New Music Notation


Just a bibliographical curiosity. I just met an old book on new music notation. It is not all that new, dating back to 1974, but for this reason this should at this point be all accepted notation.

The book is titled “International Conference on New Musical Notation”. The conference was held at the State University Ghent in 1974, and was organized in collaboration with the New York Public Library. The editors are some big names, like Kurt Stone, Herman Sabbe and Gerald Warfield.

It is probably well-know in the Dorico offices, but I just wanted to report about it, in case it was oversight.


How much of it still ‘current’? Proposals at conferences (in any sphere) tend to get superseded by newer conventions (at the next conference), or outdated, for whatever reason.


As far as I can see, it is still very current in two ways:

  • There hasn’t been another conference of this extent in the following years; this book is still a reference on the state of the art at that date.

  • It is an historical document from the maturity years of the Western avant-garde; while notation has continued to be enriched, most of the new notation symbols had reached stability at that point.

Many of the documented techniques are still unavailable in modern notation programs, despite still being common.


1 Like

It would be helpful to everyone reading (and might be more effective at persuading the Team) if you could describe which specific notations you find Dorico lacking. Otherwise we’d have to find a copy of the book ourselves, go through it, and guess what you’re referring to.

I wasn’t aware of that “International Conference” publication. Is there a way to view it online? I have a few books on “New Music Notation,” but the Karkoschka book from 1965 is really a classic.

There’s an English translation of the Karkoschka book on for anyone interested.


The book is quite rich, so it is very difficult to resume just a few of the notations. It’s something that I may ask from time to time, or the developers decide to implement deciding on their side.

If it’s not a problem from a copyright point of view, I can post it here.


The conference and resulting publication formed the basis of Kurt Stone‘s book ‘Music Notation in the Twentieth Century’ so anyone familiar with that work will recognize the recommendations. If anyone uses Scribd the publication is on there as pdf.


I can hardly imagine the Team doesn’t know Kurt Stone’s book… If I remember correctly, in the early days of Dorico development, Daniel explained that traditional (say, 19th-century and [popular] 20th-century) Western music notation was the first priority to get absolutely right, and that modern developments (and Early Music specialisms, for that matter) would be added in due course. No doubt the Team has a vast roadmap.