I've been seeing this mark for years, usually in historical (e.g. Baroque) manuscripts, and it's meaning is clear to me. It's a sort of W-shaped squiggle with a tail that (usually) comes at the end of a line, and marks the pitch of the next note. In manuscripts, it is sometimes shortened to more of a "check mark" shape. As a performer, it a nice convenience to have, especially on the last line of a page, and I've even occasionally penciled the mark into scores that I'm playing or singing from, for my own benefit.
I like to think of it as a sort of musical "ellipses mark", but it recently occurred to me that I've never officially "learned" anything about this mark (i.e. from reading) -- I don't even know it's name! I don't see it in modern printed music (unless it's an edition that's trying to preserve the look of the original manuscript as much as possible), and I don't think I've seen it mentioned in any theory textbook. Has this mark become obsolete (and if so, when)? If it's not obsolete, why is it so hard to find information on? (e.g. is it's use restricted to some small subset of musicians?).
Granted, I'm having a hard time knowing what to google for, but it seems surprising that there's so little information on this mark, given it's apparent one-time ubiquity. I've selected a handful of examples below:
- In Palestrina:
- In Stradella (upper bass voice):
- In Handel's Messiah: