Music Theory Exam questions

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    Robert Dietrich

    Hello Kathleen:

    I have been asked to transcribe a music theory exam for a student. I have a few questions.


    1. There is a question where the student is asked to graphically indicate key signatures in both treble and bass clefs. Is there a good way to represent that in braille, or should I just be satisfied to have the student indicate that there is one sharp in the key of G major, for instance? (see question 1)
    2. There is a second question that asks the student to add accidentals to scales in order to represent them properly. How would I represent that in braille? A literary blank line underneath the notes, perhaps? (see question 5)
    3. There are also 2 sections where notes are enclosed in boxes or circles to form certain chords. These boxes/circles extend between treble and bass clefs. How would you suggest that I indicate that in braille? Would music parentheses work even though I would have to extend those parentheses between hands? (see diagrams preceding questions 20 and 29)

    This exam needs to be transcribed by Feb. 1. I have sent you the whole .pdf file

    Thank you in advance for your insight.

    Robert Dietrich


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    Hi Robert,

    Let's see if I can help -

    Question 1 - key signatures. The braille reader should just be required to indicate the signatures as they read them in braille.

    Question 5 - adding accidentals. You could braille each whole note with a blank cell in between them, giving space to mark where a flat or sharp would go. I don't think adding lines is necessary.

    Boxes and circles - I would make them distinct, for sure. For boxes I usually use music brackets around the enclosed notes in all parts. Circles would be fine with music parentheses. Use word sign expressions with the letters and numbers of the boxes/circles in all parts before the brackets/parentheses.

    In exams and theory books like these where there is a lot of visual stuff going on, include a transcriber's note before everything that might not read easily. So before the example for questions 20-28, write a TN that says something to the effect of "In print, lettered boxes and numbered circles enclose different notes and chords. In braille, boxes are represented by music brackets and circles by music parentheses. Letters and numbers precede each boxed or circled note or chord in all parts."


    (Luckily, you don't have any overlapping boxes or circles here! That gets messy, for sure!)

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.


    Robert Dietrich

    Thanks much, Kathleen. I probably will have more questions. But I will see what I come up with first.



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