I am making a computer application for typing numerical / numbered musical notes. I have some question regarding note length line / beam.

  1. Will it have a same meaning if we place the beam either on top of the note or on the bottom?
  2. If #1 = yes : In a scores sheet, is it normal to use both of the placement (some part use top beam, some part use bottom beam)? Or is it better to use only 1 rule per scores sheet? (I assume the latter)

Example of scores with bottom note beam (source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbered_musical_notation) :

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UPDATE : Top note beam example (source : syaifulcamp.blogspot.com) :

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Ugh, I just realized, is top beam is only used in indonesia? :/

  • 1
    Why would you use that notation? Nobody will know it and it's not even something you can do with straight text. What does it offer that beats standard notation? Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 16:17
  • @StephenHazel actually the wikipedia article explains why. Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 16:40
  • I am making apps for use in indonesia, which still widely use numbered musical notation along with the standard one. So, the answer is? Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 19:01
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    Sorry, I'm not entirely understanding the question. The Wikipedia page makes it sound like the "beams" are always beneath and I can't find any reference to beams above the numbers. Are you asking about how beams work in traditional western notation? Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 21:25
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    I'll leave it to someone more familiar with the actual notation to provide an official answer (if anyone that knows sees it), but I see no way it could possibly make any rhythmic difference. The basic unit is the quarter note, and all one needs are ways to make notes shorter or longer. As I understand it, longer notes are indicated with lines after the note, shorter notes are indicated by lines below the notes. I can't think of a third option that could be the meaning of lines above, so I assume it's just a variation. Beam direction doesn't have a rhythmic meaning in Western notation either. Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


Both your examples of Numbered Musical Notation look fine to me. But it is noticeable that both are consistent. I would advise that whichever you choose to do (lines above or below the numbers), will be fine, but you also need to be consistent and only use one system throughout.


To be honest, I've only ever seen them scribed with the beams on the bottom. I have honestly never ever encountered people scribing the beams on top - and this is coming from someone who's played with numerous emsembles with scores coming from China(Mainland), Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore.

So, yeah, I doubt using beams on top would be a good idea. As for combinations, that will make it cumbersome to read, and cause confusions with tenutos so it's a definite no.

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