some notation questions

General discussions, error reporting, and feature requests.

Moderators: pianolady, techneut, robert

Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:44 pm

some notation questions

Postby bgreenwood » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:03 pm

Hello, I'm a self study pianist still trying to figure out what the following notation conveys:

I'm not quite sure what to do with the '253'. I believe these are quick little notes that follow the key signature, but how do I interperet what they are?

Simply what does the double colon mean?

Aren't stacatto and slurring the notes mutually exclusive?

Thanks in advance, Ben

Posts: 301
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 12:57 pm

Re: some notation questions

Postby sarah » Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:18 pm

Welcome, Ben! These are some good questions. I'll give a stab at them if that's all right. Deciphering notation can indeed be rather frustrating... :wink:

In the first example, I believe that the 253 is a fingering for the trill below it. Instead of using a 232 trill fingering or another more traditional fingering, the editor or composer suggested a more unusual fingering in order to achieve a certain effect or make a certain technical issue more easily surmounted.

The double colon you are referring to in example two is denoting that the quarter notes of your chord are double-dotted quarter notes. A dot after a note extends the time of the note by half. If the first dot is followed by another dot, then the second dot extends the length of the original note by one-fourth. That means that the chord in your example gets seventy-five percent of the original quarter note value added to it to make the note one and three-fourths beats (equivalent to one quarter note and three sixteenth notes). I suspect that the double-dotted quarter note chord is followed by a sixteenth note or sixteenth note chord to make the two notes or chords two beats in all.

In order to explain your third example, we must remember that there are, generally speaking, three basic types of articulations in music: staccato, legato, and portato. Staccato is short and detached (often indicated by a dot), while legato is tied and smooth, with no breaks between the notes. (we can often tell that by a slur). The third type of articulation is like a "heavy staccato" or "sticky staccato," a longer sound than staccato but with small breaks between notes. Oftentimes, portato is indicated in musical passages by staccato markings with a slur over them. That's what you have here in your example. It is, essentially, a slurred staccato.

I hope my answers were helpful to you, and feel free to tell me where I wasn't clear. All the best to you in your musical endeavors!
Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn

Site Admin
Posts: 9925
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Location: Netherlands

Re: some notation questions

Postby techneut » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:48 am

That's weird fingering for that trill. Can't think of any good reason for it. One should always choose the easiest and most natural-feeling fingering, in this case 242.
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer

Posts: 2060
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Location: U.S.A.

Re: some notation questions

Postby Rachfan » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:26 am

I would see sticky staccato being a bit different from portato. The former, as I've understood it, is reducing the duration of note such that, for example, a quarter note is played as if it were a 16th note followed by three 16th rests. The other very detached, abrupt and short form of staccato is executed as if the finger or hand touches a hot coal.

Portato is more a weighty, pressing into the keys, not striking them from above. Unlike nonlegato touch (see below) portato is more than likely to be used with damper pedal, especially in lyrical music.

Another touch that we should mention here is nonlegato touch where there are no slur markings and perhaps no damper pedal either, such that there is no attempt at all to connect the tones as would be the case they had been notated as smooth legato phrases. Nonlegato notes retain their full value, unlike staccato, but this touch sounds more percussive than lyrical.

Just my 2 cents.

"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April

Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest