Updated 2 months ago


    MuseScore 4.1 added a braille panel that displays the current measure in braille music notation. The content is similar to what you get if you export braille via the File menu, but the braille panel updates live as you navigate through the score.

    As of MuseScore 4.2, the braille panel can be used to enter notes and some musical symbols using Perkins-style 6-key braille input.

    Output to a physical braille display

    The contents of the braille panel can be displayed on a braille terminal connected to your computer (e.g. via Bluetooth or USB).

    The following limitations apply when using a physical braille display:

    • NVDA must be used as the screen reader.
    • MuseScore’s braille panel must have keyboard focus.
      • When the score has focus, the braille terminal will just show ordinary status text from the screen reader.
    • Braille navigation and 6-key input must be performed with the computer keyboard.
      • Physical buttons on the braille terminal are not used, except to scroll within a measure that is too long to fit on your display.

    Please let us know in the Documentation forum if you discover a way to bypass any of these limitations.

    Terminology: braille vs. print

    On this page, we refer to MuseScore's ordinary stave notation as "print music". This is the traditional music notation that sighted musicians use on paper or electronic devices, and is displayed in the central region of MuseScore's main window, known as the score view.

    Braille can also be used on paper, but it's not printed with ink. Instead, it's embossed as raised dots, which blind musicians read by touch. It is common in accessibility circles to use the word "print" to mean non-braille notation.

    Viewing braille

    To open or close the braille panel

    1. Go to Preferences > Braille.
    2. Check (or uncheck) the Show braille panel box.

    The braille panel appears directly below the score in MuseScore’s main window.

    To focus the braille panel

    With the braille panel open, press the Tab key while the score has focus. A caret (text cursor) will appear in the braille at the position of whatever element was selected in the score. For example, if a note was selected in the score, the text caret will appear on that note in the braille.

    Press Shift+Tab at any time to leave the braille panel and return to the score. The braille panel will remain open so you can navigate to it again with Tab.

    Navigating the braille

    While the braille panel has focus, you can move the text caret around using the arrow keys. As the caret moves through the braille, the element to the right of the caret becomes selected in the score. If that element is a note, MuseScore will play the sound of the note.

    The braille panel only shows one measure at a time, but it shows that measure for all instruments in the score. Each line of braille corresponds to a staff in the print notation, so grand staff instruments like the piano get two lines of braille, and the organ gets three lines.

    If a staff has lyrics, these are written on another line of braille immediately below the line corresponding to that staff. If there are multiple lines of lyrics (e.g. for multiple verses), each line of lyrics is written on a separate line in the braille.

    Shortcuts for navigation

    The following keyboard shortcuts are available for navigating the braille.

    Action Windows/Linux macOS
    Go to next braille cell Right Right
    Go to previous braille cell Left Left
    Go to braille line above Up Up
    Go to braille line below Down Down
    Go to next measure Ctrl+Right Cmd+Right
    Go to previous measure Ctrl+Left Cmd+Left
    Go to beginning of score Ctrl+Home Cmd+Fn+Left
    Go to end of score Ctrl+Emd Cmd+Fn+Right
    Toggle braille input mode on/off N N

    Writing braille

    Notes and certain musical symbols can be entered in the braille panel using a 6-key method of braille input similar to that of the Perkins Brailler.

    Turn braille input mode on or off

    While the braille panel has focus, press N to toggle braille input mode on or off.

    Constructing a braille cell

    While in braille input mode, six letter keys on the computer keyboard are used to represent the six braille dots that make up a single braille cell (⠿).

    The keys used are F, D, S for dots 1, 2, 3 down the first column of the cell, and J, K, L for dots 4, 5, 6 down the second column. The Space key is used to represent an empty braille cell (⠀), sometimes referred to as dot 0.

    Up to six of these keys can be pressed in combination to construct any pattern of raised dots. For example, to enter a quarter note C, which in braille is ⠹ (i.e. dots 1, 4, 5, 6), press and hold F+J+K+L, then release these keys to confirm the pattern. The keys can be pressed and released in any order, providing at least one key is held at all times, until you have completed the pattern.

    When the final key is released, MuseScore reads your braille pattern. If your pattern corresponds to a recognized note or musical symbol then this element is entered directly in the score, not in the braille panel, because print notation is the "ground truth" for MuseScore. Once the element is in the score, the braille panel automatically updates to reflect this change.

    Sometimes in music braille, the same information can be expressed in multiple ways. For the sake of consistency, MuseScore always picks the same way regardless of how you entered the notation. Therefore, the braille that appears in the braille panel may not exactly match the pattern(s) you entered with the six keys, though it will have the same meaning.

