Unit 31: Music Notation
This unit is written with non-readers of music in mind. Although it is possible to have a successful career in music performance without learning how to use music notation, there is no doubt that the ability to read music is a useful tool. Bill Bruford, one of the greatest drummers of all time, when asked recently what he would change about his career answered that he would have learned to sight read better which would have given him access to more work.
The unit is underpinned by theoretical knowledge that can be applied to practical situations. An understanding of music notation helps in all aspects of musical activity – listening, performing, composing and arranging. An ability to read music not only facilitates sight reading but also helps to develop critical listening skills and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the musicmaking process. Notation is a useful design tool in the composition process, particularly in the use of computer software packages such as Sibelius. The producer/sound engineer who can read music will communicate on an equal footing with musicians.
Working with a wide range of musical styles, the unit develops an awareness and understanding of different methods of notation, including conventional staff, drum, graphic and tablature notation. It includes both theoretical and practical work and develops skills in the interpretation and use of notation and the ability to use appropriate musical vocabulary. On completion of this unit, learners will be able to follow different types of scores using various systems of music notation. They will be able to read and write music using conventional staff notation. They will learn how chords work and understand the different ways in which they are transcribed.