Musical notation in written or printed form.

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98
votes
18answers
63k views

What is good software for learning how to sight-read?

I'd like to learn how to sight-read on my own, but practicing the same song over and over again just causes me to memorize it, and filling out worksheets is boring. Is there any good software for ...
49
votes
16answers
10k views

Quickly flip a page of sheet music while playing

This seems like such a silly question, but! When playing the piano, I sometimes struggle to turn the pages of my music without noticeably sacrificing the sound of the piece or making the book / ...
45
votes
4answers
21k 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 ...
30
votes
11answers
15k views

As a guitarist, how can I learn to sight-read music?

I'm learning guitar right now, mostly from Justin Sandercoe's free online lessons, starting from the beginner's course. He has a lot of good tips for how to practice and drill chords, and scales, but ...
25
votes
2answers
22k 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 ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

How to interpret 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 ...
23
votes
11answers
5k views

What does this note - B# - mean?

I'm confused as to how I should play the second note below, B#. Does it mean it's C? It is possible? In which case, why is it written like this, and not just C?
21
votes
7answers
2k views

When to use a dot or a tie in music notation?

Let's say I have the following piece in 4/4, Should it be notated as: or Are there any specific rules? From my previous experience, I believe the second one is the correct notation since it ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

How to handle a newly purchased score book that won't stay opened?

With some score books, if you try to open it and put it on a support, it will close itself. For the moment I have to force and fold it but it damages the spine of the book. Do you have techniques to ...
18
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
8answers
3k views

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

I am not a music expert and I have always wondered why orchestra performances require a conductor to play. The musicians are presumably professionals who have had much practice at this point, so why ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

Rest above a note in a piano piece

I am playing a piece and wondering, what the heck is the rest making there above the note? The piece is in 3/4 so I see no purpose of the 1/4 rest. I've been googling around but did not find any ...
17
votes
3answers
574 views

Notation symbol I've not seen before

I'm transcribing a book of 18th Century music and have come across several instances of the notation shown in the image. A few fellow musicians I've asked, and the online Dolmetsch guide to musical ...
17
votes
3answers
561 views

What are the limitations of the ABC notation format?

This question came up in a discussion on Meta, and I thought it might be a good question to ask on the general site. ABC notation is a relatively simple text-based format for writing music scores ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

If Für Elise is in Am why there is a D# in it?

Für Elise intro starts with E D♯ E D♯, Wikipedia says the key is Am. What scale does it fit? Is it like a blues scale where D♯ is a flat 5? Why D♯ is used in the sheet music? Is it easier to read ...
15
votes
10answers
2k views

Why is there a key signature if I never play those notes?

I'm just getting back to playing on keyboard. I'm trying to play "Ode to Joy" from the piano sheet but I have a basic question. At the beginning of some staffs, on the right of the treble clef I can ...
15
votes
3answers
488 views

Resource for sheet music for blind musicians

Question: Do you know any sheet music resources for blind people, i.e. sheet music in braille notation? I don't seem to find any braille files in IMSLP (the Petrucci Library at http://www.imslp.org). ...
14
votes
4answers
1k 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?
13
votes
3answers
1k views

What does Grt. and Sw. mean in this organ score?

I've come across a piece of sheet music for an organ and I was just curious what the Grt. marking above measure 1 and 17 means and what the Sw. marking above measure 9 means. I've seen it before in a ...
13
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
973 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
1k 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
3answers
744 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
969 views

What does the “+” symbol mean in a keyboard piece when attached to a note?

In a Daquin pipe organ piece, "Noël «Suisse»" from his "Livre de Noëls", I see this notation in the Right Hand system: This is notated this way in the Oxford Book of Christmas Organ Music. How ...
13
votes
2answers
564 views

Is reading notes without an instrument a good way to practice?

As an amateur self-learner pianist, I can't take my piano with me, but I can take the sheet music books. On my current (low) level of skill, I need substantial time to read a musical piece; for ...
12
votes
2answers
612 views

Why does this note sound like it is not played?

I've been learning the second movement of Mozart's Piano Sonata 16 for a while. While I get most of the stuff memorized, some part of it just doesn't sound right comparing to recordings on YouTube ...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

With regards to piano sheet music, when are you supposed to press the pedal(s)?

I've been playing piano for about 8 months. I have a digital weighted 88-key piano with only one pedal. My friend, who used to play piano, taught me to hold the pedal down when there is an arc in ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

How to notate two identical notes ringing together?

In a melody I am composing, there are 4 E notes in a row, like this: ----------------- ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ----------------- ----------------- ----------------- ----------------- (the length of the ...
11
votes
3answers
618 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?
11
votes
2answers
732 views

What does “TAG for Three-part voices” mean?

Reading some three-part a cappella music, I see "TAG for Three-part voices" above the staff. Any idea what that might mean? 19 is the measure number. There are 27 measures total in the song, so ...
11
votes
2answers
710 views

What does circled letters mean over sheet music?

I have the following music notation and I would like to know what does (A) and (A') mean.
11
votes
1answer
229 views

What do dotted stave lines mean?

I’ve seen a dotted stave lines in this piece: http://www.fullinuyasha.com/inuyasha-sheet-music-sango-theme.html What do they mean? How is this supposed to be played?
11
votes
2answers
334 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
4k views

What does an arranger do?

When you see the "arranged by" attribution on a score, what did the arranger (typically) do?
10
votes
6answers
4k views

Why is it common to write tuba sheet music in concert pitch?

I play E♭ tuba in a wind orchestra, and we always get the notes written in concert pitch, and we have to logically "transpose" to the instrument key on the fly. How common is this approach? Why is ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What do these beamed half notes mean?

I encountered this notation and was wondering what it means.
10
votes
3answers
997 views

Violin Sheet music - Finger 0 on non-open string note

I'm battling to understand the indicated fingering on one of the pieces of music I have for my Violin Grade 6 exam. As indicated below, the finger notation suggests that I need to play an open string ...
10
votes
2answers
343 views

Dyslexia and sheet music

I was quite dyslexic as a child and struggled through elementary school where reading was concerned. However my math was pretty good so I had no trouble grasping rhythms and identifying scales as ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Different Simile Marks

In the pictures below, there are many measures with different simile marks. I know there are many different types of simile marks, varying number of lines, with or without dots, on barline or in the ...
10
votes
2answers
157 views

What is the meaning of “4/2 ₵ II?”

I'm trying to learn a classical guitar piece, Valse by Napoleon Coste, and the score specifies that I am to play a partial capo at the beginning of the piece. I'm unsure what the 4/2 means in front of ...
10
votes
3answers
510 views

What does the arc under fingerings mean?

What does the arc under fingerings mean as seen in these two pictures? It seems like first image, the arc means to transition fingerings from thumb (left hand) to second finger, but on the second ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

File formats for sheet music

I'm starting to learn music. Complete newbie here. There is a plethora of formats for music sheets. I don't know which one to choose. My requirements are: I must use to exchange music with friends, ...
9
votes
5answers
764 views

Flat symbol in key signature and bar

If i have a flat for a note in the key signature, and then in a bar the same note with an flat symbol, does that mean the note is "double flatted"? For example in the key of D Minor with hash one ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

What are good sources for free orchestra scores?

Are there usable free sources for (symphonic) orchestra scores? I'm talking about legal sources for pieces that are now in public domain.
9
votes
3answers
807 views

Music Notation for Bass - Unknown Symbol : Slash with two dots

I have checked through music notation lists and have asked a number of musicians but nobody knows what this symbol is actually supposed to mean. It's from the sheet found here.
9
votes
3answers
869 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
400 views

Different note head uses in MuseScore?

The photo here is from "MuseScore", the free notation software. A note head replaces a note head, shown in this photo. Since I have never seen these note heads before, what are these used for (if ...
9
votes
2answers
966 views

How to transcribe the impossible?

Years ago, I remember seeing sheet music for Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock version of the "Star Spangled Banner". The transcription had a little introduction, in which the transcriber conceded that the ...
9
votes
2answers
664 views

In piano music notation how are notes distributed between the staves?

I recently stumbled across a piece of music for the piano that confused me a little. The first image is how I found the score, the second is how I rearranged it myself. How I usually find ...
9
votes
2answers
229 views

Do some measures get no numbers, in an opera score?

I'm counting measures and confirming measure numbers in an opera score, and I've come across a discrepancy. I wonder what this means about conventions for numbering measures in opera scores in ...