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Is Sheet Music Necessary For Musicians?

Aug 29, 2008
Sheet music is the written form of music that has all of its notations, chord changes, melodies and harmonies laid out for musicians to play from so that they may stay true to the composer's original vision. While it may be useful for new musicians and for those who play a good deal of classical pieces that require no amount of improvisation, sheet music is not a necessity to many who play other forms of music such as rock and roll or bluegrass since this can be easily learned.

Printed music, it seems, is much less important than it once was. Once, printed musical scores by composers were seen as works of art; praised for their aesthetic value as much as for the composition that was written upon them. Some members of the upper society would pay great sums for the final copies of theses scores willing to go to many great lengths to get them. Even today the originals can fetch an enormous sum if these antique scores come up for sale at an auction house.

Much of today's popular music is still published. It is, however, more for the benefit of the novice musicians and for the general public than it is for more seasoned artists. Many of today's big name artistes will memorize all of their own music. Having to perform in front of live audiences does not allow most of them to have their notes in front of them. The time that they spend in rehearsals, making albums, and by multiple performances allows them to get the songs all memorized with very little trouble.

There are many laypeople who can learn to play musical pieces just by listening to them. This is usually referred to as "playing by ear." This sort of learning is also practiced in many different cultures that place great stock in passing traditional songs and dances on to the next generation. Some examples of this sort of culture can be found all over the world. Many people can recall being small and hearing someone in their family sing a song to sooth them or someone close to them.

There have been many famous composers that have not been able to read a single piece of sheet music. They have, however, created some of the most beautiful and moving pieces in the world. Some examples of these great artistes of our modern times would include Sir Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, and Lionel Bart. Can you imagine where they would have been without the skill to create the wonderful songs that they are responsible for in their heads?

The world of music is not what it is because someone first wrote a few notes on a piece of papyrus or scratched them out on a piece of bark. It is however a much richer world in that we have the treasures that the great composers have left behind that have been able to give us an insight into the creative genius that they have exhibited when composing some of the greatest pieces of music in the history of man.

As to answer the question, "is sheet music necessary for the players?" the answer would be no. But it begs the question, "where would we be if not for the pieces of sheet music left behind by the greats?" It also makes one wonder where we would be culturally if we had no way for the non-talented to be able to learn the more complex pieces out there.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for guitars, drums, keyboards, sheet music, guitar tab, and home theater audio. You can find the best marketplace at these sites for guitars, drums, keyboards, sheet music for beginners, guitar tab, and home theater audio.
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