Classic Nydana Features


Staves are built using so-called bands (cf. classic.pdf 1a). Such (octave-) bands can be of two types: stave bands and ledger bands (a ledger band is a line-pair with both ends sealed by half-circles). There can be single-band staves, double-band staves, triple-band staves, and so on.

A left hand stave and a right hand stave can be combined into a four-band stave if a compact notation is considered more important than keeping left and right hand separated. To avoid any confusion as to which stave a ledger band belongs, it is advised to keep staves enough separated from each other.

One could also let the distance between the RH stave and the LH stave in a grand stave be precisely such that a ledger band placed between the staves could belong to either stave. In this case the LH clef and the RH clef must be consistent in such a way that they refer to the same octave for the ledger band between the staves (which can be used for either LH or RH).

Ledger Bands

So-called ledger bands (line pairs that have their ends sealed by half-circles) should be discontinued whenever a bar line occurs.

Ledger bands should not be made longer than necessary, but when two ledger bands at the same level are closer together than six stave units (a note head, for comparison, is two stave units tall), they should be replaced with one continuous ledger band. The (currently suggested) distance of six stave units is measured between where the horizontal lines of the first ledger band end, and where the lines of the second ledger band begin.

Bar Lines

Bar lines on single-band staves should reach the next imagined octave band. Although the default direction is upward, these bar lines can also be directed downwards. See springsong.pdf


A traditional treble clef indicates the stave band that begins with C4. A clef that looks like a horn indicates the stave band that begins with C3. The third type of clef looks like a lyre and indicates the stave band that begins with C5. For clefs having an associated number, the number directly indicates the octave of a stave band. A clef should always be placed on the lowest stave band. See classic.pdf 2e, which shows all available clefs.

When the octave disposition changes due to a clef change somewhere within a measure, any previous accidentals continue to affect note heads along the same vertical position on the stave, regardless of the fact that the notes now sound in a different octave.

Although it is possible to do, avoid putting a clef between tied notes. The newfangled tie arches would nevertheless clearly indicate that the notes are tied, even though the note heads could jump to an adjacent stave band.


The All'Ottava number indicates how many octaves to transpose (+ = up, - = down), followed by the usual dashed line with a vertical dash at the end. See classic.pdf 2e

When the octave disposition changes due to All'Ottava, any previous accidentals continue to affect note heads on the same vertical position on the stave, regardless of the fact that the notes now sound in a different octave.

Although it is possible to do, avoid starting an All'Ottava between tied notes. The newfangled tie arches would nevertheless clearly indicate that the notes are tied, even though the note heads could jump to an adjacent stave band.

Key Signatures

Key signatures in Classic Nydana (cf. classic.pdf 2a) are basically the same as in traditional notation.

The key signature shows what "pie-slice", taken out of the spiral of fifths, that will be mostly used; that is, it points out where, along the continuous sequence of perfect fifths, the focus is. The key signature doesn't necessarily say anything about the mode, or where the tonal center is - this will have to be deduced by analyzing the music. One can nevertheless always specify the mode as part of the song title, the way that classical music often does. The mode could be written in parentheses below the title, and does not have to be limited to only major or minor. For example:

Hear the Birds' Twitter

(F mixolydian)


The rules for accidentals in Classic Nydana are:

1) A sharp sign (#) or flat sign (b) in the key signature is valid for the corresponding note heads in all octave positions.

2) A temporary modifier (a.k.a. accidental = sharp, flat, natural, double-sharp, double-flat) alters a note head and any subsequent note heads that share the same vertical position on the stave. An accidental is only valid within the measure. An accidental will suppress any corresponding sharp sign (#), or flat sign (b), from the key signature. An accidental will also replace any previous accidental that occupied the same vertical stave-position.

3) Courtesy accidentals are accidentals that are not strictly necessary, but may be provided as reminders.

There are no additional rules to remember regarding key signatures and accidentals in Classic Nydana than those listed above.

The traditional notation rule that accidentals carry across a bar line for tied notes and are valid also in the next measure, but only for the tied notes, is no longer used. It is thus necessary to repeat such accidentals in the next measure. There is less risk that tie arches interfere with such accidentals since chords only have one tie arch in Classic Nydana.

Thanks to the black/white note heads, courtesy accidentals will be less frequently needed in Classic Nydana. Courtesy accidentals should not be put inside parentheses.

The new double-flat accidental, w, replaces the traditional bb (cf. classic.pdf 2b).

If two instruments are notated on the same stave, then there is no rule in Classic Nydana saying that accidentals must be repeated for the second instrument. It is nevertheless possible to use courtesy accidentals so that each instrument gets its own accidentals.

In atonal music, courtesy accidentals can be added to such an extent that every note head gets its own accidental. Another option, however, is to limit the accidentals' scope so that each accidental only affects one note head. The key signature of C major is used, and the naturals (A B C D E F G) will never need natural signs. This second option is considered non-standard and should therefore always be accompanied by a written explanation.

