Sheet Music

Modern sheet music comes in many different formats including the recent invention of digital sheet music (often downloadable in the .PDF Portable Digital Format) and it can be argued that at least in the Western world what was known as printed music is now moving away from the paper format. Sheet music is different to Tablature (aka Tab or Tabulature) is a form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play.

If a piece is composed for just one instrument / voice (such as a piano or an a cappella song), the whole work may be written or printed as a piece of sheet music. If an instrumental piece is intended to be performed by more than one person, each performer will usually have a separate piece of sheet music, called a part, to play from. This is especially the case in the publication of works requiring more than four or so performers, though invariably a full score is published as well. The sung parts in a vocal work are not usually issued separately today, although this was historically the case, especially before music printing made sheet music widely available.

Sheet music can be issued as individual pieces or works (eg a popular song or a Mozart sonata), in collections (eg example works by one or several composers), as pieces performed by a certain artist etc.

When the separate instrumental and vocal parts of a musical work are printed together, the resulting sheet music is called a score. Conventionally, a score consists of musical notation with each instrumental or vocal part in vertical alignment (meaning that concurrent events in the notation for each part are orthographically arranged). The term score has also been used to refer to sheet music written for only one performer. The distinction between score and part applies when there is more than one part needed for performance.

Scores come in various formats:

o A full score is a book showing the music of all instruments and voices in a composition lined up in a fixed order. It is large enough for a conductor to be able to read it while conducting rehearsals and performances.

o A miniature score is like a full score but reduced in size. It is too small for practical use but handy for studying a piece of music, whether for a large ensemble or a solo performer. A miniature score may contain some introductory remarks.

o A study score is sometimes the same size as (and often indistinguishable from) a miniature score, except in name. Some study scores are octavo size and are thus somewhere between full and miniature score sizes. A study score, especially when part of an anthology for academic study, may include extra comments about the music and markings for learning purposes.

o A piano score (aka piano reduction) is a more or less literal transcription for piano of a piece intended for many performing parts, especially orchestral works; this can include purely instrumental sections within large vocal works (see vocal score below). Such arrangements are made for either piano solo (two hands) or piano duet (one or two pianos, four hands). Extra small staves are sometimes added at certain points in piano scores for two hands in order to make the presentation more complete, though it is usually impractical or impossible to include them while playing. As with vocal score s (below), it takes considerable skill to reduce an orchestral score to such smaller forces because the reduction needs to be not only playable on the keyboard but also thorough enough in its presentation of the intended harmonies, textures, figurations, etc. Sometimes markings are included to show which instruments are playing at given points.

While piano scores are usually not meant for performance outside of study and pleasure (Liszt's concert transcriptions of Beethoven's symphonies being a notable exception), ballets get the most benefit most from piano scores because with one or two pianists they allow unlimited rehearsal before the orchestra is absolutely needed. They can be used also to train conductors. Piano scores of operas do not include separate staves for the vocal parts, but they may add the lyrics and stage directions above the music.

o A vocal score (aka piano-vocal score) is a reduction of the full score of a vocal work (eg opera, musical, oratorio, cantata etc.) to show the vocal parts (solo and choral) on their staves and the orchestral parts in a piano reduction (usually for two hands) underneath the vocal parts; the purely orchestral sections of the score are also reduced for piano. If a portion of the work is a cappella, a piano reduction of the vocal parts is often added to aid in rehearsal (this often is the case with a cappella religious sheet music). While not meant for performance, vocal scores serve as a convenient way for vocal soloists and choristers to learn the music and rehearse separately from the instrumental ensemble. The vocal score of a musical typically does not include the spoken dialogue, except for cues.

o The related (but less common) choral score contains the choral parts with no accompaniment.

o The comparable organ score exists as well, usually in association with church music for voices and orchestra, such as arrangements of Handel's Messiah. It is like the piano-vocal score in that it includes staves for the vocal parts and reduces the orchestral parts to be performed by one person. Unlike the vocal score, the organ score is sometimes intended by the arranger to substitute for the orchestra in performance if necessary.

o A collection of songs from a given musical is usually printed under the label vocal selections. This is different from the vocal score from the same show in that it does not present the complete music, and the piano accompaniment usually is simplified and includes the melody line.

o A short score is a reduction of a work for many instruments to just a few staves. Rather than composing directly in full score, many composers work out some type of short score while they are composing and later expand the complete orchestration. (For example, an opera may be written first in a short score, then in full score, and then reduced to a vocal score for rehearsal.) Short scores are often not published; they may be more common for some performance venues (eg by bands) than in others.

o A lead sheet details only the melody, lyrics and harmony, using one staff with chord symbols placed above and lyrics below. It is commonly used in pop music to capture the essential elements of song without specifying how the song should be arranged or performed.

o A chord chart or "chart" contains little or no melodic information at all but provides detailed harmonic and rhythmic information. This is the most common kind of written music used by professional session musicians playing jazz or other forms of popular music and is intended primarily for the rhythm section (usually containing the piano, guitar, bass and drums).

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sheet Music".