SOUND PATTERNS

A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music

by PHILLIP MAGNUSON

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF MUSIC NOTATION


This appendix in Sound Patterns is intended to assist students in preparing assignments and taking exams. The presentation of a neat and orderly score is a vital part of communication between the composer/arranger and the performer or the student and teacher.

While most assignments and projects contained within this text are required to be completed with music notation software (such as Finale), all of these principles can also be applied to hand manuscript as well.


SEMESTER I
Chapters 1-14

A. Fundamentals

  1. On exams and quizzes, notate intervals, triads, and tetrads in an arpeggiated pattern, so pitches can be more easily seen.

  2. On exams and quizzes, notate major keys with a single uppercase letter and minor keys with a single lowercase letter.

  3. On exams and quizzes, label meter descriptions with the beat number (duple, triple, or quadruple) first followed by the beat sub-division (simple or compound).

B. Species Counterpoint

    2-voices

  1. Join both staves together with a bracket (straight line) and a staff line.

  2. Label each staff as a specific cantus firmus or as counterpoint to the cantus firmus and add clefs and meter signature.

  3. Bar lines always join staves as a continuous line.

  4. Using either notes or rests, beat one in all music is placed immediately next to the bar line (including whole notes). The only exception to this is a whole rest, which is placed in the middle of a measure.

  5. Label the intervals between the two voices directly on the beat it occurs. Always circle dissonant intervals, and provide an explanation for that dissonance, next to the embellishing note.

  6. Always end counterpoint assignments with a double bar line.

  7. Notes that have stems always follow a specific pattern: notes on the middle line and higher will have a down stem, notes on the second space and lower will have an up stem.

    (see example above)

  8. Species IV requires ties; ties are always attached to note heads opposite the stems.

  9. Multple staves connected with a bracket and a staff line is called a "system". Species I, II, and IV should occupy only one system; Species III and V contain many more notes and should use two systems.

    3-voices

  10. Intervals are labelled between the bass and alto, between the bass and soprano (written between alto and soprano), and between the alto and soprano (written above the soprano).

  11. Correction fluid (essentially white paint to cover up mistakes) in NEVER acceptable in the 21st century on print-outs from a computer. If a mistake is made, correct it and print out a new copy. This product goes by the name of "Liquid Paper", "Wite-Out", "Tipp-Ex", "Pentel", "Snopake", "White Away", and "Twink". Each drop of these unfortunate relics from the 20th century will result in the reduction of a letter grade on the assignment.

  12. Intervals may be added by hand due to complications with the computer.

    It is, however, possible for intervals to be done on the computer, and it is well worth the time to learn how to do it. They should be done with the lyrics tool so that they will be anchored to a note rather than a position on the page.


SEMESTER I, II and III
Chapters 12-28 and 29-40

    Grand Staff (4-voices)

  1. Since there are two voices on each staff, stem direction must indicate where each voice is located. Soprano and tenor lines are always up stems, and alto and bass are always down stems. The two staves are still joined with a bracket and staff line, and bar lines still join staves as a continuous line.

  2. All notes in all voices, on any given beat, must line up vertically.

  3. One exception to the previous rule is when two voices on the same staff form the interval of a second (m2, M2, or A2), the lower note must move a little to the right so the stems line up.

  4. If two voices on the same staff form a unison, there will be only one note with two stems. If the note is a whole note, shift one whole note to the right.

    (see example above)

  5. Fermatas in a chorale style denote cadences, and must appear above the soprano.

  6. Since there are two voices on each staff, the issue of ties becomes more complicated. All ties still attach to note heads (never stems), but they will be written on the same side as the stem. Therefore, ties in the soprano and tenor will always arch up, and ties in the alto and bass will always arch down.

  7. Correction fluid (essentially white paint to cover up mistakes) in NEVER acceptable in the 21st century on print-outs from a computer. If a mistake is made, correct it and print out a new copy. This product goes by the name of "Liquid Paper", "Wite-Out", "Tipp-Ex", "Pentel", "Snopake", "White Away", and "Twink". Each drop of these unfortunate relics from the 20th century will result in the reduction of a letter grade on the assignment.

  8. Some work by hand is acceptable due to complications with the computer:

    All straight lines that indicate prolongations must be drawn with a ruler. All hand work must be done in ink.

  9. It is, however, possible for all of these items to be done on the computer, and it is well worth the time to learn how to do it. Intervals, Roman numerals, and structural analysis events should be done with the lyrics tool so that they will be anchored to a note rather than a position on the page.

    Some ways of writing symbols with the computer:


SEMESTER III
Chapters 29-40

    Piano music

  1. The rules regarding stem direction still apply:
    1. Notes on the middle line and higher will have a down stem, notes on the second space and lower will have an up stem. The two staves in piano music are joined with a brace (curved lines) and a staff line.

