Sheet music refers to the practice of notating music in handwritten, printed, and more recently digitally "printed" form using musical symbols on one or more lined staffs. This article seeks to demistify the basics of writing and reading it for BotB users.
Rhythm Symbols -
Notes: 𝅝 𝅗𝅥 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥𝅮𝅘𝅥𝅯
Rests: 𝄼 𝄻 𝄽 𝄾 𝄿
Notes represent audible pitches with a duration of a specific number of beats or subdivisions of a beat. The parts of a note are the head (𝅘) the stem (𝄀) and the flag (𝅮 𝅯)). The number of flags a note has indicates its subdivision. The more flags, the faster.
𝅝 - Whole Note = lasts as long as 4 beats (4 times as long as a Quarter Note).
𝅗𝅥 - Half Note = lasts as long as 2 beats (twice as long as a Quarter Note [half as long as Whole Note]).
𝅘𝅥 - Quarter Note = lasts as long as 1 beat.
𝅘𝅥𝅮 - Eighth Note = half the length of 1 beat.
𝅘𝅥𝅯 - Sixteenth Note = lasts half as long as an Eighth Note.
🎵 Notes shorter than a quarter note are often connected using a Beam (a horizontal line connecting the stems of multiple notes) to make it easier to keep track of phrasing and which beat they fall on.
Rests represent silence, for the length of a specific number of beats or subdivisions of a beat. The names correspond to the lengths of notes.
𝄻 - Whole Rest (It's under the line cuz it's heavy)
𝄼 - Half Rest (it's above the line cuz it's not as heavy)
𝄽 - Quarter Rest
𝄾 - Eighth Rest
𝄿 - Sixteenth Rest
Adding a dot (.) to a note or rest increases its duration by half of itself. For example, 𝅘𝅥. Has a duration of 1-and-a-half beats, and 𝅗𝅥. has a length of 3 beats.
𝄀 Measures 𝄀 organize the beats into groups to make it easier to perceive phrasing. The Time Signature indicates the number of beats in a measure, as well as which note length equals 1 beat. The most common time Signature is 4/4. The top number indicates there are 4 beats per measure. The bottom number indicates that a quarter (1/4) note equals 1 beat. 3/4 is also common, the 3 meaning there are 3 beats per measure. 6/8 is another common time signature. The 6 indicates 6 beats per measure, and the 8 means that an eighth (1\8) note should be counted as 1 beat.
𝅝 𝄀 𝅗𝅥 𝅗𝅥 𝄀 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥 𝄀 🎵🎵🎵🎵 𝄀 ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ 𝄀
One of the most recommended ways of learning to read sheet music rhythm is to count the beats out loud (e.g. 𝄀 1 2 3 4 𝄀 ) and clap on the indicated notes.
For example, in 4/4:
𝅝ㅤㅤ𝄀 clap on 1
𝅗𝅥ㅤ𝅗𝅥ㅤ𝄀 clap on 1 and 3
1ㅤ2 3 4
𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝄀 clap on all 4 beats
🎵🎵🎵🎵 𝄀 clap on all 4 beats and the &s between them. Count the beats and the &s
♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ 𝄀 count it " 𝄀1-e-&-a 2-e-&-a 3-e-&-a 4-e-&-a 𝄀"
(These 16th notes should be beamed in 4 groups of 4 to help show that these subdivisions all add up to 4 beats, but there's no character set to display this)
1ㅤ2 3 4 𝄀 1 2 3& 4 𝄀
𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝄽ㅤ𝅘𝅥 𝄀 𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝄾𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥ㅤ𝄀 1st measure: clap on beats 1 and 2, rest on beat 3, then clap on 4. 2nd measure: clap on beats 1 and 2, rest on beat 3, then clap on the & of beat 3 and finally clap on beat 4
Try and make up your own rhythms in 4/4 and try clap them out. Make sure the notes and rests all add up to the correct amount of beats per measure! Start out simple with longer notes and rests, then get more complex with shorter notes and rests and moar syncopation!
The Staff 🎼 𝄴 𝄞 𝄢 ♭ ♯
𝄚 A staff is made up of any number of horizontal lines and spaces which represent note pitches in alphabetical order from bottom to top, on which musical symbols are placed. A staff includes a Clef to indicate which notes the lines and spaces represent, a Key Signature to indicate what key the piece of music is in, a Time Signature to indicate the number of beats contained within each measure.
The most commonly used staff for melodic music is the Five-Lined Staff 𝄚, which contains 5 lines and 4 spaces.
-𝅗𝅥- Ledger lines are used to indicate notes above or below the range of the staff (such as C5)
A Clef indicates how the note pitches are organized on the lines and spaces. Each clef has a different starting pitch on the bottom line. The two most commonly used clefs are the Treble Clef 𝄞 and the Bass Clef 𝄢. When the two staffs are used together to notate music for a single instrument (such as a piano with the left hand playing the bass clef and the right playing the treble clef), it's called a G R A N D S T A F F
Weird clefs include: Alto, Tenor, Baritone.
The lines and spaces of a staff represent all the natural notes (A through G). Flat♭ and Sharp ♯ symbols, called accidentals, are placed next to notes on the staff to switch the note to flat or sharp. When an accidental is used for a note, it stays accidental until the next measure unless a Natural Symbol ♮ is used to switch it back to it's natural pitch.
𝄞 On the treble clef, the spaces show the notes F A C E from bottom to top, and the lines show the notes E G B D F from bottom to top. Acronyms such as "Every Good BotBr Deserves Fudge" are used to memorize the lines. Feel free to make up your own! Or if you don't like splitting them up with mnemonics, all the notes are: E F G A B C D E F
𝄢 on the bass clef, from bottom to top, the spaces are A C E G (All Cows Eat Grass) and the lines are G B D F A (Good BotBrs Deserve Fudge Always). Or: G A B C D E F G A
𝄞♯𝄚 With songs in key signatures that include sharps or flats, ♯ or ♭ symbols will be placed on the appropriate lines at the beginning of the piece next to the clef to indicate which notes should be played sharp or flat throughout the piece. Once the key signature is set, everytime you see a note in any octave that has been indicated as being sharp or flat in the key signature, it should be played as such throughout the entire piece unless otherwise indicated by a new key signature 𝄞♭𝄚 or accidentals. A natural symbol ♮ next to one of those notes changes it to its natural (non-sharp/flat) form for the duration of the measure, similar to how sharps or flats next to notes changes them to their flat or sharp forms.
Pencil and Paper (printable staff templates are available online) ✏ 📄 (non-software. Mediumware?)
Unicode Symbols: 𝅝 ♬ 𝄞 𝄢 ♭ ♮ ♯ 🎼𝅜 𝅝 𝅗𝅥 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥𝅮𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝄀 𝄚
British note name conversions: