In this series of posts we explore musicality: what it means to be “musical”.
Imagine not knowing how to read or write music notation. Maybe you don’t need to imagine? You look at notated sheets of music in front of you in utter confusion. The hundreds of little marks, circles, and lines seem to be from a language out of this world. Yet each of these notes, each mark, indicates a musical note, a rhythm, or chord. You want to write your own incredible music to share with the world, but you don’t know where to start. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Learning how to read and write music notation is a key skill in musicality. When you can write your own music, not only can you express yourself musically, you can share your musical ideas with other musicians. Today you can even share your original music with people all the way around the world. But to do this, you need to be able to write music notation.
What is Written Notation?
Centuries ago musicians began roughly sketching images to mean pitch and rhythm. The first music scores often were ornate but left much in terms of knowing exactly what the original composer wanted. Shapes like ovals or diamonds meant pitches, while embellishments like lines and flags roughly indicated rhythm. Over the years, music notation evolved considerably and become more formalised.
Today a musician can work on musicality and write music using technology with programs like Finale and various apps that generate scores using MIDI. Music notation has evolved, and includes everything from notes and rhythm to dynamics, musical expression, and extended instrument techniques. Use of “graphic notation” includes using nonmusical symbols and signs to represent extended techniques.
Why Is It Important to Learn Music Notation?
Developing your musicality in music notation means that when you have a musical idea, you are able to write it down yourself. Not only can you write down your ideas, you can quickly play any sheet music set before you, allowing a true collaboration of sound and music. With the Internet, musicians all over the world have posted their music online, and you can take your musical skills in writing notation to the next level by sharing a new song idea with thousands of other enthusiastic artists. Perhaps you’ll find the perfect band to perform your new creation – all over the world!
Writing music also makes you much more marketable as a musician. When you can write your ideas down on paper, it makes it easier to gain meaningful work writing music for bands, songwriters, corporate clients, and even music educators. Many creative individuals know how to sing a tune or have music ideas floating in their heads but because they can’t write down their ideas, they will hire you write it down for them. When you are paired up with a lyricist or songwriter who can’t write music notation, your value lies in recording their ideas on paper and bringing the tunes to life.
Learning to write music notation also gives you a deep familiarity with the symbolic representation of music which helps you connect with the music theory and underlying structures that make music “work”. The sounds your ears perceive start to gain a structure and a meaning that you simply couldn’t comprehend without knowing the notated equivalent.
How You Can Learn to Write Notation
Writing music, like any musical skill, involves practice. The first steps to writing music and developing your overall musicality in this skill involves learning basic music theory like rhythm, the treble and bass clef, the staff, and dynamics. You can practice writing music for yourself any time you develop your music theory skills.
Learn how to write music notation with simple music theory exercises. For example try writing a short ten-measure solo for your instrument. Practice writing down a melody you know, then writing it with different rhythms. Or transcribe melodies that you hear on the radio each day. You can use helpful programs online like Noteflight, Finale Notepad, or Musescore to check your work and develop your skills using current technology. Even programs like Pro Tools, Logic, and Garageband include music notation options to create scores and read music as you produce your tunes.
With modern notation software you can go quite far teaching yourself, just by experimenting with different notation and the synthesised sounds it creates. Formal instruction with a music educator, your piano teacher, online music courses, or at a university can help you develop your notation skills faster. Having some kind of seasoned professional guide you through your journey is valuable. You might find that starting a mentoring relationship with an established composer or songwriter is a helpful way to develop your music writing skills.
How Musical U Helps you Write Notation
At Musical U we focus strongly on helping musicians develop their musicianship, with intuitive exercises designed to help musicians learn how to read and write music, develop ear training and singing, and more.
Although we don’t teach the fundamentals of music theory and how notation works, we do specialise in filling in the more challenging part: connecting that theory with the sounds you actually hear in music.
At Musical U you will find helpful musical exercises that will help you learn to notate rhythms you hear, and work on popular chord progressions, developing your skills with simple examples of notation and audio. You can work on dictation and ear training to learn how to master music notation.
Our exercises on intervals, chords, harmony, rhythm, and melody will help you develop the key skills you need to write music like a professional. And our engaging staff and helpful online community of musicians are more than happy to help you with tips and tricks along the way.
Throughout our music modules we take a holistic approach to your musicality, helping you to connect specific skills with the bigger picture of making you an outstanding performer and songwriter.
Musicality Means….Writing Notation
Take the first steps today to develop your musicality and write music notation. You will have fun learning how to express yourself and share your musical ideas with musicians around the globe, and becoming a more skilful and employable artist.
Learning how to write notation can be difficult without having prior experience, but the reality is that you can learn this skill, and it is much easier than you have ever imagined. Writing music can be fun if you take the right approach and you have good training resources and expert help. Add written music notation to your toolkit and discover a whole new way to let your inner musicality shine!
Want to become more musical?
Whether you want to sing in tune, play by ear, improvise, write your own songs, perform more confidently or just make faster progress, first you need to know where you're starting from.
The Musicality Checklist will quickly reveal your personal musicality profile and how you can improve your natural musicianship.
Available FREE today!
Musical U provides in-depth training modules, an easy-to-use personalised planning system, a friendly and supportive community, and access to expert help whenever you need it.