music dictionary : musical symbols 
 



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We have included symbols that might be found on a musical score, including a number that are not strictly musical (i.e. copyright symbol, etc.)

   0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,etc.see 1-9 reference below
   I,II,III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,i,ii,iii,iv,v,vi,vii,viii
  • 1-9
  • staffstaff, stave or pentagram: a framework of five lines on which musical notation is written such that the higher the note-sign on the staff the higher its pitch
    systemsystem: notation of a line of music including all the parts and voices involved, presented in a group of two or more staves which are joined together on the left hand side by a vertical bar (called a systemic barline) and a brace (the brace is not shown in this image)
    barlinebarline: a vertical line (or lines) drawn across a staff (or if there are many lines, across a number of staves) to mark off measures (or bars) of a particular length, i.e. containing a number of notes and/or rests whose total time value is given by the time signature
  • bars & bar lines
  • dotted bar linedashed, dotted or auxiliary barline: used to mark divisions within a bar (measure), i.e. between two solid barlines, or to show that the barline is not necessarily marking periodic agogic accents in the music (as where unbarred polyphonic music is edited with barlines, or the work employs mixed metres)
    music start/initial barlinemusic start: barline placed at the beginning of a section of a piece of music
    music end/final barlinemusic end: barline denoting the end of a piece of music
    braceBeethoven example
    brace: used with a line to joining multiple staves, for example, as found in piano music
    bracketbracket: used with a perpendicular line joining multiple staves, for example, as found in piano music
    clefsclef: graphical symbol placed on the left of the stave which establishes the relationship between particular note names and their position on the staff lines and spaces (i.e. tells us which pitch "class" that stave belongs to).

    At the suggestion of Nick Meiners, we show the relative pitch positions of the commonly used clefs

    G-clef (e.g. treble clef) marks G above middle C
    C-clef (e.g. alto clef) marks middle C
    F-clef (e.g. bass clef) marks F below middle C

    old C-clef signold C-clef sign, i.e. old alto, tenor, soprano, baritone and mezzosoprano clef sign
    Puccini tenor clefa G-clef sign found in the score of La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) published by Ricordi: a G-clef used for the tenor voice (for this reason it is called the tenor G clef), where the note sounds one octave lower than written had the clef been the standard treble G clef
    [image provided by John Garside]
    Old Tenor C clefa C-clef sign found in the score of Sankey and Stebbins - The Male Chorus, 'for use in Gospel Meetings, Christian Associations and other Religious Services' which marks middle C as being on the second space from the top of four. The clef is equivalent to an octave G clef called the tenor G clef where that space would be occupied by a C one octave above middle C but the note sounds one octave lower
    [image provided by Dick Adams]
    ottava alta G clefG-clef ottava alta
  • octave clefs
  • ottava bassa G clefG-clef ottava bassa
  • octave clefs
  • ottava alta F clefF-clef ottava alta
  • octave clefs
  • ottava bassa F clefF-clef ottava bassa
  • octave clefs
  • alternative percussion clefalternative percussion clef, indefinite pitch clef or neutral clef
  • percussion or indefinite pitch clef
  • elements of a music scorethe main elements of a musical score
    common timecommon time: equivalent to a time signature of 4/4, namely four crotchets (quarter notes) to a bar (measure)
  • common time, alla breve/cut time, alla cappella time
  • alla brevealla breve: also called 'cut time' or 'alla cappella time'; marked with a large C with a vertical line through it, used for quick duple time in which the minim or half note is given one beat instead of two. (occasionally written with two parallel vertical lines through a large C)
  • common time and alla breve/cut time
  • anatomy of a noteanatomy of a note, a single sound of a particular pitch and length which is notated with a symbol made up of a notehead (in all cases), a stem (in some cases) and a flag (in some cases), and which with notes bearing flags are grouped together using a beam
    sprechgesang stemsprechgesang stem
    sprechgesang: speech-song, a term used by Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951) to describe a voice delivery midway between song and speech, although he preferred the terms sprechstimme speaking voice (which was used by Humperdinck in Königskinder [1910]), sprechmelodic (speech melody) or rezitation (recitation)
    Note Sign
    number equal to
    1 semibreve
    English American Italian French German Spanish Catalan
    breve 1/2 breve
    or
    brevis
    double-whole
    note
    breve carrée
    or
    brevis
    or
    double-ronde
    (meaning square)
    Doppeltakt(note)
    or
    Brevis
    cuadrada
    or
    breve
    or
    doble redonda
    quadrada (f.)
    or
    breu (f.)
    semibreve 1 semibreve whole note semibreve semi-brève
    or
    ronde
    (meaning round)
    ganze Takt(note) redonda
    or
    semibreve
    rodona (f.)
    minim 2 minim half note minima
    or
    bianca
    blanche
    (meaning white)
    Halbe(note)
    or
    halbe Takt(note)
    blanca
    or
    mínima
    blanca (f.)
    crotchet 4 crotchet quarter note semiminima
    or
    nera
    noire
    (meaning black)
    Viertel(note) negra negra (f.)
    quaver 8 quaver eighth note croma croche
    (meaning hook)
    Achtel(note) corchea
    or
    croma
    corxera (f.)
    semiquaver 16 semiquaver sixteenth note semicroma double croche
    (meaning double hook)
    Sechzehntel(note) semicorchea semicorxera (f.)
    demisemiquaver 32 demisemiquaver thirty-second note biscroma triple croche
    (meaning triple hook)
    Zweiunddreissigstel(note) fusa fusa (f.)
    hemidemisemiquaver 64 hemidemisemiquaver sixty-fourth note semibiscroma quadruple croche
    (meaning quadruple hook)
    Vierundsechzigstel(note) semifusa semifusa (f.)
    semihemidemisemiquaver 128 semihemidemisemiquaver
    or
    quasihemidemisemiquaver
    one hundred and twenty-eighth note centoventottavo (nota) cent-vingt-huitième
    or
    quintuple croche
    Hundertundachtundzwanzigstel(note) garrapatea
    or
    cuartifusa
     
