Questions tagged [notation]

For questions about visual representation of music and its uses. If the question is about a specific type of notation like tablature, that should also be tagged. Questions about how to input specific notation are best served with the engraving tag.

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32 votes
4 answers
31k views

Rest above a note in a piano piece

I am playing a piece and wondering, what the heck is the rest doing 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 ...
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  • 689
24 votes
2 answers
12k views

Why does this note have a stem pointing up and another pointing down?

What does the first note below mean? Does it need to be pressed down while playing the second notes? If not, why are there two stems, one pointing up, and one pointing down?
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  • 933
3 votes
3 answers
2k views

Too many notes in this measure [duplicate]

It seems there are too many notes in the treble clef below. The time signature is 4/4 yet there it starts with a quarter rest, then a dotted quarter, then 6 eighth notes. This adds up to more than ...
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  • 133
18 votes
6 answers
7k views

The same note on two staves

On rare occasions, I encounter the same note on two staves with overlapping durations. Attached is an example from an arragement of "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles (The note in ...
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  • 6,502
15 votes
3 answers
35k views

What exactly does a 3 mean over a quarter note and an 8th note?

There is an eighth note followed by a quarter note, and above them is a little overarching bracket with a little 3 in it. I know this has something to do with the timing, but I have no idea what. ...
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39 votes
9 answers
23k views

Does an accidental apply to all octaves?

I've been playing French Horn for 20 years, and thought I had most basic concepts regarding accidentals understood. But the other day I came across the following image via Wikipedia, which had me ...
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  • 852
42 votes
3 answers
11k 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 ...
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  • 6,502
14 votes
5 answers
3k views

Are accidentals in the key signature and measure additive?

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 ...
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  • 405
14 votes
1 answer
28k views

How can I find the length in seconds of a quarter-note (crotchet) if I have a tempo marking?

Given a tempo marking in bpm (beats-per-minute), how can I work out the length of a crotchet (quarter-note) beat?
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  • 20.9k
65 votes
7 answers
43k views

Why is C the base note of standard notation and keys?

Why is it that notes "start" with C? In key signatures, for example, C Major is the basis and accidentals are added for all other key signatures. I know that the musical alphabet starts with A and ...
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  • 1,031
16 votes
1 answer
2k views

What does the L-shaped symbol attached to C5 and G4 on the top staff mean?

I am trying to learn "Kiss The Rain" by Yiruma, and I am learning from a score published on musescore. Source: https://musescore.com/user/27057308/scores/4838600 I was confused by the L-...
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  • 303
43 votes
10 answers
45k views

Is there any practical difference between 3/4 and 3/8 time?

Is there any practical difference between 4/4 and 8/8? regards a common and unusual time signature; both 3/4 and 3/8 time are pretty common. What difference in performance is implied in the the ...
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  • 17.5k
27 votes
3 answers
21k views

What does a straight line connecting notes on different clefs mean?

What is the meaning of the straight lines between notes in opposite staves, as shown in the picture? I keep seeing it, but Google and Wikipedia are not helping me.
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13 votes
7 answers
9k views

Same note to be played with both hands? [duplicate]

Why some notes in the piano are written the same for the left and right hand ? What is the purpose of this ? And how do we play them ? Do we just choose one hand to play them or do we play them ...
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32 votes
2 answers
68k views

Unknown notation - thick horizontal bars between notes

I haven't the faintest idea of what these bars could mean. They're thick and mostly horizontal with a slight tilt. Some sort of run perhaps? How do you effect the dynamics/notes these bars are ...
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  • 485
20 votes
12 answers
19k views

Can legato notes be played staccato?

I've been working on this piece by Sousa, and I came across this oddity: Does this mean to play these notes somehow legato and staccato at the same time? If so, how would I play it? If not, what does ...
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14 votes
9 answers
34k views

Transcribing a Standard MIDI File to sheet music

I have a couple of nice guitar midi files that I would like the scores for; is there any software out there that can do this sort of conversion, and output it as a PDF file? Thanks
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6 votes
4 answers
3k views

Are whole notes/rests really used to signify variable lengths of time?

I saw this answer and I thought the guy was absolutely crazy for assuming that a whole note automatically equaled one measure regardless of time signature. However, there does appear to be more than ...
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45 votes
2 answers
167k 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 ...
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32 votes
4 answers
78k views

What are the Solfège names of the semitones between the basic do, re, mi, etc?

What are the names of all the notes in a sol-fa scale, especially the chromatic notes between the basic Do, Re, Mi's.
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32 votes
4 answers
23k views

What does it mean when two notes are stuck together?

I mean something like this: I'm guessing it means they're played together but I'm not sure. Also, does the sharp apply to both pitches or just the G?
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23 votes
2 answers
108k views

What do the terms E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 actually mean?

I am attempting to learn guitar, and I keep coming across this notation in various apps that I've downloaded. I know that E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 are something to do with tuning, but I'm not exactly sure ...
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1 vote
5 answers
5k views

Left and right hand playing same note on piano?

Occasionally I run across sheet music that has the left and right hand playing the same note at the same time. Is this on purpose? If so... Why? And how do I play it? For example, see the first ...
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  • 158
15 votes
5 answers
65k views

Piano music with two treble clefs, and notes between staves

I do not understand why there are two treble cleff staves and why there are music notes in the middle of the two staves. Which hand should I play those notes with and why are there two treble cleff ...
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  • 151
13 votes
3 answers
7k views

Four dots over tremolo minim (half note with slash)

I'm working on National Emblem by E. E. Bagley. In the second strain, there is a minim with the tremolo mark. Above it are four dots. What do they mean? Here is a picture. The mark in question is ...
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70 votes
6 answers
211k views

What is the relationship between "do re mi" and note letter names?

