Affiliatio

Ethnomusicologists, musicologists, and music educators have long struggled with rendering non-Western musics in notation, sometimes proposing the development of a “global,” or universal, notation system (e.g., Killick 2020), and sometimes arguing against the “notation argument,” that because Western notation is useful somewhere, it is useful everywhere (e.g., Kivijärvi, Sanna, and Väkevä 2020). In the case of South Asian music that uses sargam, a system based on Chevé cipher notation, an argument can be made for creating a musical score that is equally accessible for both those fluent in Western notation and those fluent in sargam, without privileging one over the other. In my work translating musical examples from Nepali publications of the mid-20th century, while attempting to equally represent sargam alongside staff notation, as well as the bols, or the vocable neumes, of the strokes for the madal drum, I have encountered various issues and difficulties in working around some of the limitations of Sibelius music notation software with this non-conventional application. In this paper I will explain some of the workarounds I have devised to overcome these difficulties while arguing for the value of such hybrid, cross-cultural notation in the context of Nepali and South Asian music generally. In so doing, I hope to spur conversations with ethnomusicologists struggling with the powerful, but sometimes inflexible, parameters of Sibelius when trying to notate non-Western musics, as well as to contribute to discourses about the appropriateness of using Western notation at all.