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Star-dotted Notes
A solution for representing 5-based rhythmic notation

In Western music notation, note durations are multiples and divisions of 2: whole, half, quarter, etc. We have a simple syntax - the
dot - for extending the duration of a note or rest by 1/2 the duration of itself. Using just our regular note types and the dot, we can
describe notes with durations in multiples of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8. By using a double-dot, we can describe a note with a duration of 7
rhythmic subdivisions.

Conspicuously absent in our notation system is a succinct way to represent a note (or rest) that has a duration of 5 rhythmic
subdivisions. The composer is expected to use a laminate of two notes tied together, e.g. in couples of 3 + 2, or 4 + 1. In music that
has a 5-fold meter or a time signature in a multiple of ve (like 5/4 or 10/8), this is neither practical nor appropriate.

To represent a note that has a duration of 5 subdivisions, I propose using the 5-pointed star. It uses the same syntax as a dot.

Duration Equivalents
A starred note or rest is extended in duration by one quarter of itself. Simply put, it turns a duration of 4 into a duration of 5.

Where to get the glyph

Where to get the glyph
Transparent PNG
Suitable for use in any notation program that allows placement of graphic images. This is a high-resolution PNG far larger than is
necessary for perfect aliasing at even an extremely high resolution.

Download (star.png)

Vector SVG
Suitable for use in any notation program that allows placement of vector shapes. This vetor shape will resize to any dimensions and
will look perfect at any size, no matter what the resolution.

Download (star.svg)

Unicode Character
The black 5-pointed star is a common symbol named "BLACK STAR" already included in many commercial fonts. Its Unicode
address is U+2605.

Learn More (

Here are three dierent ways to render measure 21 from Lovers (, the 7th movement of Opus
Arcana (, whose beginning and end sections are in a 10/8 time signature. The rst two examples split
the 5-beat rest and note into separate entities using ties, whereas the third uses the simplied star syntax.
Never use stars for syncopation!
In order for syncopated rhythm to be legible, you do not use a dotted note to extend a note duration across a meter boundary. For
the same reason, you must never use a starred note instead of a tied note for syncopation.

Do this:

Don't do this:

Placement and syntax

Unlike a dot, stars can align with sta lines, and are not moved up to the nearest space. When the
star appears beside a note head on a line, the star intersects the line across its two lower concave
points. The sta line bisects the star at its narrowest point, and the actual center of the star is
slightly above the line.

When the star appears beside a note head on a space, the star occupies the same vertical span as
the note head. The top point touches the line above, and the bottom two points touch the line below.
Chords require multiple stars, the same as dots. Stars should all be aligned vertically. A chord may
have a mix of stars aligned with lines and spaces, as long as they are spaced apart by at least one
line-height. Stars must never overlap.

Stars align with leger lines the same way as they do on the sta

Starred whole rest is aligned with the space

Starred half rest is aligned with the space

A star beside a quarter rest is aligned with a line

Starred eighth rest is aligned with the line