Time Signatures

It is recommended to always use numbers in time signatures. Avoid using c (=4/4) or c with a vertical line (=2/2). See classic.pdf 3d

Stem Flags

Stem flags should be on the left side of stems (cf. classic.pdf 2c). Those are the default flag positions; but, a flag can nevertheless be flipped to the other side of the stem in tricky situations to avoid collisions with other objects (that is, a flag becomes mirrored in respect to the Y-axis). The reason why stem flags normally reside on the left side of stems, is to make room for augmentation triangles.

The whole-note stem is useful for grouping note heads into chords, or when you want to assign whole-notes to different parts with different stem directions (different parts can be played with left and right hand, respectively, on some instruments). Two parts with whole-notes can now share the same note head. It will also be clear which note heads are affected by diagonal tremolo bars across a stem.

Giving the whole-note a stem also frees stemless note heads to instead be used as grace notes. Consequently, notes with clearly defined durations will always have stems. The whole-note stem also makes sure that a whole-note is not likely to be overlooked, since the stem draws attention to it. Furthermore, with the introduction of the whole-note stem, note heads of ordinary size and shape can be used also for the whole-notes.

The Maxima (=8/1) stem flag is made to look somewhat like the letter M. Likewise, the "Longa" (=4/1) reminds of an L; and the "Breve" (=2/1) is consequently shaped like the letter B. The Breve is seldom used these days, and the Maxima and Longa note values are hardly used at all, but are still provided in case someone can make use of them.


Partial beams are cut off diagonally for aesthetic reasons. See what it looks like in Modulo Notation (cf. chromatic.pdf 3c).

Ties and Slurs

Tie arches should look like arrows (cf. classic.pdf 3a, and summersong.pdf). The note or chord to which the arrow points should thus, ideally, not be struck anew. Ties will affect all notes on a stem, so only one tie arch is needed. If there are additional note heads in a chord that cannot be tied to any note head in the next chord (because the notes don't represent the same pitch), a slur arch (just one) can also be added.

For the unusual combination of tied, normal, and slurred notes: add asterisks to the chord at which the arrow points, to mark the notes that should be neither tied nor slurred, and explain what the asterisk means in a message above the stave.


Rest symbols are shown in classic.pdf (2c), below the corresponding stem flags.

Multi-measure rests look like this in Classic Nydana (the digit indicates the number of measures):


Multi-measure rests should have a vertically central position when there is an even number of stave bands - otherwise move the rest symbol from the center of the stave up to the next available space between stave bands.

Note Value Augmentation

Traditional notation note value dots are replaced with note value augmentation triangles (cf. classic.pdf 2d). Only one triangle is used, even if a stem has more than one note head. Any vertical line placed to the left of a triangle indicates another (hidden) triangle. Each additional triangle has a halving effect on the note value to be added, just like ordinary traditional augmentation dots have.

Small Note Heads

A small note head in Classic Nydana looks somewhat like the left or right half of an ordinary note head (cf. classic.pdf 3d). This makes small note heads clearer than if they were simply miniature note heads. Small white/hollow note heads in fine print might otherwise be mistaken for black note heads.

Small note heads in traditional notation have sometimes been used for:

When a small note head is fused with an ordinary note head (with two parts having stems in opposite directions), only the ordinary note head is written.

Asterisks are recommended to make a leading voice distinct from sub-voices instead of using small note heads on the same stem.

Small note heads should never be used for grace notes.

Grace Notes

Grace notes will be written as ordinary note heads without stems, to which a slur is added (cf. classic.pdf 3c). The long grace note is distinguished from the short grace note by a fermata sign. The short grace note borrows time from the foregoing note/chord. The long grace note borrows time from the note into which it slowly resolves with a heavy slur. Various text messages can be added to describe whether short grace notes should be played very fast or moderately fast.

Grace notes can alternatively be written out explicitly in the form of ordinary beamed notes. Use the L-shaped symbols from traditional notation if it should be marked out which notes to play with left and right hand, respectively (allows a series of grace notes to be written on the same stave instead of being split between the RH and LH stave).

Horizontal brackets can be used if two stemless note heads, by the interval of a major or minor second, should be played simultaneously. A dotted line could connect consecutive short grace notes if the interval between them is very big.


It is recommended that a normal-size note head, without a stem, is written in parentheses after the principal trill note, to represent the auxiliary trill note. There can also be slurred note heads without stems after a trill note (cf. springsong.pdf).


Tremolo should be written in the same style as trills, but with "tr" being replaced by "tm" (a wavy line could also be added). If necessary, slanted tremolo bars across the stem would determine the note value of each individual note in the tremolo (and from that, the number of tremolo notes can be deduced).


Tuplet numerals in the new notation represent the note value that the tuplet occupies (cf. classic.pdf 3b). For example, 1:4 means that the tuplet lasts for the duration of a quarter note. However, the numeral 1 is always omitted, so instead we just write :4.

When the tuplet equals something more complex, like a an augmented note, or the total note value of two tied notes, the smallest common denominator should be employed. Thus, if the occupied note value equals a dotted eight note, the numeral becomes 3:16 (that is, three sixteenth notes). Likewise, if the occupied note value equals a half note tied to an eight note, the numeral becomes 5:8.

With the new tuplet approach, the individual note values of the notes in the tuplet do not all have to be equal; any musical phrase could be turned into a tuplet - just remember to add a horizontal bracket when necessary.

BPM Tempo Indication

Black note heads should always be used for tempo indication (that is, a small note followed by an equals sign and a BPM figure). This is to avoid the confusion when you don't know which kind of notation the tempo indication belongs to. A quarter note with a white note head might otherwise be mistaken for a traditional notation half-note.

Note Heads

Two parts, with stems that go in opposite directions, should always share the same note head in the new notation when the interval is a P1 and each stem only has one note to represent. This is made possible because note heads no longer are associated with note value indications (cf. dotted note heads, and solid vs. hollow note heads, in traditional notation). When at least one of the stems has more than one note to represent, note heads should never be shared.

When note heads from two parts are close to each other:

When two parts, with stems that go in opposite directions, have note heads that cannot be written strictly one above the other (for example, C with a down-stem and D with an up-stem), the note head of C should be placed to the left of note head D.


A small flageolet circle should always be used instead of the traditional notation rhombic note head (cf. classic.pdf 3e). If individual note heads should be targeted, consider also using asterisks.

Accent Marks

It is recommended that accent marks (>) in Classic Nydana are drawn in such a way that the lower line becomes horizontal (cf. summersong.pdf). This avoids the possibility of having Nydana's microtonal intonation signs and accent marks confused.

Microtonal Notation

Nydana's intonation signs (cf. classic.pdf 3g) assume Pythagorean tuning (cf. the Nydanalyzer), and conform to 53-ET. A pure major third can be written as a diminished fourth (-4). A pure minor third can be written as an augmented second (+2). Ordinary accidentals can be employed to accurately describe such intervals, but the intonation signs (> or < etc.) allow you to pinpoint any of the 53 notes per octave associated with 53-ET. The pierced intonation signs that represent 11 cents make 106-ET possible - that is, you can also access the notes that fall right between the dots on the Nydanalyzer.

Nydana's intonation scheme is the default system. Other tuning schemes where, for instance, C# is considered lower than Db, could also be employed, but then this should ideally be explicitly declared.

Strictly quarter tone music, that would assume equal tempered tuning, could use >> for quarter tone up, and << for quarter tone down.

A microtonal sign is only valid for one note head; and it does not apply automatically to a tied note head that follows.


Asterisks can be used as a multipurpose tool. It's possible, for example, to mark out a melody line that is hidden inside chords. The function of the asterisk should thus be explained in a text message above the stave, like this: * prima voce

Tone Clusters

Tone clusters can be written as two separate chords that are joined by a horizontal bracket. The chord that contains the lowest note is written first (that is, to the left of the other chord).

Breath Marks

A breath mark should be written as an ampersand (&) instead of a comma sign. This is suggested in order to make Classic Nydana be compatible with Modulo Notation.

Jump Instructions

Classic Nydana has its own system to manage jumps between various sections in the music (cf. classic.pdf 3f). This system has the capability to replace the following notions in traditional notation: repeat bars, prima/seconda volta brackets, and measure repeat signs. It will also replace various Italian terms and instructions related to Segno and Coda. Any degree of complexity can be expressed with the new system without ambiguity.

The new system consists of jump instructions and anchors. A jump instruction has an arrow pointing in the direction to jump, followed by a number that indicates an anchor. For example: <-3, or ->5.

The anchor is a number followed by a colon. The anchor shows the point from which to continue playing after the jump. For example: 3:

Jump instructions and anchors always appear at a double bar line, and are written in a bold typeface, above the stave.

In the event that a jump instruction collides with an anchor, the anchor is written above the jump instruction.

Jump instructions are always carried out in numerical order: start with 1, then 2, and so on.

If there is more than one anchor at the same place, separate anchors with comma signs (this applies to jump instructions, too), like so: 3,4,6:

Instead of writing, for example, 2,3,4,6:, it's possible to just write 2-4,6:

If a portion should be repeated an arbitrary number of times (not all verses in a song may have to be sung), then the jump instruction should look like this: <-5+

and it means that one is supposed to jump to anchor 5 as many times as one wishes. After the last jump to anchor 5, one would start looking for the next jump instruction (in this case, number 6).

There is also a jump instruction that looks like a T rotated 90 degrees clockwise, followed by a number. It means: jump to the end of the piece/movement. In traditional notation it corresponds to "Fine".

Traditional notation also has something called vi- -de, indicating that a portion could be left out. In the new system, this can be achieved by putting the jump instruction (-> followed by a number) in parentheses. The corresponding anchor should then also be put in parentheses.