Okay, so I’ve already said that traditional notation is confusing. And that standard music symbols are too complicated. But the truth is, there’s even more to it. Because the letters and numbers musicians use aren’t just inconvenient—they are fundamentally flawed. And that’s why students continue to struggle.
In fact, letter and number symbols have haunted musicians since the Middle Ages, when a few monks started using them as a way to “see” music. Since sound was invisible, these little labels seemed like a good solution to a nagging problem. The letters were used to describe each note … while the numbers explained the relationships between notes.
At the time, those monks were pretty proud of themselves. And everybody assumed this fancy system did the trick. Yet modern students still get confused and discouraged. Why? Because the old, medieval solution was sloppy … at best.
The reason, my friends, has to do with the difference between linear and cyclical patterns. (Yes, that sounds geeky and technical. But it actually makes a lot of sense….)