if more polite). So we need not only a font, character and point size, but also stem placement information (side or middle; to top or bottom of note), possibly a second character depending on stem direction. Then someone needs to produce the fonts.

Forget having them built into the product - its clear that there is an unending variety of these things.

Still, all I want is the little "x"!

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #22
Forgive if I seem dense, but never having seen notes like this I don't quite get it... does this mean that all notes are on a single staff line? Is the purpose compactness? How are octaves handled?

For my purposes also, I would like to have little x-shaped noteheads, maybe diamonds also.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #23
Tony: What you described is the "Aiken" system. It is the only one I have ever used, or even seen in a modern book.

Fred: The shaped notes are placed on the staff just like round notes: and take the same space. In the modern "Aiken" system, four voices are printed on two staves, as usual. The shape is, strictly speaking, "redundant:" Anyone could look at a round note on a staff and figure out which shape it ought to be, given the key signature. It's "just" an extra visual clue to facilitate sight reading.

On the "historical" schemes (including Aiken when it was first introduced), each voice was on a different staff (but still positioned just like a round note. I think this was to facilitate creating music fonts (in lead type) -- it would be hard to have all the possible two-note chord characters created.

Any of these schemes will seem wierd if you haven't used them. They were "Yankee experiments" of the early nineteenth century: just some of many attempts to make musical notation less mysterious to the uninitiated (and musical books more usable on the frontier.)

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #24
Blair.....Concerning stem placement.
If you only change the note shape itself, this would not affect the stem placement. The only difference would be the very end of the note. Instead of all notes being round, most would vary in shape, a triangle, rectangle, dimond and some that are not easily explained. However, Tony in reply 19 does a good job explaining them. There is even a round note. The staff, staff position, and flags would remain unchainged. Also, all notes would still be roughly the same size, looking at them from several feet away, you probably could'nt even tell that they were'nt all round.

Fred.......Stephen is correct in reply 23....
Four voices are printed on two staves. Corresponding to the four natural divisions of the human voice. These are, naming them in regular order from the lowest to the highest, Bass, Tenor, Alto, Soprano. Between the bass and tenor there is another voice called Baritone. Between the alto and soprano there is another voice called Mezzo-Soprano. An extra low and heavy alto voice is often called Contralto. However traditional shaped notes are written for the first four voices that I named. The names of these voices change depending on if it is a man or woman singing the part.
An example would be, a man sings First-Tenor, (This is a different Tenor from the one I listed earlier, in this situation that would become Second-Tenor.) a woman singing the same part would be singing Alto. A man sings Lead, a woman singing the same part would be singing Soprano.

An answer to an earlier question.......
Someone ask if the shaped notes would affect rests. The answer is no, a rest would look like it always has, and would be used in the same manner.

Also the use of sharps and flats or dotted notes, or any thing else you can think of will not be affected. you would have the same use of them you have always had.

The shaped note system goes back to Italian syllables (Sol-fa). I do not know how old this system is, but we can all agree that it is very old. Also, could you give me an example of a situation you project in your last reply? <"it would be hard to have all the possible two-note chord characters created.">..I'm not certain I understand what could not be created....
Hoped I helped clear some of this up.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #25
Shape notes and fonts: a clarification.

In the early eighteenth century, music publishers began to experiment with fonts for musical notation. Each "letter" would have the five lines of the staff all the way across;
in addition, there would be a "letter" for each weight of rest, for accidentals in each position on the staff, and for notes of each duration and position on the staff. Counting, say, 15 staff positions (including risers and descenders),
5 or 6 note types + dots and accidentals, you'd need more than 150 separate "characters" (besides clefs, measure bars, etc.)

It would be very simple for any experienced typesetter to set music for a single melodic line on a staff with such a scheme. If you used four shape notes, you'd need four such fonts, but you'd only use one at a time on each staff.

But suppose you tried to typeset chords this way: instead of 15 note positions with one note each, there would be 15*15 possible combinations of two notes: times six note durations, and let's hope you never had two accidentals for the same chord ... anyway, your font tray would be too large. If you had to have chords on a staff, it would be time to send for the music engraver--a much less cost-efficient solution.

Or you could simply set each voice on a different staff: and this is what was often done.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #26
Singers etal.

When at one of the many Gospel Singing Conventions, a leader often gets up and announces the number of a song that is totally unknown to all present including the leader. Near perfect harmony ensues from the congregation.

At the National Gospel Singing Convention I personally have experienced being called to the front to sing in a quartet. On the way up to the front I was given the music to a song that I had never seen nor heard.

Thank Goodness for shaped notes!

Usually six different song books are used at these conventions. For anyone interested in these books containing shaped notes contact me at

Jerry Evans
Bass singer from Texas

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #27
I happened upon this conversation just be accident. I find it very interesting. Shape notes have been a way of life for me and learned to use them at 8 years of age. I am a member of the Church of Christ and we sing a cappella, which encourages individual sight reading at times. Most of our song books are still printed in shape notes.

I have been teaching music at summer schools for many years and we teach shape notes because that is the only way to teach sight reading in a one week period, and we do it. The school is the Singing School at Abilene Christian University.