    2. When there are two voices on each staff, stem direction must indicate where each voice is located. Higher voices on each staff are always up stems, and lower voices on each staff are always down stems. If there are two voices on a staff, rests might only apply to one voice, and must be moved up or down accordingly.

    3. Eighth notes (and other beamed groupings) have a more complicated solution to stem direction. Stem direction is determined by the distance from the middle line. If there is a tie, all stems are down.

      The examples below show how this is calculated.

  2. All notes in all voices, on any given beat, must line up vertically.

  3. One exception to the previous rule is when two voices on the same staff form the interval of a second (m2, M2, or A2), the lower note must move a little to the right so the stems line up.

    If the interval of a second is in one voice, on a single stem, the lower note is written to the left.

  4. Ties and close relatives slurs, follow the same principles as before. On a staff with only one voice, they are written opposite the stem. On a staff with two voices, ties attach to note heads on the stem side and slurs attach to stems on the stem side.

  5. Accidentals used to denote chromatic pitches apply only to the octave first presented. If the voice leaps to another octave, the accidental must be repeated. Likewise, accidentals occurring in one voice apply to all pitches in that voice, but if two voices are used, the accidental must be repeated.

  6. Correction fluid (essentially white paint to cover up mistakes) in NEVER acceptable in the 21st century on print-outs from a computer. If a mistake is made, correct it and print out a new copy. This product goes by the name of "Liquid Paper", "Wite-Out", "Tipp-Ex", "Pentel", "Snopake", "White Away", and "Twink". Each drop of these unfortunate relics from the 20th century will result in the reduction of a letter grade on the assignment.

  7. Some work by hand is acceptable due to complications with the computer:

    All straight lines that indicate prolongations must be drawn with a ruler. All hand work must be done in ink.


SEMESTER IV
Chapters 41-52

    Piano music

  1. Metronome markings indicate exact tempi. Always include the correct beat unit with the beats per minute. The two staves are still joined with a brace and staff line, and bar lines still join staves as a continuous line.

  2. Rules for stem direction:
    1. Notes that have stems always follow a specific pattern: notes on the middle line and higher will have a down stem, notes on the second space and lower will have an up stem.

    2. When there are two voices on each staff, stem direction must indicate where each voice is located. Higher voices on each staff are always up stems, and lower voices on each staff are always down stems.

  3. Rhythm must clearly show where the beats are located.

    Dotted rests are acceptable in compound meters, but never in simple meters.

  4. Piano music generally places dynamic markings between the two staves. However, if each staff has its own dynamic level, the right hand dynamics appear above the staff, and the left hand below.

  5. Wedges (the non-parallel lines that indicate crescendi and decrescendi) should never open (or begin) with a distance greater than the space between lines on the staff. Do not use a wedge for more than two measures; for longer time periods use the abbreviation cresc. or decresc.

  6. Ties, and close relatives slurs, follow the same principles as before. On a staff with only one voice, they are written opposite the stem. On a staff with two voices, they attach to note heads on the stem side.

  7. Articulations indicate the way notes are attacked and/or released.
    1. Staccato dots and tenuto lines are generally placed on the opposite side of the stem, unless there are two voices on a staff, where they are placed above (or below) the stem.

    2. Accents are generally placed above notes, regardless of stem direction, unless there are two voices on a staff, where they are written above (or below) the stem.

    3. Do not confuse articulations with ornaments (which are pitch events) or bowing symbols. Ornaments do not serve as articulations.

    4. Articulations can be combined:

  8. In some twentieth century music, the actual spelling of pitches is irrelevant. Always spell pitches to form simple intervals (M, m, and P) and avoid more complicated intervals that involve many diminished (d) and augmented (A) signs. In the example below, notice how the second line is an enharmonic respelling of the first, but now the intervals are more easily understood.

  9. When a passage stays in an extremely high register in treble clef, or an extremely low register in bass clef, use the 8va (above) or 8va bassa (below) to avoid excessive leger lines. In rare cases, 15ma (two octaves higher) or 15ma bassa (two octaves lower) might be used. Extremely low notes in treble clef and extremely high notes in bass clef simply require a clef change.

    The example above is much easier to perform with some well-place 8va and 8va bassa signs (example below).

  10. Always make measures approximately the same size. In the example below, the first four measures are too crowded.

    Instrumental music (non-keyboard)

  11. Use brackets (straight line) rather than braces (curved lines). Be sure to label each staff with the name of the instrument.

  12. Individual instruments require individual dynamic markings below the staff, even if they are the same as the other parts.

  13. Correction fluid (essentially white paint to cover up mistakes) in NEVER acceptable in the 21st century on print-outs from a computer. If a mistake is made, correct it and print out a new copy. This product goes by the name of "Liquid Paper", "Wite-Out", "Tipp-Ex", "Pentel", "Snopake", "White Away", and "Twink". Each drop of these unfortunate relics from the 20th century will result in the reduction of a letter grade on the assignment.

Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

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