Full reference for Hummingbird


Pitch positions haven't changed — notes are on staff lines in the same position as in traditional notation. Each pitch also has a unique symbol with its own mnemonic “helper” word that describes it. Pitch symbols are the same for all clefs and octaves.


A: Above
B: Below
C: Looks like `C`
D: Dot
E: Empty
F: Full
G: Groove


Sharps point up and end with a + sign; flats point down and end with a 0 sign. To avoid confusion, accidentals connect directly to the note and are visible every time they occur. When it helps, naturals can be used too, and they look like = signs.

Key Signatures

Key signatures still work with Hummingbird, but we put them in plain english at the beginning of the song. We call it a "key marking" and treat it just like a tempo marking. Traditional key signatures (with the accidentals on their respective lines) also work, but we only use them when there are four or more accidentals; otherwise, they add unnecessary difficulty when it's just as easy to show accidentals for each note.

Multiple Voices

Multiple voices are represented in Hummingbird by using the appropriate rhythm durations for each note. Hummingbird easily accommodates overlapping notes, as seen in these examples.


Each rhythm and rest has a unique symbol. The horizontal lines for quarter, half, and whole notes extend for distances that correspond to their durations. The precise lengths may differ to allow better formatting, but within each measure they maintain correct relative proportions.


8th, 16th, 32nd, and 64th notes are beamed using the same grouping rules as in traditional notation. Beaming is represented with a line above the notes, marked at the beginning with the appropriate rhythm symbol. Anything beneath the beam has this rhythm duration unless otherwise specified (e.g., for multiple voices in a measure).

Extended Rhythms

Notes can extend for longer durations by hooking rhythm symbols together with “ghost notes”. This is similar to “ties” or “dots” in traditional notation. The ghost note is not actually played; it is just showing that the note should be held for the connected duration.


Tuplets in Hummingbird are represented with the appropriate beaming and an indicator of the type of tuplet on the left end of the beam. For quarter notes, use a flat beam (with no tick mark).

What's The Same?

Below are the most common types of symbols that haven't changed. If something isn't explicitly addressed in this guide, assume it remains the same.

Articulations and Ornaments

  • Stacatto
  • Accent (Marcato)
  • Trills and mordents
  • Slur


  • Crescendo
  • De-crescendo
  • Forte
  • Mezzo-piano

Form marks

  • Repeat signs
  • Codas
  • First and second endings


  • Octave shifts (8va)
  • Bar lines
  • Time signatures