I also direct an a cappella gospel mixed chorus and most of the singers can read shape notes, which makes new pieces of music come to life within a short period of time. I print all our music with Coda's Finale which has shape note capability built in. For information about it, go to my web site at -

Most of us who sing have not had the opportunity to spend four years at a good college or university majoring in music so we can be "trained". I find very few "trained" musicians who can sing a new piece of music without the aid of an instrument. To me, that kind of training is worthless, if your purpose was to learn to sight read music. Shape notes are far better. Any time I hear someone laughing at shape notes and making fun of us who do, I just consider the source and feel sorry for them, knowing I can read music better than they can.


Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #28
I am interested in meeting with shaped note singers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. I've figured out pretty much what to do and when, but would really appreciate learning and fine tuning the basics in a small group, or class setting so that I can then pass the techniques on to others. Thanks for any help any of you can supply.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #29
This discussion is so interesting. I have taught the Shaped Notes/Singing Schools for many years. For those who are Instrumentalists and (not) singers, they simply need to understand that Shaped Notes are read from the regular staff (just the same as round notes) - Accidentals are handled exactly the same way with no moving of the note, Also, anyone proficient in their note reading (and)or playing ability, can simply have a glorious and fun time singing (or) playing, but I must admit for my own part, having taught it, I personally would have to choose the "Pick up the Song Book and Just Sing It" A capello music can be the most beautiful singing there is (if) everyone involved sings his/her part properly and has excellent ability for counting time. I have so enjoyed everyone's comments on this page. It brings back so many wonderful memories. A man in a large church many years ago (who) is very negative toward The Shaped Note Music, spoke with me, saying this, "Shaped Notes" are (Inferior) to round notes. (Of course that was because he didn't have a Clue about Shaped Notes - I know many people who (think) they are actually sight reading, when in reality, they are only "guessing" a great deal of the time. Shaped Notes give the Singer a method to absolutely "perfect" (without error), his/her ability to sing any new piece of music without having ever seen it before and with no accompaniment. My greatest sadness about this style of music is that is has died out completely in many areas. We need to keep it alive and "kicking" so to speak in our various parts of the country There are so many folks who simply will (not) work at learning their music, of course that is their loss. Many of the Professional Gospel Singers have used this method in past years to improve their music reading skills. It works. (If) the Singer properly applies himself, (and) can carry a tune in a bucket, he cannot fail with this method. Does anyone out there share any of my thoughts on the subject?

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #30
A P.S. Note - I apologize if I seem to be intruding in this wonderful discussion - Please forgive me for interjecting my thoughts. This is such a wonderful site, especially for those of us who love the subject matter being discussed. I personally thank each one for your thoughts and comments on the subject. Has anyone gotten much into the "Sacred Heart" Shaped Note thing?

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #32
And I still want the little 'x'. No joy yet on that one. Maybe in version 1.8?

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #33
I happened to stumble into this thread after doing a word search for "shaped notes" on a search engine. I had never totally understood the "true" purposes for the shaped notes,(I do understand they are used for singers, not instruments) but let me explain: I learned how to play the piano on my own, playing the fairly simple, yet wonderful old gospel hymns, as found in many of the standard "church hymnals". For some reason, I developed my own little system of using the shape notes to help me play. As I progressed, I found that I could pay more attention to their shapes, and their arrangement relative to each other on the staff, and I could play better, and make less mistakes using the shaped notes-version of songbooks. Another thing is that once you have "ingrained into your mind" the shape-note arrangements, I now can merely pay attention to the shapes, ignore the lines and spaces, and transpose a hymn into another key with little effort. For instance many hymns written "officially" in A flat, I prefer to play in F, and I just look at the shape notes, and somehow can play in the different key much easier than if they were all round notes. This may be hard to explain, or to be understood by anyone else, but I have found it works great for me! (And yes, to be honest, this has probably "hindered" my ability to read ordinary, more traditional songs/music, but for my own purposes, it is fine, as I have little interest in playing any other types of music. Anyone else out there that has found this to be helpful, let me know!

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #34
The little x's would be SO useful for spoken words and ESPECIALLY for percussion - it would solve my drum notation problem.

Also what would be useful is the long slashes for guitar strumming patterns.



Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #35
David Whitten, I too learned to play the piano with books that had shape notes and I just prefer them over round notes. It seems like my mind registers them quicker than round notes. I also learned to play by using my left hand to play chords and octaves to keep the timing instead of the actual bass and tenor notes. I've heard that's old fashioned, but I took lessons from a teacher who taught me to play church music in 12 lessons (lots of practice of course) I play strictly gospel hymn music, those old-fashioned Stamps-Baxter Heavenly Highway Hymns songs, etc. Now I am at a church where I am the only one who can play piano, and I really do love playing.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #36
Hey Folks;
I Just happened on your conversation about shaped note programs by accident, so thought I'd offer my 2 cents.
Good Luck!!
Wilmer G.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #37
Myrida-Online offers the shareware "Melody Assistant" and other products. I own it and NWC, as well as some famous names. The programs are very different in functionality and ease of use. For ease of use, you can't beat NWC but Melody does some extra things.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #38
I am also a fan of NWC, and in my church we have may be 500-600 songs notated in NWC for our church services.

