Questions tagged [sheet-music]

Musical notation in written or printed form. Questions asking people to find or transcribe (make) sheet music for a particular song are off-topic.

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100
votes
18answers
119k views

What is good software for learning how to sight-read?

I'd like to learn how to sight-read on my own, but practicing the same song over and over again just causes me to memorize it, and filling out worksheets is boring. Is there any good software for ...
73
votes
17answers
33k views

Quickly flip a page of sheet music while playing

This seems like such a silly question, but! When playing the piano, I sometimes struggle to turn the pages of my music without noticeably sacrificing the sound of the piece or making the book / ...
72
votes
5answers
59k views

How do you draw a quarter rest with a pen/pencil?

It seems to me that the quarter rest we see everywhere was drawn with a calligraphy pen. I don't have one of those - I have a sharpened/mechanical pencil or a ball-point pen. So usually when I try to ...
44
votes
10answers
38k views

As a guitarist, how can I learn to sight-read music?

I'm learning guitar right now, mostly from Justin Sandercoe's free online lessons, starting from the beginner's course. He has a lot of good tips for how to practice and drill chords, and scales, but ...
44
votes
2answers
152k 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 ...
41
votes
8answers
10k views

What do 'vent holes' do on a music stand?

I was looking at music stands and a number of them do not have solid backs, rather, they have holes through them, like shown. Are these just for aesthetic purposes, or do they have a practical purpose?...
40
votes
6answers
8k views

Why do people sometimes write notes as E♯ or C♭?

Instead of writing F or B, sometimes people use E♯ or C♭ to write these notes. Are there any advantages to this notation?
40
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
35
votes
12answers
36k 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?
32
votes
4answers
20k 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?
32
votes
8answers
11k views

When to use a dot or a tie in music notation?

Let's say I have the following piece in 4/4, Should it be notated as: or Are there any specific rules? From my previous experience, I believe the second one is the correct notation since it shows ...
31
votes
4answers
27k 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 ...
31
votes
1answer
4k views

What do the letters D and E above the staff represent here?

A mystery from a musician friend of mine: In the Alpine Symphony by Strauss, the oboe, Eflat clarinet, and bass clarinet/C clarinet have these D's and E's scattered throughout the back half of the ...
30
votes
2answers
60k 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 ...
29
votes
12answers
4k views

Sites with a good selection of sheet music

When I look online for sheet music for the piano or flute, I find that a lot of the websites that promise great collections of sheet music are nothing but ad filled sites that talk about sheet music (...
29
votes
5answers
21k views

Is "16va" proper notation?

Is the notation "16va" or "16vb" ever used to mean to transpose what is written up or down two octaves? I cannot think of how else you would represent the highest and lowest notes on a piano without ...
29
votes
3answers
3k views

What are the limitations of the ABC notation format?

This question came up in a discussion on Meta, and I thought it might be a good question to ask on the general site. ABC notation is a relatively simple text-based format for writing music scores ...
27
votes
10answers
9k views

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

I am not a music expert and I have always wondered why orchestra performances require a conductor to play. The musicians are presumably professionals who have had much practice at this point, so why ...
25
votes
8answers
20k views

Why can't we play rap on piano?

In piano and any other instruments which produces musical notes, it seems the notes that matches the rap are never found. But I think it can't be true, because after all there is some voice ...
25
votes
10answers
4k views

Why is there a key signature if I never play those notes?

I'm just getting back to playing on keyboard. I'm trying to play "Ode to Joy" from the piano sheet but I have a basic question. At the beginning of some staffs, on the right of the treble clef I can ...
25
votes
6answers
7k views

Why are double staff pieces of music not properly aligned for Middle C?

I am a guitar, flute and (a long time ago) bassoon player. I can play a few things on a keyboard, badly, in short: I know how it all works. I'm trying to help teach my wife to play a harp. It has a ...
25
votes
7answers
9k views

How to handle a newly purchased score book that won't stay opened?

