Musical Dictionary – T


Tablature (or tabulature, or tab for short) is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.

Tablature is common for fretted stringed instruments such as the vihuela, or guitar, as well as many free reed aerophones such as the harmonica. Tablature was common during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and is commonly used in notating rock, pop, folk, ragtime, bluegrass, and blues music.

To distinguish standard musical notation from tablature, the former is usually called “staff notation” or just “notation”.

Example of ‘Guitar Tablature’:
Musical Symbols Ex#2


Time Signature

The time signature (also known as meter signature) is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat.

In a musical score, the time signature appears at the beginning of the piece, as a time symbol or stacked numerals (such as Common Time Signature or Time Signature 3/4) immediately following the key signature (or immediately following the clef if the piece is in C major, A minor, or a modal subset). A mid-score time signature, usually immediately following a barline, indicates a change of meter.

There are various types of time signatures, depending on whether the music follows simple rhythms or involves unusual shifting tempos, including: simple (such as Time Signature 3/4 or Common Time Signature, compound (e.g., 9/8 or 12/8),complex (e.g., 5/4 or 7/8), mixed (e.g., 5/8 & 3/8 or 6/8 or 3/4).

Simple Time Signatures

Simple time signatures consist of two numerals, one stacked above the other:

  • the lower numeral indicates the note value which represents one beat (the “beat unit”);
  • the upper numeral indicates how many such beats there are in a bar.

For instance, Time Signature - 2/4 means two quarter-note (crotchet) beats; Time Signature 3/8 means three eighth-note (quaver) beats.

The most common simple time signatures are Time Signature - 2/4Time Signature 3/4 and Common Time Signature.

Compound Time Signatures

In compound meter, subdivisions of the main beat (the upper number) are split into three, not two, equal parts, so that a dotted note (half again longer than a regular note) becomes the beat unit. Compound time signatures are named as if they were simple time signatures in which the one-third part of the beat unit is the beat, so the top number is commonly 6, 9 or 12 (multiples of 3). The lower number is most commonly an 8 (an eighth-note): as in 9/8 or 12/8.


Treble Clef or G Clef

A clef (French: clef “key”) is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. Placed on one of the lines at the beginning of the staff, it indicates the name and pitch of the notes on that line. This line serves as a reference point by which the names of the notes on any other line or space of the staff may be determined. Only one clef that references a note in a space rather than on a line has ever been used.

Treble Clef or G ClefWhen the G-clef is placed on the second line of the staff, it is called the treble clef. This is the most common clef used today, and the only G-clef still in use. For this reason, the terms G-clef and treble clef are often seen as synonymous. It was formerly also known as the violin clef.[citation needed] The treble clef was historically used to mark a treble, or pre-pubescent, voice part.

Among the instruments that use treble clef are the violin, flutes, oboe, English horn, all clarinets, all saxophones, horn, trumpet, cornet, euphonium (and occasionally baritone), vibraphone, xylophone, Mandolin, and guitar. Treble clef is the upper staff of the grand staff used for harp and keyboard instruments. It is also sometimes used, along with tenor clef, for the highest notes played by bass-clef instruments such as the cello, double bass(which sounds an octave lower), bassoon, and trombone. The viola also sometimes uses treble clef for very high notes. Treble clef is used for the soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, contralto and tenor voices. The tenor voice sounds an octave lower, and is often written using an octave clef (see below) or double-treble clef.