Recently I found that MusicEase has capability to type shaped notes. I am not a user of shaped notes :-) but this might help those who need it.

Great thanks to NWC creators!

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #39
It seems that shaped notes are fashionable these days. I don't know why. It's not as if the music is easier to read or to notate than standard notes.

Before the rest of you start requesting shaped notes within NWC, be aware that NWC uses the same style regardless of position on the staff. Thus, merely providing something like a font modification would not, of itself, enable NWC to do shaped notes.

I have the feeling that shaped notes are a fad, that will die out in a couple of years. Anyone else think so?

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #40
>>I have the feeling that shaped notes are a fad, that will die out in a couple of years. Anyone else think so?

It's hard to predict the future of a fad, but 150+ years of tradition sorta removes something from the "fad" category.

I'd suspect they'll last as long as any other vestige of harmonic folksong. Of course, commercial contempop has drastically cut into the audience and performers of folk music, and the ubiquitous non-tonal dance music has cut into the audience for singing -- or at least, opportunities to develop an appreciation for it.

But despite commercial pressure: harmony has an innate appeal to some people, even if it can't be taught in public schools or experienced in normal social settings. And the do-it-yourself attitude has always been strong in some parts of the world where harmonic music has been a part of cultural history. Where these attitudes intersect, there will be a niche for shape notes -- and so far, there has been nothing else to fill that niche.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #41
Good point. Actually, I was referring to the usage of shaped notes not in terms of historical/cultural values, but rather as a possible substitute for ordinary staff music in things like hymns for congregations.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #42
Back to the original question that started this string . . .
I would recomend a music program that does everything you want when it comes to shaped notes.
Although the ease of use may not be quite like NoteWorthy in some ways, I have found the program very workable . . . I found him very willing to work with me in getting this into his program.
Check out, it may be worth your time.
The professional version has the shaped notes.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #43
> The professional version has the shaped notes.

And costs 5 times as much as NWC, just for info.


Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #44
Programs that convert round notes to shapped notes are availabe. I have seen them. I do not know the program names, but they are available. There is also a program that will put the "X" for unspoken parts, try "Music Time" or "Songworks". And to reply to the person who said that shapped notes are a fad that will pass in a few years, I'm afraid that you will pass away long before shapped notes do.
My grandmother could pick up any song regardless of wheather she had heard it or not and just sight read it perfectly. She told me she learned to sight sing at the old "church campmeetings". I can't sight read anything, maybe if someone had taught me shapped notes it would be different.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #45
So did my grandma either, without shaped notes. She would have been horrified to know that such a thing exist. As I learned from her at the age of 6, a note is a note. Its place on the staff gives anything, with the key signature.
I still can't see the usage of these shaped notes, and the loooooooong discussions we already had on it didn't change anything :(
Maybe in my mother tongue would it be different?
Real question: What if you transpose a third above? You just have to remove the highest line, and place it under the staff?

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #46
I don't know whether shaped notes make it easier to learn sight-singing, but it is certainly possible (and not uncommon) to learn sight-singing without them.

As I understand it, in the shaped-note system the shapes of the notes are correlated with their function in the current key. How does this work when the music is highly chromatic or modulates frequently?

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #47
I understand that the shaped-note method (of which there are several) was developed for 19th century rural American hymns. I can't imagine that they were very chromatic or modulated. But I could be wrong.

Incidentally, the shaped note systems that I have come across (fasola and fasolami), do not use a distinct note for each pitch of the scale.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #48
>>As I understand it, in the shaped-note system the shapes of the notes are correlated with their function in the current key.

>>How does this work when the music is highly chromatic or modulates frequently?

Not well. This isn't much of a problem because....

>>I understand that the shaped-note method (of which there are several) was developed for 19th century rural American hymns. I can't imagine that they were very chromatic or modulated.

Yes, except not just hymns. Back then, there was an interest in general participation in other kinds of folk music. On the frontier, before the days of RCA and MP3, you made your own music -- with instruments you could carry with you -- or you did without.

And yes, in order to sing highly chromatic or modulated music, you have to be able to read music well enough not to need shape notes anyway. Pentatonic and diatonic scales are typical. Isolated chords in very remote keys (or even outright dissonances) are surprisingly common; modulation to anything but relative major or minor -- very rare.

Re: Shaped Notes

Reply #49
>>Incidentally, the shaped note systems that I have come across (fasola and fasolami), do not use a distinct note for each pitch of the scale.

The Aiken (7-shape) system, introduced about 1860, does. It is still widely used in new hymnals, especially for churches in the south and midwest. For instance, the Southern Baptists' official hymnal is printed (optionally) with Aiken notes; and I believe most churches of Christ use hymnals with Aiken notes.

The four-note systems are not widely used today, or in much new music, except within a (fairly active) "Sacred Harp" community, which sings (mostly) hymns but in (mostly) a "social-traditional" rather than religious context. You may be able to find a few Primitive Baptist churches that do use four-note tune books in worship.

Today, churches that emphasize a-cappella congregational singing are the major consumers of shape-note sheet-music.