notation: see arithmetic and musical notation.

Common symbols used in modern musical notation.

Written, printed, or other visual representation of music. There are two basic approaches to notating music. Tablature (such as guitar chord diagrams) depicts the actions a performer is to take (in particular, showing where to put the fingers to produce a given sound). Symbolic notation describes the sounds themselves and includes methods that vary from assigning pitches different letters of the alphabet to representing a given combination of notes by a graphic sign. The Western notation system combines rhythmic notation (the appearance of a note indicates its duration) with pitch notation (the line or space on a staff where a note is placed indicates its pitch). Thus, a single symbol shows both pitch and duration, and a string of these symbols notates both melody and rhythm.

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Comparison of the Laban and Benesh systems. (A) Stand with the feet together. (B) Step forward on elipsis

Written recording of dance movements. The earliest notation, in the late 15th century, consisted of letter-symbols. Several attempts were made in later centuries to describe dance steps, but no unified system combined both rhythm and steps until the 1920s, when Rudolf Laban devised his system of Labanotation. In the 1950s, the competing system of Benesh notation, or “choreology,” devised by Rudolf and Joan Benesh, came into use.

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The term notation can refer to:



Written communication

  • Symbol, something that stands for, or suggests, something else



  • Bra-ket notation or Dirac Notation is another representation of probability in quantum mechanics
  • Tensor notation is a general way to represent a gravitational field in general relativity

Typographical conventions

  • Infix notation, the common arithmetic and logical formula notation, such as a+b-c
  • Polish notation or "prefix notation", which places the operator before the operands (arguments), such as + a b
  • Reverse Polish notation or "postfix notation", which places the operator after the operands, such as a b +
  • Numeral systems, notation for writing numbers, including
    • Scientific notation for expressing large and small numbers
    • Sign-value notation, using signs or symbols to represent numbers
    • Positional notation also known as place-value notation, in which each position is related to the next by a multiplier which is called the base of that numeral system
      • Binary notation, a positional notation in base two
      • Octal notation, a positional notation in base eight, used in some computers
      • Decimal notation, a positional notation in base ten
      • Hexadecimal notation, a positional notation in base sixteen, commonly used in computers
      • Sexagesimal notation, an ancient numeral system in base sixty
  • See also Table of mathematical symbols - for general tokens and their definitions

Other systems

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