The symbols you see below are my adaptation of Dr William Fowler's "Tonal Shorthand" system.
Besides being one of my teachers at UCDC, he was also Education Editor and Columnist for 13 years at Down Beat magazine, Theory Columnist for 6 years at Keyboard magazine, and he co-invented the piezo pickup.
Because of his fame and respect, we were able to attend up-close and personal master classes with such greats as Billy Taylor and George Duke.
Unfortunately Fowler's system was designed for quill and parchment. Here I have adapted it for use in computer text documents.
Its informative and intuitive qualities in defining chords are unparalleled. The beauty of this system is that any chord can be expressed with zero ambiguity.
1. Root options:
The root may be present or not.
3. Third options:
7. Seventh options:
The seventh may be:
9. Ninth options:
The ninth may be:
11. Eleventh options:
The eleventh may be:
13. Thirteenth options:
The thirteenth may be:
There are, of course, many more chord combinations possible. The above simply illustrates the principles involved and the rest can be extrapolated from there.
Fowler's system deals with chords only. My shorthand system can also precisely express scales with much fewer keystrokes.
In the Major (Ionian) scale, no tone is raised or lowered. By flatting the third, we have the Jazz minor. By flatting the 6th of the Jazz minor, we get the Harmonic minor.
To properly express all scales, (especially ones with more than 7 notes) an additional criteria must be understood: