A new approach to music shorcuts

• Jan 23, 2023 - 11:38

Starting point

I have been thinking for several days about how to improve the way shortcuts are assigned to keys on a keyboard. As a Sibelius user for many years, I always wondered why the keys that are usually used the most when typing text are the least used in music notation software. The idea is to distribute the pitches to the left hand and the rhythms to the right hand in order to write quickly.


The objective of this project is to propose a standard of shortcuts which is built with ergonomics in priority and the will to be able to enter music quickly and easily without needing to use the mouse or a numeric keypad.

For this, I based myself on the 60% ANSI layout because it is the most restrictive and therefore the most compatible. Here is the distribution of the keys according to the hands used (red = L.H. ; blue = R.H.)



The shortcuts are thought in layers. These are activated by the Ctrl, Shift and Alt modifiers as well as their combination (I have currently configured only the one-key modifiers).

Il existe 8 layers possibles :

Layer n Key combinaisons
Layer 0 none
Layer 1 Shift
Layer 2 Ctrl
Layer 3 Alt
Layer 4 Shift + Ctrl
Layer 5 Ctrl + Alt
Layer 6 Alt + Shift
Layer 7 Shift + Alt + Ctrl


Layer 0 (no modifier)


I propose to move from the distribution of notes according to the letter of the key to a joint distribution.


In this way, the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B would be entered respectively by the keys A , S, D, F, Q, W, E.


The idea is to use the tactile mark of the J key as a starting point for rhythm notation. The quarter note being the basic rhythmic figure, it would be coherent to associate it to this key.


Layer 1 (Shift)

These functions are activated when the Shift key is held down.

Layer 2 (Ctrl)

These functions are activated when the Ctrl key is held down.


Implementing this type of shortcut raises several questions:
- Is it possible to assign a shortcut from the position on the keyboard (row.column)? This would avoid the many localization problems.
- Is it possible to assign any function of the MS4 software to any key combination?

This is the first time I submit this kind of contribution for an open source software. I was thinking of putting this project on my personal GitHub to work on it with interested people but I don't know if it's usual use. If some of you are interested to improve this approach, please let me know.


Very interesting. Do you think this could be implemented through an on-screen keyboard app ? This way one would not need to do anything in MS.
Perhaps the on-screen keyboard could even wear your very nice stickers ;)

In reply to by phil mtl

It would be possible to make an application that filters the information entered by the keyboard to translate it into the standard MS shortcuts. On Windows, it is possible to use an AutoHotKey script. However, the easiest way is to provide an XML file to import instead of the standard file. This is the least time consuming option.

The problem is that I am not sure that all the MS functions are accessible via the XML file. Moreover, the XML file only works by entering the key value and not its position on the keyboard (row/column). If I provide an XML file, it will only work for keyboards in a given language.

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