musical notation

musical notation


Common symbols used in modern musical notation.—© Merriam-Webster Inc.

Written, printed, or other visual representation of music. There are two basic approaches to notating music. Tablature (such as guitar chord diagrams) depicts the actions a performer is to take (in particular, showing where to put the fingers to produce a given sound). Symbolic notation describes the sounds themselves and includes methods that vary from assigning pitches different letters of the alphabet to representing a given combination of notes by a graphic sign. The Western notation system combines rhythmic notation (the appearance of a note indicates its duration) with pitch notation (the line or space on a staff where a note is placed indicates its pitch). Thus, a single symbol shows both pitch and duration, and a string of these symbols notates both melody and rhythm.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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