This documentation will soon be obsoleted, because FluteTree is moving to a new way to notate melodies. The new notation is very similar, it usually only takes a few minutes to convert a song.
Introduction The FluteTree songbook is unique that it allows the viewer to pick a format and fingering style that they prefer. This is accomplished through a piece of software that is downloaded to the web browser, and it formats the music on the fly. This avoids the need for 72 different versions of every melody. Melodies are entered in a textual shorthand, that denotes pitch, duration, and other musical artifacts. The remainder of this document describes the core of this shorthand; basically everything necessary to transcribe music in Nakai Tablature for the Native American Flute. Pitch There are 17 chromatic pitches represented in tablature, starting out with F# and rising to a#. F# G G# A A# B c c# d d# e f f# g g# a a# On an F#-minor flute, the pitch of the flute basically matches how it is written in tablature. --a---a#-- g g# -----------------f---f#---------- e -------------d---d#-------------- c c# ---------B----------------------- A A# -----G---G#---------------------- F# --------------------------------- But in general we ignore the pitch of the flute and just follow the notes as a guide to which holes to cover, i.e., a note on the bottom space that a musician would call a F# is really all holes covered. Basically, the notation system used by the Fluteree.com songbook is the literal recording of this scale. F# G G# A A# B c c# d d# e f f# g g# a a# Notice some notes are capitalized while others are in lower case. For instance: F# is the lowest note of the scale. f# is an octave higher. Duration A note is really the combination of a pitch and duration. This shorthand represents duration as fractions of the beat. A3 is an 'A' played for 3 beats. A1/2 is played for 1/2 of a beat. A/2 is also 1/2 a beat long. A/ is also half a beat long, which is the very shorthand for half a beat. A/4 is played for 1/4 of a beat. A3/2 is played for 3 half beats or 1 1/2 beats. A0 is a very short note, like a grace note. A is an 'A' played for 1 beat. In other words, the duration is optional. Triplets are supported, and are documented below in the section titled "Advanced features". Modifiers Some modifiers follow a note and its duration. B~ is a 'B' that is trilled. The tilde suffix causes a trill symbol to appear over the note, and indicates the fingering is trilled. B^ is a 'B' with a fermata. The caret suffix causes a fermata symbol to appear over the note, and indicates the note is held extra long. B+ is a 'B' that is tied to the next note. The plus suffix causes an arc that connects this note to the next. If they are both the same pitch (B4+ B2), then the duration of both notes are combined for one long continuous note. If the next note is a different pitch (B4+ A2), then this arc indicates a slur between notes. B4+ is a 'B' of 4 beats that is tied to the next note. Some modifiers precede a note. \B is a 'B' that you slide down to. /B is a 'B' that you slide up to. Rest and Sleep A rest is when you do not play a note for a duration. So they are annotated just like notes. r is a rest for one beat. r4 is a rest for 4 beats. r/2 is a rest for half a beat. r3/2 is a rest of a 1 1/2 beats. Sleeps are like rest that they have duration, but you they are really like filler that is outside the rhythm of the melody. There is not a sleep indicators on the staff, they are just blank spaces on the staff, and have no lyrics. z is a sleep for one beat. z4 is a sleep for 4 beats. z/2 is a sleep for half a beat. z3/2 is a sleep of a 1 1/2 beats. There are a couple of symbols that represent brief or long pause for taking breath or waiting for a special moment to resume the melody. , is used to indicate a place to take a quick breath and is indicated with a comma above the staff. // is used to indicate a long pause or caesura. Since these same characters are also modifiers for notes, make sure you put a space in front and behind these symbols to make it obvious to the parser that reads this notation. Measures and Repeats The staff is divided up in rhythmic boxes we call measures. These include additional symbols to denote repeats and such. | is a measure. [: is a new measure and the start of a repeat. :] is the end of a repeat and measure. :|: is the finish of one repeat and the beginning another. || is a double measure. |] is the end of melody. Rhythm, Beat, and Width It is important to indicate the meter or time signature of the melody, by default it is assumed 4/4 time and quarter notes are the beat. There are some directives that can override these. [M:3/4] is 3/4 Meter or time signature [L:1/8] is eighth notes are the durations of your beat. By default, 3 measures appear per staff. This can be changed with the width directive. [W:5] is used to indicate 5 measures per staff. These three directives are typically placed at the beginning of a melody, or as the first thing that appears in a new measure. For instance, many native songs change rhythm in the middle of the song. Changing width may be necessary allow room for long lyrics or to align certain melodic elements of a piece. Example: Amazing Grace [M:9/8][L:1/8][W:5] z6 F#3 | B6 d#c#~B | d#6 c#3 | B6 G#3~ | F#6 , F#3 | B6 d#c#~B | d#6 c#2 d# | f#6+ f#3+ | f#6 , d#3 | f#6 d#c#~B | d#6 c#3 | B6 G#3~ | F#6 , F#3 | B6 d#c#B | d#6 c#3 | B6+ B3+ | B6 z3 |] The first line: [M:9/8][L:1/8][W:5] Denotes: Meter is 9/8; Rhythm will be with an 1/8 notes; Width of staff is 5 measures. The second line: z6 F#3 | B6 d#c#~B | d#6 c#3 | B6 G#3~ | F#6 , F#3 | Denotes: Sleep for 6 beats; sleep is an invisible rest in the measure. F# for 3 beats. B for 6 beats. d# for 1 beat. c# for 1 beat and you trill it. B for 1 beat, and so on. Lyrics Lyrics are optional and are entered separate from the notes. The following example shows the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" and how slashes are used to break up the words and sylables. A-/maz-/i-/n-/g/grace!/How/sweet/the/ sound/that/saved/a__/___/__/wretch/like_/__/me._______/____/____/I/ once___/w-/a-/s/lost,/but/now_____/am__/ found;/was/blind,/b-/u-/t/now/I/see.________/_____/_________ Hyphens and underbars are commonly used to connect or stretch the lyrics under the notes. Rests and notes can have lyrics. Musical sleeps are ignored. If additional whitespace is necessary use ' ' which indicates a non-breaking space needs to be inserted into the lyrics. Sometimes this is needed to prevent concatenation of words or to prevent word wrap or stacking of words. Limitations There are two limitations in the rendering engine that reads this shorthand and formats the sheet music. First, baring notes together is not practically because of the technique used to construct the sheet music out of a small number of graphical images. As it is, this system requires 200 images to support the staff and all the different fingerings. Secondly, some web browsers do not correctly print transparent images that overlap. This is an important trick that allows the notes to be placed upon the musical staff. Advance Features This rendering engine supports some advanced features, such as an extended scale that can be transpose into the range of the flute, and the support of musical triplets. When fractions of a beat are involved, they usually are some power of two: 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 ... The exception is the use of one-thirds to create triplets. This allow 3 notes to compressed into an even duration. For example, here are three notes that are fit into the duration of two beats: B2/3 A2/3 F#2/3 On the sheet music, each of these notes will appear to be a beat in duration: B1/1 A1/1 F#1/1 But a bracket above them all three of them with a number 3 will denote this is really a triplet and fits in the duration of two of these notes together. So triplets should always come in groups of threes, and be some even multiple of 1/3: 8/3 4/3 2/3 1/3 1/6 1/12 ... The example of "Amazing grace" from above could be simplified by taking the melody from it from 9:8 time to 3:4 time. This is only possible the use of triplets: [M:3/4][L:1/4][W:5] z2 F# | B2 d#/3 c#/3 B/3 | d#2 c# | B2 G# | F#2 , F# | B2 d#/3 c#/3 B/3 | d#2 c#/2 d#/2 | f#2+ f#+ | f#2 , d# | f#2 d#/3 c#/3 B/3 | d#2 c# | B2 G# | F#2 , F# | B2 d#/3 c#/3 B/3 | d#2 c# | B2+ B1+ | B2 z |] Also supported is an extended scale of notes. Capitalized notes belong to the octave of the middle C and lowercase notes belong to the octave above that. Single quotes and commas to denote prime and sub-prime notes, which is to say up an octave or down an octave. d' d' c' -c'- --- b b a -a- --- ---- --- g g f ----------------------------------f------------------ e e d ------------------------------d---------------------- c c B --------------------------B-------------------------- A A G ----------------------G------------------------------ F F E ------------------E---------------------------------- D D C --- ---- --- -C- B, B, A, --- -A,- G, G, The fundamental note--all holes closed--does not need to be F#. There is a directive allows changing this, which allows a quick way to transpose a melody up or down. [F:D#] is used to denote D# as the fundamental. Note: doing this causes D# to be the all holes closed which will be formated on the staff as an F#, because Tablature indicates how something is played instead of what pitch is truely being played. Submiting your songs The songs, that are entered into the forms supplied on FluteTree.org, are not automatically saved or sent anywhere. It's your private content. So you will need save them manually by cutting and pasting the text. Click on the text. Press control-A to select all. Press control-C to copy. Goto another application, like a text editor. Press control-V to paste. If you think a song would be of interest to others, you can send me a copy. Right now the songbook is in need for melodies that are good for beginners. I'll have to pass on anything melodies that are copyrighted and I don't have written permission from the original authors. For instance, 'Happy Birthday' song requires royalties. Reporting bugs This tools works best on Internet Explorer 6.0 or later. There are some known issues about printing on under some of the other browsers. Primarily they don't support printing transparent graphics, which are used heavily here. If you run into any problems, let me know and I'll see what I can do about it. Enjoy, and remember to Play, Play, Play!