When people sing the song, they use do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, (si), etc, but sometimes I hear that the music people say A, B, C, D flat, etc. Is there a relationship or are they two different ...
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  • 1,447
23 votes
4 answers
2k views

Should one write ♯ or ♭?

In the staff, would one write enharmonic notes with # or ♭? Does it matter which you'd use and why? For example: In the key of C Major, would it be better to write this passage with an A#, as it is, ...
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  • 595
15 votes
4 answers
11k views

What is the proper name of the dash symbol over a note and how to play it

Can anyone specify the name of the particular symbol above the crotchet? According to Wikipedia it's called a Tenuto but my teacher said it's called a "dash". Which one is correct? Or are both names ...
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  • 1,337
9 votes
5 answers
9k views

What does the roman numeral notation mean for this borrowed chord?

I am working my way through Asturias (Leyenda) in E minor for classical guitar. I believe the arrangement is based on the one by Segovia. I am using this sheet music, and comparing it to the tablature ...
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35 votes
12 answers
38k 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?
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  • 933
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

What are these brackets? What do they mean and what are they called?

I came across to these brackets in my music theory book of Trinity. I don't know what are these called and what they exactly do in this music?
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3 votes
2 answers
2k views

Two adjacent notes of same pitch seemingly occupying the same beat?

What does it mean when two notes of the same pitch with different lengths occupy the same space? In this example, the F-A-C chord should take up the third beat of the measure. It seems to be tied to a ...
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  • 131
18 votes
3 answers
3k views

What's the proper piano notation for adding one note at a time to a chord and holding all the notes?

I came across a bar that sounds like this while transcribing a piece for keyboard. Is there a correct/better way to write this?
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27 votes
4 answers
2k views

Where do the double accidentals go in "theoretical" key signatures?

Recent questions led me to discussions of theoretical keys, which are defined by Wikipedia as keys with at least one double accidental in the key signature. (Unfortunately, the source of that ...
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  • 78.8k
17 votes
6 answers
2k views

Proper symbol for this chord (1 5 b7 9 11)?

I'm a songwriter in the jazz-pop idiom, and when playing through a chart with a guitarist, he told me that, in his opinion, I had labeled a chord inaccurately / incorrectly. Here's the chord as I ...
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9 votes
2 answers
2k views

What does the chord notation X/Y ("slash chord") mean?

Questions about slash chords are frequent enough that this question was created to answer the general concerns as well as link to related or more specific questions on the topic. Chords notated like ...
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  • 56.9k
17 votes
8 answers
9k views

Do accidentals override key signature and previous accidentals?

I am wondering how the accidental in the first chord (see what is circled) is played? Does any accidental simply move the note up or down a half-step from what the note is supposed to be based on the ...
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  • 171
9 votes
3 answers
3k views

What conventions are used with accidentals and tied notes?

If I have a tied note across a bar line, say 2 whole G notes, and I have an accidental, say a sharp, on the first G, my assumption is that the accidental applies as well to the second G because it is ...
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  • 369
15 votes
3 answers
2k views

What does this split stem notation mean?

Here's sheet music for chopin's 2nd ballade. On page 6, in the 2nd measure in the 4th line of music, there's a D# and a D natural, with two lines coming out of them and connecting to the double bar (...
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8 votes
1 answer
563 views

Why aren't there barlines in the piano solo parts in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5?

In the beginning of this piece you'll notice that the piano solo part has no barlines. Why? And why does he use 16th notes? How can a "16th" note have any meaning without barlines (not to ...
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  • 227
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

Notating the diminished Scale

For example in the C diminished scale: do I use a ton of accidentals or should I come up with some weird key signature that has something like a D# and use the C# as an accidental on the line of C?
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  • 537
3 votes
3 answers
570 views

Unusual Accidentals

I sometimes see a natural where it is unnecessary. Sometimes it is a courtesy natural but other times the note has not been flattened or sharpened at all and yet I see a natural that is already there ...
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  • 6,140
2 votes
2 answers
858 views

Useless natural accidental? [duplicate]

Why is that natural accidental placed on that G? Does the slur extend the sharp on the previous measure to the next one? That wouldn't make sense for the bass though.
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  • 357
33 votes
4 answers
78k views

Why note B is marked with H in Scandinavia and Germany?

At least in Scandinavia and Germany two notes are marked differently than in most other countries: B -> H B♭ -> B I have heard that this is due to mistake in interpreting messy sheet notes, as ♭ is ...
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  • 441
19 votes
4 answers
4k views

What is the the Nashville Numbers system?

Recently, a couple of my bandmates were talking about a technique they use called Nashville Numbers. It's similar to writing out chords, but instead uses numbers. These numbers are a pattern that ...
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21 votes
5 answers
8k views

If between E and F is a halftone, why can F not be an E♯

A ♯ raises a note by a semitone or halftone. I'm confused. If E and F are a halftone apart, why can't F be E♯?
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  • 313
20 votes
2 answers
29k views

Why “delta” chords?

Why are major seventh chords called delta chords and written with a delta symbol, like CΔ7 or CΔ? Do engravers consistently use Δ to mean a seventh chord (such that Δ7 is redundant) or do some use Δ ...
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  • 6,567
12 votes
2 answers
25k views

What do the letters above the piano staff represent?

I am a beginner trying to understand the music notation for a song I want to try. Can someone kindly tell me what are the letters above the treble clef in the following figure: I've read that they ...
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12 votes
1 answer
15k 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 ...
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  • 245
19 votes
4 answers
11k 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 ...
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