Understanding musical scores
Understanding musical scores

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding musical scores

4.1.5 Following the score

Now you have studied the score and marked it up, listen to the music and follow your own score. We’ve also attached our own attempt at marking up the first part of the score as a PDF [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . On this score, red arrows have been used to show the main melody.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: nutcrackercoffee.mp3
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

First, allow your ear to find the different sounds of low strings, clarinets, violins and bassoons in turn and, to start off with, just focus your eyes on a single line – try the clarinet that is playing the melody. Now, listen a second time and focus on following just the music of the low strings with that murmuring accompaniment. Finally, listen one more time, and see if you can bring all the lines together, allowing your eye to jump from the low string accompaniment, to the clarinet melody and then the violins and bassoons playing the melody in turn.

Conductors follow the score too, but in a rather different way to what you have been doing. They have to learn the score so they can give direction to the players before they start to produce a particular sound. In performance, the score then becomes a memory aid, but marked up just as you have done to remind them about key landmarks. However, conductors will be reading, and thinking, several bars ahead of the sounds that they are hearing.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371