The methods, rules, and conventions for representing music visually.

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38
votes
4answers
13k views

How do you draw a quarter rest with a pen/pencil?

It seems to me that the quarter rest we see everywhere was drawn with a calligraphy pen. I don't have one of those - I have a sharpened/mechanical pencil or a ball-point pen. So usually when I try to ...
28
votes
9answers
3k views

Key signature for writing in modes other than major and minor

I have trouble deciding what accidentals to put in the key signature for pieces in dorian, phrygian, lydian or mixolydian modes. There seem to be tradeoffs associated with each choice. For example, ...
20
votes
1answer
730 views

What is this : Half notes combined with thirty-second stems?

I want to play Also Sprach Zarathustra (IMSLP PDF), but there is something I don't understand there. In the first few bars there are 4 half notes beamed in pairs as thirty-second notes. Because the ...
19
votes
10answers
4k views

Why do we use so complicated notation?

I have just started learning about music from the internet. I have learned how to play the piano, but I don't have a real piano so I am playing a virtual piano. In my opinion, the notation which is ...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is C the base note of standard notation and keys?

Why is it that notes "start" with C? In key signatures, for example, C Major is the basis and accidentals are added for all other key signatures. I know that the musical alphabet starts with A and ...
18
votes
4answers
796 views

Why do we need note names like B♭, D♭ etc.? Why not use only A♯, C♯ and so on?

The very same sharp/flat tones can be written in two ways: C♯ is the same as D♭ D♯ is the same as E♭ …and so on This is so confusing. What is the reason for it? ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “16va” proper notation?

Is the notation "16va" or "16vb" ever used to mean to transpose what is written up or down two octaves? I cannot think of how else you would represent the highest and lowest notes on a piano without ...
16
votes
1answer
4k views

What does a triangle mean in chord notation?

For example, what does the △ mean in C△7?
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Symbols “M”, “C”, “D”, and “P” in Guitar Tablature

I was reading a songbook by Richie Kotzen, and in the song "Shine" (which he played with Mr. Big), there's a rythm guitar part that goes like this: What do the symbols M, C, D and P mean? I'm ...
13
votes
3answers
562 views

What are all these symbols in some old sheet music?

Looking at this sheet music of Pietro Antonio Locatelli's "L'arte del violino" Op. 3 we see that the sheet music is pretty old. I have no idea if this is perhaps the original one or not but it does ...
13
votes
2answers
531 views

With sheet music, what happens with sharps and double sharps that are already sharped in the key signature?

For example, let's say the key signature has an f sharp and then also an individual f note has a sharp next to it. Are they just emphasizing the f sharp or does that actually become a g? Same ...
13
votes
8answers
3k views

How many (major and minor) keys are there? Why?

I am wondering about how many major and minor keys there are and why. Here are some suggestions: 24 keys One could argue that there should be one major and one relative minor key for each of the 12 ...
13
votes
3answers
358 views

Why is a note sometimes a 4th and sometimes an 11th?

If I play the chord: GBDA, then this is considered a Gadd9. But if I play the 3rd above the 5th (GDB), it is not called a 10th. Why don't we refer to all notes by 1-7, and is there a system to ...
12
votes
6answers
737 views

Do accidentals override key signature?

I am wondering how the accidental in the first chord (see what is circled) is played? Does any accidental simply move the note up or down a half-step from what the note is supposed to be based on the ...
12
votes
2answers
396 views

C in Treble or Bass Clef

I see a 'C' like sign in the beginning of the staff. What does it mean?
12
votes
1answer
6k views

What does a small x-like symbol before a note mean?

I've been playing piano by ear for a long time and now I am trying to learn the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. I am a little confused about the meaning of a little cross placed right before a ...
12
votes
1answer
156 views

What does a single square bracket next to a single note mean?

I just stumbled on a bit of notation in a music score, and I'm stumped as to what it means. It's a single square bracket, spanning the whole staff, to the left of a single note. This is measure 58 ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the device used to draw 5-line staff (empty) with a pencil/pen?

I remember seeing something like that long ago but can't remember what it was called. It is basically a metal gadget that holds 5 pencils or only pencil led and you can draw by hand your own empty ...
11
votes
3answers
313 views

What does a duplicated note in a chord mean?

While reading the score of Misty (Burke, Garner, arranged by Roed), I encountered the following chord notation (it's on the bass clef in bar 32, and the signature is E-flat major): What does the ...
11
votes
2answers
343 views

Unknown Notation - Thick Horizontal Bars Between Notes

I haven't the faintest idea of what these could mean. Some sort of run perhaps? How do you effect the dynamics/notes these bars are referring to? EDIT: For reference, this specific example is ...
11
votes
4answers
293 views

What does 'on' mean in chord notation?

For example, Em(onD) and Em(onC♯). I found these in a Japanese guitar tab book I bought.
11
votes
8answers
458 views

Should I learn to read standard notation?

I've been playing guitar for the last two years, and never came in contact with pieces in standard notation. This is probably because I never had any lessons, and am self-taught. But the thing I ...
11
votes
1answer
4k views

What does “NC” mean?

On some tabs, I sometimes see a "NC" text on top of the tab. What does it mean ? How should it be played or interpreted ?
11
votes
3answers
338 views

How can I force LilyPond to repeat a chord symbol (relates to alternate endings)?