    Rest
    number equal to 1 semibreve
    English American Italian French German Spanish Catalan
    breve rest 1/2 breve rest double-whole
    rest
    pausa di breve bâton
    or
    pause de brève
    or
    silence de brève
    doppel Pause silencio de cuadrada
    or
    pausa de cuadrada
    or
    silencio de breve
    or
    pausa de breve
    doble pausa (f.)
    or
    pausa de quadrada (f.)
    semibreve rest 1 semibreve rest whole rest pausa di semibreve pause ganze Pause silencio de redonda
    or
    pausa de redonda
    or
    silencio de semibreve
    or
    pausa de semibreve
    pausa (f.)
    or
    pausa de rodona (f.)
    minim rest 2 minim rest half rest pausa di minima demi-pause halbe Pause media pausa
    or
    silencio de blanca
    or
    pausa de blanca
    mitja pausa (f.)
    or
    pausa de blanca (f.)
    crotchet rest  or  crotchet rest
    4 crotchet rest quarter rest pausa di semiminima soupir Viertelpause silencio de negra
    or
    pausa de negra
    or
    silencio de semiminima
    or
    pausa de semiminima
    quart de pausa (m.)
    or
    pausa de negra (f.)
    quaver rest 8 quaver rest eighth rest pausa di croma demi-soupir Achtelpause silencio de corchea
    or
    pausa de corchea
    vuitè de pausa (m.)
    or
    pausa de corxera (f.)
    semiquaver rest 16 semiquaver rest sixteenth rest pausa di semicroma quart de soupir Sechzehntelpause silencio de semicorchea
    or
    pausa de semicorchea
    setzè de pausa (m.)
    or
    pausa de semicorxera (f.)
    demisemiquaver rest 32 demisemiquaver rest thirty-second rest pausa di biscroma huitième de soupir Zweiunddreißigstelpause silencio de fusa
    or
    pausa de fusa
    trenta-dosè de pausa (m.)
    or
    pausa de fusa (f.)
    hemidemisemiquaver rest 64 hemidemisemiquaver rest sixty-fourth rest pausa di semibiscroma seizième de soupir Vierundsechzigstelpause silencio de semifusa
    or
    pausa de semifusa
    seixanta-quatrè de pausa (m.)
    or
    pausa de semifusa (f.)
    semihemidemisemiquaver rest 128 semihemidemisemiquaver rest one hundred and twenty-eighth rest pausa di centoventottavo cent-vingt-huitième de soupir Hundertundachtundzwanzigstelpause silencio de garrapatea
    or
    pausa de garrapatea
     
