Have you ever wondered why pianists need page turners? They’re not, after all, the only ones who use both hands to play their instruments. The answer is that piano music goes by too fast: you can only fit half as much music on one page of piano music as you can on one page of music for a non-keyboard instrument. And that’s for the simple reason that in printed piano music, each line of music takes up two lines, one for the left hand one for the right. Each set of two lines together, for left hand and right, is called a “system.” And I should mention that in piano scores for chamber music, you can fit far less than half as much music per page, because the parts for the other instrument or instruments are also included, printed above each system in smaller notes just above the notes for the piano. To give you an example: in the edition of the Brahms Piano Quartet No. 2 that we use in my group, the violin part is 17 pages-long, while the piano score covers 64 pages.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.