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Standard Music Notation

A complete lesson on what is Standard Music Notation.

PUBLISHED: Dec 9, 2011 UPDATED: Sep 16, 2021 • LESSON CODE: UL17

Instruments: ukulele ANY music Subjects: beginnerreadingintermediateadvanced

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Standard Music Notation

Musical Notation - Music notation or musical notation refers to various systems of writing music. Diverse systems of musical notation have developed in various cultures. In fact, many cultures simply do not notate their music in any form.

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Types and methods of notation have varied between cultures and throughout history, and much information about ancient music notation is fragmentary. Even in the same time period, such as in the 2010s, different styles of music and different cultures use different music notation methods; for example, for professional classical music performers, sheet music using staves and noteheads is the most common way of notating music, but for professional country music session musicians, the Nashville Number System is the main method. (Music Notation from Wikipedia)

Rather than do a complete series of lessons on standard music notation. Why reinvent the wheel. There are lot of great resources on-line and books that already exist. Here is my take on several of the offerings.

One can equate, when you first are learning and exploring the Ukulele, you are in it as a tourist and knowing how to navigate you new soundings as a tourist are very helpful. A few musical terms here and there, and you can get by. However, if you are going to be staying for a while in this new musical environment, learning the “lingo” that musicians use day-to-day to communicate can go a long way in furthering your enjoyment while exploring the ukulele. And like learning any language, there is the aural and the reading and writing parts as well — both well-written and not so well-written.

Bad Rhythmic Notation Examples

Along with learning correct music notation and music principles. You also will be able to spot bad notation examples, incorrect names for standard music terms — as well as translate it and read on the fly.

For the most common 4/4 time signature, there is an invisible mid-bar line between beats two and three that no note will sustain over it unless tied. This make it effortless to read. Sort of like the spaces between words. This helps you recognizable the common rhythmic syllables used in various time signatures. The below, “Confusing and Hard to Read” notation, taken right from examples on the Internet and unfortunately quite common.

Music Notation Programs

There are four (4) common music notation programs used with Finale and Sibelius being used by the majority of professional musicians, orchestral music librarians, and music publishers:

I (Curt), started with Finale and quickly moved to Sibelius and used it for for many, many years and have done hundreds of scores using Sibelius. Then a few years ago moved everything to MuseScore, a free and open-source notation program that can be used on Mac , Windows and Linux computers. Moved to MuseScore as it is available in Linux, and Mac - both platforms I uses daily and Sibelius went to a subscription mode. Really looking forward to MuseScore 4 .

Of the four, MuseScore is the only one that is FREE ope-source and available on more computer platforms. Both Dorico and Sibelius have just released versions that run on iOS/iPad.

Music Fonts

Here are some great music fonts from Notation Central .

Resources & Links

  • Scoring Notes • Scoring Notes, a blog is independently owned and operated by NYC Music Services , a music preparation service in New York.
  • Notation Central • Notation Central is the only place where you’ll find all of these products under one roof, for multiple platforms you use, like Dorico, Sibelius, Finale, and Musescore, and PDF utilities to help with music preparation and production.
  • What's the score? Notation Programs for Ukulele Teachers • by Cynthia Kinnunen is a music educator from Guelph, Ontario, and is part of Team Uketropolis. www.cynthiakmusic.com

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Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Standard Music Notation at this time.

Glossary of Music Terms • Updated: Jan 18, 2019

A glossary of common music terms. Common and not so common music terms. Knowing the language and terms used with music aides in your own understanding when exploring your music potential.

Key Signatures and the Circle of Fifths and Fourths • Updated: Mar 2, 2021

There is a load of information in traditional "Key Signatures." Unlocking the principles in this circle leads to a better understanding of music and how things work. A key signature is a series of sharp or flat symbols placed on the staff, designating the notes that are to be consistently played higher or lower than the equivalent natural notes.

Understanding Diatonic Intervals • Updated: Dec 9, 2011

An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. Intervals can be played one note (melodic) or two notes (harmonic) at a time, ascending or descending.

Simple and Compound Intervals are taken from a major scale.

Chromatic Intervals are NOT taken from a major scale. They are derived from the diatonic intervals.

Understanding Chromatic Intervals • Updated: Dec 14, 2018

An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. "Chromatic Intervals" are NOT taken from a major scale. They are derived from the diatonic intervals.

Understanding Interval Inversion • Updated: Jul 2, 2015

Inverting intervals using the "Rule of Nine". An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. Intervals can be played one note (melodic) or two notes (harmonic) at a time, ascending or descending.

Reading for `Ukulele Series - C Tuning • Updated: Dec 26, 2014

This is a series of lessons for reading music for ukulele at a pro level.

Reading Music can be thought of on many different levels. 1) the ability to slowly and painfully _work out_ the written music. 2) the ability to _hear_ the music by looking at the notation. 3) the ability to _notate_ your ideas in standard music notation. 4) the ability to _read_ music as you read a book or an article. 5) the ability to communicate with other musicians in the written language of music. 6) the ability to learn songs that you've never heard.

Related Books

Related Books for Standard Music Notation at this time.

Ukulele- Reading Music Series - Primer
Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Learn to read single note melodies in the first/open position. It is a lot easier than you might think with this step-by-step easy to use approach. Tunings: C with low or high G - (GCEA or gCEA).

Related Songs

Related Songs for Standard Music Notation at this time.

Any Song Will Do Updated: Dec 7, 2015

This is not really a song, but simply saying that for the purposes of a lot of the lessons and lesson series on this site ANY song will do for exploring the lesson's material and concepts presented in the lesson.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Standard Music Notation at this time.

Reading for Ukulele - The Next Steps Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Reading can be thought of on many different levels. 1) the ability to slowly and painfully work out the written music. 2) the ability to hear the music by looking at the notation. 3) the ability to notate your ideas in standard music notation. 4) the ability to read music as you read a book or an article. 5) the ability to communicate with other musicians in the written language of music. 6) the ability to learn songs that you have never heard.

Reading Music on Ukulele - Primer Updated: Jan 1, 2003

There are a few things in music that students and players avoid. These are things like learning to read and knowing the notes of their own instrument. It is hard on guitar - but not so hard on ukulele. With the right guidance and plan of attack. IT IS EASY.

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