Some people get confused by all the rules around sharps and flats. By using the black notes own names, Va Wu-Xe Yu Ze , we can leave sharps and flats to the the listener as happens when music is played. Here’s a pentatonic play along using the pictured instruments, the Canoe Song followed by Over the Sea to Skye.

The glockenspiel or xylophone is an ideal way to start playing music. Instrument makers are neeede to produce cheap black note sets to which matching white notes can be later added or fitted. Global suppliers will be listed on this site.

Panpipe workshops can often produce “black note” versions on request. Traditionally the panpipers have low notes to the right, opposite to the layout of the piano. An option is to request pipes set in a straight line which can be played from either side.

And here’s the first of the tunes in the above playalong Canoe Song in simple notation.

These black note names can be mixed with various names for the white notes:

C V D W E F X G Y A Z B Transatlantic

C V D W E F X G Y A X H Germanic

Do Va Re Wu Mi Fa Xe Sol Yu La Ze Mediterranean

do va re wu mi fa xe so yu la ze ti movable solfa

Note that the vowels of the black notes continue the beautiful contrasting vowels of Mediterranean names within the range of 3 guitar frets. The global usage of the Mediterranean names approximately equals that of the other two put together.

But each note requires requires at a minimum of two letters. This is because two of the names share the same initial – Sol and Si. We can solve this by blending the Mediterranean and movable solfa into Tsi which can sung as si, ti or tsi.

The Mediterranean names also share two initials with the Transatlantic/Germanic names, that is D and F. Fortunately Fa and F fall on the same note. On the other hand Do is next door to Transatlantic/Germanic D. Confusion can be avoided by returning to Do’s old name Ut (pre 1640) but to sing it as Do. This gives us twelve names which can be conveyed by their initials, a chromatic solfege named XroSol which can be abbreviated to XS.


Adding contrasting vowels gives us Ut=Do Va Re Mi Fa Xe Sol Yu La Ze Tsi. The Scottish loch sound can be used for Xe, which was the ancient Greek pronunciation, while Ze can use the Castilian pronunciation (European Spanish) to be sung as the English word they, as in this demo.

Sharps and flats are a psychological reality (e.g the first two phrases of the song How High the Moon) but we can leave those issues to the listener, as we do with guitar/lute tablature and indeed when any music gets performed.

Italic script developed several centuries after the ROMAN ALPHABET and we can make use of the distinction: ROMAN ( aka upper case or capital) to mean fixed pitch (La=440Hz), and lower case italic to mean movable. Italic is useful to avoid the ambiguity of the non-italic l which easily be confused with the number 1 (depending on the font in use).

We can use the jazz standards to get acclimatised to XS. Most jazz musicians now have the app iReal Pro installed on their mobile phones or tablets. It gives the chords of thousands of tunes using the Transatlantic note names. It is also able to show the chords in terms of the tonic aka keynote using degrees of the major scale as roots, a form known as Nashville of Number Notation.

For example in the key of C major here are some typical chord sequences here is shown as Transatlantic, Nashville and italic XroSol

You will see that in Nashville the minor tonic gets to play second fiddle to the major whereas in XroSol it has equal status.

%d bloggers like this: