I learned from Kara Goldfinch about Braille music notation, which sounds really neat. But one thing about it is particularly hilarious: the note we call C is written, in Braille music notation, “D”. So I trawled wikipedia and my own (sometimes painful) music experience for a few more of those.

Firstly, let’s clear up what’s going on with the Braille transposition. Wikipedia explains: it’s based on solfège so the D of course stands for “do”. And what would logically follow after D? Well in this case: “defghij”. That’s, honestly, at least as logical as starting at C and going CDEFG… AB. 🤷

And I mean, reading that article on solfège helps me understand why they didn’t go with the rest of the solfège note initials. Because some people use “ti” and others use “si”, and the Elizabethan version of the system (which actually turns up in King Lear!) only used four syllables (mi, fa, sol, la) and repeated three of them for the remaining notes. I say “remaining notes” but of course Elizabethan mi was not modern mi, that would be la. 🤷

Speaking of “si”: I live in Greece and play music with Greeks who use solfège, but I trained on ABC. So when a Greek says “si” I hear “C” and I play the wrong note. 🤷

Ten years ago I lived in the Netherlands, and played music with folks who also used ABC, but in Dutch. When someone says “E” in Dutch, I hear “A”, and again I play the wrong note. 🤷

My mandola is tuned CGDA (as is standard), but which way? As the bottom string in pitch is at the top of the instrument in playing position, I have no good answer. This sounds like a joke, but there genuinely are musicians who list their strings “bottom to top” and mean descending pitch order, by ascending position of the pick. “Lowest first?” “Yes.” 🤷