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Essential Dictionary of Music Notation: Pocket Size Book (Essential Dictionary Series) Paperback – October 1, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Essential Dictionary Series
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred Music (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882847309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882847306
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.5 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a useful, short dictionary, probably worth its modest price.

It is by no means a complete reference work on music notation. Instead, it covers most of the basics, and also a more-or-less random, small selection of less basic topics. This is not a guide for reading music; it is a handbook for people preparing notated scores and parts, whether by hand or by computer. It is unlikely to answer all the questions that would come up in notating any reasonably complicated piece of music. It will suffice, however, to notate a simple piece professionally, in either classical or pop/jazz style.

All of the entries accurately describe standard notational practice. Precise guidance is often given as to exact positioning and size, e.g. whether a given articulation is centered on a note stem or a note head, what angle of beam to use for different intervals, and where to place dots. The sections on topics like meter, rests, slurs, and ties are lucid and thorough.

On the other hand, precise guidance is often absent. For example, correct notation of the treble and bass clefs requires knowing that they are also, respectively, a "G" and an "F" clef, and should be positioned in a specific way to mark those pitches. The entry on "glissando" fails to explain how to notate the precise rhythm of a glissando (in the sense of its duration, and at what point in the measure it ends). The positioning of accidentals in chords of more than 3 notes is explained ambiguously, but not illustrated. No guidance at all is given on how to notate an interval of an altered unison (e.g., a B-flat/B-natural pairing.)

Little guidance at all is given on notating wind or percussion parts.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
About 95% of everything you need to know about the mechanics of score writing are in this book. If you score on computer, much of this is taken care of for you, but as you create final versions you want 'correct', this book is essential for the many manual placement items as well as stylistically being clear to the modern musician. I wish I'd had this 10 years ago.
I read this book from cover to cover and learned a lot. It is brief, to-the-point, and doesn't get distracted by addressing theory or orchestration. It's about the notation, pure and simple.
The book is small -- fits into your pocket easily. My single complaint is that the binding is rather cheap. I expect sooner or later pages will begin to come loose - an annoyance for a reference text. On the other hand, at under $10, I guess I can afford to just buy another copy.
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By A Customer on November 30, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a handy little book, including many specifics on music notation, well worth the price. While it may not include everything on notation, its convenient format allows quick answers to many questions regarding formal music notation. I am using it in post-grad composition studies as a quick reference. I'd advise it for all music majors, and anyone with an interest in music writing.
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Format: Paperback
The 'Essential Dictionary of Music Notation' is in pocket-dictionary style allowing cross-referencing and easy-to-find explanations alphabetically. The range of topics covered is large and the amount of detail useful. It allows the book to be useful both to beginners and to professionals. It forgets that most computers can automatically layout pages correctly, for example, and that some of the theory is nowadays irrelevant. But this is good, and often useful to know when writing by hand and when editing.
Illustrations depicts the meaning often. For an example, under 'Articulation' it lists the 5 main types of articulation and then divides them into Durational and Forceful. It then tells you in detail what they all do and how they should be written. Although dynamics are obviously listed in this way, the range and detail of the dynamic, I feel, is inadequate.
The book covers traditional notation as well as TAB, and specialist requirements for certain instruments. 351 pages - for the price the dictionary is excellent. Portable and full of information, which can be easily and quickly understood.
However, the authors don't try to make out that this guide is all you need to know. A larger book would be more detailed. This is well worth it!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A bit simplistic it seems. It does not mention the Italian synonyms :
Three terms I sought that were not in the index:
Appoggiatura (grace note) and Acciaccatura (short appoggiatura or multiple grace notes).
"Embellishment" (!) also was *not* in the Index. Granted , "ornaments" was there, but that is aggravating for something called dictionary.
Any recommendation for a real dictionary?
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By kirk on October 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it is a very helpful book for music majors, non majors or just anyone who likes to write compositions.
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Format: Paperback
It's a great tool for students learning basic music theory, or someone learning how to play an instrument and/or how to read music, but it does lack a bit for those already familiar with basic notation. Most parts are described fairly well and there are plenty of visuals to help supplement the text in most cases, but the book doesn't dive deep enough at times and doesn't always cover everything it shows in the visuals (like some reviews have mentioned below), so it won't be the most-useful tool for people already knowledgeable in notation from their experiences with reading music or creating music, but it is good at covering the basics of notation for those with little to no experience.
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