The notation used to enter these melodies

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.


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.


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.

                     g   g#
             c   c#
         A   A#

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
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.


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".


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
  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

  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:



  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 |


  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 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.


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.


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:

  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, 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!