ABOUT This Site

Welcome to the Music Innovators Workshop's Key Maps for the Piano site. Here's a preview of  the key map notation and instruction that you will find in the piano music offered on this site.
The site presents the results of over 25 years of research and effort to develop a robust piano notation that is much easier to learn and read than traditional notation. The success of this effort is well documented by the articles and music presented on this site.

Introduction. Because this site is based on a new and unknown piano notation, it seems appropriate to have a few words of explanation. The present notation, the Traditional Grand Staff notation, is well known throughout the world and, obviously, does the job extraordinarily well. Then, why bother with another notation? Very simply, the grand staff is extraordinarily difficult to learn and read, especially for the keyboard instruments because of their ability to sound many different keys at the same time - unlike most other instruments. The grand staff was NOT  designed for the keyboard, rather it was designed to indicate what sounds to sing or play - which makes it work for ANY instrument (and voice). 

Key Maps SHOW Which Keys to Play. On the other hand, key maps have been designed for the keyboard, actually SHOWING which keys to play. Key maps are much easier to learn and read, with only 12 notes positions to learn, and with the rhythm on a timeline showing exactly how long to hold each note. Also, there is a note for every black key, unlike the grand staff that uses # and b codes to alter the notes for the white keys to make them indicate the black keys.

Sheet Music Is Not Music. Let's also point out that the SHEET MUSIC containing either notation is actually NOT "music" at all. The "sheet music" that we read is actually a set of INSTRUCTIONS. It is not music. The sheet music CONTAINS instructions for playing the music. This play on words can be very misleading. When we come up with a new notation that makes learning and reading much easier, we actually are not meddling with the MUSIC itself; we are simply modifying the instruction sheets used to show which keys to play. The key maps are not messing with your music. They are just modifying the instructions to make the music easier to play.

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Food For Thought. Though the key map notation is formatted as a piano tablature with rhythm, it is perfectly suited as a notation for any of the standard instruments and voice. How is this possible? Though the notation is based on the design of the keyboard, the keyboard itself is based on the chromatic scale, the underlying basis of our musical world. Being based on this chromatic scale, the notation can serve all of the instruments that are designed to play a chromatic scale. To make the notation suit these instruments in a more familiar way, the notation simply needs to be reoriented to flow (timewise) from left to right across the page. (We're not planning to do this at the present time. It's just nice to know that this compatibility exists.)   
Getting Started. Everyone is welcome, but it needs to be clear that parts of the site are quite technical in nature. The site is intended mainly for music teachers, other educators, and students who are learning or who have learned to play from key maps. The site contains a number of explanatory articles, a basic piano method, and hundreds of pages of  piano pieces and collections using the key map notation. 

Disclaimer. We are not out to pick a fight with the traditional grand staff notation. It is somewhat flawed, but it is the de facto standard throughout the world for the notation of music. It is like a miracle, providing an international language of music, something that the world has not been able to do with its spoken languages. It needs no defense. It gets the job done. All serious pianists need to learn it. We teach it to our own students.

The Key Maps Preparatory Role. We are presenting key maps because they are so very much easier to learn and read. We believe that key maps, although robust enough in their own right, also have an important place as a preparatory notation for anyone wanting to learn the piano. Key maps can be learned more quickly and are are less stressful for students learning to play. They are compatible with the grand staff in many ways, and provide effective preparation for those opting to continue on by learning to play from the traditional grand staff notation.

Basis of the Key Map Notation. The notation is designed visually to match the layout of the keyboard. It functions as a tablature that also shows rhythm on a timeline. Notes move sequentially down the page, proceeding to the left and right in sync with the movements of the fingers on the keyboard.

Format of the Musical Staff. The staff is simply a visual extension of the black keys. It consists of vertical lines standing for the black keys horizontally spaced to match the relative spacing of the black keys. Notes for the black keys are placed on these lines. Notes for white keys are simply "hung" on these lines in sync with the locations of the white keys on the keyboard.

How One Reads the Keyboard.  Observing the keyboard, we notice that there are 7 12-key positions on the entire keyboard. (You can refer to the picture of the keyboard at the top of this page.) Observe the C scale on which the keyboard is based. (There are 12 keys from the C key to the B key in this "octave group".) We learn to read the keyboard by learning to recognize these 12 keys. Because the other 6 "octave groups"  are identical to the one that we have learned - we really don't need to learn to recognize the 12 keys of any other octave group on the keyboard. The other 6 octave groups are just read in the same way.

We Read Key Maps In the Same Way. Because the notation is based on these identical 12-key groups on the keyboard, we need to have only 12 notes in the notation. We need only 12 notes as long as we can distinguish the groups from each other - which we can do very easily. We distinguish them from each other by their locations, by their numbers, and by color, which is an integral part of the key map notation. THERE ARE ONLY 12 NOTE  POSITIONS ON KEY MAPS!

TruScaled PITCH Notation.  The width of  all notes is that of a whole-step. Two notes touching each other (horizontally) are a whole step apart (C and D; Bb and C). Two notes that overlap (horizontally) by half are a half-step apart (E and F; F# and G). All PITCH INTERVALS in the notation are proportional to the horizontal spacing of their notes - and are proportional to their SOUND INTERVALS - and are proportional to the SPACING OF THE KEYS on the keyboard.

TruScaled RHYTHM Notation. The (vertical) visual length of each note on the page is proportional to its time in beats. A 2 beat note is physically twice a long as a 1 beat note, and so on. All beats are indicated on the musical staff by THIN, equally spaced horizontal lines running across the staff.  The measures are indicated by equally spaced HEAVY horizontal lines (at the same time also indicating the location of a beat). (The heavy lines replace the obsolete measure spaces shown on the diagrams on this page.)

A Note For Every Black Key. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the key maps over traditional notation is that there is a note for every key on the keyboard. There is no need to learn to read the sharp and flat key signature codes of traditional notation. These codes are probably the most difficult part of learning to play and are the cause of a great deal of real suffering for many students - the codes taking many years of study to master. See the demo. below. The music on the left is in the key of C. The music on the right is in the key of Db (5 flats) - but no key signature is needed to show which notes to play.

(Below) The Key Map Notes for the black keys are on the vertical lines. Notes for the white keys are in the spaces between the lines, just as the white keys are between the black keys on the keyboard.
You can click on the image to enlarge it.

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  93k v. 1 Aug 4, 2019, 4:11 PM John M. Honeycutt
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  249k v. 1 Aug 4, 2019, 4:11 PM John M. Honeycutt