Updated April 2020.
Sad news: Our friend George Secor, who gave us the gift of Sagittal notation, passed away on the 2nd of March 2020, aged 76, after a long battle with cancer.
We have a beautiful new Sagittal SMuFL Character Map thanks to volunteer Douglas Blumeyer. Download the Excel or LibreOffice version below.
Play George Secor's
2009 piece Coming on Clouds
It's in a 16-tone subset of his 29-tone high-tolerance temperament, a 13-limit temperament
he devised in 1975.
"sagittal" (pronounced "SAJ-i-tl" /ˈsædʒ ɪ təl/) means
"arrow-like". Think of Sagittarius the archer; the centaur with bow
and arrow that the ancients saw in the night sky.
Sagittal notation system is a comprehensive system for notating musical pitch
in all possible scales and tunings - a universal set of microtonal accidentals,
equally suited to extended just intonation, equal divisions of the octave (or
of any other interval), or any of the non-just non-equal "middle
path" tunings or temperaments. It is called Sagittal because, you guessed
it, it uses various arrow-like symbols, pointing up or down to indicate raising
or lowering of pitch.
stage during the development of the notation, I suggested to George that we
should provide an entertaining introduction by means of some mythology.
agreed to write this mythology, with the help of his daughter Samara, and it
appears below for your enjoyment.
a mythical introduction to the Sagittal
read the Xenharmonikôn article
(pdf) introducing the Sagittal notation.
with the Sagittal forum for news,
support and discussion.
cooperation with Steinberg's SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout) initiative, we have
devised a font mapping for Sagittal, that makes it easier to find the more
common symbols. View the Sagittal-SMuFL Character
Map online as a PDF, or download it as
a spreadsheet in either Excel or LibreOffice format.
You must install the Bravura Text
font before the spreadsheets will display the correct symbols. The character
map tabulates an enormous amount of information about the complete set of
Sagittal and Sagittal-compatible accidentals. Many thanks to Douglas Blumeyer for all his hard work in compiling and presenting
Sagittal symbols are now part of Steinberg's free Bravura and Bravura Text fonts.
those of you who prefer mixed Sagittal but are frustrated by the limitations of
current notation software when it comes to compound accidentals, we have
created the BravuraMSS font. MSS stands for Mixed Spartan
Sagittal. This is version 1.18 of the Bravura font with the multi-shaft Spartan
Sagittal accidentals replaced by the corresponding mixed-Sagittal combination
of accidentals, as single characters. And they have also been mapped to all the
letters of the alphabet, lower and upper case. The natural is mapped to zero.
the Sagittal notation on the staff as you hear the chords played, in Andrew Meronek's Sagittal
chord list videos.
a chart showing the accidentals for the various precision levels of Single-Sagittal Just Intonation notation. Please note
that the lower two levels are considered sufficient for most mortals. And note
that the Olympian level is out-of-date. It needs to be updated to use breves on the left instead of accents on the right. You can
also read about the Prime
Factor Sagittal Just Intonation notation.
about Sagispeak, a tuning independent, and language
independent, way of naming and pronouncing the Sagittal symbols.
can hear the notation example from the top of this
page played in various tunings. At this stage they are in MIDI files so the
Jacob Barton's amazing Sagibelius 2.0 scripts
that let you use Sagittal symbols with the Sibelius music notation software. It
wasn't easy, but he found a way. The zipfile includes
a modified version of the Sagittal-2 font. The documentation and examples will
be educational even if you're not using Sibelius.
the Bravura font can be used with
notation software such as Dorico, Sibelius, Finale or
Lilypond, just like any other notation font, the
following software products provide explicit support for the Sagittal system.
What the sagittal symbols really
represent. This will be of interest to anyone implementing software to play
Keenan and Secor
Honored (cached copy). It seems the gods have been having a bit of fun with
us. Apparently we have been honored already! Although what kind of honor it is,
when Keenan is described as "offensive" and Secor
as "a rookie", I'm not sure. Not to mention that they got our first
names wrong, and those photos don't really do us justice. Thanks to Aaron Hunt
for bringing this extraordinary "coincidence" to our attention.