About KotoViewer

KotoViewer is a program that displays music scores in koto notation (Ikuta School) or shamisen (sangen) notation. Although most of the conversion is done automatically, users can control the process through a procedure called score annotation.

KotoViewer reads Western-music notation scores in MusicXML format, for instance created by MuseScore. An example of such a score, Sakura Sakura, is shown below as displayed in MuseScore and KotoViewer. Another example screenshot shows the first page of the piece called Haru no umi (Spring Sea). The Pitch Analysis Dialog, which assists users for koto tuning decisions, is also presented.

Sakura Sakura
(Western notation score)
Sakura Sakura
Haru no umi
Pitch Analysis Dialog


  • Supports notation for 13-string and 17-string koto instruments
  • Allows specifying the koto tuning, including mid-way tuning changes, either by using standard tuning names (HIRA, etc.) or by providing the tuning for each string
  • Displays various Western music notations: tempo, dynamics, repeats, arpeggio, grace notes, tremolo, glissando, etc.
  • Allows configuring the language of the user interface in English or Japanese
  • Supports both the compressed and uncompressed MusicXML formats
  • Facilitates score display with a MuseScore plugin

What's new

  • Support for shamisen (sangen) notation
  • Support for the koto notation fonts created by Hiroshi Tachibana
  • Support for displaying, exporting and printing two pages per sheet
  • Adaptive notation conversion techniques so that string annotation becomes less necessary
  • Various other score display and user interface improvements


MuseScore plugin

To make it easier to use KotoViewer, I created a MuseScore plugin, so that the currently opened score in MuseScore can be displayed in KotoViewer without any other actions required from the user. For more information, check the plugin page on the MuseScore website.