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Let’s Talk Shorthand Writing!

February – the month of love…

(Let's talk shorthand!)

…and I thought ‘hang on a string-pickin’ minute – what better way to celebrate than with a whole month’s worth of music as a language (of love)?’

So, we’re here, talking about music, language, love…  This week it’s all about the dots and dashes, the shorthand language of music, and the punctuation we use.

The shorthand notation of music

If you’ve ever studied Pitman shorthand writing (or even tried to decipher it) you’ll know that, to the untrained eye, it’s very confusing indeed. But the crucial thing to know is that the placement of each symbol in regard to the line they’re written on is important.

Even in everyday written English, capital letters and lower case letters can make the two versions of the same word bafflingly different. Gg (Girl vs girl), Qq (Quid vs quid) or Aa (Alpha vs alpha).

Music is no different. We use five lines (staves or staff, if we’re being posh) which are placed closely together. The placement of everything on those lines is absolutely vital. Where the ‘dots’ fall on the lines gives us the precise pitch of the note, while the shape of that dot (filled in, with a hole or with lines poking out) tells us the length (in terms of times of the note).

The punctuation? That’s the semi colons, colons, brackets, full stops, commas etc. These come in the form of squiggles (⨏), arches (𝄐), dots (.), accents (^), sharps (#) (before they were known as hashtags), flats (♭), and naturals (♮)

Unlike in spoken language, where you can take a pause and people will politely wait for you (with luck!), in music there’s only the option: To ‘keep on playing’. Unless you’re playing alone, the clock (metronome) ticks steadily and you have to keep going. We have to convey as much information as possible in the shortest, clearest form possible to our ‘readers’ who are not only reading, but interpreting and translating the language in to sounds on the chosen instrument. This eye to hand co-ordination has to be super quick and there is no room for mis-interpretation of the ‘words’ without falling off the piece.

And just like with shorthanders, stenographers, morse coders or even map readers, with practice music becomes a language which is as clear to you in form as your mother tongue.

What are your experiences of music language?

15% off Speech Lessons all throughout February!

And as Music is the language of love it follows that this month we should focus on music as a language.

SO have 15% off your Music Language (theory) Lessons in February….

To book now, select a 1-hour slot for your personalised, one-to-one, online lesson.

Lesson Need-to-Knows:

  • Choose to have your lesson on Zoom, Skype or Google Meet during booking process.
  • Links will be emailed to you latest the day before the lesson.
  • Please login to the call 5 minutes before the lesson start time (and have a glass of water with you!)
  • Headphones are not necessary but can sometimes help with background noise.
  • Payment required at time of booking. 
  • Suitable for age 10+

Let’s get your singing sizzling!

Hannah x