Musical signs and symbols pdf

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musical signs and symbols pdf

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Musical notation

Musical notation , visual record of heard or imagined musical sound , or a set of visual instructions for performance of music. It usually takes written or printed form and is a conscious, comparatively laborious process.

Its use is occasioned by one of two motives: as an aid to memory or as communication. By extension of the former, it helps the shaping of a composition to a level of sophistication that is impossible in a purely oral tradition.

By extension of the latter, it serves as a means of preserving music although incompletely and imperfectly over long periods of time, facilitates performance by others, and presents music in a form suitable for study and analysis. The primary elements of musical sound are pitch , or the location of musical sound on the scale hence interval , or distance, between notes ; duration hence rhythm , metre, tempo ; timbre or tone colour; and volume hence stress, attack.

In practice, no notation can handle all of these elements with precision. Most cope with a selection of them in varying degrees of refinement. Some handle only a single pattern—e. The position of staff notation as the first notational system to be described in this article acknowledges its international acceptance in the 20th century.

As an indirect result of colonization, of missionary activity, and of ethnomusicological research—not because of any innate superiority—it has become a common language among many musical cultures. Staff notation, as it has developed, is essentially a graph.

The five horizontal lines of a musical staff function like horizontal rulings of graph paper, bar lines like vertical rulings. In practice, the system is far more complex and sophisticated than this. The vertical axis of pitch operates to represent melodic contour in music for a single instrument or voice, but, when several staves are combined to form a score , the principle breaks down, each staff being a self-contained vertical system.

Representation of time duration by horizontal spacing is used only in a very limited way. It is in reality made almost redundant because the symbol for a note gives the necessary information itself: not its absolute duration but its duration in relation to the notes around it. These symbols are as follows; each has half the duration of its neighbour to the left:.

A dot placed to the right of a note head increases by half the duration of that note. Such symbols when placed on a staff may indicate relative pitch and relative duration. In the grid, lines represent alternate notes of the scale and the spaces the intervening notes. Pitch and duration may be fixed by supplying two further indications: a clef and a tempo mark. The tempo mark is a sign that lies outside the staff. Staff notation is well adapted to two fundamental aspects of Western music: harmony and rhythm.

For harmony, note symbols can easily be placed vertically together on a single stem, and these notes need not be all of the same duration; or more than one stem may be used to indicate multiple melodic lines in the musical texture. For rhythm , the existence of an underlying regular pulse, or stress , must be indicated. This is achieved by two devices: the bar line and the time signature.

The bar line primarily indicates a point of main stress. Bar lines are usually equally spaced as to duration, though there are numerous exceptions. A time signature indicates, first, the duration of the space between two bar lines a measure, or bar ; and, second, the subsidiary stress patterns within that space.

A supplementary system for indicating stress is the device of linking successive notes together by beaming , or stroking. Two eighth notes may be linked together as shown in a ; four sixteenth notes b ; or a mixed group of values c :. The implication of such grouping is generally that the first note carries a stress.

Beaming thus may be used either to reinforce the stress patterns of the time signature the metre or to contradict it and set up a cross rhythm. Staff notation rests firmly on the Western system of scales, within which all notes are assumed to be natural unless accidentals precede them or a key signature is in use. Any combination of sharps or flats is theoretically possible in a key signature, but the actual combinations are usually governed by the Western system of keys, or groups of interrelated notes and chords.

Further, there are for each type of instrument certain technical signs, as for bowing, breathing, tonguing, or use of mutes.

Other auxiliary signs are a kind of shorthand. Most important are symbols indicating notes not shown on the staff. An ornament sign may call for additional notes to be played within the value of a note. It may even delay the sounding of the main note. The precise meaning of such an ornament varies from one style of music to another and must be interpreted according to the conventions governing a particular style.

It is in itself an imprecise measurement, specifying neither whether the interval is major or minor nor in which octave register that upper note should be played.

But the figures are governed by the same prevailing key signature as notes on the staff and can, like notes, carry their own accidentals. Its purpose is to indicate the harmonies implied by a bass line even absence of figuring has a meaning while at the same time leaving the player free to choose the precise notes to be played.

The systems of letters and figures used by jazz musicians have this same imprecision; they are less dependent upon conjunction with staff notation but lack clear rhythmic significance unless allied to staff notation in at least a simplified form.

They operate by defining a harmony in relation to the tonic chord the chord built on the key note, or tonic rather than by interval or pitch. Musical notation Article Media Additional Info. Article Contents. Table Of Contents.

While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Facebook Twitter. Give Feedback External Websites. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article requires login.

External Websites. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Ian D. Author of Musical Analysis in the Nineteenth Century; text editor See Article History.

Sheet music showing musical notation. Britannica Quiz. Fundamentals of Music Theory. Do you know the difference between a staff and a clef, between pitch and tone? Test your knowledge of basic music theory with this quiz.

Pitches of the two whole-tone scales. Common symbols used in modern musical notation. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Subscribe Now. The notes indicate the pitch of each sound, and rhythmic figures e. Key signatures for 16 major and minor keys. Load Next Page.

List of musical symbols

Modern musical symbols are the marks and symbols that are widely used in western musical scores, styles, and instruments today. This is intended to be a comprehensive guide to the various symbols encountered in modern musical notation. These symbols are used in modern pieces of western music to describe a composition in its fundamentals — pitch , rhythm , tempo — and, to some degree, its articulation. Staff The staff is the fundamental latticework of music notation, upon which symbols are placed. The five stave lines and four intervening spaces correspond to pitches of the diatonic scale — which pitch is meant by a given line or space is defined by the clef. Ledger or leger lines Used to extend the staff to pitches that fall above or below it.


May appear on notes of any duration. 4. MARCATO: The note is played somewhat louder or more forcefully than a note with a regular accent mark (open horizontal.


List of musical symbols

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Musical notation , visual record of heard or imagined musical sound , or a set of visual instructions for performance of music. It usually takes written or printed form and is a conscious, comparatively laborious process.

COMMENT 3

  • Music Notation Symbols. Aleida M. - 19.03.2021 at 21:26
  • a printable version of this web page in pdf format: Musical Symbols - print or save locally. system: notation of a line of music including all the parts and voices clef: graphical symbol placed on the left of the stave which. Quintilian Q. - 23.03.2021 at 22:14
  • Terms Cadence lines are bar lines. Phil M. - 26.03.2021 at 05:25

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