With some score books, if you try to open it and put it on a support, it will close itself. For the moment I have to force and fold it but it damages the spine of the book. Do you have techniques to ...
23
votes
3answers
51k views

With regards to piano sheet music, when are you supposed to press the pedal(s)?

I've been playing piano for about 8 months. I have a digital weighted 88-key piano with only one pedal. My friend, who used to play piano, taught me to hold the pedal down when there is an arc in ...
23
votes
2answers
11k 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?
23
votes
13answers
41k views

Best ways of storing sheet music

I was wondering if anyone had a really good and practical way of storing print sheet music. If there is any specific types of folders or cabinets that they use to store their sheet music. I would like ...
22
votes
6answers
6k views

Why does G# sound right when my melody is in C major?

I composed the following melody using notes from the C major scale. In the third bar a G# (Ab) seemed a natural choice to complete the loop, but I don’t understand why. G# is not in C major nor its ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

How to write "Play this line, OR this line" with conventional music symbols

In a music sheet, how could I write down "play this line OR this line, as you like". The reason is that if the player is skilled, they will choose to play the first line, but if not, they will prefer ...
21
votes
3answers
6k views

I don't understand how the notes in this picture are to be played

I'm learning how to play the piano and I don't understand the fingering of the notes in the picture below. I'm not understanding how you're supposed to use the 2nd and 3rd finger twice. I guess that's ...
21
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it ok for a choir to learn by listening?

I'm in a high school choir and we just got a new teacher. He is adamant that we don't listen to rehearsal tracks or recordings, because "real musicians don't." Is there merit to this? Is it better to ...
21
votes
6answers
15k views

If Für Elise is in Am why there is a D# in it?

Für Elise intro starts with E D♯ E D♯, Wikipedia says the key is Am. What scale does it fit? Is it like a blues scale where D♯ is a flat 5? Why D♯ is used in the sheet music? Is it easier to read ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

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
votes
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
votes
12answers
4k views

Should sight-reading be emphasized less for piano instruction with new developments in technology [closed]

I realize this post may be controversial. I've been playing for about eleven years. I'm somewhere at the amateur/intermediate level. When I started sheet music was the only medium available. Since ...
20
votes
1answer
5k views

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
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
19
votes
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 ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

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?
18
votes
8answers
9k views

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
votes
2answers
4k views

Why didn't Bach sign his manuscripts?

From what I can tell when looking up images of Bach's manuscripts, he often didn't sign them. Is there any specific reason for this?
18
votes
4answers
6k views

How should I play two notes together on lines below the staff?

How should I play two notes together on lines below the staff?
18
votes
4answers
4k views

Why does the pedal sign look like “Leo”?

I play piano. I took Trinity College London grade 6 practical and finished my theory course. I still don't understand why the Pedal sign looks like the word “Leo”. Could someone tell me what this is ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

What is this upside down square fermata?

I was wondering what this marking means, it looks like an upside-down square fermata or an upside-down down bow marking with a dot. I found it in a piece for cello by Nadia Boulanger.
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Resource for sheet music for blind musicians

Question: Do you know any sheet music resources for blind people, i.e. sheet music in braille notation? I don't seem to find any braille files in IMSLP (the Petrucci Library at http://www.imslp.org). ...
18
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

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
votes
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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4answers
3k views

How to interpret this chord notation?

How do you interpret this couple of notations? In Bar 2, Fm / Ab, what does the slash do? Do I play either chord or both? In addition, in Bar 3, what does the /9 mean?
17
votes
3answers
25k views

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
votes
3answers
2k views

How can I force LilyPond to repeat a chord symbol (relates to alternate endings)?

In chordmode, LilyPond chooses not to display chord symbols when they are the same as the preceding symbol, which is usually the right behavior. However, this behavior gets weird in the context of ...
16
votes
4answers
5k views

Why use odd time signatures?

I'm a beginner guitar player, and I'm trying to pick up some of the music theory behind the instrument, and one thing that I've sort of grasped is odd time signatures. I know what they are, and I can ...

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