How Do We Standardize Musical Notations?

Music is the science of arranging sounds in specific order to create a melody through the components of rhythm, harmony, melody, timing, and timbre in time. It is one of the most universal artistic aspects of all human cultures. Since its invention by the ancient Greeks and Romans in the 2nd century B.C., music has been used for various purposes. Early music, such as that of classical Greece and Egypt, included instruments not intended for musical instrument performance such as cymbals, tambourines, lutes, and sitar. As time passed, with developments in technology, musical instruments became more versatile and lighter in weight, such that they could be used for other purposes such as accompaniment with dance, drama, or spectacle. Today, the entire world is involved in music of one kind or another.


The term “musical” is derived from the Greek word “mous.” Musicians did not solely perform for entertainment purposes but they also used music to express their emotions and to document events in artistic form. Music has evolved significantly through the years, becoming more refined and dramatic. Early on, the typical music was in the form of simple beats and rhythms set against background noise or harmony.

However, in the late twentieth century, with the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll and other new styles of music that were characterized by increased tempo, a new term, “jazz,” was introduced to characterize this style. Jazz came from three musical approaches: classical, counterpoint, and jazz music. Classical music is characterized by smooth rhythmic and melodic progressions, while counterpoint employs sharp, jerky rhythmic sound. Finally, jazz music is an hybrid of the two. Most early music was more simplified, while later works became more complex.

Today, most people write music that contains at least some degree of rhythm. The process of writing music is very different from the one used when the composer was working with a small group of musicians. As a matter of fact, it can be said that the invention of pop music changed the very nature of composition. Pop music, as we know it today, owes its creation to jazz, blues, folk, classical, even punk and new wave. All these genres had one thing in common: they were characterized by a marked departure from traditional forms.

Because of the marked departure from the traditional form of composition, it is no surprise that modern music often expresses conflicting thoughts and ideas. This is further fueling the constant necessity of ensuring consistent, clear, legible musical documentation. In the case of jazz, the evolution of this style of music often diverged from the rhythm of popular music. As a result, some sections of early music often had a rhythmic feel but were characterized by a different timbre.

This can be seen in such classic examples as Ella Fitzgerald and her backing band, or BB King and his band. Both of them had different rhythmic sound but were able to coexist because their musical styles clearly shifted from one another. In this way, it can be said that the evolution of music often changes source and style and consequently the need to standardize musical documentation. This is especially true when it comes to non-traditional forms of artistic expression like rock and roll and pop music.