Dodeka Musical Symbols & Meanings

Complete List of Musical Symbols (names, definitions and meanings)

Musical notation can virtually describe every bits and pieces of all musical compositions, from their articulations, rhythm, dynamics to repetitions, tempo and so on. To do so, it uses various symbols, called musical symbols or music symbols.

On this page, you will find the complete list of musical symbols written in Dodeka alternative music notation, including their names, symbols and meanings. Use the content box to quickly and easily find the meanings of all music symbols.

1. Lines

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Staff or stave

The staff is the main structure of the notation. It is where notes and symbols are placed.

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Ledger lines

The ledger lines are used to notate notes and pitches that go further above or below the staff.

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Bar line

Bar lines indicate measures.

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Double bar line

Double bar lines separate two section of music.

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Bold double bar line

The bold double bar line indicates the end of the composition.

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Dotted bar line

Dotted bar lines split complex and long measures into smaller segments to simplify the reading.

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Bracket

The bracket connects two or more staves played simultaneously (usually of different musical instruments).

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Brace

The brace connects two or more staves played simultaneously (usually of piano, keyboard, harp etc.)

2. Clefs

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Starting symbol

In Dodeka chromatic approach, there is no clef on the staff. The pitch range is always the same.

Find out more about Dodeka pitch range here.

3. Notes

The note duration is indicated through horizontal symbols. The reference value is the crotchet (quarter note), which equals 1 beat, and other notes are defined proportionally.

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Half note

The half note equals two crotchets and is represented proportionally (i.e. 2 crotchets).

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Crotchet

The crotchet is the reference value and equals 1 beat.

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Quaver

The quaver equals half a crotchet and is represented proportionally (i.e. half a crotchet).

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Semiquaver

The semiquaver equals half a quaver and is represented proportionally (i.e. half a quaver).

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Demisemiquaver

The Demsemiquaver equals half a semiquaver and is represented proportionally (i.e. half a semiquaver).

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1/4 Quaver

The 1/4 quaver equals a quaver divided by four and is represented proportionally.

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1/4 Semiquaver

The 1/4 semiquaver equals a semiquaver divided by four and is represented proportionally.

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1/4 Demisemiquaver

The 1/4 demisemiquaver equals a demisemiquaver divided by four and is represented proportionally.

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Beamed notes

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Dotted note

Dotted notes are represented by adding one-half of the note duration. The arrow shape indicated that the note should be played accordingly.

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Ghost note

A note with a rhythmic value, but no discernible pitch when played.

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Multi-measure rest

The multi-measure rest indicates resting parts of multiple measures to simplify notation and take less space on the score.

4. Breaks

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Breath mark

The breath mark tells the player to take a slight break.

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Caesura

The caesura indicates a brief and silent pause, during which time is not counted.

5. Time signatures

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Simple time signature

The encircled number represents how many note value appear in each measure, while the bottom note indicates the note value of the basic pulse of music. In this case, the time signature marks that every measure equals three crotchets.

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Compound time signature

The encircled number represents how many subdivisions of the basic pulse in music appear in each measure, while the bottom note indicates the note value of these subdivisions. Usually each beat is composed of three subdivisions. In this case, the time signature marks that every measure equals two dotted crotchets (or six eight notes).

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Common time

This symbol announces that each measure is equals to four crotchets.

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Cut time

This symbol announces that each measure is equals to two half-notes beat per mesure.

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Metronome mark

This symbol defines the tempo of the music by assigning absolute durations to all notes. In this example, the metronome mark defines that 120 crotchets makes exactly one minute.

6. Note relationships

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Tie

The tie indicates that two or more identical notes (same pitch and same length) should be played together as one note of the compound time value.

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Slur

The slur indicates that a series of notes (one or more) should be played without any pause or break.

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Glissando

This symbol tells the player to play every in-between notes from the first note indicated to the last one.

