77 votes
Accepted

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

They save weight. They don't save a large percentage of the overall weight of the stand, but they make it less top-heavy and therefore more stable when raised high or angled back a long way. Just to ...
69 votes
Accepted

What does it mean when two notes are stuck together?

Noteheads take up one full space on a staff. (The corollary to this is that noteheads placed on a line take up half of the space on either side of the line.) When notes are at least a third apart (as ...
  • 80.3k
62 votes
Accepted

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

NReilingh gave a good general-case answer. I'll give you a specific case just to demonstrate that the concept is useful. First consider a C major chord. C-E-G, right? Then you make it into a minor ...
  • 20.3k
55 votes
Accepted

Why is there no indication of relative loudness on sheet music?

There are actually many markings in music notation that have to do with dynamics. Whether it is setting the overall level, such as Piano (p = quiet) or fortissimo(ff = loud), or a crescendo (<) or ...
  • 7,080
54 votes
Accepted

Why can't we play rap on piano?

Rap is rhythmic speech. Speech has pitch any time there is a vowel sound or other vocal cord-produced sound happening. (F and S sounds are examples of sounds that don’t require vocal cord movement.) ...
  • 4,728
46 votes

Why is there no indication of relative loudness on sheet music?

There are lots of indications - explicit loudness markings (from ppp, pianississimo - very very soft - to fff - fortississimo - very very loud). crescendo and diminuendo marks (which can be textual ...
46 votes

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

You added a different flavor of this question in the comments: i think the spirit of my question was, has anyone found that using newer styles or technology for reading music advanced their students ...
  • 52.2k
45 votes
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Why is this C played as an A flat?

The left hand is in treble clef.
  • 21.5k
44 votes
Accepted

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

That is called an "Ossia", it is a musical term for "alternatively". Which means the player can either play the alternative passage or the original passage. The Ossia is frequently used in Liszt's ...
42 votes

What does /r mean in a score?

This is actually tr, the notation for "trill," an embellishment (or ornament) on a note where you rapidly alternate between the main pitch and an adjacent pitch. There are many different types of ...
  • 80.3k
41 votes
Accepted

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

The left hand has wandered into treble clef territory here. You'll play the bottom two notes with the left hand, and the other three with the right hand.
  • 4,453
39 votes

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

I would argue that your melody may not be in C major at all. C major and A natural minor share the same pitches, and your melody is constructed precisely in such a way that it can exist both in C ...
  • 80.3k
38 votes
Accepted

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

There are several reason. The most basic would be “so that they could play together”. A symphonic orchestra is much bigger than a band, and being in perfect sync with the player at the other side of ...
  • 3,869
38 votes
Accepted

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

According to the notes given at the beginning of my score: In large orchestras, from rehearsal [94] on, wherever the letter D appears in the 2 Flutes, Oboes, E♭ and C Clarinet parts, these parts ...
  • 80.3k
38 votes

What is this violin ornament?

It's not an ornament; it's a quarter rest. The Violins I are divided, and the upper half play rest + quarter note while the lower half play half notes.
  • 6,963
37 votes
Accepted

What does this note - B# - mean?

In a key where there are already some sharps (or flats) in the key sig., as here, every time one of those notes is played, it has to be sharp (or flat). In E, or C#m, the key here, every other note is ...
  • 178k
37 votes

Why is this 4th-note written as two 8th-notes tied together?

If all the verses had exactly the same number of syllables, there would be no need. 'Varm' and 'korv' are both one syllable, so need a crotchet each, shown by tied quavers. But in verse 2, 'ha-de sme-...
  • 178k
37 votes

What does it mean when a dotted half note has two dots instead of one?

To briefly expand on @Tom_C's answer (thanks to @Guidot's comment below): There is no notation for lengthening all notes of a chord; each note has to be dotted individually. More expansively... Both ...
  • 62.7k
36 votes

Why didn't Bach sign his manuscripts?

While the point expressed in user77817's answer is an important part of the story, it isn't the whole story. Furthermore, the premise of the question is oversimplified, if not simply incorrect, but ...
  • 15.1k
35 votes
Accepted

Small Notes in Sheet Music -- NOT grace notes -- written AFTER the main note and beamed with it

Despite my comment, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this is a strophic song, with verses having different numbers of syllables. The small notes are to accommodate the extra ...
  • 15.1k
35 votes

How to play this double sharp note

Accidentals affect the basic note - if you like, the white key on the piano. So, regardless of the key signature - which permanently changes certain notes (here F, C, G and D♯), the double ...
  • 178k
33 votes

Why aren't chord names written in classical sheet music?

In the vast majority of classical music, the player is tasked with playing exactly the notes that the composer wrote. It's not very important for the player to understand the theory behind the piece, ...
  • 21.5k
31 votes
Accepted

Dynamics using m, r, s, and z. What do they mean?

mp and mf are mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte, respectively. Mezzo means "middle" or "medium", and so they're more towards the middle than piano and forte. So from softest to loudest, we have pp (...
  • 21.5k
31 votes
Accepted

Do I have to learn music theory to learn piano?

First, I am curious to know what it is about music theory you find confusing and why you think there is no point to it. Also, are you taking lessons and is your teacher insisting you learn theory? ...
31 votes
Accepted

What does the 'L' line in Elgar's "The Spirit of the Lord" mean?

I could not find an orchestral score for The Apostles on IMSLP, but the same notation can be found in other Elgar compositions, like The Kingdom, which seems to be part of the same edition, so it also ...
  • 5,800
30 votes
Accepted

Why does standard notation not preserve intervals (visually)

Why does standard notation not preserve intervals (visually) It does, but I think you are probably not accustomed to reading it, or how it was developed. Let's first make an analogy with something ...
30 votes
Accepted

What is this upside down square fermata?

By convention, a square fermata has a longer duration than a rounded fermata. It's not "upside down". Traditional notation convention usually tries to put the fermata over the note head, ...
  • 466
29 votes
Accepted

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

Yep, the second one is far better for precisely the reason you say. A general rule is that you shouldn't have dotted-notes that start on an off beat and carry through the next beat. There are ...
29 votes

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

A loose page settles faster on the stand (and is easier to remove) when the air behind it can escape. That's at least the reasoning behind the namesake "vent hole". In practice, this is of relevance ...
  • 299
29 votes

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

Ah, that is actually two notes: 'A' and 'C'. Whenever there are notes below the normal staff, you add those lines to notate which notes they are. The notes above and below the staff are called ledger ...

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