What is Braille Music Notator?
Braille Music Notator is an online tool for creating braille music scores. While there are tools available which can translate traditional notation into braille music notation, they suffer the same problems as other automatic translation engines: the resulting translations are often unpolished and inefficient, and can sometimes be inaccurate or even illegible.
In Braille Music Notator, the entire process of creating or editing a score is done in braille music notation, but the braille characters are translated into traditional musical symbols automatically. Thus, the score can be designed with the braille reader in mind, resulting in elegant, legible scores which promote sight-reading and accuracy.
Who is this for?
Though the primary goal of Braille Music Notator is to produce high-quality scores for musicians who rely on braille for reading music, the utility is designed to be used by sighted musicians, teachers, and engravers.
However, Braille Music Notator also meets WAI-ARIA standards for accessible web applications and is compatible with screen reading software such as JAWS and VoiceOver, making it available to users with visual impairments.
Do I need to know how to read braille music?
No. Prior experience with braille music notation is helpful, but it is not required to use the utility. In fact, a secondary goal of Braille Music Notator is to help sighted people learn braille music notation and provide a way for visually impaired and sighted musicians to "meet halfway."
How do I use Braille Music Notator?
These instructions pertain to the visual interface. If you use a screen reader or other text-based interface, see the Quick Start for Screen Reader Users.
The Braille Music Notator window is divided into two sections: the notation area and the control area.
The notation area is in the upper part of the window, and displays the score in a grid. Each cell of the grid holds a single braille character. When you open Braille Music Notator for the first time, the score is empty. The highlighted cell is the cursor, which indicates where the next character will be placed. The score scrolls vertically and horizontally to follow the cursor, and can also be scrolled using a scroll wheel or a trackpad which supports scrolling gestures.
The control area displays a keyboard diagram with various musical symbols. Symbols can be entered into the score by clicking on the keyboard diagram or by typing the corresponding key on the keyboard. More musical symbols are available by clicking the numbers on the left side of the control area, or by pressing the spacebar. A text keyboard is also included for entering literary braille characters. Moving the mouse over a key in the keyboard diagram displays a description of that symbol and an example of its use.
What else can I do with Braille Music Notator?
Braille Music Notator includes the following features:
- Scores can be saved to your local disk for later editing
- Braille music files created in other programs can be opened and edited
- Scores can be exported in a format ready to be sent to a braille embosser
- The editor supports cut, copy, paste and unlimited levels of undo and redo
- The editor can toggle between displaying musical symbols or actual braille characters
- The magnification of the notation area can be adjusted
- Unicode braille characters are automatically translated when pasted into the editor
- An updated automatic backup of the current document is stored in the local cookie file
For information about these and other features, consult the Braille Music Notator User Guide.
How should I get started?
If you are familiar with braille music notation, open Braille Music Notator and explore the interface! If you are not familiar with braille music notation, read the short Braille Music Primer.
Where can I learn more about braille music?
The Braille Music Primer can get you started, but for more in depth information, visit the Braille Music Resources page.
Who made this?
Dr. Toby W. Rush teaches music theory, aural skills, and music technology at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. A long time computer programmer and interface designer, he has been researching methods for improving education for visually impaired music students since 2012. He maintains a web site and blog at tobyrush.com.