Is there a system of writing scores where people write down the key and the scale degrees instead of black dots?

edit for clarification:

What I mean is that each note in a standard diatonic key has a numeric equivalent (1 for root, 3 for third, etc.). It's hard to read the black dots on the paper based on their approximate location due to my vision, it's near impossible to distinguish notes that are very close to each other. But I would be able to read numbers of similar size--is there a system that utilizes such an approach to representing music where the numbers represent the identity of the notes with respect to their degree in a given key? I have searched and found nothing.

  • 1
    One Liner Questions are most probably going to get closed. I hardly get your question? What do you mean my "Black Dots"? Note Heads? Mar 29, 2020 at 4:11
  • Solfège, perhaps?
    – b3ko
    Mar 29, 2020 at 4:14
  • Curwen's Tonic Sol-Fa notation, perhaps?
    – Rosie F
    Mar 29, 2020 at 6:56
  • There is, I believe, a Braille system for music.
    – Tim
    Mar 29, 2020 at 8:50

2 Answers 2


There are a lot of different systems that use scale degrees. One good example is Chinese numbered music notation which notates the scale degrees numerically.

Here's an example: enter image description here

  • This is perfect and exactly what I was looking for! Damn, this culture just GETS IT!
    – cafeTechne
    Mar 29, 2020 at 8:37
  • How is it worked out as to which octave a note is in? The anacrucis 5>i could be interpreted as low 5 to root, or as the 5 an octave higher than that, going down to root. At a wedding this year, I was given similar to play and accompany some Chinese singers, and it was hard work, given that I had never heard the tune before.
    – Tim
    Mar 29, 2020 at 8:48
  • Per the wiki they use an abelian dot system, so for 1 octave above they put a dot above, 1 below a dot below!
    – cafeTechne
    Mar 29, 2020 at 9:02
  • This is not at all unlike the tonic sol–fa system, which came about much later.
    – Richard
    Mar 29, 2020 at 16:45

I've used this system: 1234 555- 6666 5--- 6666 5--- 44443-3- 2222 1--- also using the pitch tones CDEF GGG- or the movable DoReMiFa SoSoSo

  1. Rousseau: I thought this was my invention ;) but then recently I found out that Jean Jacques Rousseau has proposed this system too.

enter image description here

There is even a downloadable app for free, that transcripts the number in sheet music.


  1. Band in a box: You just type in the chords by letters and BIAB computes the accompaniment in 100reds of different styles.

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