Symbols Of Music Defined Part Two

21. The natural[8] (sometimes called cancel) annuls the effect of

previous sharps, flats, double-sharps, and double-flats, within the

measure in which it occurs. After a double-sharp or double-flat the

combination of a natural with a sharp, or a natural with a flat is often

found: in this case only one sharp or flat is annulled. (Sometimes also

the single sharp or flat will be found by itself, cancelling the

p or double-flat). The natural is often used when a

composition changes key, as in Fig. 11, where a change from E to G is


[Footnote 8: It has already been noted (p. 6, Note) that in the German

scale our b-flat is called b, and our b is called H. From this

difference in terminology has grown up the custom of using the H (now

made [natural]) to show that any staff-degree is in natural

condition, i.e., not sharped or flatted.]

22. The group of sharps or flats (or absence of them) at the beginning

of a staff partially indicates the key in which the composition is

written. They are called collectively the key-signature.

23. The same key-signature may stand for either one of two keys, the

major key, or its relative minor, hence in order to determine in what

key a melody is one must note whether the tones are grouped about the

major tonic DO or the minor tonic LA. In a harmonized composition it is

almost always possible to determine the key by referring to the last

bass note; if the final chord is clearly the DO chord the composition is

in the major key, but if this final chord is clearly the LA chord then

it is almost certain that the entire composition is in the minor key.

Thus if a final chord appears as that in Fig. 12 the composition is

clearly in G major, while if it appears as in Fig. 13, it is just as

surely in E minor.

24. Sharps, flats, naturals, double-sharps and double-flats, occurring

in the course of the composition (i.e., after the key signature) are

called accidentals, whether they actually cause a staff degree to

represent a different pitch as in Fig. 14 or simply make clear a

notation about which there might otherwise be some doubt as in Fig. 15,

measure two. The effect of such accidentals terminates at the bar.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.]

[Illustration: Fig. 15.]

25. In the case of a tie across a bar an accidental remains in force

until the combined value of the tied notes expires. In Fig. 16 first

measure, third beat, an accidental sharp makes the third space represent

the pitch C sharp. By virtue of the tie across the bar the third space

continues to represent C sharp thru the first beat of the second

measure, but for the remainder of the measure the third space will

represent C unless the sharp is repeated as in Fig. 17.

26. The following rules for making staff degrees represent pitches

different from those of the diatonic scale will be found useful by the

beginner in the study of music notation. These rules are quoted from

The Worcester Musical Manual, by Charles I. Rice.

1. To sharp a natural degree, use a sharp. Fig. 18.

2. To sharp a sharped degree, use a double sharp. Fig. 19.

3. To sharp a flatted degree, use a natural. Fig. 20.

4. To flat a natural degree, use a flat. Fig. 21.

5. To flat a flatted degree, use a double flat. Fig. 22.

6. To flat a sharped degree, use a natural. Fig. 23.

27. When two different notations represent the same pitch, the word

enharmonic is applied. Thus we may say that F sharp and G flat (on

keyboard instruments at least) are enharmonically the same.

This word enharmonic is used in such expressions as enharmonic change,

enharmonic keys, enharmonic interval, enharmonic modulation, enharmonic

relation, etc., and in all such combinations it has the same meaning,

viz.--a change in notation but no change in the pitch represented.

28. A note is a character expressing relative duration, which when

placed on a staff indicates that a certain tone is to be sounded for a

certain relative length of time. The pitch of the tone to be sounded is

shown by the position of the note on the staff, while the length of time

it is to be prolonged is shown by the shape of the note. Thus e.g., a

half-note on the second line of the treble staff indicates that a

specific pitch (g') is to be played or sung for a period of time twice

as long as would be indicated by a quarter-note in the same composition.

29. A rest is a character which indicates a rhythmic silence of a

certain relative length.

30. The notes and rests in common use are as follows:

whole Whole-note. An open note-head without stem.
half Half-note. An open note-head with stem.
quarter Quarter-note. A closed note-head with stem.
eighth Eighth-note. A closed note-head with stem and one hook.
sixteenth Sixteenth-note. A closed note-head with stem and two hooks.
32nd Thirty-second-note. A closed note-head with stem and three hooks.
whole Whole-rest.
half Half-rest.
quarter Quarter-rest.
eighth Eighth-rest.
sixteenth Sixteenth-rest.
32nd Thirty-second-rest.

31. The English names for these notes are:







The corresponding rests are referred to by the same system of

nomenclature: e.g., semi-breve rest, etc.

32. Sixty-fourth and one-hundred-and-twenty-eighth-notes are

occasionally found, but are not in common use. The double-whole-note

(breve), made [breve symbol] or [old breve symbol], is still used,

especially in English music, which frequently employs the half-note as

the beat-unit. Thus in four-half measure the breve would be necessary to

indicate a tone having four beats.

33. The whole-rest has a peculiarity of usage not common to any of the

other duration symbols, viz., that it is often employed as a

measure-rest, filling an entire measure of beats, no matter what the

measure-signature may be. Thus, not only in four-quarter-measure, but in

two-quarter, three-quarter, six-eighth, and other varieties, the

whole-rest fills the entire measure, having a value sometimes greater,

sometimes less than the corresponding whole-note. Because of this

peculiarity of usage the whole-rest is termed Takt-pausa

(measure-rest) by the Germans.

