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MUSICAL NOTATION
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_musical_symbols

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License

# Modern musical symbols

This is intended to be a comprehensive guide on the various symbols encountered in modern musical notation.

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## Clefs

Clefs define the pitch range, or tessitura, of the staff on which it is placed. A clef is usually the leftmost symbol on a staff. Additional clefs may appear in the middle of a staff to indicate a change in register for instruments with a wide range. In early music, clefs could be placed on any of several lines on a staff.

Treble and bass clefs can also be modified by octave numbers. An eight or fifteen above a clef raises the intended pitch range by one or two octaves respectively. Similarly, an eight or fifteen below a clef lowers the pitch range by one or two octaves respectively.

## Notes and rests

Note and rest values are not absolutely defined, but are proportional in duration to all other note and rest values. For the purpose of definition, the duration of the quarter note is represented by R, for "reference length."

Durations shorter than the 128th are not unknown. 256th notes occur in works of Vivaldi and even Beethoven. An extreme case is the Toccata Grande Cromatica by early-19th-century American composer Anthony Phillip Heinrich, which uses note values as short as 2048ths; however, the context shows clearly that these notes have one beam more than intended, so they should really be 1024th notes. The duration and name of these notes can be easily found with two simple formulae.
The name is: a 2(numberofflagsonnote + 2)th note.
The number of beats it receives is $\frac{1}{2^{(number of flags on note + 2)}\div \mbox{bottom number of time signature}}$ of a beat.
These two formulae can also be applied to the branches or pawls on eighth- and smaller rests.

## Accidentals and key signatures

Accidentals modify the pitch of the notes that follow them on the same staff position within a measure, unless cancelled by an additional accidental.

Key signatures define the prevailing key of the music that follows, thus avoiding the use of accidentals for many notes. If no key signature appears, the key is assumed to be C major/A minor, but can also signify a neutral key, employing individual accidentals as required for each note. The key signature examples shown here are described as they would appear on a treble staff.

## Time signatures

Time signatures define the meter of the music. Music is "marked off" in uniform sections called measures, and time signatures establish the number of beats in each. This is not necessarily intended to indicate which beats are emphasized, however. The same music marked off in measures of a different duration will sound precisely the same if properly played, but since music could be marked off in infinitely many ways, it makes sense to mark it off in a way that conveys information about the way the piece actually sounds, and those time signatures tend to suggest, but only suggest, prevailing groupings of beats or pulses.

## Dynamics

Dynamics are indicators of the relative intensity or volume of a musical line.

## Articulation marks

Articulations (or accents) specify how individual notes are to be performed within a phrase or passage. They can be fine-tuned by combining more than one such symbol over or under a note. They may also appear in conjunction with phrasing marks listed above.

## Ornaments

Ornaments modify the pitch pattern of individual notes.

## Pedal marks

These pedal marks appear in music for the piano.

## See also

• Music theory
• Musical terminology

## References

• The Sound Exchange
• Dolmetsch Online:
Music theory & history
Dictionary of musical symbols
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_musical_symbols"