A First Look at Sheet Music - Principles of Music Notation
In music notation, sounds are represented by small circles (or ovals) called notes. Notes can be high or low, and they can be short or long. The higness or lowness of the note is its pitch. To represent high and low pitches, notes are placed high or low on the staff, the five horizontal lines going across the page.
To represent durations, the notes are written slightly differently on the page. For example, some notes are open ovals, while others are filled in. Graphic variations such as that are used to indicate longer and shorter notes.
Reading music is also similar to reading a book. Like reading a book, you start in the upper left corner and go left-to-right and top-to-bottom across the page. As you move horizontally through the music, you are also moving forward in time. To put it another way, sequential events are aligned left-to-right and events aligned vertically happen simultaneously. Notes played in a sequence form a melody and notes played simultaneously form a harmony.
- Notes are used to represent sounds
- Pitch (highness and lowness of the sounds) is represented vertically, i.e. high pitches are placed high on the staff (five horizontal lines)
- Duration is represented graphically, i.e. notes with different shapes have different durations
- Music is read left-to-right, top-to-bottom, just like a book
- The passage of time is represented horizontally, i.e. moving horizontally across the page means moving forward in time
- A melody is a sequence of notes
- A harmony is more than one note played simultaneously