Abbreviations Signs Etc

49. A dot after a note shows that the value of the note is to be half

again as great as it would be without the dot, i.e., the value is to

be three-halves that of the original note.

50. When two dots follow the note the second dot adds half as much as

the first dot has added, i.e., the entire value is seven-fourths that

of the original note.


51. When three dots follow the note the third dot adds one-half the

value added by the second, i.e., the entire value of the triple-dotted

note is fifteen-eighths that of the original note.

52. A dot over or under a note is called the staccato mark and

indicates that the tone is to be sounded and then instantly released.

In music for organ and for some other instruments the

staccato note is sometimes interpreted differently, this depending on

the character of the instrument.

On stringed instruments of the violin family the staccato

effect is usually secured by a long, rapid stroke of the bow

for each tone; in the case of harp and drum the hand is

quickly brought in contact with the vibrating body, thus

stopping the tone instantly. On the organ the tone is often

prolonged to one-half the value of the printed note before the

keys are released.

53. The wedge-shaped dash over the note (staccatissimo) was formerly

employed to indicate a tone still more detached than that indicated by

the dot, but this sign is really superfluous, and is seldom used at


54. A tie is a curved line connecting the heads of two notes that call

for the same tone. It indicates that they are to be sounded as one tone

having a duration equal to the combined value of both notes. E.g., a

half-note tied to a quarter-note would indicate a tone equal in

duration-length to that shown by a dotted half-note; two half-notes tied

would indicate a tone equal in duration to that shown by a whole-note.

(See examples under Sections 49, 50, and 51).

Fig. 30 illustrates the more common variety of tie, while Fig. 31 shows

an example of the enharmonic[10] tie.

[Footnote 10: For definition of enharmonic see p. 10, Sec. 27.]

55. The slur is used in so many different ways that it is impossible

to give a general definition. It consists of a curved line, sometimes

very short (in which case it looks like the tie), but sometimes very

long, connecting ten, fifteen, or more notes. Some of the more common

uses of the slur are:

A. To indicate legato (sustained or connected) tones, as contrasted

with staccato (detached) ones.

In violin music this implies playing all tones thus slurred in

one bow; in music for the voice and for wind instruments it

implies singing or playing them in one breath.

B. As a phrase-mark, in the interpretation of which the first tone of

the phrase is often accented slightly, and the last one shortened in


This interpretation of the phrase is especially common when

the phrase is short (as in the two-note phrase), and when the

tones constituting the phrase are of short duration, e.g.,

the phrase given in Fig. 32 would be played approximately as

written in Fig. 33.

But if the notes are of greater value, especially in slow

tempi, the slur merely indicates legato, i.e., sustained or

connected rendition. Fig. 34 illustrates such a case.

This is a matter of such diverse usage that it is difficult to

generalize regarding it. The tendency seems at present to be

in the direction of using the slur (in instrumental music)

as a phrase-mark exclusively, it being understood that unless

there is some direction to the contrary, the tones are to be

performed in a connected manner.

C. In vocal music, to show that two or more tones are to be sung to one

syllable of text. See Fig. 35.

In notes of small denomination (eighths and smaller) this same

thing is often indicated by stroking the stems together as

in Fig. 36. This can only be done in cases where the natural

grouping of notes in the measure will not be destroyed.

D. To mark special note-groups (triplets, etc.), in which case the slur

is accompanied by a figure indicating the number of notes in the group.

See Fig. 37 (a)

The most common of these irregular note-groups is the

triplet, which consists of three notes to be performed in

the time ordinarily given to two of the same value. Sometimes

the triplet consists of only two notes as in Fig. 37 (b). In

such a case the first two of the three notes composing the

triplet are considered to be tied.

When the triplet form is perfectly obvious, the Fig. 3 (as

well as the slur) may be omitted.

Other examples of irregular note-groups, together with the

names commonly applied, follow.

56. The combination of slur or tie and dots over the notes indicates

that the tones are to be somewhat detached, but not sharply so.

This effect is sometimes erroneously termed portamento (lit.

carrying), but this term is more properly reserved for an

entirely different effect, viz., when a singer, or player on

a stringed instrument, passes from a high tone to a low one

(or vice versa) touching lightly on some or all of the

diatonic tones between the two melody tones.

57. The horizontal dash over a note indicates that the

tone is to be slightly accented, and sustained. This mark is also

sometimes used after a staccato passage to show that the tones are no

longer to be performed in detached fashion, but are to be sustained.

This latter use is especially common in music for stringed instruments.

58. The combination of dash and dot over a note

indicates that the tone is to be slightly accented and separated from

its neighboring tones.

59. Accent marks are made in a variety of fashions. The most common

forms follow. sf

fz. All indicate that a certain tone or chord is to be differentiated

from its neighboring tones or chords by receiving a certain relative

amount of stress.

60. In music for keyboard instruments it is sometimes necessary to

indicate that a certain part is to be played by a certain hand. The

abbreviations r.h. (right hand), m.d. (mano destra, It.), and m.d. (main

droite, Fr.), designate that a passage or tone is to be played with the

right hand, while l.h. (left hand), m.s. (mano sinistra, It.), and m.g.

(main gauche, Fr.), show that the left hand is to be employed.

61. The wavy line placed vertically beside a chord

indicates that the tones are to be sounded consecutively instead of

simultaneously, beginning with the lowest tone, all tones being

sustained until the duration-value of the chord has expired. This is

called arpeggio playing. When the wavy line extends through the entire

chord (covering both staffs) as in Fig. 38, all the tones of the chord

are to be played one after another, beginning with the lowest: but if

there is a separate wavy line for each staff as at Fig. 39 then the

lowest tone represented on the upper staff is to be played

simultaneously with the lowest tone represented on the bass staff.

The word arpeggio (plural arpeggi) is a derivation of the

Italian word arpa (meaning harp), and from this word arpa

and its corresponding verb arpeggiare (to play on the harp)

are derived also a number of other terms commonly used in

instrumental music. Among these are--arpeggiamento,

arpeggiando, arpeggiato, etc., all of these terms referring to

a harp style of performance, the tones being sounded one

after another in rapid succession instead of simultaneously as

on the piano.

62. The sign [crescendo-decrescendo symbol] over a note indicates that

the tone is to be begun softly, gradually increased in power, and as

gradually decreased again, ending as softly as it began. In vocal music

this effect is called messa di voce.

63. In music for stringed instruments of the violin family, the sign

[down-bow symbol] indicates down-bow and the sign [up-bow symbol]

up-bow. In cello music the down-bow sign is sometimes written [cello

down-bow symbol].