I came across this music notation the other day.
Hummingbird is a new form of notation that communicates the same information as the conventional method does, but arguably in an easier-to-process fashion.
I looked at it with interest, but could not wrap my brain around it. I am guessing this has nothing to do with the merits of Hummingbird. It’s all about my brain and how conditioned it has become over the years to looking at things one way.
It’s not that I love conventional notation. Far from it. When I’m away from it for any length of time, I get ‘rusty’ and have to take the time to get back my facility with it. Anytime I am rusty, I look at it and it looks back, unhelpfully – it’s mostly gobbledygook. I wouldn’t argue that it’s simple or intuitive or streamlined or anything like that. It’s not particularly good-looking either.
Like MIDI graphic notation, Hummingbird uses horizontal lines to show note duration. Reminds me of the ‘player piano’ view in my recording and editing software (I use Logic).
Hummingbird also gives each of the note names from A to G an iconic symbol shaped like a notehead. So wherever you are, in whatever clef, you will know an A is an A is an A. Sharps and flats are little linear symbols attached to the notehead, aiming up, for sharps, and down for flats. Key signatures go away most of the time, and the key is written in at the beginning. Time signatures stay the same. The other markings like staccato, marcato, etc. stay the same.
I wonder if the world at large will make a change from conventional notation to this or some other system. Ever.
The current system has the advantage of being understood without needing translation, in most parts of the world. A new system might, however, be considerably easier to learn and teach to new musicians. So which way will it go? Which way should it go?
The Hummingbird Guide on its website has a short video, testimonials from kids (who love it) and downloadable music to give it a try yourself.
Any chance this will catch on?