Simplified Music Notation
Simplified Music Notation is an alternative form of music notation designed to make sight-reading easier. It is based on classical staff notation, but sharps and flats are incorporated into the shape of the noteheads. Notes such as double sharps and double flats are written at the pitch at which they are actually played, but preceded by symbols called History Signs to show that they have been transposed. The key signature and all other information in the original score is retained, but the player does not need to remember the key signature and accidentals whilst playing.
Peter Hayes George (1927-2012), the inventor of Simplified Music Notation, was born in Quebec, Canada, the son of a diplomat. He attended RADA and began his career as an actor playing roles such as the lead in ‘Malachi's Cove’ directed by Charles Frank and the juvenile lead in Peter Brook's London West End production ‘Dark of the Moon’. In the 1960s he gave up acting as shortcomings with his working memory made it difficult for him to accept major roles with long speeches.
Having studied music for teachers at Los Angeles City College in 1962, George took up the piano. He thought that that since musicians can keep the music in front of them whilst playing, his memory problems would present no difficulty. However, he discovered that musicians must remember to modulate each musical note according to the key signature, to continue any accidentals through the bar, and to cancel them at the end of the bar. He also found difficulty in transposing notes such as double sharps and double flats.
Simplified Music Notation was designed in response to this. The original concept was formed in 1977 and the notation was developed over the next 30 years. The first series of music books in Simplified Music Notation was published in September 2008. A second series ‘Key Perfect’ was published in 2010. Its early-grade piano repertoire pieces were composed and compiled by music teacher and author John Kember and international pianist and lecturer Professor John York. This latest series was designed to show the effectiveness of Simplified Music Notation as a learning tool towards improving students' reading skills in traditional notation.
Sharps and flats 
History signs 
Double sharps, and double flats (and optionally B and E sharps, and F and C flats) are written at the pitch at which they are actually played. To show that these notes have been transposed, they are preceded by a symbol called a history sign. As in traditional notation, history signs are not repeated within a bar.
Key signatures 
The traditional sharp and flat symbols in the key signature are replaced by the sharp and flat noteheads of Simplified Music Notation:
- Underwood, S. 'Scoring a winner in music learning' in The Argus, Business Supplement 17 September 2008, page 2
- George, Peter Hayes A More Rational Approach to Traditional Music Notation The Creative Arts Research Trust ISMN 797-0-708083-12-2
- George, Peter Hayes (2008) A More Rational Approach to Traditional Music Notation. Creative Arts Research Trust ISMN 797-0-708083-12-2
- Underwood, Samuel (17 September 2008). "Scoring a winner in music learning". The Argus, Business Supplement p. 2