In chordmode, LilyPond chooses not to display chord symbols when they are the same as the preceding symbol, which is usually the right behavior. However, this behavior gets weird in the context of ...
11
votes
2answers
236 views

How do I read this text-only musical notation from Wikipedia

I have practically no music notation experience, so please consider me a dummie when answering. I am reading this Wikipedia article, about the clave rhythm. They use a text only notation looking ...
11
votes
1answer
184 views

Four dotted sixteenths in a triplet

The following excerpt is from a piece called Brincado by the Brazilian composer Alberto Nepomuceno from the collection 5 Little Pieces for the Left Hand (imslp) How should I count this?
11
votes
2answers
219 views

Small natural above C in G Major

Here is a picture of the sheet music (Eine Klein Nachtmusik, movement 1). The odd accidental has a red freehand circle around it. What does this natural sign mean? As you can see, the key is G ...
10
votes
4answers
435 views

Do I write # or b?

I always had this doubt: in the staff do I write enharmonic notes with # or b? Does it matter which one I choose and why? For example: In the key of C Major, would I write this passage with an A# as ...
10
votes
4answers
465 views

Correct notation for a minor chord?

Over my career as a musician, I have seen many different kinds of notation for a minor chord for example each of the chord symbols below represents a minor chord: Am Amin a A- Is there a reason ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

How does the piano middle pedal work? Is there a standard symbol for it?

What are the mechanics behind the middle piano pedal? I have been using the middle pedal for a variety of music, it is wonderful, but I can't figure out how it works (I mean the mechanical process). ...
10
votes
4answers
650 views

Lead sheets / fake sheets without score

Several of the groups of people I play music with use song sheets that are similar to lead sheets, but without the stave showing the melody line: Note that unlike many chord sheets you can find ...
9
votes
6answers
684 views

The same note on two staves

On rare occasions, I encounter the same note on two staves with overlapping durations. Attached is an example from an arragement of "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles (The note in question is ...
9
votes
3answers
284 views

Why are some measures separated by double lines?

I play piano. Sometimes, measures in pieces are separated by a double vertical line instead of a single one. What does this signify?
9
votes
6answers
723 views

Sound spectrum to notes software

I'm looking for software that can graphically assist in translating a sound frequency to notes. Closest example of what I had in mind is FL Studio's Wave Candy plugin: Hovering cursor above a ...
9
votes
2answers
686 views

Need help with a measure within Mozart's 'Rondo alla Turca'

In the 21st measure of Mozart's Rondo alla Turca/Turkish March (3rd movement of K. 331), there's a trill in the treble clef that I can't quite get right. Would you be so kind to expand the measure as ...
9
votes
7answers
149 views

Are there some classical pieces that lend themselves well to guitar?

I would like to practice reading music on something other than notation written for guitar. Are there other pieces written for violin, for instance-or other instruments, that can be transposed easily ...
9
votes
3answers
705 views

How to interpret this chord notation?

How do you interpret this couple of notations? In Bar 2, Fm / Ab, what does the slash do? Do I play either chord or both? In addition, in Bar 3, what does the /9 mean? Thanks
9
votes
2answers
474 views

What does the circle around a note mean in a guitar chord diagram?

I'm trying to play E/G#. I found this, but what is that symbol on the 4th string?
9
votes
3answers
408 views

What does an “L” shape mean beside a note in the lower staff?

Sorry if this is trivial but I am self taught and cannot find the meaning of this bracket on a sheet. This is taken from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence by Ryuichi Sakamoto
9
votes
2answers
250 views

Is assignment of notes to measures totally arbitrary?

I am beginning to learn piano. To pep up my practising, I downloaded some sheet music for Waltzing Matilda Then I noticed, at the same place, this: Obviously it is the same music but needs to be ...
9
votes
2answers
437 views

On the piano, how should you play staccato with the pedal?

In some pieces, there is a pedal designation along with staccato. How should this be played?
9
votes
1answer
921 views

“х” on tablature - how do I play it?

I'm learning "Last Christmas" arrangement for the acoustic guitar, and have encountered lots of notes marked as "x" in tablature. --------------------------------0---------------- ...
9
votes
1answer
273 views

Do accidentals on ornaments carry over to the other notes in the measure?

In the first measure from this section of Schubert's Serenade, does the accidental on the ornamental C at the beginning affect the "regular" C that follows?
9
votes
3answers
681 views

What is the the Nashville Numbers system?

Recently, a couple of my bandmates were talking about a technique they use called Nashville Numbers. It's similar to writing out chords, but instead uses numbers. These numbers are a pattern that ...
9
votes
2answers
162 views

Where did the British names for different note lengths come from?

I was always taught to use a certain set of names for the length of a note, such as crotchet, minim, quaver, and so on. I'm aware though that those terms aren't used as much outside the UK, and that ...
8
votes
9answers
726 views

Does a guitarist need to know staff notation?

There is a notation called Tablature for guitar. Most of the keyboardists I have seen, use the staff notation. Is staff notation useful for guitarists? Will it help the guitarist in learning ...
8
votes
1answer
233 views

How do you play this tablature notation?

How do I play this on my guitar? A side question, is there a reference site for checking music and tablature notation?
8
votes
3answers
112 views

Do people who read RTL languages read LTR standard notation?

I have been told that standard notation is virtually universal nowadays. Standard notation is, in my experience, read from left to right, a convention that came naturally to me because the only ...
8
votes
1answer
149 views

Why some measures are marked with a roman numeral and a dashed line?

Take a look at the first of Tarrega's studies, which I'm trying to learn. In this study measures 6 and 13 are marked with a roman numeral (V and I respectively), and a dashed line above a measure. ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference between sharp note & flat note?

In guitar or generally in any musical instruments, what is the difference between sharp note & flat note? For eg : Is A♯ & B♭ are same? or C♯ & D♭ are same? Does that make any difference ...