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Tuplet

The tuple indicates a set of notes of irregular time values that should be played within the normal duration of a given number of notes. This example represents three notes played in the normal duration of 1 note.

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Chord

This symbol indicates notes that should be played simultaneously.

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Arpeggio chord

This symbol indicates a chord in which notes have to be played in rapid succession, while sustained in the progression.

7. Dynamics

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Pianississimo

Extremely soft intensity.

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Pianissimo

Very soft intensity.

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Piano

Soft intensity.

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Mezzo piano

Moderately soft intensity.

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Mezzo forte

Moderately loud intensity.

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Forte

Loud intensity.

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Fortissimo

Very loud intensity.

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Fortississimo

Extremely loud intensity.

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Sforzando

Abrupt intensity.

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Crescendo

Gradual increase in volume.

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Decrescendo

Gradual decrease in volume.

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Engage pedal

Tells the player to engage the sustain pedal.

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Release pedal

Tells the player to release the sustain pedal.

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Soft pedal down

Tells the player to engage the soft pedal.

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Soft pedal up

Tells the player to release the soft pedal.

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Sostenuto pedal down

Tells the player to engage the sostenuto pedal.

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Sostenuto pedal up

Tells the player to release the sostenuto pedal.

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Variable pedal marks

This symbol indicates the precise use of the sustain pedal.

8. Repetitions & codas

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Repeat signs

Tells the player to repeat the passage.

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Simile mark

Tells the player to repeat the last measure or last two measures.

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Volta brackets

The volta bracket indicates a passage that has to be play with different endings on different playing.

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Da capo

Tells the player to play the piece from its beginning.

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Da segno

Tells the player to play the piece from the nearest sign (segno).

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Segno

Sign or mark used with Da sego symbol.

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Coda

The coda indicates a forward jump in the piece to its ending passage.

9. Ornaments

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Trill

The trill indicates a rapid alternation between the specified note and the next higher note within the note time value.

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Upper mordent

The upper mordent indicates a rapid alternation between the principal note, the next higher note then the principal note again for the remaining duration.

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Lower mordent

The upper mordent indicates a rapid alternation between the principal note, the below note then the principal note again for the remaining duration.

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Turn

a. Tells the player to play the following pattern: upper auxiliary note, principal note, lower auxiliary note, and return to the principal note.

b. Tells the player to play the following pattern: principal note, upper auxiliary note, lower auxiliary note, and return to principal note.

c. Tells the player to play the following pattern: principal note, lower auxiliary note, upper auxiliary note and return to principal note.

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Appoggiatura

The first half of the principal note's duration has the pitch of the grace note (the first two-thirds if the principal note is a dotted note).

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Acciaccatura

The acciaccatura is of very brief duration, as though brushed on the way to the principal note, which receives virtually all of its notated duration.

10. Articulations

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Staccato

The staccato indicates the player to play the note shorter (usually by half) than notated.

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Staccatissimo

The staccato indicates the player to play the note shorter than notated with a longer silence. It is usually applied to short notes, such as quater notes.

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Accent

The accent indicates the player to play the note louder.

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Tenuto

The tenuto symbol indicates the player to play the note at its full value.

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Marcato

The marcato indicates the player to play the note louder than a note with a regular accent.

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Stopped note

This symbol tells the player to literally mute the note played.

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Snap pizzicato

For stringed instruments, this symbol tells the player to make the string snap against the frame of his instrument by stretching it away.

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Open note

For stringed instruments, this symbol tells the player to play a natural harmonic.

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Pause (Fermata)

The pause indicates a note or chord that is sustained more than its usual value.

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Up bow

On bowed string instrument, the up bow means to play the note with the bow upward.

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Down bow

Opposite of the up bow, this symbol indicates to play the note with the bow downward.

Want more sheet music?

We are working on it! We started the development of the Dodeka Music Library, which seeks to translate as many sheet music as possible into the Dodeka notation. Check out our progress and get early access to the first Dodeka music library.