Traditional Notation Retained by WYSIWYP

Traditional Notation Retained by WYSIWYP

While WYSIWYP re-designs the basics of traditional notation, some elements are retained in the same format. This includes slurs, dynamics, articulations, fingerings, and piano pedal controls. Here is a very brief summary of these and provides the beginner with an indication of what is to come after learning the basics. (At this time, slurs and articulations are not implemented in the Beta version of SNapp.)


A slur tells the musician to play sequential notes with no delay between them. This is best explained with the piano playing model. A note is played by pressing a key on the keyboard at the time of the notehead on the virtual timeline of the staff. It continues until the end of the note tail behind it, when the key is released. The next sequential note is played in the same way. When sequential notes are "slurred", the transition from one note to the next is more continuous. So on a piano, while the key of the first note is released, the key of the second note is pressed simultaneously. On the treble staff, the slur notation is a line in the shape of an arc above the notes that are to be slurred in this manner. On the bass staff, it is below the notes.


Articulations are notations associated with a single note and they provide additional direction on how a note is to be played. They may modify the indicated note duration by extending or reducing the duration. They may also modify the the loudness or softness of a note (i.e. the dynamics). Furthermore, they can be used in combination on the same note and in combination with slurs and dynamics. The articulation symbols are displayed above the corresponding noteheads. Articulations are not often used in sheet music at the beginner level.


Piano fingerings are numbers that are displayed above notes on the treble staff and below notes on the bass staff. These indicate what fingers of the right and left hand are recommended to be used to play the corresponding notes. On the right hand, the thumb is number 1 and the subsequent fingers are numbered 2 to 5. The left hand is the opposite, thus the thumb is number 5. Multiple numbers are displayed for chords which are two or more notes played at the same time. These are very helpful for beginners because changing finger positions during a work can be complicated. With enough practice, these can be ignored by the musician thanks to muscle memory.


There are different notations for indicating how loud or how soft a note a series of notes are played. One type of notation is an abbreviation that describes this element. There are a variety of these, but the most common are those defined by words in Italian. For example:

  • p - "piano" meaning soft

  • pp - "pianissimo" meaning very soft

  • ppp - "pianississimo" meaning extremely soft

  • mp - "mezzo piano" meaning meaning moderately soft, louder than piano

  • f - "forte" meaning loud

  • mf - "mezzo forte" meaning moderately loud

  • ff - "fortissimo" meaning very load

  • fff - "fortississimo" meaning extremely loud

Once one of these is displayed, it remains in effect until changed by a subsequent change in dynamics. For beginners, these symbols are not terribly precise and so the subtleties must be learned over time with instruction and practice.

The other dynamic notation symbols are the "crescendo" and "diminuendo". The crescendo consists of what looks like a mathematical "less than" symbol. This symbol is stretched out on the timeline over a range of notes to indicate they are to be played increasingly louder with each successive note. Similarly, the diminuendo looks like a "greater than" symbol and indicates a series of notes is to be be played increasingly softer.

With WYSIWYP notation, all dynamics are displayed in between the treble and bass staves.

Piano Pedal Controls

The rightmost pedal of the three pedals underneath the piano keyboard controls how long a notes are "sustained" or allowed to continue to sound even without the musician isn't holding down a keyboard key. Releasing the pedal ends the sound of all notes. In WYSIWYP as in traditional notation, there are symbols that show when to press and when to release. The "Ped." symbol means to press the pedal and the asterisk symbol is to release it.