Recording notes
Music Theory

Recording notes

What you need to know before starting the lesson:

Musical signs

To record musical sounds, special signs are used, which are called notes. Note signs consist of the following parts:

  1. heads
  2. stem (sticks) connected to the note head from left down or right up;
  3. flag (tail), connecting to the stem only to the right of it or mating (longitudinal line) connecting the stems of several notes.


Notes are placed on five horizontal rulers, which are called the staff or stave. The rulers of the staff are always counted from bottom to top in order, that is, the bottom ruler is the first, the one following it is the second, and so on.


Notes on the stave are located on the lines or between them. The bottom line of the stave is Mi. Any note located on this line is played as an E, as long as there are no up or down signs. The next note (between the lines) is the note F, and so on. Notes may also be distributed outside the stave and recorded on additional rulers. The extra rulers above the staff are called the top extra rulers and are counted from bottom to top of the staff. These additional rulers record high sounds. Low sounds are recorded under the staff and are called lower additional rulers, and are counted from top to bottom from the stave.


At the beginning of the staff, a key is always set, which determines the pitch of one of the sounds in the scale, from which the pitch of the remaining sounds is counted.

salt key  The treble clef (or sol key) determines the position of the first octave sol sound on the staff, which is written on the second line.

fa key  The bass clef (or clef fa) determines the position on the staff of the sound fa of the small octave, which is recorded on the fourth line.

Measure and time signature. Confluent and weak parts.

For the convenience of reading notes, a musical recording is divided into equal periods of time (number of beats) – measures. A bar is a section of musical notation, limited by two bar lines.

The first note of each measure has an accent – an accent. This accented beat serves as the beginning of the count in each measure. The bars are separated from each other by vertical lines that cross the staff. These vertical bars are called barlines.

After the key, the time signature is set. The size is indicated by two numbers, one under the other in the form of a fraction: 2/4; 3/6; 4/4 etc. The top number indicates the number of beats in a bar, and the bottom number indicates the duration of each beat (what duration is taken as a unit of account – quarter, half, etc.). For example: a 2/2 time signature consists of two half-length notes, and a 7/8 time signature consists of seven eighth notes. But in most cases you will find two fours. In abbreviated form, this size is also denoted by the letter C in place of the numbers. Sometimes you can see the letter C crossed out with a vertical line – this is equivalent to the size 2/2.

As we have already said, the first beats of each measure stand out, sound stronger than other sounds – they are accentuated. At the same time, the frequency of sounding of strong and weak parts is preserved, i.e. there is a uniform change of accents. Typically, a measure consists of several beats, the first strong (it is marked with an accent sign > in the stave) and several weak ones following it. In a two-beat measure (2/4), the first beat (“one”) is strong, the second (“two”) is weak. In a three beat measure (3/4), the first beat (“one”) is strong, the second (“two”) is weak, and the third (“three”) is weak.

Double and triple beats are called simple. Quadruple measure (4/4) is complex. It is formed from two simple measures of double time signature. In such a complex bar, there are two strong accents on the first and third beats, with the first accent being on the strongest beat of the measure, and the second accent on a relatively weaker beat, i.e. it sounds slightly weaker than the first.


In order to indicate the key of a note, flat Flat, sharp Sharp, double-flat double flat, double-sharp double sharp, and becar signs may be placed before the note Natural.

Such characters are called accidentals. If there is a sharp in front of the note, then the note rises by half a tone, double-sharp – by a tone. If flat, then the note is lowered by a semitone, and if double-sharp, by a tone. Decreasing and raising signs appearing once are applied to the entire score until they are canceled by another sign. There is a special sign that cancels a decrease or increase in a note and returns it to its natural pitch – this is a backer. Double flat and double sharp are rarely used.

Accidentals are used mainly in two cases: as key and as random. The key signs are located to the right of the key in a certain order: fa – do – sol – re – la – mi – si for sharps, for flats – si – mi – la – re – sol – do – fa. If the same note with a sharp or flat is encountered in any measure, then the flat or sharp is set only once and retains its effect throughout the measure. Such sharps and flats are called random.

Length of notes and pauses

Length of notes and pauses

Whether the note is shaded or not, as well as the sticks attached to them, i.e. Stems indicate the duration of a note. The main note durations are whole (1) and are indicated by an unshaded head without a stem, as well as its half divisions: half (2), quarter (3), eighth (4), sixteenth (5), etc. In this case, the duration of a whole note is a relative value: it depends on the current tempo of the piece. Another standard duration is the double integer, denoted by a small unshaded rectangle with strokes near the corners.

If several notes are recorded in a row with a duration less than the fourth, and none of them (except, perhaps, the first) falls on a strong beat, then they are recorded under a common edge or viscous – a stick connecting the ends of the stems. Moreover, if the notes are eighth, the edge is single, if the sixteenth is double, etc. In our time, there is a combination of notes from different measures, as well as notes that are not in a row.

It happens that you need to record a note that lasts, for example, three eighths. There are two ways to do this: if there is a strong beat for the duration of the note, then two notes are taken, giving a total of three eighths (that is, a quarter and an eighth) and tied, that is, a league is placed between them – an arc, with its ends almost touching the ovals of the notes . If the strong beat is left aside, then to extend the note by half of its sound, a dot is placed to the right of the oval (that is, in this case, three eighths is a quarter with a dot). Dotted notes can also be combined under one edge.

Finally, it may be necessary to divide some duration not into two halves, but into three, five, or some other number of equal parts not a multiple of two. In this case, triplets, pentoli and other similar forms of notation are used.

A break in sound is called a pause. The duration of pauses is measured in the same way as the duration of sounds (notes). A whole rest (8) is equal in duration to a whole note. It is indicated by a short dash under the fourth line of the staff. A half rest (9) is equal in duration to a half note. It is indicated by the same dash as the quarter rest, but this dash is written above the third line of the staff. Quadruple pause (10) is equal in duration to the fourth note and is indicated by a broken line in the center. The eighth (11), sixteenth (12) and thirty-second (13) rests are equal in duration to the eighth, sixteenth and thirty-second notes, respectively, and are indicated by a slash with one, two or three small flags.

A dot to the right of a note or rest increases its duration by half. Two dots at a note or at a pause increase the duration by half and another quarter.

Dots above or below notes indicate the jerky nature of the performance or staccato, in which each sound loses part of its duration, becomes sharper, shorter, drier.

A league (an arc curved up or down) links adjacent notes of the same height, summing up their duration. A league connecting two or more notes at different pitches means a coherent performance of these sounds or legato.

FermataFermata – a sign indicating to the performer that he should increase the duration of the note or pause at his discretion.

Repetition marks

When performing a piece, it is often necessary to repeat its fragment or the entire piece. To do this, in musical notation, repetition signs are used – reprises. The music set between these signs must be repeated. Sometimes when repeated, there are different endings. In this case, at the end of the repetition, brackets are used – volts. This means that for the first time, the ending measures enclosed in the first volt are played, and during the repetition, the measures of the first volt are skipped and the measures of the second volt are played instead.


Music notation also indicates the tempo of the composition. Tempo is the speed at which a piece of music is played.

There are three main execution speeds: slow, moderate and fast. The main tempo is usually indicated at the very beginning of the work. There are five main designations for these tempos: Slowly – adagio (Adagio), Slowly, calmly – andante (Andante), Moderately – moderato (Moderato), Soon – allegro (Allegro), Fast – presto (Presto). The average of these paces – moderato – corresponds to the speed of a calm step.

Often, when performing a piece of music, you have to speed up or slow down its main tempo. These changes in tempo are most often denoted by the words: Accelerando, abbreviated as accel. (accelerando) – accelerating, Ritenuto, (ritenuto) abbreviated rit. – slowing down, and tempo (and tempo) – at the same pace (to restore the previous pace after the previous acceleration or deceleration).


When performing a piece of music, in addition to the tempo, the necessary loudness (strength) of the sound should also be taken into account. Anything that has to do with loudness is called dynamic tints. These shades are displayed in the notes, usually between the staves. The most commonly used designations for sound strength are as follows: pp (pianisimo) – very quiet, p (piano) – soft, mf (mezzo-forte) – with medium strength, f (forte) – loud, ff (fortissimo) – very loud. As well as the signs < (crescendo) – gradually increasing the sound and > (diminuendo) – gradually weakening the sound.

Along with the above designations of tempos, the notes often contain words that indicate the nature of the performance of the music of the work, for example: melodious, gentle, agile, playful, with brilliance, decisively, etc.

Melisma signs

Melisma signs do not change the tempo or rhythmic pattern of the melody, but only decorate it. There are the following types of melisms:

  • grace note ( Grace) – denoted by a small note before the main one. A crossed out small note indicates a short grace note, and one not crossed out indicates a long one. Consists of one or more notes sounding at the expense of the duration of the main note. Almost never used in modern music.
  • mordent ( Mordent) – means the alternation of the main note with an additional one one or a semitone lower or higher than it. If the mordent is crossed out, then the additional sound is lower than the main one, otherwise it is higher. Rarely used in modern music notation.
  • groupetto ( gruppetto). Due to the duration of the main note, the upper auxiliary, main, lower auxiliary and again the main sounds are played alternately. Almost never found in modern writing.
  • trill ( ) – a rapid alternation of sounds separated by a tone or semitone from each other. The first note is called the main note, and the second is called the auxiliary and usually stands above the main one. The total duration of a trill depends on the duration of the main note, and trill notes are not played with exact durations and are played as quickly as possible.
  • vibrato ( vibratodo not confuse with a trill!) – quick periodic changes in pitch or timbre of a sound. A very common technique for guitarists, which is achieved by wobbling a finger against a string.

Here, it seems, is everything that every guitarist needs to know, for starters. If you want to learn more about musical notation, you should refer to the special educational literature.

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