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How to Write Music Musical Orthography   By:

How to Write Music Musical Orthography by Clement A. Harris

First Page:

[ Transcriber's Notes:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation. Some corrections of spelling and punctuation have been made. They are listed at the end of the text.

Italic text has been marked with underscores . ]

How to Write Music

Musical Orthography

By Clement A. Harris Associate of the Royal College of Organists

Edited by Mallinson Randall

New York The H. W. Gray Co. Sole Agents for Novello & Co., Ltd.

Copyright, 1917 BY THE H. W. GRAY CO.

Made in the United States of America


The numbers refer to the Paragraph, not the Page.

Introductory 1

Choice of Paper 2

Scoring 3

Barring 4

Clefs 5

Signatures 6

Notation of Rhythm 8

Placing of Notes 14

Rests 15

Dots 20

Stems 22

Hooks 29

Leger Lines 36

Vocal Music 37

Open Score to Short 41

Short Score to Open 47

Extracting a Single Part from Score 50

Accidentals 51

Legibility 52

Facility 54

Copyright 55

Proof Reading 56

INDEX, Page 53.

How to Write Music


1. It is reasonable to expect that a musician shall be at least an accurate and legible writer as well as a reader of the language of his Art. The immense increase in the amount of music published, and its cheapness, seem rather to have increased than decreased this necessity, for they have vastly multiplied activity in the Art. If they have not intensified the necessity for music writing, they have increased the number of those by whom the necessity is felt.

Intelligent knowledge of Notation is the more necessary inasmuch as music writing is in only a comparatively few cases mere copying. Even when writing from a copy, some alteration is frequently necessary, as will be shown in the following pages, requiring independent knowledge of the subject on the part of the copyist. (See e.g. , par. 28.)

Yet many musicians, thoroughly competent as performers, cannot write a measure of music without bringing a smile to the lips of the initiated.

Many performers will play or sing a note at sight without hesitation, which, asked to write, they will first falter over and then bungle at least by writing it at the wrong octave.

The admirable working of theoretical examination papers is sometimes in ridiculous contrast with the puerility of the writing.

Psychologists would probably say that this was because conceptual action is a higher mental function than perceptual: in other words, that recollection is harder than recognition.

The remedy is simple. Recognition must be developed till it becomes recollection: the writing of music must be taught concurrently with the reading of it.

This was once the case: music writing was a necessary part of a musician's education. One may be the more surprised at its falling into disuse, inasmuch as phonography in the musical sense is a distinctly pleasant occupation. Without being either drawing or writing, it partakes of the nature of both.

But many points in the writing of music are not now considered to form part of the Rudiments of Music, and are not included in primers on the subject.

Hence the following pages.

While containing some matter which may have escaped the attention of more advanced musicians, they should, in an educational course, either be used along with a Primer on the Elements, or immediately follow it... Continue reading book >>

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