    Entering notes

    Basic notes

    In braille, eighth notes (quavers) and 128th notes are written as:

    Note Braille Dots Keys
    C 1, 4, 5 F+J+K
    D 1, 5 F+K
    E 1, 2, 4 F+D+J
    F 1, 2, 4, 5 F+D+J+K
    G 1, 2, 5 F+D+K
    A 2, 4 D+J
    B 2, 4, 5 D+J+K

    Additional dots are added to the above sequences to create other durations:

    Duration Braille Dots added Keys added
    Quarter (crotchet) and 64th notes 6 L
    Half (minim) and 32nd notes 3 S
    Whole (semibreve) and 16th notes 3, 6 S+L

    Hence a quarter note C is ⠹ (dots 1, 4, 5, 6) and is entered with F+J+K+L. This pattern is also used for a 64th note C.

    16th notes and smaller

    As mentioned above, 16th notes and smaller use the same dot patterns as larger durations. When reading braille, you can work out whether the shorter or longer duration is being specified by looking at the time signature as well as other notes in the measure. However, when writing braille, you need to tell MuseScore which durations you want to use.

    Dots to select Keys to select
    Group 1 whole half quarter eighth 0, 1 Space+F
    Group 2 16th 32nd 64th 128th 0, 2 Space+D

    By default, MuseScore enters group 1 durations (whole, half, quarter, eighth). To switch to group 2, enter dots 0, 2 (i.e. press Space+D). Nothing will appear in the braille panel, but any notes or rests you write from now on will be in group 2 (16th, 32nd, 64th, 128th). To switch back to group 1 durations, enter dots 0, 1 (i.e. press Space+F).

    It's not currently possible to enter durations of 256th and smaller, or breve (double whole) and larger, via the braille panel.

    Dotted notes

    Braille uses ⠄(dot 3) to represent an augmentation dot, which is added in a new braille cell immediately following a note. No other cells are allowed to come between the note and its augmentation dot.

    To create a dotted note in the braille panel, first write the main note duration using the rules above, then follow it with dot 3 (i.e. press S).

    For example, a dotted quarter note C is ⠹⠄, which can be stated as dot pattern 1456-3, where the dash means to start a new cell. In terms of keys, this is F+J+K+L, S.

    It's not currently possible to enter multiple dot 3s to create double and triple dotted notes via the braille panel.

    Octave marks

    Octave marks in braille serve a similar purpose to clefs in print music. If you see a note in print, you don't know what pitch it is until you look at the preceding clef. In braille, if you see ⠙ (dots 1, 4, 5) then you know the note is a C, but it could be a C in any octave. To determine the octave, you need to look at the preceeding octave mark (and also at any notes between that octave mark and the current note).

    A standard 88-key piano has 7 complete octaves. Starting on the lowest C, which is called C1 in braille as well as in scientific pitch notation, the first complete octave of white notes is C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, A1 and B1. After B1 comes C2, which is the start of the second complete octave. This scheme continues up to the final complete octave, which starts with C7 and ends with B7.

    In this system, C4 is middle C, and A4 is "concert A" (i.e. the note that the orchestra tunes to at the start of a performance). Enharmonic spelling is important, so B♯3 sounds the same as C4 despite being notated in a different octave, and C♭4 sounds the same as B3.

    Even standard 88-key pianos have a few notes outside the range C1 to B7. Braille refers to the C0 octave as the "sub" octave, and the C8 octave as the "super" octave. These simply double the markings used for the first and seventh octaves.

    Octave Marks Dots Keys
    0 (sub) ⠈⠈ 4-4 J, J
    1 4 J
    2 45 J+K
    3 456 J+K+L
    4 (middle) 5 K
    5 46 J+L
    6 56 K+L
    7 6 L
    8 (super) ⠠⠠ 6-6 L, L

    When specified, octave mark are placed immediately prior to a note. So a middle C quarter note is ⠐⠹, or dots 5-1456, which is entered as K, F+J+K+L. No other cells are allowed to go between the octave mark and the note it belongs to.

    Octave marks don't have to be given before every note. Octave marks are only required:

    • For the first note on each line of braille.
    • For the first note after a double bar line, number sign, word indicator, and certain other markings.
    • On the second of two notes separated by a melodic interval of a sixth or more, regardless of their octaves
    • On the second of two notes separated by a melodic interval of a fourth or more, if their octave numbers are different.