This is mainly a notation question. But when analyzing a melody how do you notate melody notes?

Is it 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII (or maybe lower case) or do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, or something else? or maybe melody is not notated at all?

  • 2
    I don't. The melody speaks for itself. The chords need a separate notation, but the melody doesn't. Jan 31, 2020 at 3:02
  • I was about to edit what I thought was a mistake, but after searching you really use "ti" instead of "si" in english? That is pretty strange..
    – Kaddath
    Jan 31, 2020 at 11:27
  • @Kaddath The Sound of Music (do-re-mi) calls that note "a drink with jam and bread". So indeed, "ti" instead of "si".
    – 9769953
    Jan 31, 2020 at 14:04
  • @00 but the song is based on the notes, not the other way round.. I found here that it's because they didn't want notes beginning with the same letters..
    – Kaddath
    Jan 31, 2020 at 14:48
  • @Kaddath I didn't claim the notes originate with the song. Instead, the song, as a well-known song, just shows the use of "ti" in the English language.
    – 9769953
    Jan 31, 2020 at 16:08

3 Answers 3


Lots of harmony books use numbers with a circumflex accent. It's sometimes not so simple to type. Then the circumflex is prefixed. Tonic note is ^1 and the dominant ^5, etc. Flats and sharps are prefixed meaning raise or lower within the context of the scale.

I find it a bit clumsy as no tempo indication is given. While harmonies may remain for a measure or more, melodies tend to move around a lot.


Circumflex to indicate scale degree. But also, if the music is homophonic, label non chord tones. To the extent the music exhibits motifs, label those and their variations, along with inversion and retrograde. Not all music uses those devices, so label only if appropriate. I think labeling cadences, phrase ending types is helpful too. That brings in harmonic analysis, but it does help to understand melodic phrases within the larger compositional structure.


'How do you notate melody notes?'

Well, I certainly don't use Roman numerals. They are kept for harmony and chords only.

I might use Arabic numbers, with approriate sharps or flats before (or after) them.

I might use solfege, whiich works well in movable doh, where doh is the root of the key.

I might use fixed doh, where doh is C always. This can become messy with every note having its own name, and often incurs extra 'dieze' or 'bemole' being attached to notes, which does make it tricky when singing those notes.

All of which won't have any timings shown.

So, the simplest, for me, since that's what you ask, is to eschew those and go for the old-fashioned dots on staves. Which actually can be read by any muso, anywhere, with no confusion. I.e. it works!

  • 2
    ”Fixed doh”, must be the Homer Simpson notation style Jan 31, 2020 at 10:13
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica - for me, it certainly smacks of him...
    – Tim
    Jan 31, 2020 at 11:00

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