Brand new member here. I've been learning to sing and trying to learn how to read music to decipher which notes should be sung in a particular song. With The Carpenters Yesterday Once More it's in E Major. My question is: In the bottom of the snip, far right, you can see different letters above the top lines, B/D# C#m and then B7sus, then the notes of the lyrics. Do these letters above the lines, apply to the music chords that are played, or the actual notes that the singer sings? At the moment I am assuming the singer sings E3, E3, F3# ? image of sheet music

2 Answers 2


This music is written out in a standard way - showing 4 different parts. The lower two are what could be played by piano,l.h. and r.h.; the next up is what the singer sings, obviously with the words, and the top shows what essentially what chords a guitarist would play at the same time.

It makes sense that a singer will only sing one note at a time, hence the 3rd line - single notes! Some accompanists playing chordal instruments (guitar, and yes, piano) prefer to read the chord symbols along the top, and in some sheets, there are even little 'chord boxes' which tell where fingers go for those chords.

So, for your ends, the 3rd line up is what you'll need to follow. Great song, great group!

EDIT: in response to the header you put - not a great deal, unless you're harmonising with the song. B7sus means the notes B, E, F♯ and A are contained within that chord. Which, interestingly, the piano doesn't play in their entirety. But if you wanted to sing some harmony at that point, those notes would be the ones to choose from. But Karen sings the notes shown, and that's it..


The "letters" above the staff are chord symbols. They denote harmony of the piece, as meant to be played by a guitar or some other instrument.

The accompaniment usually keeps playing when there's a rest in the vocal line. That's what you see here: there are three chord changes in the bar; the singer only resumes singing an eighth after the change to B7sus.

  • Thank you. So if I understand you correctly the singer will still sing E3 for the words "Those were" Yes?
    – Sevennah
    Apr 13 at 0:39
  • @Sevennah Yep, as the singer the chord symbols are irrelevant and don't change anything about the melody that's written for you.
    – user45266
    Apr 13 at 1:46
  • Thank you so much, really appreciate it (user45266) sorry don't know how to tag.
    – Sevennah
    Apr 13 at 1:49
  • @Sevennah - because the E notes are part of the prevailing chord, then, yes, the singer will sing Es for those words.
    – Tim
    Apr 13 at 15:49
  • Thank you Tim -Sevennah
    – Sevennah
    Apr 13 at 21:34

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