Let's say I want to make one big crescendo across the quartet, or switch the whole orchestra from p to mp.

Can I put one simple marking at the top of the staff, or at the bottom, or SOMEWHERE?

Or do I really have to write each one out individually?

1 Answer 1


If you're just working on your "manuscript" for later final typesetting, you can of course use all abreviations that you and the typesetter agree upon.

But if you're preparing a score for performance or publishing you should notate each instrument individually. Performers need to follow the score for their part, even if using (for lack of an individual part score for their instrument) a complete score with all the parts. They cannot have their eyes wandering across the page looking for possible indications that may be relevant to them.

Perhaps there could be a case for "global commmands" for orchestra conductor scores, but it would probably create more readability problems than it would solve and it is not the convention any way, as exemplified below.

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  • The markings on each part must be complete in themselves, as @joseem said. Professional-quality notation software like Sibelius and Finale has short-cut commands to copy the same markings quickly to several staves (or all the staves) in a score.
    – user19146
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 22:50
  • 1
    One exception to this rule that is used in modern music with many changes of meter is that time signatures are not written on every staff of the score, but in larger numbers at a few locations (e.g. at the top and bottom of the staves), so they are easier for the conductor to see. They are written in every player's part, or course.
    – user19146
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 22:53

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