    multirestmulti-rest or multiple measure rest: where a number of bars contain only rests, in instrumental parts (and sometimes in scores), the bars are 'collected' together and shown as a single bar contain a rest together with the number of consecutive bars given by a large number placed centrally above the staff over the single bar
    various note headsvarious note heads listed left to right:
    top row: plus, circle x, square white, square black, triangle up white, triangle up black, triangle left up white, triangle left up black, triangle right up white
    middle row: triangle right up black, triangle down white, triangle down black, triangle right down white, triangle right down black, moon white, moon black, triangle-round down white, triangle-round down black
    bottom row: parenthesis, white, black, cluster white, cluster black, croix, x
    certain note heads have specific meaning, for example:
    diamond: special playing modes or notes such as: half-valve, tablature for string harmonics, falsetto voice, silent depression of keys, held keys
    X: indeterminate pitches, spoken voice and unvoiced sounds, release of certain held notes, noises, ...
    round pierced by stems: sounds of air blown through an instrument
    vertical arrow: highest or lowest pitches possible on an instrument
    triangular : for triangles
        Xas a notehead: indeterminate pitches, spoken voice and unvoiced sounds, release of certain held notes, noises, ...
    in jazz notation for wind instruments or string instruments, a 'ghost note' is indicated by using an 'x' for the notehead rather than the usual oval. A ghost note is one that is to be played less strongly than the notes around it, the effect is also called 'anti-accent'
    hauptstimmehauptstimme, (German) principal part or voice
    nebenstimmenebenstimme, (German) subsiduary or secondary voice or line
    octave higherottava alta, play notes under this sign one octave higher than written
    octave lowerottava bassa, play notes under this sign one octave lower than written
    [entry corrected by Charles Whitman]
    octave higherquindicesima alta, play notes under this sign two octaves higher than written
    [entry suggested by Charles Whitman]
    octave lowerquindicesima bassa, play notes under this sign two octaves lower than written
    [entry suggested by Charles Whitman]
    repeat start/open repeatthe barline that marks the beginning of a passage that is to be repeated, also called 'open repeat', 'begin-repeat' or 'repeat start'
    repeat end/close repeatthe barline that marks the end of a passage that is to be repeated, also called 'close repeat', 'end-repeat' or 'repeat end'
    repeated barsrepeat: the 'repetition' signs indicates that a section of a piece of music is to be played a second time - where this is the first section of the piece the left hand sign may be absent - however, where the repeat is of a later section, the left and right hand signs mark the extent of the section
  • repeated sections
  • first and second time bracketsan example of volta brackets, also called 'first ending' and 'second ending': in this case, a section performed only the first time it is reached otherwise the performer plays a later section usually marked in a similar way but with a 2. and with no vertical line at the end of the section
    repeated notes

    chord alternations

    tremolo: one of a number of abbreviations used in musical notation, in this case for repeated notes, which can be marked as individuals or marked as chords

    (note the angled line or lines, also called slashes, passing through the note stems)

    sometimes a horizontal array of dots may be placed over the note (instead or or additional to the slashes confirming the number of notes to be played through the duration of each 'slashed' note)

    Note: in drum or timpani parts, notes with their stems crossed diagonally by two or, more commonly three, lines usually indicate a roll

    repeated patternstremolo or alternations: repeated sequence of two notes a particular interval apart

    (note the angled line or lines lying between pairs of notes)

    do not confuse with the caesura the lines of which pass through the top line of the staff and are steeper

