What is sheet music? Is it a magical piece of writing that only musicians can read and that allow them to play their instruments like experts? No, sheet music is just a form of musical notation, be it written by hand or printed. Normally sheet music is like its other printed kin in that it is usually found printed on paper. Before paper was a readily available medium parchment was the medium of choice. Now in the computer age “ sheet ” music is also readily available online as well. One of the reasons that sheet music is called “ sheet ” is so that it can easily be differentiated from standard music which is a presentation.
When used in everyday language the term sheet music simply refers to a printed piece of music whether it be intended for use on a show, an album, or for a movie. Another rather generic name for sheet music is score. There are several different of sheet music which can be used in many different ways. Whether it is meant to act as a means to perform a piece of music or is just a record of this music sheet music is not meant to actually replace the performance itself. It is merely intended to be used as a way to help study the music itself so that it can be performed to its utmost.
By doing so musicians can elicit responses from their audiences that would never have been possible had the piece been played straight through. By studying the different sketches and notes that a composer has created before the finished product can help one to understand the creative process that the composer was going through. Some of the notes that may be used for this are the many proofs as well as any marks left behind on printed scores.
There are some special skills that are necessary for reading sheet music. This is the ability to read musical notation. While it is not so for all people to be able to do so the majority must still be able to read thusly. Those who do not have to depend on reading sheet music have the ability to learn a piece of music just by listening to it. This is usually called “playing by ear.” There are very few people who can do this however.
The ability to read and play a piece of sheet music the first time through is called sight reading. This ability is expected of skilled musicians as well as serious beginners who will be playing both classical and contemporary music. There are a few very talented individuals who have the ability to look at a piece of written music and hear all the parts played out in their head. This can be a very handy skill for musicians that are aspiring to write their own pieces.
Sheet music is normally carried to all performances by classical musicians. With so many different movements and key changes it could get extremely difficult trying to memorize a whole symphony. Solo performances however are usually right the opposite. The musician following this route will often memorize the pieces they will be playing. Another form of use would be jazz players. They will often have a basic piece of sheet music. This might indicate chord changes and melodies but will still be able to improvise the piece.