|Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2||EN480 - Revision of 2013/05/29|
The main symbols
Why add symbols? [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]
The note pitches and the rhythmic values placed in the measures indicate to the performer the note sequence he must play. A piece of music played exactly as written will seem mechanical, without life or expression.
When a composer creates a musical work, he writes of course notes and rhythms, but he will try to transcribe on the score the way notes must be played, with what expression, with what feeling the piece must be performed.
He will add various symbols on the score to describe and transmit as precisely as possible the sound effect he wants to achieve on the auditor.
When a musician will play this score, he will take all symbols into account to understand what the composer wanted to express so as to play the score in the correct state of mind.
There is a whole series of symbols influencing the way the performer will play a score. We will learn the most common symbols..
Nuances [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]
Nuances specify the sound volume the performer must respect to play the notes. Here is the complete series, forming a progression of increasingly strong sound volumes:
The P comes from Italian Piano meaning softly. The F comes from Forte and means strongly and the M comes from Mezzo and means half or medium.
Start Pizzicato and open the Ex031 example. It contains the following measures. Listen to them to understand the resulting sound effect :
Another symbol, called sforzando, needs to intensify the note on which it is attached:
Similarly, the accent requires to play the notes on which it is placed more loudly. Open the Ex032 example and listen to it:
The crescendo is a symbol requiring to increase the sound volume gradually. It is written either in letters or by two lines deviating one from the other:
The Diminuendo requires to decrease the sound volume gradually. It is written in a similar way:
Open the Ex033 example and listen to the effect of these symbols on the sound volume of notes:
Tempo markings [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]
They are written in letters on the score to specify the speed at which the piece must be played. Here are 4 of them, forming a progression between slow and lively:
In Pizzicato, these symbols correspond respectively to a tempo of 40, 80, 120 and 180 quarter notes per minute.
Two symbols modify the tempo gradually:
The first accelerates the tempo (Italian Accelerando) and the second slows it down (Ritenuto meaning retaining or Ritardando meaning delaying).
Open the Ex034 example and listen to the effect obtained:
Ornament [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]
Ornaments are signs added to the notes to create a sound effect.
A trill is a fast alternation between two notes. It can be noted in various ways. Open the Ex035 example and listen to it:
Graces notes are signs adding notes to a main note, as a decoration. The Ex036 example contains 3 grace notes in the first measure. In the second measure, the first symbol is a Gruppetto and the last 3 symbols are Mordents. Listen to the effect obtained:
Other various symbols [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]
By adding a dot above or below a note, its duration is curtailed. The following measure:
would be played in the same way as this one:
When all notes must be played like that, you may simply specify a Staccato symbol, which means detached. It avoids adding a dot to each note.
The Legato symbol means tying the notes together, i.e. playing them without leaving a rest between them. One can also use a slur to specify that a group of notes must be played Legato:
By adding a dash on a note, it means that this note must be slightly curtailed and accentuated, as in the following measure:
Open the Ex037 example and listen to the result:
The two following symbols specify that notes should be played respectively an octave higher or lower:
They are often accompanied by a dotted line enclosing the area where this octave transposition must occur. The Ex038 file contains an example. Listen to it:
The comma introduces a small rhythmic pause, a breathing in the rhythms succession. It is written as follows:
The pause requires to hold the note or the rest on which it is placed, and this for a while. It is written like this:
The following symbol applies to a chord:
The effect produced is a slight delay to the higher notes of the chord. Instead of hearing all the notes together, the lower note is played first, then the following note, etc. in a rapid succession.
The Ex039.piz file contains examples of these symbols:
The sustain pedal of a piano (right side pedal) is used to hold the playing notes, even when they are released on the keyboard. It is often written with the following 2 symbols:
The first specifies when the pedal is pressed and the other when it is released. The pedal action is sometimes displayed using a hook embracing notes that must be held. The Ex040.piz file contains an example of the sound effect obtained: