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Help:Musical symbols

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In writing about music, it is sometimes necessary to use musical symbols within the text, as opposed to a musical example that might interrupt the flow of the text. Some of these needs are answered by Template:Music. For longer examples, use <score> tags as described in Help:Score.


The most common such need is for the flat and sharp symbols; thanks to Unicode and increased bandwidth on the Internet, the lowercase letter "b" and the pound sign "#" are no longer considered acceptable substitutes. However, not everyone has the proper fonts containing these characters. Furthermore, not every font that has these characters has them at the same code points. A font with the Unicode block "Miscellaneous Symbols" has them at 266D and 266F respectively. A font for a scorewriter might have them among the regular alphabet (as Finale does) or in a "Private Use Area" block; and in any case, a proprietary scorewriter might not allow the user to use the font in other programs, such as a Web browser. Future fonts may have these characters outside of Unicode Plane 1 altogether. Use of the Music template solves these problems.

Example: The sonata in B major has a slow movement in G minor.
Source: The sonata in B{{music|b}} major has a slow movement in G{{music|#}} minor.

However, when quoted text uses "-flat" or "-sharp" it might be better to leave that as it is. But if the quoted text is a facsimile of a typewritten manuscript using "b" or "#", it is likely the author meant to use the proper accidental and would have had if they had not been limited by the typewriter. Occasionally the natural sign might be needed, and on rare occasion the double flat and the double sharp. For full details see Template:Music/doc#Accidentals.

Key signatures[edit]

Accidentals are placed at the beginning of a score and each stave/staff to indicate the key of the piece of music, with these being known as key signatures. They are related to the circle of fifths.

Note rhythm and tempo[edit]

Next in likelihood follow the note duration symbols, such as eighth notes. With the music template, one can use either the American or the British names for these notes.

Example: The Presto is marked quarter note = 210, but Steblin believes Beethoven meant eighth note = 210 instead.
Source: The Presto is marked {{music|quarter}} = 210, but Steblin believes Beethoven meant {{music|quaver}} = 210 instead.

For a listing of all the notes available, see Template:Music/doc#Notes and rests.

Time signatures[edit]

Time signatures consist of two numbers, one above indicating the number of beats per measure and one below indicating the value or duration of the grouped beats, placed at the beginning of a score or on each stave/staff that indicates the meter or rhythmic structure of the piece. Thus 4
 (source: {{music|time|4|4}} ) indicates that each measure has four quarter notes.

Scale degrees[edit]

For scale degrees, one could use the Music template or take advantage of LaTeX support. The only problem with LaTeX is that it really is meant more for mathematics than for musicology.

Example: The scale degree 4 shows up even before the transition to the second subject group.
Source: The {{music|sharp}}{{music|scale|4}} shows up even before the transition to the second subject group.
Example: The shows up even before the transition to the second subject group.
Source: The <math>\sharp \hat 4</math> shows up even before the transition to the second subject group.

At this time, using Unicode's combining diacritical marks together with the ASCII numbers can't be relied upon to produce consistent results for all Web browsers.

(For help on mathematical symbols, see Help:Math).

Chord symbols[edit]

There are a variety of methods used to indicate chords by root and chord quality, including methods which specify the inversion and thus the bass note.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]