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Music notation discrepancies

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by pathalogical, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. I have two printed versions of Rush's Limelight; Guitar for the Practicing Musician May 1985 isssue (yes, I have dozens of these magazines !) and, more recently, Rush Deluxe Bass Tab Collection 1975-2007 by Alfred Publishing. Both show notes and tabs. Putting these two versions side by side, they are written/transcribed differently.

    Alfred shows a key sig of E, GftPM shows B.
    Both show time sig of 7/4 when bass enters, but when lyrics start;
    Alfred show 3/4, GftPM shows 6/4.

    There are notes shown in Alfred that GftPM doesn't show and vice versa. These differences in notation is consistent throughout the two versions. The recorded song is the same no matter who listens to it. I've noticed this in other printed material. So, who's right ? Who's wrong ?
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    That's a perfect illustration of more than one way of skinning a cat. It's up to the transcriber to decide how he/she wants to notate things. The key is that the end result be the same.
  3. Who is right/wrong? You are probably best positioned to determine that for yourself. The difference between 3/4 and 6/4 is just one of notation, as two bars of 3/4 equal one bar of 6/4.

    But that actual note differences you will have to resolve yourself by ear. Could be that Geddy doesn't actually perfectly repeat his part, and one transcription grabs his line from one portion of the song, and the other grabs it from a different portion of the song. Also some notes might be quite ghosty, and one transcriber decided to include them but the other did not. Just to let you know there is some gray area where they might both be equally "right" and neither is completely exactly correct.
  4. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    Congratulations, you've just discovered what is perhaps the most difficult thing for a young musician to get their head around about standard musical notation:

    Notes on a page aren't the music.

    They're a recipe for making music.

    You could have a recipe for pasta sauce that uses whole tomatoes, and another recipe for pasta sauce that uses diced tomatoes...both recipes would yield pasta sauce. Potentially both recipes could yield pasta sauce that tasted identical.

    The whole point of musical notation is to give a musician or group of musicians the information they need to perform the necessary gestures on their instrument(s) so that the resulting sound will be recognizeable as a particular specific identity. And in many musical instaces, there's (edit: as elgecko noted above) more than one way to skin a cat.

    Now, there may be very legitimate reasons why a composer will choose a specific way to notate a particular passage, and if an alternate notation were suggested the performer could be missing critical insight into how best to express that passage. So in some instances there very definitely are "right" and "wrong" ways to notate a musical composition.

    But not all.
  5. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011

    here's an example of the "there may be very legitimate reasons why a composer will choose a specific way to notate a particular passage" thing I was referring to above.

    In some cases yes, two bars of 3/4 equal one bar of 6/4.

    But in many cases -- arguably most of them -- they are not the same because of the implicit pattern of strong and weak beats conveyed by those meters.

    Two bars of 3/4 usually suggests a stress pattern of "Strong-weak-weak, Strong-weak-weak" ...whereas one bar of 6/4 usually suggests a stress pattern of "Strong-weak Strong-weak Strong-weak"

  6. Also it's not unusual to put out sheet music in a different key from a recording, since some keys may be more difficult than others (with some instruments or vocal ranges). E Major tends to be an easier key than B Major. I have an old 'Beatles Complete' songbook with many handwritten notations I had to add, like "capo: 4th fret", or "original key:B", etc. It's all part of the territory.