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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21
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5answers
7k 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♯?
21
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2answers
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Two whole notes on the same measure, what does it mean?

I'm starting to analyze the Slavic March by Tchaikovsky. In measures 6, 8 and 9 the Clarinet has these repeated whole notes, but I don't know what they mean (I'm not a clarinetist). The bassoon/...
21
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1answer
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What is the meaning of this small vertical line?

During this question about "China Gates" by John Adams another question came up: What is the meaning of the little vertical line in bass clef bar 4 in front of the C? The same mark re-appears ...
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3answers
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Unknown Musical Symbol: Straight Dotted Line Between Eighth Note Stems

What does the dotted line mean between the eighth note stems in the LH part? This appears in the Dover edition of Haydn's Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major. It is present in both movements one and two. ...
21
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3answers
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Origin of the 'squigly line' used for quarter note rest?

This has been driving me nuts - I can't find a single thing on the net that would indicate why the quarter rest is penned the way it is. Did it evolve from some initial or abbreviation or was it ...
21
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3answers
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Ornamentation symbol consisting of two stacked slashes //

I'm transcribing a book of 18th Century music and have come across several instances of the notation shown in the image. A few fellow musicians I've asked, and the online Dolmetsch guide to musical ...
21
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1answer
2k views

What does a long arrow pointing up and down mean in an organ score?

What is the meaning of this symbol (long vertical arrow) in old organ notation?
20
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9answers
6k views

Why did we never simplify key signatures?

I understand that the key signature indicates what are the exact notes represented on the staff lines and spaces and thus tells us the diatonic scale in which the music is composed, which in turns ...
20
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8answers
3k views

I don't understand the bottom number in a time signature

I've learned that 4/4 means 4 beats with the kind of beat being a crotchet. However, I've seen pieces with that time signature that don't just use crotchets, but minims, quavers, etc. I am still a ...
20
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6answers
2k views

Scope of accidentals in measureless music

An accidental usually only lasts until the end of a measure, but what if there are no measures? I'm writing some music without bar lines (blame Satie) and am wondering what to do about notating ...
20
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5answers
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Symbols “M”, “C”, “D”, and “P” in Guitar Tablature

I was reading a songbook by Richie Kotzen, and in the song "Shine" (which he played with Mr. Big), there's a rythm guitar part that goes like this: What do the symbols M, C, D and P mean? I'm pretty ...
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4answers
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Fermata over a rest at the end of the piece?

Why? It seems to me that as soon as you stop the instrument from making a sound at the end of the piece, it's done. I understand that the final rest is necessary to fill up the measure, but why put ...
20
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12answers
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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 ...
20
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1answer
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What does this 7 mean above the F flat?

It seems to look like a fingering number but I don’t have 7 fingers and the note is already marked with a fingering number. This is from Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu.
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5answers
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Odd symbol in Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos Book 1

Today I came across an odd symbol in Béla Bartók's Microkosmos. The symbol occurs in Book 1, Score 21, Measure 8, at the end of a phrasing slur. It looks like a vertical bar that crosses only the ...
20
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1answer
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What do the smaller notes in the Treble Clef indicate?

This is piano sheet music for "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie. I've been trying to search for what these notes mean. Do I play them with the left hand? Not play them? Are they ...
20
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2answers
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Is there any official/semi-official standard for music symbol visual appearance?

Is there any official or at least widely recognized source that documents the visual parameters of music symbols? Something that says things like: "The note head shall be an ellipse with the ...
20
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2answers
2k views

Which accidental continues through the bar?

Messiaen's Prelude for Organ (no opus number, discovered posthumously in 1997, composed probably circa 1929) is rife with ambiguous accidentals. Some can be figured out by examining similar passages, ...
20
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3answers
10k 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?
20
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3answers
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On the piano, how should you play staccato with the pedal?

In some pieces, there is a pedal designation along with staccato. How should this be played?
20
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1answer
4k views

How do you read Graphic Scores?

I recently found out about the graphic notation. I was reading up on it on wikipedia, but there was very little information about how the scores are read besides you read them left to right. There is ...
19
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6answers
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What is the difference between swing and shuffle?

I am learning piano from a book and I can't understand the difference between swing and shuffle. I have searched, but I still can't understand the difference. Could someone please iterate the ...
19
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3answers
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Why is this 4th-note written as two 8th-notes tied together?

In the second measure of the first voice, the 8th notes are tied together in pairs. Why would it be notated this way instead of as fourth-notes?
19
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3answers
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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 ...
19
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1answer
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What do these square notes mean (in the left hand)?

What are this notes about? I had to learn this piece in 8-27-1963 in my first year at the music conservatory in Bern. The notes look like square notation, but the music was written in 20th. century....
19
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1answer
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In Diabelli's “Duet in D” for piano, what are these brackets on chords that look like vertical slurs?

