Writing Shape Notes With FORTE

We’re always happy to learn something new, and back in 2016, a musician called Bill introduced us to writing shape notes.

Bill asked us if it was possible to write this special type of notation using FORTE. And I can tell you, we were just as curious!

What are ‘shape notes’?

‘Shape notes,’ it turns out, are a shorthand for writing choir music. The different styles of the note heads help singers find the right pitch.

The method is said to make sight-reading, as well as four-part singing, much easier and more widely accessible. And its tradition is wildly alive in the churches of the American South.

Let me share this wonderful video about shape note singing with you, presented by the multi-talented Rhodyjane Meadows.

Foundational Skills Solfege - Lesson 1

And finally, yes, writing shape notes is actually easy with FORTE! The different notehead styles are already a feature of FORTE Basic.

Can you see that this looks like Rhodyjane’s chart?

Writing shape notes using FORTE

How to write shape notes with FORTE

If you would like to write shape notes…

  1. Select the value of the note in the input palette
  2. Click on Notehead Styles
  3. Select the suitable notehead. (Note, the symbols are already assigned to the solfège syllables!)

How to write shape notes using FORTE

How to write shape notes using FORTE


Special license offer for choirs

Interested in the fantastic FORTE special license that we offer for choirs? Find out more!

See also, FAQ: FORTE for Choirs and Ensembles

4 replies
  1. Michael Walters
    Michael Walters says:

    I’ve been trying Sibelius for a few years with limited success. The main problem with this software is that it forces rests into bars ALL the time. It’s annoying, unproductive and just frustrating to the point that you want to go back to a pencil, rubber & staff sheet.

    • FORTE Admin
      FORTE Admin says:

      Hello Michael,

      thank you very much for your feedback. We are trying to develope the most easy to use music notation software. FORTEs unique feature is the music ruler that appears at the top of each measure when you are inserting notes. FORTE strength is that you just have to input notes and FORTE will insert the rests automatically.

      Best regards,


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