The History And Development Of Braille Music

Louis BrailleLouis Braille came up with Braille music at about the same time as he did literary Braille. At the age of three, he was blinded by an awl; the very same tool that eventually helped him to come up with Braille. When he was of age, he was sent to a school that was specifically meant for the blind but it had no books meant for them. The letters in the books that this school offered were large and raised on the page so that they could be felt. He could easily make out what letters were on the page but it took too long to read a sentence. By the time he got to the end of it, he had forgotten how it started. He had a great thirst for knowledge and felt that his disability kept him from numerous thought and ideas. He was innately intelligent and very creative, having learnt how to play the cello and organ from a very young age.

At that time, he heard of how the French army sent messages to each other; in symbols made of small dots and dashes that could be read by running their fingers over them. These messages were sent at night so the soldiers had to make out the messages without lighting a lantern or striking a match because it would make them an easy target. Those symbols were too bulky – a page could only hold one or two sentences – and it still took too long to read. Louis, spurred on by the motivation to find a quicker way to read and the constant encouragement from his parents, created an alphabet that consisted of only six dots. It was easier to read and he could do it faster.

The music has been a godsend for visually impaired musicians since its inception. It uses the same six-position Braille cell that is found on his other music invention. However, it is unique in that it has its own conventions and syntax. Learning this system is about as difficult as it is to learn to read normal print music. As long as one is able to read Braille at Grade 2 level and above, he can easily learn how to read the system for music. Lessons for beginners are simple but they become more complex as one goes along. Just like literary Braille, this type of music is bulky. A system of repetition symbols are used to reduce this.

For this music, a musician can tell by a note symbol what pitch it is and the length of the note. An octave is specified by a mark placed just before a note symbol. A music hyphen is used more often in this kind of music; is used to indicate that the music continues on the next line. While print music is written on several different staves, this kind of music only uses one. One difference between the literary Braille and its counterpart is that the music can be read anywhere regardless of where it was produced. For the former, adjustments must be made depending on the language or subject. It is not common practice for a blind person to read and play at the same time. A musician would have to study the music beforehand and play it from memory.

It was invented by a Frenchman named Louis Braille. He was intelligent and had a great love for music. He was blinded at a young age and though he wanted to learn, there were no books that could make this easy for him. His determination to find a way to read faster and with more ease was rewarded when he finally came up with a system of symbols that could be used by the visually impaired. Braille music uses the same symbols but this system has its own unique meanings. On the legal front, Winters and Yonker have helped us navigate the complicated legal processes. We thanks them for their support and well wishes.

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