    Note: where the two principal notes have stems, and there is no likelihood of confusion, the beams may actually connect to them: see bar 2, bass staff, in the example below
    moonlight

    simile markssimile marks, used to show repeated groups or bars (see immediately below for more information)
    repeated groupsrepeated passage using simile marks

    do not confuse with the caesura the lines of which pass through the top line of the staff

    repeated barsrepeated bars using simile marks
       D.C.(Italian: from the beginning) an abbreviation of da capo, indicating that the player should start from or go back to the beginning of the piece of music
    segno signthe sign or segno (Italian: sign)
       D.S.(Italian: from the sign) an abbreviation of dal segno, term indicating a place from which a section of a piece is to be played, that place marked with a segno
    dal segnodal segno, D.S. (abbrev.): (Italian) from the sign
  • da capo
  •    D.C. al Fine(Italian: from the beginning to the end) an abbreviation of da capo al fine, indicting that the player should go back to the beginning and then end at the fine mark
       Fine(Italian: the end) a term placed where a piece or a section of a piece of music is to end
    jump to coda sign'jump to coda' sign: a circle or oval with a cross inside it
    jump to coda signthe 'jump to coda' sign directs the player to jump from that point to a section marked coda
    fermatasquare fermatatriangle fermatafermata (It.), Fermate (Ger.): a musical symbol placed over a note or rest to be extended beyond its normal duration, and occasionally printed above rests or barlines, indicating a pause of indefinite duration. The word lunga (Shortened form of the Italian lunga pausa, meaning "long pause") is sometimes added above a fermata to indicate a longer duration. Some modern composers (including Francis Poulenc, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Luigi Nono) have expanded the symbol's usage to indicate approximate duration, incorporating fermatas of different sizes, square- and triangle-shaped fermatas, and so on, to indicate holds of different lengths. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermata)
    caesura or feturacaesura (sing.), caesurae (pl.), fetura, 'tramlines', or 'railroad tracks: usually placed on or above the top line of a staff or stave (not to be confused with the 'simile' mark). A term derived from poetry, caesura is a silent pause somewhere in the middle of a piece of music
    crescendo signcrescendo: (Italian, literally 'growing') increasingly louder
    crescendo from silencecrescendo from silence: starting from silence, the note should become increasingly louder
    [information provided by Adam Glynn]
    descrescendodecrescendo, decresciuto, diminuendo: (Italian) increasingly softer
    closed accent (on a single note) or closed hairpins (over a phrase)swell, closed hairpins (over a phrase) or closed accent (over a single note): to increase volume and then die away in the duration of a single note or short phrase
    also called messa di voce (Italian) or mise de voix (French)
    in Rossini, the typical markings of the 'closed accent' and the 'closed hairpins' appear frequently but they were also commonly used by his contemporaries. They signify, in the case of the 'closed accent', a more marked and longer accent than the norm; in the case of the 'closed crescendo', a crescendo that ends abruptly in a sforzato emphasis; in the case of the 'closed diminuendo', a sforzato that immediately trails off into a diminuendo
    in nineteenth-century German non-vocal music the < > sign can represent a stress or accent as opposed to a crescendo followed by a decrescendo music. In such a case, the marking apparently indicates a kind of "warm", not too powerful, accent with implication of vibrato where appropriate
    [we thank Ron Evans for bringing the reference Signs as Accent Markings to our attention. We have drawn our information from that reference]
    notation English French German Italian Spanish Catalan
    double sharp double sharp double dièse Doppelkreuz doppio diesis doble sostenido,
    elevación de dos semitonos
    doble diesi,
    elevació de dos semitons
    sharp sharp dièse Kreuz diesis sostenido,
    elevación de un semitono
    diesi,
    sostingut
    natural natural,
    natural sign
    bécarre,
    naturel
    Auflösungszeichen, Quadrat bequadro becuadro becaire
    flat flat bémol B, Be bemolle bemol,
    bajada de un semitono
    bemoll,
    disminució d’un semitò
    double flat double flat double bémol Doppel-B, Doppel-Be doppio bemolle doble bemol,
    bajada de dos semitonos
    doble bemoll,
    disminució de dos semitons
    A note about notating accidentals in ornaments: if any of the auxiliary notes in an ornament include accidentals, for instance a C sharp in the key of G major, this is shown by writing an accidental, in this case a sharp sign, above or below the ornament sign. In the case of an F natural in the key of G major, the sign would be a natural. The convention is that if the inflection applies to a note lying above the principal note then the accidental is written above the sign for the ornament and if the inflected auxiliary note lies below the principal note, the acidental sign also lies below the sign for the ornament. Obviously, if the principal note itself is inflected then the accidental is placed to the immediate left of the note head and not with the sign for the ornament
    double naturala double accidental that completely cancels the effect of a double sharp or double flat sign
    natural flata double accidental that restores a double flatted note to a single flatted note (and sometimes to change a sharp to a flat)
    natural sharpa double accidental that restores a double sharped note to a single sharped note (and sometimes to change a flat to a sharp)
    flat upmicrotonal 'flat up' sign
    flat downmicrotonal 'flat down' sign
    natural upmicrotonal 'natural up' sign
    natural downmicrotonal 'natural down' sign
