Dynamics are markings that denote the present intensity in a piece.
When writing dynamics there are certain rules to follow depending on what kind of music it is.
Writing on the staff
- Instrumental music- dynamics are placed beneath the staff. The only exception is if there is absolutely no space below the staff so the dynamic will be allowed to be written above the staff.
- Vocal music- to avoid confusion with the text (which is written below the staff) dynamics go above the staff.
- Piano scores- If markings are to apply to both staves, the dynamic goes in between the staves. If it applies to the top staff, the dynamic goes just above and if it applies to the bottom staff the dynamic goes just below the staff.
- Dynamics should never be placed on the staff.
Writing on the staff
- Should always one octave length on single notes.
- On a staff that contains only a single melodic line, stems go down when they are on the middle line or above and stems go up on notes below the middle line.
- When notes are on ledger lines, the stems should reach the middle line.
- When beaming notes that are on either side of the middle line, the stems go in the direction of whichever note is farthest from the middle line.
- Stems need to be modified when beaming so the beam does not cross no more than one space or line.
- When two melodies are on the same staff, the stems for one melody should be up and the other melody should go down.
- Any notes that need to be beamed should be beamed according to the beats in a measure. For example, eight notes in 3/4 are beamed into groups of two.
- In compound meter, be sure to show the groupings of three.
- Connect no more that six notes by beams unless they are a part of one beat.
- In vocal music, flagged music is often used when one syllable is paired with one note.
- Irregular divisions need to be indicated by an Arabic numeral. For example, when you see a triplet there is a 3 written by it.
- The whole rest can be used to indicate a full measure of rest in any meter but a whole note CANNOT indicate a full measure of one note in all meters because it has a designated note value of four beats.
- Use two quarter rests rather than a half rest in 3/4 to show the main pulses more clearly.
- Sometimes in chords, there are two notes written adjacently on a line or space. In this case, the higher of the two always goes to the right no matter the direction of the stem.
- When a dotted note is on a line, the dot goes slightly above the line. This also applies to chords. When two melodies are on the same line, the dots are below the line on the notes with stems down.