Decoding the Music SCORE NAVIGATION FOR THE VOCALISTS Score Navigation Reading music is a lot like reading a map. We’re going to focus on the various symbols necessary to understanding, following along, and responding to the music on the paper. The Whole Piece An individual piece of music is called an octavo. We’ll use this Greensleeves octavo, amongst others, to locate some of the key pieces of information needed to decode this piece. The Very Beginning Each set of 5 lines and four spaces is called a staff (circled in red.) At the beginning of each piece, the staves are labeled with the corresponding voice part. Staves link together to form larger sections. The piano section is bracketed together in what is known as a grand staff (circled in green.) The grand staff has two staves linked together. It is most common to see a treble and bass clef bracketed together. The whole section of this image is known as a system. Measures A measure is a segment of time in music that corresponds to a particular grouping of beats. We’ll talk more about how to determine the length of a measure, or bar as it’s sometimes called, but all you need to know right now is that it’s the distance between the vertical lines on a staff. The example below has four full measures. Bonus: for extra navigational abilities, NUMBER YOUR MEASURES. Your director will often refer to measure numbers in rehearsal. Systems There are two major ways to view vocal music in staves. 1) Combine the soprano and alto into one treble clef staff, and combine the bass and tenor into one bass clef staff. The bracket connecting them creates a grand staff. 2) Give each voice part its own staff. Both of these methods create systems, outlined in blue. The Star-Spangled Banner has four systems on this page, whereas Greensleeves only has two. Clefs • The clef indicates which octave you will be singing in. In general, women sing in the treble clef and men singing in the bass clef. • In this example, the tenor sings in what appears to be the treble clef. However, the small 8 symbol indicates dropping all notes down an octave. He starts this song on middle C, not the C in the soprano range. Key Signatures • One of the most important pieces of information about the piece overall is the key signature. • The key signature is a collection of sharps or flats (in this example, flats) that determines the key of the piece. • The key signature is always directly to the right of the clef at the beginning of a song. Time Signatures • The time signature is the next piece of information at the beginning of any piece of music. • Each time signature has two numbers. • The top number indicates how many beats in every measure. In this example, there are 6 beats per measure. • The bottom number indicates what kind of note gets the beat. • 2 = half note • 4 = quarter note • 8 = eighth note Other Important Information Repeats Double bar lines Repeats Repeats indicate a section of music that should be repeated. They generally come in matched sets, as follows- The exception to the pairs rule is when there is only the right-hand repeat sign. If that is the only repeat sign in sight, it is implied that you go back to the beginning of the song. Final Bar Lines At the end of a song, a double bar line with a thicker outside line indicates a full stop.