    sharp upmicrotonal 'sharp up' sign
    sharp downmicrotonal 'sharp down' sign
    quartertone accidental signs (there are other sign conventions)
    threequarter flat3/4 tone flat
    onequarter flat1/4 tone flat
    onequarter sharp1/4 tone sharp
    threequarter sharp3/4 tone sharp
    quarter tone sharpquarter tone sharp sign, a sign to show that a note should be raised one quarter tone in pitch
    quarter tone flatquarter tone flat sign, a sign to show that a note should be lowered one quarter tone in pitch
    Bach ornamentsBach's own table of ornaments. The use of ornament symbols was never standardised. Please refer to Chapter 23 - Music Theory Online for more information on the use of and notation of 18th-century ornaments
    acciaccaturaacciaccatura: (Italian) 'crushed' note, grace note (written with a diagonal line through the note stem)
  • grace notes
  • appoggiaturaappoggiatura: (Italian) 'leaning' note, ornamental note (written without a diagonal line through the note stem)
  • appoggiatura
  • turnturn: musical ornament
  • turn
  •    =a symbol found above note heads in The Bird Fancyer's Delight which is explained in the original publication thus: "The marks & rules for graceing are these Viz. a close shake thus ="
    turn with vertical linethe turn-with-a-line-through-it is a mystery ornament that occurs in Haydn's piano music. He once called it a 'half mordent' but did not explain the way it was to be played. Adding to the confusion is the fact that he was inconsistent in using it so that in parallel places he sometimes substitutes the normal turn as a symbol or written out. Pianists now play it as a normal turn or as a mordent since it is often indistinguishable from a mordent in his manuscript. You can read about this strange ornament in the preface of the Weiner Urtext Edition of Haydn's Piano Sonatas
    trillstrill: musical ornament
  • trill
  • mordentmordent: musical ornament
  • mordent
  • arpeggioarpège (Fr.), arpeggio (It.), arpeggi (It. plural): (Italian, meaning 'in the manner of a harp') a spread chord played from the top down or from the bottom up indicated by a vertical wavy line, a vertical square bracket or a curved bracket (the latter two signs are now uncommon)
  • arpeggio
  • tie or bindtie: also called a 'bind', a sign that indicates that the note being played or sung sustained, unbroken, through the total time value of the notes under the tie
    slurslur: a mark used to show where a group of notes are played either under a single bow stroke, or on a wind instrument without retonguing or when singing, in one breath, so that the notes move smoothly one to the other with no perceptible break
    "in keyboard playing, and, to a large extent, in wind playing the use of a slur usually seems to have meant simply that the notes should be less distinctly separated (though in wind playing there may also have been implications for breathing). In string playing the slur is specifically a bowing instruction, but the end effect is much the same. Where (accent markings) appear over successive notes under a slur, however, their function is as much articulation as accent..." Brown
    [we thank Ron Evans for bringing the reference Signs as Accent Markings to our attention. We have drawn our information from that reference]
    sometimes an extended slur mark may have less extended slur marks within its scope. In such a situation the less extended mark is a slur while the more extended is called a 'phrase mark' or 'phrasing'. A phrase mark indicates the 'shape' of the musical line , not that all the notes below it should be slurred. Sometimes, the context of the marking may be the only way to tell these two marks apart
    optional sluroptional slur: the performer is free to choose whether to observe the slur mark or not
    hemiola triplethemiola, triplet: a group of three notes of equal time value performed in the time of two of them, however, (i) one or two of the notes may be rests of equivalent value, and (ii) a consecutive pair may be replaced by a note of double value
    glissando or portamentoglissando, portamento: (Italian) a continuous movement in pitch from the lower to the higher note
     rising glissandoleft hand sign shows a rising glissando - the right hand sign shows a falling glissando
    accentplaced over or under a note-head, accent
    in a part for a drummer, indicates a medium stroke
    also called the accent hairpin ( > ), together with the staccato, it was one of the earliest musical signs to be used, Italian composers G.A. Piani and F. Veracini having proposed something like this several decades before it first appeared in the 1760s. Even so, few composers used it until the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries but then as synonyms for sf or fz or to indicate something more subtle
    [we thank Ron Evans for bringing the reference Signs as Accent Markings to our attention. We have drawn our information from that reference]
  • variety of accents
  • staccatoplaced over or under a note-head, staccato: (Italian) note sustained for half the written length, the remaining half silent
    the staccato mark was the first sign to come into common use, usually appearing as a stroke, dot or wedge. Initially it would appear that the sign was intended to indicated accent as well as separation, but by the late nineteenth-century the mark was used to show a lightening as well as separation
    [we thank Ron Evans for bringing the reference Signs as Accent Markings to our attention. We have drawn our information from that reference]
  • variety of accents
  • staccatoplaced after a note, a dot indicates that the note is to be held longer - for details see 'dot' in the music dictionary
    staccatissimoplaced over or under the note-head, staccatissimo: (Italian) note sustained for quarter the written length, the remaining three-quarters silent - also called a 'wedge'
  • variety of accents
  • marcato markplaced above or below the note-head, marcato: (Italian) marking, marked, accented

