Notation General NG

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  Notation.  A visual analogue of musical sound, either as a record of sound heard or imagined, or as a set of visual instructions for performers. This article includes a discussion of notation in society (§II), subdivided into its primary types, which are considered with reference to various notational systems. Other specialized aspects of notation are considered in separate entries: Braille notation;  Cheironomy; Ekphonetic notation; Pitch nomenclature; Shape-note hymnody; Solmization; Tablature; and Tonic Sol-fa. For non- Western notational systems see , in particular, China, §§II, IV;  Indonesia; and Japan, §III, 4. Other related entries on technical subjects include Conducting; Improvisation; Mode; Psychology of music; Scale; and Tuning.  Whereas Western notation is considered as such in §III, a discussion of musical documents as sources  –  their physical make-up and production, their format, the layout and presentation of the music, the ordering of their contents  –  will be found in Sources, MS; Sources of instrumental ensemble music to 1630; Sources of keyboard music to 1660; and Sources of lute music; in these entries reference is made to notations, and the descriptions of individual sources contain statements on notational types. See also   Accidental; Clef ; Continuo; Note values; Ornaments; Proportional notation; Rest; Score; Staff ; and definitions of individual notational terms. I. General II. Notational systems III. History of Western notation. IAN D. BENT/DAVID W. HUGHES, ROBERT C. PROVINE, RICHARD RASTALL (I  – II, with ANNE KILMER I, 2), DAVID HILEY, JANKA SZENDREI (III, 1), DAVID HILEY/THOMAS B. PAYNE (III, 2), MARGARET BENT (III, 3), GEOFFREY CHEW/RICHARD RASTALL (III, 4  – 6) I. General 1. Introduction. 2. Chronology. Notation, §I: General  1. Introduction. The concept of notation may be regarded as including formalized systems of signalling between musicians, and systems of memorizing and teaching music with spoken syllables, words or  phrases; the latter are sometimes called ‘oral notations’. The srcins of written notations can often be seen to lie in them; further, they are the natural musical communication systems of non-literate societies and non-literate classes of society. The continent of Africa south of the Sahara, for example, except for the white communities, uses no written notations, but many of its indigenous peoples communicate about music through speech in the form of syllables, word patterns, the numbers of xylophone keys, the names of strings and other technical vocabulary. Even in 11th-century Europe instrumentalists had no notation, and church musicians communicated mainly through syllables and hand signs rather than through the reading of a score in rehearsal or performance. Written notation is a phenomenon of literate social classes. In all societies it has developed only after the formation of a script for language, and it has generally used elements of that script. Some cultures are particularly notation-prone in this sense: China, Korea, Japan and Europe have each accumulated a large number of notational systems to serve different purposes. Others, until the late 19th century, have developed very few, notably the countries of the Middle East (except Turkey), South and South-east Asia. The use of notation and the form it takes are the result of the social and cultural context in which it has been developed. It is socially significant that, while in Western Europe it was vocal music that first acquired a written notation, in Greece, Mesopotamia and Pharaonic Egypt it seems to have been instrumental music. In the latter two cultures, and in later East Asian instrumental notations, the script of language was used as part of the notation; in the former, as in the chant notations of Byzantium and Eastern Europe, of Tibet, Mongolia and Japan, non-linguistic symbols were used and script was required only for sung texts. Furthermore some notations are designed to give all necessary information, others give only a small part of what would be needed by the non-adept. In the latter, the remaining information is withheld either because it is already learnt and therefore unnecessary, or because there is a desire to keep it secret. Broadly speaking, there are two motivations behind the use of notation: the need for a memory aid and the need to communicate.  As a memory aid, it enables the performer to encompass a far greater repertory than he or she could otherwise retain and realize. It may assist the performer’ s memory in music that is already basically known but not necessarily remembered perfectly; it may provide a framework for improvisation; or it may enable the reading of music at sight (this last concept is a predominantly Western one). A written notation provides the means to sketch and draft musical ideas during the composing process. As a means of communication, it preserves music over a long period; it facilitates  performance by those not in contact with the composer; it equips the conductor with a set of spatial symbols by which to obtain certain responses during performance; it presents music as a ‘text’ for study and analysis, and offers the student the means of bringing it to life in his or her mind when no performance is possible; and it serves the theorist as a medium by which to demonstrate musical or acoustical