Bhatkhande Notation


bhatk — representation for Bhatkhande notation


The bhatk scheme can be used to represent the basic information of the notation system created by Vishnu Narayanan Bhatkhande used to transcribe Hindustani music. The bhatk representation allows a monophonic encoding of the various notes including performance gestures akin to ornaments. bhatk is primarily designed to facilitate analytic applications rather than music printing or sound generation. Other Humdrum representations should be used for these latter purposes. Since one main purpose of bhatk is to allow research tasks concerning scribal practices in the manuscripts, the layout and the orthographic information of the manuscripts are represented rather exactly. Non-notational information as clef setting and position of the music within the manuscripts (folio) and on the page (line number) is represented using tandem interpretations and local comments.

These types of data tokens are distinguished in bhatk: neumes and flat or natural icons.

Neumes can encode a variety of attributes including neume-type, accidental and liquescence-type.

Pitches are not directly encoded in the bhatk representation. Instead, a parallel kern spine is expected to encode the corresponding pitches, as well as a parallel spine for the text.

A wide variety of neume types can be encoded using bhatk. The following table identifies these individual types.

Scale degrees:

S Sa r komal Re R Re g komal Ga G Ga M Ma m tivra Ma P Pa d komal Dha D Dha n komal Ni N Ni — ———–


The first element of a ligature is represented by the signifier itself, the following elements by using the null token.

, lower octave ' middle octave " upper octave —- —————

By way of illustration, an epiphonus can be represented by dlP, a cepahlicus by dlC.

At some places the manuscripts contain very special groupings of neumes not found in the common classification of neumes. These neume-groups are encoded using open and closed parentheses to denote the beginning and end of the group.

The only accidentals in Hildegard’s notation are the flat (b rotundum) and the natural (b quadratum) sign. The bhatk representation makes a distinction between two types of flat and natural signifiers: An orthographic and a semantic flat or natural. Orthographic accidentals frequently appear well before the notes they modify. For example, an accidental may appear two or more neumes prior to the modified note. The notated accidental icon (orthographic accidental) is signified by the "at" sign "@" for a flat and by "%" for a natural. In addition, it is useful to identify specific notes that are modified by the accidental. These (semantic) accidentals are represented by the ampersand "&" for a flat and by the caret "\^" for a natural and placed immediately after the neume signifier. In summary, accidentals are represented both by their physical location in the manuscript and also by the modified note. In the former case, the accidental is signified as a separate token (encoded on a separate data record). In the latter case, the accidental is signified as a modifier of a neume token.

In representing any work, editorial interpretations are inevitable. It may be necessary to make explicit certain implicit information in a manuscript (such as expanding abbreviations), or it may be necessary to estimate missing or unreadable information. The bhatk representation provides several special-purpose signifiers to help make explicit various classes of editorial amendments, interpretations, or commentaries. Five types of editorial signifiers are made available: (1) sic (information is encoded literally, but is questionable) signified by Y; (2) invisible symbol (unwritten note etc., but logically implied) signified by y; (3) editorial interpretation, (a "modest" editorial act of interpretation — such as the interpretation of accidentals) is signified by x; (4) editorial intervention (a "significant" editorial intervention) signified by X; (5) footnote (accompanying local or global comment provides a text commentary pertaining to a specified data token) signified by ?.


It is recommended that files containing predominantly bhatk data should be given names with the distinguishing `.hgd' extension.


The following table summarizes the bhatk mappings of signifiers and signifieds.




komal Re




komal Ga






tivra Ma




komal Dha




komal Ni




Sam (beginning of rhythmic cycle)


Khali (mid-point of rhythmic cycle)


Vibhag indicator (rhythmic cycle separator)


reciprocal duration indicators (see **recip)


start of note group


end of note group


start of phrase


end of phrase


start of specified meend (glissando)


end of specified meend (glissando)


start of rising meend (glissando)


start of falling meend (glissando)


start of kan


end of kan


andolan (vibrato)


khatka (turn-like ornament)


murki (mordent-like ornament)






editorial interpretation; entire data token is interpreted


editorial intervention; immediately preceding signifier is an editorial addition


editorial intervention; entire data token is an editorial addition


editorial mark; invisible symbol; unwritten note, but logically implied


editorial mark; entire data token is implied


editorial mark: sic marking; information is encoded literally, but is questionable


editorial mark: sic marking; entire data token is present in the original but questionable


editorial mark: immediately preceding signifier has accompanying editorial footnote in an ensuing comment


editorial mark: entire preceding data token has accompanying editorial footnote in an ensuing comment

Summary of bhatk Signifiers

Order of signifiers:

  1. open phrase
  2. note-group
  3. accent
  4. meend
  5. andalan
  6. duration
  7. augmentation dot(s)
  8. pitch or rest
  9. octave
        1. close phrase


The following sample document shows a kern spine with corresponding bhatk data. In addition, a silbe spine has been used to encode the text.


**kern **bhatk **silbe * *mode4 *LLatin ! !154,7 ! * *clefC5,F3 * E R O D . . E . . G C splen- E . . D P . E . . F M3 -di- D . . C . . E v -dis- AA S3 -si- BB . . C . . BB C -ma AA . . E C gem- D . . D dlP . E . . E v -ma D v & E p se- F Q . G . . F p . E p . D p . D P . A . . A I6 . G . . F . . E . . D . . E . . D p -re- E p . F Q . G . . F p . E p . D p . D P . A . . A M4 . G . . F . . E . . D P -num E . . E P2 de- F . . E . . D . . G M3 . F . . E . . D P -cus E . . G p so- G p .?? ![-R] ![-R] ![-R] A p . c M3 . B . . A . . ! !154,8 ! * *clefC4,F2 * A M4 . G . . F . . E . . D p . E p . F Q . G . . F C -lis E . . D P3 qui A . . G . . F . . E . . F M3 ti- E . . D . . E v -bi D p in- E p . F Q . G . . F p . E p . D p . D P -fu- A . . A M4 . G . . F . . E . . D p -sus E p . F Q . G . . F p . E p . D P est E . . * *clefF3 * E? M3 fons !D !Erasure ! D? . . !C !Erasure ! BB . . D P . E . . * *clefC4,F2 * E U sa- B . . A . . B . . e M4 . d . . c . . B . . c C . B . . c M4 -li- B . . A . . G . . G o .?? ![-R] ![-R] ![-R] F p . E p . D? P . !E !Erasure ! E? . -ens !F !Erasure ! *- *- *- ———- ————- ———–


There are currently no Humdrum commands that directly process bhatk encoded data.


The following tandem interpretation can be used in conjunction with bhatk:

raag *raag: instrument *I instrument class *IC —————— ———-

Immediately following the colon is the name of the rag. For instrumentation and instrument-class codes see Appendix II of the Humdrum User Guide.

Tandem interpretations for bhatk


**kern, kern, **MIDI, midi, **pitch, **semits, **solfg, **Tonh,


Parag Chordia.