    in a part for a drummer, marcato denotes a heavy stroke

  • variety of accents
  • marcato staccato markplaced above or below the note-head, marcato/staccato or staccato duro: (Italian) more forceful marking, more forcefully accented
  • variety of accents
  • accent staccato markplaced above or below the note-head, accented staccato
  • variety of accents
  • caretthe caret, when used as an accent or stress mark, also called le petit chapeau. In the eighteenth-century this mark was used to denote expressive stress and for such purpose the sign continued to be used into the nineteenth-century. There is good evidence that in terms of its strength le petit chapeau lies between the light + and the heavier sf and sfz. By the middle of the nineteenth-century le petit chapeau was used synonymously with > or even to indicate a somewhat heavier stress than >
    [we thank Ron Evans for bringing the reference Signs as Accent Markings to our attention. We have drawn our information from that reference]
    Rossinismall triangle lying above or below the note-head, stongly accented then immediate diminuendo
    [Rossini example (Overture to Il Signor Bruschino) supplied by David Bellugi]
    tenuto markplaced above or below the note-head, tenuto: (Italian) note held to its written length, i.e. not detached

    in a part for a drummer, the tenuto indicates a light stroke

  • variety of accents
  • the horizontal line ( – ) sign, with or without a dot above or below the line, was rarely used before the mid-nineteenth-century although some earlier instruction books refer to its use. Without a dot, the horizontal line mark in piano music indicates that the "... keys must be struck with more than the usual emphasis, and the notes must be held for almost more than their usual value" (Czerny). Most nineteenth-century commentators follow this definition, with Wagner suggesting, where applicable, the use of a discrete vibrato
    [we thank Ron Evans for bringing the reference Signs as Accent Markings to our attention. We have drawn our information from that reference]
    placed above or below the note-head, louré: in string playing the bow motion is legato, but with slight separation of the notes. It is performed with several notes in one bow direction, each note receiving a gentle “push” to separate it
  • variety of accents
  • placed above or below the note head, martellato: (Italian) strongly marked, hammered
  • variety of accents
  • on a bowed instrument: down-bow, as when the bow, held below the hand, is pulled across the string on a member of the violin family, or conversely, as when the bow, held above the hand, is pushed across the string on a member of the viol family; the reverse manoeuvre is called the 'up-bow'

    on the guitar: down-stroke, the string is plucked with the hand moving downwards

    on a bowed instrument: up-bow, as when the bow, held below the hand, is pushed across the string on a member of the violin family, or conversely, as when the bow, held above the hand, is pulled across the string on a member of the viol family; the reverse manoeuvre is called 'down-bow'

    on the guitar: up-stroke, the string is plucked with the hand moving upwards

    in string parts: written over or under the note-head, meaning: play a natural harmonic
    referring to percussion notation the Percussion Information Homepage - Problems page author writes: "one very annoying side effect of different setups, is the fact the most method books that indicate which hand to use for a certain passage, are difficult to use for players who are learning the other way! So, my advice to publishers and writers: Never indicate hands. And if you have to, use symbols like an open and closed small circle or square above the notes. In that way we just have to change the definition of the symbols and explain that to the student. But it is very unnatural to have to play a note with your L-hand when there is a big R above or below it. Especially when these very letters mean the same hands in another language!"
    in string parts: written over or under the note-head, meaning: play a natural harmonic.

    Note: the position of the diamond-shaped notehead indicates where the finger in placed, and not the sounding note. If the sounding note is also given it would be placed above the diamond-shaped notehead, in cue size and in parentheses. See also 'artificial harmonics'

    for string parts: snap pizzicato
    for string parts: use the mute
    for string parts: written under a note to indicate the string to be used (in this case string number 2)
       +in string parts: written in combination with pizz. over or under the note-head, meaning: play a left hand pizzicato
    applied to chord names or numbers: A, Aug. or +: an augmented interval
    in percussion parts: a dead stroke, achieved by holding the mallet on the instrument after the attack to dampen the vibration. Dead strokes are commonly notated with a plus sign (+) over the note. Ringing notes in a passage with dead strokes can be indicated with a circle (o) over them; this is not necessary but can help to clarify. “D.S.” or staccato dots are other common indications for dead stroke. These notations are not standard and should be explained at the top of the score and part
    in early music, particularly that for wind-instruments: the 'plus' sign indicates a musical ornament, usually a trill
  • Trills
  • in French horn parts: a '+' above notes to be stopped, followed by a 'o' above notes that are open
    for longer stopped passages the word is just written out:
    Englishstoppedopen
    Germangestopftoffen
    Italianchiusoaperto
    Frenchbouchéouvert
       oapplied to chord names or numbers: d, dim. or o: a diminished interval
    half-diminished chord signapplied to chord names or numbers: a half-diminished interval
       Δapplied to chord names or numbers: indicates a triad, for example the notes G, B, D. GΔ7 means a G major 7th chord. While Δ is usually not needed with the triad chord, with the 7th chord it indicates that the complete triad should be included in the 7th chord
       -applied to chord names or numbers: indicates a minor triad, for example the notes C, Eb, G. C-7 means a C minor 7th chord
    for wind parts: double tongue
    for wind parts: triple tongue
    flutter tonguingflutter tonguing, flatterzunge (German), trémolo dental (French), trémolo en roulant la langue (French): extremely rapid, tongued-articulation on a wind instrument
    use the fingernails
    damp
    damp all
    extension: a horizontal line placed immediately to the right of a lyric syllable, to show that a syllable must be held during the following note or notes
    breath mark: a mark placed above the stave where the composer requests that the performer break the musical line and breathe, so producing the desired phrase shape
    metronome mark: an indication of the speed at which a piece is to be played, in this case 60 crotchet (quarter notes) per minute
  • metronome marks
  • the historical convention: the duration of the note symbol on the left (as applied in the section to follow) is the same as the duration of the note symbol on the right (as applied in the section just finished)
    i.e. new time value = old time value

    However, today it is more common to read this the other way round,
    i.e. old time value = new time value

