Dansm's Musical Notation for Guitar
Symbols Used in Standard Notation
There are many symbols used in standard notation other than notes, and this page will give an outline of them. This should help you understand anything you see in a tab book. Good luck, and make sure you refer to this page any time you don't understand a symbol in a tab book.
Term Symbol Meaning
dansm
accent The top symbol means play the note loud but staccato.
The bottom symbol means play the normal note length loudly.
dansm
crescendo Increase in volume for the duration of the crescendo symbol.
dansm
coda See my page on codas.
dansm
decrescendo Decrease in volume for the duration of the decrescendo symbol.
dansm
hold Called a fermata in Italian, this means you should hold the note until you feel like stopping.
dansm
grace note An extremely brief note which happens slightly before the beat and is not counted in the timing of the measure.
dansm
ottava Play the notes one octave higher than written for the duration of the ottava symbol. Ottava means "octave" in Italian.
dansm
ottava bassa Play the notes one octave lower than written for the duration of the ottava bassa symbol. Ottava bassa means "octave lower" in Italian.
dansm
repeat See my page on repeats.
dansm
ritard Decrease the tempo.
dansm
staccato Play this note short (specifically, play this note for one-half its normal length).
dansm
tie Two notes connected by a tie should be played so there is no break between them. Basically, you add the note values together and play a single note.
dansm
trill Trill the notes for the duration of the symbol.
dansm
triplet Fit the three notes under the symbol into two normal notes. For example, if there are 3 quarter notes, play them in two quarter note beats; and if there are three eighth notes, play them in two eighth note beats.
dansm
vibrato Play this note using vibrato for the duration of the symbol.
dansm


Back to Dansm's Musical Notation for Guitar
You are visitor number since 6-22-97
1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 7-21-97