Strategy of Combining Common Practice Notation (CPN) & Simplified Notation(SN)

1. Co-exist on the same score

  • On top of each staff, put simplified notation.
  • This is already been done by number of hymn books and pop songs publishers. Generally, melody is the only staff that is annotated with simplified notation.
  • We could easily do this for all staffs in a score.

Easy to implement

  • Both CPN or SN trained musicians can use the score

  • Does not help keyboard player to play multiple notes at the same time
  • It may actually complicate read the score during performance
  • Staffs are further separated so the total height may exceed people’s visual span.

2. Annotate CPN note with SN note

  • SN note is really diatonic degree of the note. We could put the diatonic degree next to the CPN symbol. We read the SN note for the key location within an octave and read the CPN symbol for duration and octave. I am going to call this the Digital Common Practice Notation.


  • Easy to implement
  • It put both notations together for faster reading

  • For score with many notes close to each other, it may look messy.

3. Combine CPN note with SN note

  • Replace the base CPN note symbol (without the flag and dot) with a circled SN note. So we end up with a CPN symbol with a number inside the note symbol. As we cannot represent note that is longer than quarter beat, we need to add a hyphen “-” on the right to indicate the extra beats.

  • May look nicer than option 2

  • The notation is not as intuitive
  • It is harder to implement with existing software

To take the experiment further, I implemented scripts that annotate CPN with Option 1 & 2 in Harmony Assistant using the embedded language Lua.

Option 2 seems to be slightly more elegant visually. And it is closer to the original CPN. So I have selected on Option 2 as my preference.