    Fortunately, context tends to make clear which convention the editor, arranger or composer is following


    sustain pedal on or engage (sustain) pedal: two versions of the symbol indicating when the sustaining pedal is to be depressed
    [lower symbol supplied by Mark Crosby]
    Joseph Banowetz, in his book The Pianist's Guide to Pedaling, writes that these symbols were in use from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth
    sustain pedal off or release (sustain pedal): a symbol indicating when the sustaining pedal is to be released
    Joseph Banowetz, in his book The Pianist's Guide to Pedaling, writes that this symbol was in use from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth
    half pedal mark, also called variable pedal mark
    "The use of half pedal and flutter pedal is very effective in creating a variety of tonal colours. The pedal remember is a colouring device, it is not a sustaining device. People learn it as a sustain device and most teachers do not teach that it is used to give shades and colours to your tonal palette. Just like an artist has a variety of shades of reds, blues and yellows, a pianist can use the pedal to create these tones. Now this only works on an acoustic piano, not a digital keyboard because the digital instrument even if it is slightly depressed tells the computer to "sustain notes". Half and flutter pedal can only be done on a real instrument. By lifting up the dampers a touch part of the string vibrates, or possibly 2 out of the 3 strings in the upper register and 1 out of 2 strings vibrate and sustains in the middle. This type of pedaling is very effective for all music! I tend to flutter pedal a lot in scale and running passages. I would never hold the pedal down because the sound would blur, but using half pedal catches some tones and allows for a touch of harmonic colour while maintaining clarity in the passage work."
    [Source provided by Charles Whiman: answers.yahoo.com]
    sustain pedal on and sustain pedal off marking: the pedal is depressed at the Ped. mark and kept pressed down until the right hand vertical line, unless a half pedal or variable pedal mark (an inverted V) appears between the two vertical lines
    sustain pedal on and sustain pedal off marking: the pedal is depressed at the left vertical line and kept pressed down until the right hand vertical line, unless a half pedal or variable pedal mark (an inverted V) appears between the two vertical lines
    releases of pedal with time between release and depression (reading from left: depress - hold down - release - time without pedal - depress - hold down - release - time without pedal - depress - hold down - release)
    slow release of pedal over a period of time shown by the sloping line (reading from left: depress - hold down - slow release)
    flutter pedal, a constant up and down motion between two parts of the damper pedal mechanism such as quarter to half depth
    sustain pedal on and sustain pedal off marking
    a direction to use the sostentuo pedal (the middle pedal on a piano) which acts as a selective damper pedal by sustaining specifically chosen notes: the pedal is depressed where the text instruction is placed and held until the right hand vertical line
    extractsustain pedal marking from a 1945 edition of 'The Raindrop' Prelude by Chopin.
    Composed between 1836 and 1839, published in 1839 and dedicated to Camille Pleyel, its nickname Raindrop was provided by Hans von Bulow.

    [image provided by Matthew B. Woodward]
    part played on an organ pedal-board - use the toe (to indicate that the right foot should be used, symbols are written above the staff; to indicate that the left foot should be used, symbols are written below the staff)
    part played on an organ-pedal-board - use the heel (to indicate that the right foot should be used, symbols are written above the staff; to indicate that the left foot should be used, symbols are written below the staff)
    part played on an organ pedal-board - indicate a change of toe and heel, the 2 symbols are placed next to each other, with a slur above or below them (to indicate that the right foot should be used, symbols are written above the staff; to indicate that the left foot should be used, symbols are written below the staff)
    part played on an organ-pedal-board - indicate a change of foot, the 2 symbols are placed above and below the notes
      ©symbol that means 'copyright' (not strictly a musical symbol, but frequently found on a musical score)
      §symbol called guida (Italian) or presa (Italian) employed to show in a canon or fugue the entry points of other parts, the start of the subject or antecedent, and so on
    symbol called custos (Latin), Wachte (German), guida (Italian), guidon (French) or 'direct', placed at the end of a line to indicate the pitch of the first note on the next line
    a variety of symbols used to indicate which instrument a percussionist should be playing (most are self-explanatory)
    a variety of symbols used to indicate when to use a particular mallet or the hands when playing any particular percussion instrument (most are self-explanatory)

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