Understanding musical scores
Understanding musical scores

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Understanding musical scores

Week 1: Understanding the principles of musical scores


Welcome to the course! Over the next four weeks, you will begin to understand how music is written down, what a musical score is and what it does. You will also learn how musicians use and interpret musical scores in their work.

By the end of this course you will understand what music notation does and some aspects of how it works. You will be able to understand more about different types of music and how they are written down, and what that notation means.

This course includes some musical terms which you may not be familiar with. We have produced a glossary of terms [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] which you may find useful. When new musical terms appear they are in bold text, and will have a definition in the glossary.

In the following video, Open University lecturers Catherine Tackley and Naomi Barker tell you a little more about what to expect from this course.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_musical_score_vid_1068.mp4
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Hello. I'm Naomi.
And I'm Catherine.
Welcome to this Open University short course on understanding musical scores.
Here we are at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where we've been recording some films for this course and talking with musicians about how they work with musical scores.
Have you ever seen a musical score in a museum and wondered why it was so important? The object itself may be a tatty pile of paper, or it may be a beautifully bound book. But it has a story to tell. To a musician, a score is a fundamental tool of the trade. It has all the information that they need for learning, rehearsing, performing, and composing pieces of music. But every musician thinks about scores differently. They look at them differently, think about them differently, and work with them in different ways.
Musical scores might seem a bit confusing and mysterious, and you might think that it takes years of training to be able to decipher all the dots and lines. It's certainly true that scores do contain a lot of the information. But you don't necessarily have to be able to read music to be able to understand a little bit about how a musician's used them. Thinking about how musicians make a performance in this way can help you enjoy listening to music in a completely different way. So in this course, we'll be explaining how musicians work with scores, studying scores for different types of music, and discussing them with musicians who use them on a day to day basis.
If you've ever wondered what a conductor does or how an ensemble rehearses, we'll be exploring those questions over the next few weeks. But fundamentally, a musical score needs to be interpreted and turned into sound. We'll be talking to a pianist, a conductor, and some ensemble musicians who will all share their insights into the way in which they use musical scores and turn those dots and lines into the spine-tingling performances that we all enjoy.
We're delighted you can be with us. We really hope you enjoy this course.
End transcript
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We would like to thank the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) for their assistance. RNCM musicians appear by kind permission of the Principal, Professor Linda Merrick.

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