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Musical Notation II

Code: 100653 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500240 Musicology OB 3 2
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Francesc Xavier Alern Vazquez

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


Minimum musical knowledge equivalent to the Professional Degree of Conservatory. Editing scores with professional applications (preferably Finale or Sibelius).

It is highly recommended to have previously studied Musical Notation I and to have passed the subjects of musical language.

Objectives and Contextualisation

The subject is intended to provide students the theoretical and practical knowledge required for read, transcribe and play the different systems of musical notation from the 15th and 16th centuries. This subject complements Musical Notation I and has its logical continuation in the optional course Musical notation of the Baroque era.


  • Demonstrate a sufficient level of knowledge of historical and current musical language and theory, including the rudiments of harmony and counterpoint, to be able to correctly approach the study of composition.
  • Developing critical thinking and reasoning and communicating them effectively both in your own and other languages.
  • Know and understand the historical evolution of music, its technical, stylistic, aesthetic and interpretative characteristics from a diachronic perspective.
  • Producing innovative and competitive proposals in research and professional activity.
  • Relate knowledge acquired to musical praxis, working with musicians through the analysis and contextualisation of different repertoires, both related to historical music and to the different manifestations of contemporary music.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must be capable of collecting and interpreting relevant data (usually within their area of study) in order to make statements that reflect social, scientific or ethical relevant issues.
  • Students must be capable of communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.
  • Students must have and understand knowledge of an area of study built on the basis of general secondary education, and while it relies on some advanced textbooks it also includes some aspects coming from the forefront of its field of study.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Acquire fluency of sightreading to practical musical ends.
  2. Apply different models of musical notation in musical praxis.
  3. Be familiar with editions of early music.
  4. Carry out projects with musicological content, preparing a work plan and methodology appropriate to the object and timing of the research.
  5. Discuss musical theory and praxis with musicians.
  6. Identify the main systems of writing in Western music, both vocal and instrumental (10th to 17th centuries).
  7. Identifying the context of the historical processes.
  8. Identifying the main and secondary ideas and expressing them with linguistic correctness.
  9. Integrate knowledge acquired in the production of clear and concise appropriate to the academic and specialist communication.
  10. Make condifent use of vocabulary relative to musical paleography.
  11. Make historical distinctions between the different systems of musical notation.
  12. Produce correct, precise and clear argumental and terminological writing of knowledge acquired, both in the area of musical specialisation and dissemination.
  13. Transcribe the main systems of Western music according to the modern conventions of notation and edition.
  14. Use the appropriate terminology in the construction of an academic text.
  15. Write critical papers on musicology that are planned and organised efficiently.


1. General editorial criteria for the transcription and edition of Renaissance music.

2. White mensural notation from the 15th and 16th centuries.

3. Instrumental tablatures (I): plucked and bowed instruments.

4. Instrumental tablatures (II): keyboard intruments.


The thematic blocks will be developed from theoretical and practical classes in which the musical fragments and pieces proposed in the Virtual Campus will be transcribed to contemporary musical notation. Students will have to satisfactorily solve the exercises that are entrusted as course's tasks. These exercises will be carried out following the standards of historical music editing, will be edited with professional applications (Finale or Sibelius preferably) and will be delivered in paper format on the day and time established.

We recommend a dedication of not less than three hours two days a week as well as the handling of the basic bibliography. The acquisition of the Willi Apel manual The Notation of Polyphonic Music 900-1600, Cambridge: The Mediaeval Academy of America, 1961 (5th ed.) Is highly recommended. (French translation: The Notation of polyphonic music 900 - 1600, Sprimont: Mardaga, 1998).

In the event of confinement, teaching will be adapted to semi-attendance or virtuality. In this case, course exercises must be submitted electronically.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
In-person classes 37.5 1.5 1, 2, 5, 11, 3, 7, 6, 8, 4, 13, 10
Study of the subject's contents 25.5 1.02
Type: Autonomous      
Accomplishment of the exercises of the course 40 1.6 12, 11, 14, 6, 13, 10
Reading the recommended bibliography 20 0.8


A system of continuous evaluation is proposed that will consist of the weighted assessment of the following training activities:

  • Attendance and active participation in class (15% of the final grade).
  • Completion of the course exercises (15% of the final grade).
  • Two partial exams (35% of the final grade each).


