Music Notes Symbols and general music Notation





Music these days it’s very easy to make thanks to DAW‘s and the Digital music evolution. At some point trough my musical career,  looked like  that i didn’t really know the Music Theory and all the music notes symbols and that i needed to learn them if i wanted to become a better music producer. Well i did it and guess what? It worked pretty good with me. I became much better in creating melodies, and finally, everything started to sound good because as a result,  it all made sense.

Music notation is one of the fundamental thing that you need to know to be able to understand what you are reading. Music notes symbols are a very important  to know. Image having a car but not be able to read street signs. Would you be able to drive properly? Of course not.

At first It was very hard to understand music notes symbols etc.  but with time, dedication and patient i learned a lot of things that i am going to share with you. Therefore i tried to put all the information together in a way that is easy to understand for a beginner or somebody that doesn’t know nothing at all. Before we get into it, i want to explain you why music notes symbols are known and been invented.


Since the digital come to change the music, back in the days, even before producers started recording music, the only way somebody could  read music, was trough music notes symbols.

Music notes symbols helped the develop of a system in which musicians, could communicate with each other and with the composer. Thanks to this system, the composer could give the musicians all the information that they needed to play.

In this page we will talk about the main music notes symbols and notation. To give you an idea of what we will cover here’s a preview:



Staff: lines and spaces

The staff is basically the lines on which you can write music on. I am sure you have already seen it before. The staff contains 5 lines and 4 spaces between them.


Staff can be found in different types for different Clefs. It may sounds confusing, keep reading and you’ll know what i mean.

We have different Clefs;

Treble Clef, Bass Clef and C clef.

 treble clef

Treble clef

Bass clef

C clef

Treble Staff.

If the Staff begins with the Treble Clef, the Staff will be Treble Stuff. The first note on the Treble Staff is called “E”. All the rest of the lines and spaces in between follow the rest of the Music Alphabet. A good way to remember the names of the lines,  is remembering the phrase Every Guitar Brakes Down Friday. The names of the spaces are easy, just remember the word FACE

Treble Staff. Lines and Spaces note names

Bass Staff

If the Staff begins with the Bass Clef, the Staff will be Bass Staff. It uses the same alphabet as the Treble but just in different order. It starts at the bottom line with a “G”.

Bass Staff. Lines and Spaces Note names

C Clef Staff

 c clef staff

C clef staff: each position is a different tone.

The “C”Clef can move either up and down onto the Staff. For each position, there is a specific name (look photo). This clef is not much used generally. The note next to the Clef, sits always in the middle of it. Finally The note is always middle C



The grand Staff; Treble and Bass clef.

Sometimes the The Treble and Bass can be combined together. When this happens, both Staff, the Treble and the Bass join creating the Grand Staff. You can notice  the Brace on the left plus the vertical line that connects the two Staff together. The Grand Staff is mostly used for piano music to cover the wide range of audio that the piano gives.


The music alphabet is in ascending order by pitch, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. When looking at the Staff, if we start from the bottom we will have a lower pitch. The higher up we will have our notes, the higher the pitch will be. Each note is represented by little ovals on the Staff. The note position, depending on the Clef corresponds to a letter (A, B, C, D, E, F, G)


Each note has a value which is the duration. Generally we have 5 types of note;

Whole note.

Whole note


Half note.

Half note


Quarter note.

Quarter note


Eight note.

Eight note


Sixteenth note.

Image result for sixteenth note

Sixteenth note

So basically a Half note is half the duration of a Whole note. A Half note is equal to the duration of 2 Quarter notes, so consequence is that a Quarter note has the same length of 2 Eight notes. In conclusion, 2 sixteenth notes are as long as 1 Eight note. This may sounds a bit confusing, looking at the picture will give you a much better idea.

Image result for value of a whole note


An other music note symbol is the Tie and the Slur. The difference is that while Ties connect 2 notes of the same pitch forming a longer note, Slurs connect 2 or more notes of different pitch that need to be played without brake.

Example of Tiies and Slurs



Sometimes we could come across a note that has a dot next to it. The dot is there to tell us that the duration of the note has to be increase by half of its original value.