While working through 'Duet in D' for piano, by A. Diabelli, I came across this unfamiliar notation that looks like a slur between two notes of the same chord or some kind of bracket (see below). ...
19
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5answers
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Why is a note sometimes a 4th and sometimes an 11th?

If I play the chord: GBDA, then this is considered a Gadd9. But if I play the 3rd above the 5th (GDB), it is not called a 10th. Why don't we refer to all notes by 1-7, and is there a system to ...
18
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4answers
8k views

Tell pianist to play entire piece softly, except one part

I've composed a short melody, however I'm very new to all this piano theory, how would I tell the pianist to play the entire piece softly? (mp, not pp), and how would I write exceptions for specific ...
18
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8answers
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Why aren't chord names written in classical sheet music?

When I see classical sheet music I don't see the chords named, were chords not used back then? And if they were, do the notes that are under a bass clef generally outline the shapes of chords? I only ...
18
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6answers
3k views

Why does standard notation not preserve intervals (visually)

(Disclaimer: I don't know much about music theory but ...) The notes A, B are a whole step apart, and B, C are a semitone apart, yet their distance in standard notation is the same visually (from a ...
18
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5answers
5k views

What's an “add” chord?

The name implies that you are adding a note, but we already notate that explicitly in the chord name and quality. We say Cm7, not Cm add 7. If we want a 9th, we can go Cm9, but is Cm add 9 correct ...
18
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2answers
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What did ancient cuneiform notation look like, and how did it work?

I looked at Wikipedia of course... According to Wikipedia: The earliest form of musical notation can be found in a cuneiform tablet that was created at Nippur, in Sumer (today's Iraq), in about ...
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4answers
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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 ...
18
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1answer
4k views

What is this 4 sharp symbol and what does it mean?

I came across this symbol (unfortunately not in context—I was looking through some engraving font glyphs) that looks like a sharp with a 4 above it: What is this symbol called and what does it mean? ...
17
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3answers
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Small Notes in Sheet Music — NOT grace notes — written AFTER the main note and beamed with it

Can anyone explain the significance of the small notes in the following music? An otherwise identical arrangement in a different "easy" song book shows only quarter notes without the smaller notes. ...
17
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6answers
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How to play this trill in Mozart's Piano Sonata 14 (K457)

How does one play this trill in this Mozart Sonata? Does it mean we play 3 notes (Eb, F, Eb) before the last two notes of the second bar? Or how many trills does one have to play?
17
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2answers
2k views

How do I notate a staccato on a unison note?

If there is a stem on either side of a note, or the stems are DOWN below ledger lines, where does the dot indicating staccato go?
17
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3answers
2k views

Free software to create a score from scratch

What open source softwares are available for creating a music score? I have Logic X but I don't think it's geared well for that kind of thing.
17
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3answers
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Reasoning for redundant “natural” (but not courtesy accidental)

I understand why you'd add courtesy accidentals, but I was browsing through some old sheet music lying around here and came across this, and can't seem to come up with a reason for this natural in bar ...
17
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2answers
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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 ...
17
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3answers
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What are parenthesis used for in notation?

I have seen parenthesis occasionally used in notation and would like to know what they mean. Here are some examples of them I have collected. Around a note: Around an Appoggiatura: Around a ...
17
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2answers
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What do Four Vertical Dots mean?

I was looking through a score by Bartok (5th String Quartet) and came across a symbol I didn't recognize. There is a dot between each line in the clef. What does this mean? Edit: Here's another ...
17
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6answers
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Capitalization of key names (C Minor vs. c minor)

I was taught when I was young that minor key names should be written with the note in lowercase, as well as the word "minor". Nowadays on recordings, etc., I usually see both capitalized. What was ...
17
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1answer
976 views

Do accidentals earlier in the measure affect a trill?

I was attempting to help someone understand all the markings in a piece with which they are unfamiliar. One, however, has given me pause: Now, I know the rule for a trill is that it ordinarily ...
17
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2answers
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Is there a historical reason why we say “C sharp” but notate on the staff “sharp C”?

Early music students are often confused with where to place accidentals: When we speak, we say the note name first and then the accidental: C sharp. When we're writing away from the staff, we do the ...
16
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4answers
3k views

How to notate time signature switching consistently every measure

It seems my musical journey's always pushing me into left field territory when it comes to notation ... So this time I'd like to know what would be a good way to notate a consistent switching of time ...
16
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2answers
3k views

Music Notation - Little notes

Can someone please tell me what the little notes (4 bars after C) are called?
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5answers
1k views

How to notate this two-voice syncopation in 12/8 time?

Currently working on this composition which is in 12/8 time. I want the rhythm in the left hand to be like this: But the notation looks difficult to read. Also tried this: But the C octave chord is ...
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5answers
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Basic Accidental Question

Example: You have d major scale but you make a c flat accidental, does it just naturalize c back to its basic form or make it an enharmonic b? Ive tried searching on google but found nothing. It's ...
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7answers
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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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