27 votes
Accepted

What is this quadruple-dotted X above the staff?

Just look a bit further on the page: right below that staff there are two footnotes with the same symbol: As the comment from 小太郎 explains, the ※ symbol is a reference mark used in Chinese, Japanese ...
musicamante's user avatar
  • 6,644
21 votes
Accepted

How to notate 3 quarters framed by eighths?

Let's discuss the pros and cons of each version, albeit slightly out of order: Version 3 This one is mainly non-ideal because of the half note that crosses the midpoint of the first measure. A sight ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.3k
21 votes

What is this "<>" thing above a note

"It looks like a crescendo and a decrescendo on one note, but I don't think that's it:" That's EXACTLY what it is. Think of it perhaps as a soft-attack accent. 'Lean on' the note. You'll ...
Laurence's user avatar
  • 92.1k
21 votes
Accepted

Is it okay to change the key signature in the middle of a bar?

It's not common to change key signature in the middle of a bar - my edition of Behind Bars says "change a key signature after a barline", with no qualifications, suggesting that's the usual ...
James Uffindell-Birt's user avatar
20 votes

What does this sharp sign with an arrow mean?

It's an indication for a three-quarter-tone sharp. Another common symbol for the same thing is what looks like a regular sharp sign with three vertical strokes. (Image source: MuseScore 4) A single ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 86.7k
17 votes

Triangular notehead at the end of a glissando/portamento

The symbol indicates the highest pitch possible on the instrument (in this particular case: a glissando to the highest possible pitch). It only makes sense for an instrument with an undefined highest ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
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15 votes
Accepted

Am I Doing It Wrong? Why Can't I Use Multiple 5-Line Staves to Represent Guitar's Open Strings?

You are trying to reinvent the wheel it seems. All you have to do if you want to see the actual pitches of the open strings of the guitar is use the grand staff: I showed where the G and B strings ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

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

PhD in music theory specializing in medieval theory here. M. Cuthbert's answer here is correct, but I thought that I would add some missing details. Heads up: this is going to be a long explanation, ...
M. Nace's user avatar
  • 196
14 votes

Theoretically Correct vs Practical Notation

The top version is more correct 100% of the time when written in 4/4. In the bottom version, I see a few issues that could present themselves: In the first measure, two consecutive quarter notes that ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.3k
13 votes

Can someone please tell me what is written on this score?

The handwritten script fragment says "No. 10.", as in "(movement) number ten". It looks like the handwritten script is just a re-organisation of the movement divisions, because a ...
Elements In Space's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

Liszt Transcendental Étude No.1 (Prelude) -- Piano zu 7 Oktaven -- which order to play?

Pianos in Liszt's time were evolving and not all had a wide enough range to play his music. So the "main" option (purple-pink) is for a piano smaller than seven octaves, which was still ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 86.7k
13 votes

How to play the "Ped" symbol when there's no corresponding release symbol

The pedal release is implied. A pedal change (release and re-press) occurs at each pedal symbol.
Aaron's user avatar
  • 86.7k
12 votes

Teach beginner staff notation

Intervallic approach The closest method I've seen, and which I've used successfully both for myself and for students, is Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner by Frances Clark. The approach teaches ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 86.7k
12 votes

Is it okay to change the key signature in the middle of a bar?

For some reason I am not seeing some of the symbols you wrote correctly but regardless of that it is completely acceptable to modulate in the middle of a bar. It is best to just use the correct ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
12 votes

Tenuto, legato and staccato on the same note

The combination of a staccato dot with a tenuto marking would normally indicate the that the chords are to be played portato, with a small gap between them. The slurs clearly contradict this. When ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
  • 20.9k
12 votes

Why do conductors use transposed scores vs. concert scores?

Why do conductors use transposed scores vs. concert scores? They don't always. They use what's available. Some pieces are published as transposing scores and others as concert pitch scores. I'm ...
phoog's user avatar
  • 22.2k
11 votes

What does this flat symbol over a turn mean?

Accidental written above the turn symbol affects the upper note of the turn (which indeed is the first one for a regular turn), so (assuming the key of C major an no accidentals earlier in this ...
user1079505's user avatar
  • 16.6k
11 votes
Accepted

Dot in front of a mordent

In the introductory notes to a critical edition of Charpentier's Élévation au St Sacrement, C. Jane Gosine writes (emphasis added): With no extant ornament tables by Charpentier, nor explanations of ...
Andy Bonner's user avatar
  • 16.7k
10 votes

Notating Sheet Music with Strict Tempo for Accompaniment but Rubato for Vocalist

I posted this as a comment but @Bob_Broadley suggested I post it as an answer so here goes: This is pretty wordy but sometimes using a verbal description is the best way to go. There is no rule that ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Circle and half bracket symbol - what does it mean? (Flute)

It's almost certainly sloppy music preparation. It looks very much like there is an octave sign over the notes with an extension line with a hook at the showing the end of the 8va passage, but it's so ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
  • 20.9k
10 votes

8-string guitar stave

Guitar notation developed for music with most notes fitting within 3 octave range. 8 string electric guitar with 24 frets covers almost 5 octaves in standard tuning. The best solution may depend on ...
user1079505's user avatar
  • 16.6k
10 votes
Accepted

What does a lowercase "a" mean for guitar music?

I'm curious that you didn't ask about the "m"s also. They are there for the same reason. Both are indications of which right hand finger the composer or editor suggests you use to play the ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
  • 56.6k
10 votes

Unidentified symbol in music notation

Above the last measure in the piece there is a special type of repeat instruction: D.S.. This is an abbreviation of dal segno, which is Italian for from the sign, where the segno/sign is the symbol ...
Elements In Space's user avatar
9 votes

Theoretically Correct vs Practical Notation

In order to most clearly communicate a 3+3+2 feel, the "intuitive" right hand would need adjustment: Beam the first three notes (dotted eighth, sixteenth, eighth) together; Split the ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 86.7k
9 votes
Accepted

Skip Beat in a Measure

To "skip" a beat, change the time signature for that measure. In the specific case in the question, the time signature for the measure shown would be 3/4, then the following measure would ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 86.7k
9 votes
Accepted

What does this diagonal line in the drums sheet music mean?

That's a rather overzealous notation for a rim click, which is more typically notated as a regular note head with a diagonal line through it (among other options)1. It goes with the indication just ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 86.7k
9 votes

How to end song at `fine` but after repeating?

All you have to do is change the “ DC al fine” to “DC al fine (with repeat)” to be clear of your intentions. One issue you might encounter is that in bar 4 a DC in a bar with a repeat sign may ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
9 votes

What do the notes represent if their relationships are different in different tuning systems?

If the notes don't have some idealized or 'correct' set of ratios then what do the notes actually represent? But they do have an idealized set of ratios. Different tuning systems represent different ...
phoog's user avatar
  • 22.2k
9 votes

Treble clef change during a piece

I would never recommend octave notation in violin music. Unlike piano, a violinist has no easy mapping from one octave to another—you can't just shift your hand and read the same notes, so as long as ...
the-baby-is-you's user avatar
8 votes

Theoretically Correct vs Practical Notation

The top one is correct, as @Richard answered. A little more information on the possibility of 3+3+2 being notated in 8/8 is this: If this is a "pop" piece, which it sort of feels like to ...
nuggethead's user avatar
  • 4,860

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