A First Look at Sheet Music - Principles of Music Notation

In music notation, sounds are represented by small circles (or ovals) called notes. Notes can be high or low, and they can be short or long. The higness or lowness of the note is its pitch. To represent high and low pitches, notes are placed high or low on the staff, the five horizontal lines going across the page.

To represent durations, the notes are written slightly differently on the page. For example, some notes are open ovals, while others are filled in. Graphic variations such as that are used to indicate longer and shorter notes.

Reading music is also similar to reading a book. Like reading a book, you start in the upper left corner and go left-to-right and top-to-bottom across the page. As you move horizontally through the music, you are also moving forward in time. To put it another way, sequential events are aligned left-to-right and events aligned vertically happen simultaneously. Notes played in a sequence form a melody and notes played simultaneously form a harmony.


"Music is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and tune." - Thomas Fuller

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley

"Music in the soul can be heard by the universe." - Lao Tzu

"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." - Ludwig van Beethoven

"Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue." - Plato

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." - Victor Hugo

"Music is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and tune." - Thomas Fuller

Copyright © Sienna M. Wood, 2015-2016