Hummingbird notation

I recently had a great conversation with the inventor of the Hummingbird music notation, Blake West. I will share some of my thoughts about Hummingbird and how it relates to pitch bracket notation. Hummingbird uses a traditional five line staff and in large part resembles […]

Time brackets

In pitch bracket notation, the melody line carries a pitch value just like a staff line. But the pitch value of a melody line can be changed by writing pitch brackets. The melody line also carries a time value which can be changed by writing time brackets. […]

Tuning pitch brackets: part 1

Harmony began developing in Europe around the 14th century. Prior to this, instruments were tuned using the Pythagorean method which employed pitch ratios of 2:1 and 3:2. As musicians began exploring new harmonic possibilities in the 14th and 15th century they found that the Pythagorean […]

Pitchscape: part 2

The concept of pitchscape may seem unintelligible or too abstract to be practical. But musicians are already familiar with one particular pitchscape: the staff. The melody line below shows a sequence of nested, matching b1 brackets. If you connect the matching brackets you form a […]

Pitchscape: part 1

There is a fascinating interpretation of pitch brackets which is likely to inspire new ways of interpreting and composing music. Consider the melody line below. Matching brackets are helpful for interpreting complex hierarchies of pitch within a melody. What happens if you connect these matching […]


The drawing below shows a piano keyboard with an array of melody lines. Each melody line start at C on the left, and then the pitch brackets raise the pitch to the corresponding piano key on the right.

Chorals and Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 37

This example shows how simple choral music can be written in pitch bracket. Each voice has its own melody line, and notes played at the same time are vertically aligned. Melody lines are also given a starting scale degree number. I use shared pitch brackets to […]


Sharps and flats in music notation change the pitch of a note by a half-step, a semitone. In pitch bracket notation we write a cross or slash through a note to raise or lower by a semitone. The cross resembles a plus sign and the slash resembles a minus […]

The pitch hallway

The drawing below is a melody line with nested matching pairs of b7 brackets. The question mark indicates an incomplete portion of the melody line far off in the distance. You appear to be standing at the end of a long hallway. If you happen […]

Musical circuits

Pitch brackets split a melody line into a sequence of line segments. Let’s call the segments nodes. The start of the melody line is typically assigned the pitch of 1. This will be our reference node, our ground node. Each node has a constant pitch […]