laws. Notation, §I: General  2. Chronology. In trying to see all notations in a single chronological sweep it must be borne in mind that these developments can be seen only in their surviving remnants. A notation preserved as a musical source of a given date may be unrepresentative; a theoretical description of a notation may be ambiguous or inaccurate; a literary allusion to notational practice may take poetic licence or even be fictional. Interpretation of what survives is the first of the difficulties. Filling in the gaps between the survivals is the second, particularly when this involves not merely decades or centuries but millennia. The earliest recognized form of writing by any civilization was the system used by the Mesopotamian civilizations of the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians and others in the Middle East. Its pictographic srcins date from at least the middle of the 4th millennium bce and its developed syllabic-logographic cuneiform system survived into the Hellenistic period and down to the 1st century ce. The hieroglyphic writing of the ancient Egyptians, a mixture of ideographs (pictures representing not merely the objects depicted but also ideas associated with those objects) and phonetic symbols, survived to about 400 ce. It is in connection with these hieroglyphs, carved on the walls of temples and tombs, that the first visual representations of musical sounds may have survived ( see  Cheironomy, §2 and illustrations): certain of the carvings from the Pharaonic period contain scenes of music-making that show what appears to be a system of arm, hand and finger signs by which instructors signalled details of melody and rhythm to performers (Hickmann, RBM  , x, 1956, p.1 and MGG1 ). Moreover, some of the hieroglyphic signs themselves, from the Middle Kingdom ( c  2686  – 2181 bce) and New Kingdom (1567  – 1085 bce), have been interpreted as specific written musical instructions. Cheironomy may also have existed among the Jews by the 2nd millennium bce, and it is probable that some of the signs in the system of biblical accents developed by the Masoretic scholars of Tiberias during the 9th century ce and the early 10th were srcinally based on the cheironomic hand signs used to assist the singer in his chanting (see Cheironomy, §4; Ekphonetic notation, §2; Jewish music, §III, 2(ii)).  From ancient Mesopotamia, there is clear evidence of a system of phonetic notation, that is, descriptive musical instructions that may be viewed as skeletal notations for string instruments. This system is preserved in about 80 Akkadian cuneiform tablets and fragments dating from between 1800 and 500 bce, during which period the system was used consistently. This ‘notation’ is based on a technical Akkadian (and to a lesser extent Sumerian) music terminology that gives individual names to nine musical strings or ‘notes’ and to 14 basic terms describing intervals of the 4th and 5th that were used in tuning string instruments (according to seven heptatonic diatonic scales) and terms for 3rds and 6ths that appear to have been used to fine tune (or temper in some way) the seven notes generated for each scale. The combination of string names and interval terms is used to describe the tuning procedure and the generation of the seven scales, and forms a skeletal phonetic notation or a kind of phonetic instrumental tablature. This system was used in both northern and southern Mesopotamia and has also been found at the ancient site of Ugarit (Ras Shamra, Syria). Tablets from the latter site dating from about 1400 bce include hymn texts written in the Hurrian language followed by the standard Akkadian musical instructions for intervals and scale. Unusually, these tablets have number signs after the interval names; this ‘notational’ system is open to various interpretations, but it seems likely to have been intended for the instrumentalist accompanying the singing. The earliest known alphabetical system of notation (i.e. a system in which each sign represents a single sound, each sound being designated by one sign) is that of Ugarit, which is preserved on clay tablets using unique cuneiform signs to represent 30 letters; it appears to have evolved from cuneiform syllabaries of the mid-2nd millennium bce in Syria-Palestine. The later North-Semitic alphabet of 22 letters, which developed towards the end of the 2nd millennium bce, was the srcin of, among others, the Hebrew and Greek alphabets, both of which emerged in the early centuries of the 1st millennium bce. The first musical notation known to harness the alphabet, with its built-in ordering, to the representation of pitch was the older of the two Greek systems, the so-called ‘instrumental’ notation, which used a mixture of Greek letters and other symbols to represent a continuous diatonic series of notes over three octaves. Each letter or sign appears also rotated on to its side and also in mirror image to represent the diatonic note raised by a quarter-tone and semitone respectively. This notation must have come into existence some time before 500 bce, whereas the ‘vocal’ notation, using the Ionic alphabet, cannot be much earlier than the 5th century bce ( see  Greece, §I, 7 and  Alypius).  An essentially ideographic system of writing existed in China probably by early in the 2nd millennium bce , with each ‘character’
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