Share this page...

Musical Symbols

Symbols in music have many different shapes and uses.

They are useful because they give us information quickly, without us having to read words.

Symbols which are attached to notes are normally written on the opposite side to the stem. 

These are the symbols you need to know for Grade One Music Theory.

The Tie and the Slur

Ties and slurs look the same, but a tie always joins together two identical notes, and a slur always connects non-identical notes. For more on ties, see Tied Notes.


The two (or more) notes should be played as one note.

tied notes

Slur (or “Legato”)

The two (or more) notes should be played smoothly.


The Accent


Accent. Attack the note with a hard force.



Staccato. Play the note short and detached.


pause under note

Pause (or “fermata”). Hold on to the note for some time longer than real value of the note.

The Crescendo and Decrescendo


Crescendo. Gradually getting louder.


Decrescendo or Diminuendo. Gradually getting quieter.


repeat bar lines

Single repeat bar. Go back to the beginning and repeat everything up to this bar.

repeat bar lines

Double repeat bars. Repeat everything between the two repeat bars.

Symbols Exercises

Point your mouse at the symbols to reveal the answers. (Tap on mobile devices).

What do these symbols mean? Give the name of the symbol (where appropriate) and explain its meaning.

  1. tie
  2. Diminuendo - Grade One Music Theory Exercises
  3. Repeat bars - Grade One Music Theory Exercises
  4. accent
  5. Crescendo - Grade One Music Theory Exercises
  6. Slur - Grade One Music Theory Exercises
  7. Repeat barlines - Grade One Music Theory Exercises
  8. staccato
  9. pause