For example, in a 3/4 Time Signature if a Half note has a dot next to it, it will became an Half note + its half value which is a quarter note.

Examples of dotted notes


The ledger lines are there to extend the Stuff when we need to represents higher or lower notes that can’t fit on the Stuff. Think of them of just extra room of lines and spaces on the Stuff, pretty easy

Example of ledger line on a Bass Staff


Notes are pretty complex and other then learning what types of notes we have we need to learn the music notes symbols that can articulate a note so that we can play it in a certain way. Following i am gonna list the most common and most important music notes symbols of each articulation which are 6;


Tenuto: The musician has to hold the note for its full value.


Fermata: The musician has to hold the note a little longer, not for its full value, but about half of it.


Image result for staccato

Staccato: The musician has to play each note with a “quick attack” way! Play it an go onto the second one in a way that each note appears separate, linear and clearly audible.


Image result for accent music

Accent: The musician has to play the note with a louder accent.


Image result for sforzando

Sforzando: The musician has to play an immediate strong accent.


Image result for marcato

Marcato: The musician has to play the note with a slight accent, without fully accenting the note, in a “quick attack” way.


Other then having music notes symbols for articulations of notes others music note symbols show the dynamic of the song. They guide the musician to play in a certain way following certain dynamic that the song has to be played with.

Dynamic Music note symbol;

Image result for pianissimo

is called PIANISSIMO, the musician has to play really softly.

Dynamic Music note symbol;

Image result for piano symbols

is called PIANO, the musician has to play at a low pitch.

Dynamic Music note symbol;

Image result for mezzo piano

is called MEZZO PIANO, the musician has to play at a mid low pitch.

Dynamic Music note symbol;

Image result for mezzo forte

is called MEZZO FORTE, the musician has to play to a normal audio level, moderately high volume.

Dynamic Music note symbol;

Image result for forte

is called FORTE, the musician has to play with a mid loud volume.

Dynamic Music note symbol;

Image result for fortissimo

is called FORTISSIMO, the musician has to play loud.

These above were the general dynamic for the volume of the playing. Then we have other music notes symbols like


This music note symbol tells the musician to play gradually higher.




This music note symbol tells the musician to play gradually lower.




We have notes, and as a result  we have rests for each different note. Rest are there to indicate to the musician when he has to stop playing. Looking at the photo will make much more sense.

Rests of each note


Image result for measures music

The Staff can be red either  horizontally or vertically. On the vertical section there are the Measures. A Measure is divided in beats. Time Signature is highly related to the Measures (we will get there later). Measures are often numbered to give a guidance to the reader. The end double bars, mark the beginning and the end of a Measure.


Time Signature consists of two numbers. The top number is  to indicate how many beat there are in each Measure. The bottom  number tells us how many beats a Whole note will receive. The most common Time Signature is the 4/4. Time signature is a bit tricky to understand.

example of 4/4 time signature.


Just keep in mind that the top number is your count, if the Time signature is 3/4 your count will be 1,2,3, if the Time Signature is 4/4 your count will be 1,2,3,4.


The bottom number is equal to the value of a Whole note. If we ha a 6/8 Time Signature the number “8” represents the value of a Whole note, so if we put a whole note into a Stuff with the 6/8 Time signature, the Whole note will cover the entire Measure. But what about if we don’t want to use a Whole note? Well,in the same Measure we could divide the Whole Note in  1 Half note and 2 Quarter notes. If this is hard to understand look again the NOTES TYPES AND DURATION paragraph.

Different example of Time Signature


Finally, the tempo of the music is really important to understand because it will be the start point of a song. BPM stands for Beat per Minute. When your BPM or Tempo is set to 90, in one minute we will have 90 pulse. Each music genre has its own tempo, so a Dance song will have a  much higher Tempo then a Country song. When you listen to a song it’s easy to count, it just comes natural, well, that’s the Tempo, easy as that!


I hope you found the answer to your question in this article. Feel free to leave a comment below, in addition SUBSCRIBE on our website or follow us on our FB page Sound Trip to help you became a better producer.