From Neumes to Notes: The Evolution of Music Notation

Type of Submission

Podium Presentation

Campus Venue

Dixon Ministry Center, Room 162


Cedarville, OH

Start Date

4-10-2013 4:00 PM

End Date

4-10-2013 4:20 PM



Today's culture often scorns the ancestors of an innovation and praises the final result; however, new does not denote superior. Music notation serves as one example of an innovation that is both lauded and derided. Early forms of music notation appear vague and ambiguous according to modem standards. But when combined with oral traditions, early music notation contained all the information required for a successful performance. Most facts pertaining to the notation of each period are clear, but multiple interpretations of early notation exist. The objective of this research is to critically analyze key periods of Western music notation to formulate a model for the evaluation of early notation. The research methodology consists of engaging primary and secondary sources from historical documents. These sources include scores, early musical treatises, and contemporary interpretations. The concluded model asserts that early music notation seems insufficient, imprecise, and indefinite when compared to contemporary forms, but early notation cannot be removed from the context it served or evaluated through the scope of modern requirements. From the origin of neumes In the ninth century to the rhythmic developments of the Ars Nova period in the 14th-century, the evolution of music notation progressed as a series of innovations that worked alongside oral traditions to meet the musical demands of each period.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Apr 10th, 4:00 PM Apr 10th, 4:20 PM

From Neumes to Notes: The Evolution of Music Notation

Cedarville, OH