Clarifications to the evaluation


  • In order to calculate the final grade of the subject, the two partial exams must be passed independently. Suspended midterm exams must be re-assessed on the resit exam. 
  • In no case will it be possible to pass the subject with the overall exams suspended. If a final grade higher than five (5) is obtained thanks to the course exercise and / or to the participation in class, being the average mark of the examinations inferior to this figure, the subject will be suspended with a four (4) . In short, the subject can be passed with the suspended class activities, but not with the overall exams suspended.
  • If the provisional final mark is suspended due to the qualification of the course exercise, this activity, or its contents, will have to be retaken in the resit exam. Class participation is not recoverable.
  • Extraordinary assignments will not be accepted due to the suspension or non-delivery of the course activity and / or the partial exams in the established time and form.
  • In order to be eligible for recovery, you must have taken both partial exams and obtained a minimum grade point average of three and a half (3.5).
  • Only the suspended contents will be evaluated in the retake exam and a maximum grade of six (6) may be achieved.
  • The day and time of the review of the exams will be communicated through the Virtual Campus. In case of total confinement, a procedure will be established to review the exams by videoconference to all students who request it.
  • Failure to attend or participate in class, even if justified, will result in the loss of 15% of the final grade.
  • No individual examinations will be held outside the assigned day and time for the group-class as a whole, except in cases of force majeure documented.
  • Students who have not carried out any exam or exercice will be considered "non-assessable".


Other clarifications


  • In case of total or partial confinement, a dispatch schedule will be established by videoconference.
  • In the exams, students will only be able to have the essential material to write. Notes, books or mobile phones must be stored in backpacks and there can be nothing in the drawers in the classroom. Otherwise, the exam will be suspended with a zero (0).

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Attendance, active participation and exercicies of the course 30% 24 0.96 1, 2, 12, 5, 11, 3, 14, 7, 6, 8, 4, 9, 15, 13, 10
First partial exam 35% 1.5 0.06 12, 11, 14, 6, 9, 13, 10
Second partial exam 35% 1.5 0.06 12, 11, 14, 6, 9, 13, 10


  • APEL, Willi, The Notation of Polyphonic Music 900-1600, Cambridge (Mass): The Mediaeval Academy of America, 1961 (5a ed.). (Traducció francesa: La Notation de la musique polyphonique, Sprimont: Mardaga, 1998).
  • APEL, Willi, French Secular Music of the Late Fourteenth Century, (Cambridge, 1950).
  • BENT, Margaret, "Notation: 3. Polyphonic mensural notation, c1200 - 1500", Oxford Music Online. Grove Music Online.
  • BUSSE BERGER, Anna Maria,  Mensuration and Proportion Signs. Origins and Evolution, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
  • CALDWEL, John, Editing Early Music, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985 (2a ed. 1995).
  • CHEW, Geoffrey, "Notation: 4. Mensural notation from1500", Oxford Music Online. Grove Music Online.
  • CHEW, Geoffrey, "Notation: 5. Alphabetical , numerical and solmitation notations", Oxford Music Online. Grove Music Online.
  • DEFORD, Ruth I., Tactus, Mensuration, and Rhythm in Renaissance Music, Cambridge UP, 2015.
  • HOULE, George, Meter in Music, 1600 - 1800: Performance, Perception and Notation, Indiana UP, 1987.
  • JACOBS, Charles, Tempo Notation in Renaissance Spain, NY: Institute of Mediaeval Music, 1964.
  • QUEROL, Miquel, Transcripción e interpretación de la polifonía española de los siglos XV y XVI, Comisaría nacional de la música, 1975.
  • VENDRIX, Philippe, "La notation à la Renaissance", a Histoire de la notation du Moyen Âge à la Renaissance, Minerve, 2003.


Recommended software:

- Finale (https://www.finalemusic.com/)

- Sibelius (https://www.avid.com/sibelius)

. Lilypond (http://lilypond.org/index.ca.html)