34. A bar is a vertical line across the staff, dividing it into

measures. The word bar is often used synonymously with measure by

orchestral conductors and others; thus, begin at the fourteenth bar

after J. This use of the word, although popular, is incorrect.

35. A double-bar consists of two vertical lines across the staff, at

least one of the two being a heavy line. The double bar marks the end of

a division, movement, or entire composition.



36. A double bar (or single heavy bar) with either two or four dots

indicates that a section is to be repeated. If the repeat marks occur at

only one point the entire preceding part is to be repeated, but if the

marks occur twice (the first time at the right of the bar but the second

time at the left), only the section thus enclosed by the marks is to be


37. Sometimes a different cadence (or ending) is to be used for the

repetition, and this is indicated as in Fig. 24.

38. The Italian word bis is occasionally used to indicate that a

certain passage or section is to be repeated. This use is becoming


39. The words da capo (D.C.) mean literally from the head, i.e.,

repeat from the beginning. The words dal segno (D.S.) indicate a

repetition from the sign ([segno symbol] or [segno symbol]) instead of

from the beginning.

In the case of both D.C. and D.S. the word fine (meaning literally

the end) is ordinarily used to designate the point at which the

repeated section is to terminate. The fermata ([fermata symbol]) was

formerly in common use for this same purpose, but is seldom so employed

at present.

D.C. (sin[9]) al fine means--repeat from the beginning

to the word fine.

[Footnote 9: The word sin is a contraction of the Italian

word sino, meaning as far as or until; in the term given

above (Sec. 39) it is really superfluous as the word al

includes in itself both preposition and article, meaning to


D.C. al [fermata symbol] means--repeat to the fermata (or


D.C. senza repetizione, or D.C. ma senza repetizione,

[Transcriber's Note: Corrected misspelling repetitione] both

mean--repeat from the beginning, but without observing other

repeat marks during the repetition.

D.C. e poi la coda means--repeat the first section only to

the mark [coda symbol], then skip to the coda. (See p. 74,

Sec. 157, for discussion of coda).

40. In certain cases where the repetition of characteristic figures can

be indicated without causing confusion, it is the practice of composers

(especially in orchestral music) to make use of certain signs of

repetition. Some of the commonest of these abbreviations are shown in

the following examples.

In Fig. 28 the repetition of an entire measure is called for.

41. The word simile [Transcriber's Note: Corrected error similie]

(sometimes segue) indicates that a certain effect previously begun is

to be continued, as e.g., staccato playing, pedalling, style of bowing

in violin music, etc. The word segue is also occasionally used to show

that an accompaniment figure (especially in orchestral music) is to be


42. When some part is to rest for two or more measures several methods

of notation are possible. A rest of two measures is usually indicated

thus . Three measures thus .

Four measures thus . Rests of more than four measures are usually

indicated in one of the following ways: . Sometimes the

number of measures is written directly on the staff, thus;


43. The letters G.P. (general pause, or grosse pause), the words lunga

pausa, or simply the word lunga, are sometimes written over a rest to

show that there is to be a prolonged pause or rest in all parts. Such

expressions are found only in ensemble music, i.e., music in which

several performers are engaged at the same time.

44. The fermata or hold over a note or chord

indicates that the tone is to be prolonged, the duration of the

prolongation depending upon the character of the music and the taste of

the performer or conductor. It has already been noted that the hold over

a bar was formerly used to designate the end of the composition, as the

word fine is employed at present, but this usage has practically

disappeared and the hold over the bar now usually indicates a short rest

between two sections of a composition.

45. The sign 8va...... (an abbreviation of all'ottava,

[Transcriber's Note: Corrected error al ottava in original.] literally

at the octave) above the staff, indicates that all tones are to be

sounded an octave higher than the notes would indicate. When found below

the staff the same sign serves to indicate that the tones are to be

sounded an octave lower. The term 8va bassa has also this latter


46. Sometimes the word loco (in place) is used to show that the part

is no longer to be sounded an octave higher (or lower), but this is more

often indicated by the termination of the dotted (or wavy) line.

47. The sign Col 8 (coll'ottava--with the octave) shows that the

tones an octave higher or lower are to be sounded with the tones

indicated by the printed notes. [Transcriber's Note: Corrected error

col ottava in original.]

48. For the sake of definiteness in referring to pitches, a particular

name is applied to each octave, and all pitches in the octave are

referred to by means of a uniform nomenclature. The following figure

will make this system clear:

Thus e.g., great G (written simply G), is the G represented by the

first line of the bass staff. Small A (written a), is represented by the

fifth line of the bass staff. Two-lined G, (written [2-lined g symbol]),

is represented by the space above the fifth line, treble staff.

Three-lined C, (written [3-lined c symbol]), is represented by the

second added line above the treble staff, etc. The one-lined octave

may be described as the octave from middle C to the B represented by

the third line of the treble staff, and any tone within that octave is

referred to as one-lined. Thus--one-lined D, one-lined G, etc.

In scientific works on acoustics, etc., the pitches in the sub

octave (or sub-contra octave as it is often called) are

referred to as C2, D2, E2, etc.; those in the contra octave

as C1, D1, etc.; in the great octave, as c^1, d^1, etc.; in

the small octave as c^2, d^2, etc.