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What does this musical notation mean

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Chris C
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Hi Taso,

Basically, it's like the tires on a car. You've got your four wheels on the outside there, and the one in the middle is a spare....

..... in case you get a flat.... :|

Sorry about that....


   
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Taso
 Taso
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It's a cue.

Cues are often printed in individual parts to show the performers what the main melody is doing. They're transposed to the player's clef and signature - so a violin will see notes in concert pitch, a Bb clarinet will see them transposed, etc. - so cues are printed without clefs or key signatures. Sometimes you'll see cues directly on your staff, printed in tiny notes.

In a conductor's score, a cue is used either for a solo instrument, or for an instrument that's only used for rehearsal (some pieces have a piano score for rehearsal only, so you can rehearse a section without having to bring in the whole ensemble). Since this is a violin concerto, it's the solo violin part - the soloist isn't playing the same melody as the rest of the violin section.

I don't really understand - that piece of music is a cue for the soloist. Does that mean s/he is supposed to play the cue rather than whats written? (The first staff is for the Oboe, the second for another horn, the third for the soloist).

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Chris C
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I don't really understand - that piece of music is a cue for the soloist. Does that mean s/he is supposed to play the cue rather than whats written? (The first staff is for the Oboe, the second for another horn, the third for the soloist).

Are you sure that the third is for the soloist, rather than a general violin section? There can be several different parts for the violins in orchestral pieces.


   
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NoteBoat
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Ok - when I think of concerto scores, I'm envisioning an orchestra and soloist. I just found that score on line, and it's a chamber group - 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 horns, and strings. (The bracket on the left should have been a clue for me - if it was orchestral, there would be separate brackets for the woodwinds, brass, and strings; since strings don't transpose, the different key signatures should have told me it was a small ensemble!)

In an individual part, a line like that is usually a cue for the melody. In a full orchestral score, it's usually a rehearsal accompaniment (typically a piano reduction) or a soloist line if it's brief. But there's a third possibility I neglected: ossia.

An ossia part is basically an alternative melody. The solo violin can play either the line as written, or the small passages.

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Taso
 Taso
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Okay - thanks for clearing that up. I'm going to treat it as an ossia.

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Taso
 Taso
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Okay, got another one for you. This is supposed to be in 4/4 timing. I'm hoping maybe the O under the first quarter note means something? The way I count this, its over 4 beats.

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NoteBoat
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It could mean two things. Most obvious is "open" - that's the pitch of the open G string. The other is a natural harmonic.

I'd lean strongly toward "open" though. When harmonics are written with circles above/below a note head, it's generally a pretty clear circle. In most music, it's more common to note harmonics with a diamond shaped note head - but even there, a couple different systems are used for violin.

Like I've said before, standard notation isn't really "standard" :)

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Taso
 Taso
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But the point was that just the quarter notes alone are 4 beats, so the 32nd notes are going over the measure.

The only thing I can think of is that they are grace notes, but they don't look like it.

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Fretsource
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Yes, they're just grace notes. Notice the smaller note head.


   
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NoteBoat
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Yeah, you can call them grace notes.

As noted, they're smaller than the quarter notes - the heads are only slightly smaller, but you can still tell at a glance from the length of the stem that they're not full size. Stems on full size notes cover one octave (the first and fourth quarter notes are clearly one octave; the other two appear slightly longer). The rule for stem length on beamed notes is trickier - eighths and sixteenths use the normal stem length, but after that you make them longer... so the stem runs one octave to the second beam from the head:

Anyway, grace notes are usually written a bit smaller. How you play them depends on when the piece was written. If it's been composed before about 1840, the first grace note falls on the beat; if it's written after about 1850, the main note falls on the beat. In either case the "quarter note" actually lasts about as long as a dotted eighth (the grace notes take up the remaining time), but the rhythm will feel slightly different.

The reason they don't look like grace notes is that "grace note" is kind of a catch-all; it can refer to an appoggiatura ("to lean"), or an acciaccatura ("to crush"). The notation is very nearly identical - in fact, with many publishers it IS identical, which makes it even more confusing. Acciaccuturas often have a slash through the stem and flag, and sometimes a slur marking connecting it to the main note. Appogiaturas sometimes don't. The difference is in duration - acciaccuturas are shorter than written... you "crush" into the main note, rather than "leaning" into it. Acciaccuturas are also called "short appoggiatura" - there's a fairly comprehensive article on their development here

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Scrybe
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How you play them depends on when the piece was written. If it's been composed before about 1840, the first grace note falls on the beat; if it's written after about 1850, the main note falls on the beat. In either case the "quarter note" actually lasts about as long as a dotted eighth (the grace notes take up the remaining time), but the rhythm will feel slightly different.

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Vic Lewis VL
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I've learnt a lot from GN as well - but honestly, that's so far over my head at the moment, I'd need the Hubble telescope to even get it in range! Just shows you, the more you learn, you more you still have to learn - I'm beginning to think I haven't even scratched the surface yet....

I think I'll stick to doing what I'm good at - playing rhythm - as long as it's in a key that doesn't involve b's or #'s! - and just try and improve myself in my chosen field, and pick up bits and bobs as I go along - like I've always done.

(Well, not so much of a field, just a small grassy space.)

(Well OK, I don't actually have a small grassy space...but....)

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Taso
 Taso
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Thanks for the help. Noteboat, incredibly knowledgeable as usual.

I ordered my violin by the way, am very excited to start learning some bad habits :P

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