score, in musical notation, manuscript or printed music in which the various parts are placed one above the other so that notes that are to be played simultaneously are in vertical alignment. Early polyphony was notated in score until the early 13th cent., when choir books, in which the parts were written out separately one after another, came into use. Part books, with a separate book for each part, were employed in the 16th and 17th cent. With the rise of opera music around the beginning of the 17th cent., the modern score came into being, with bar lines scored from top to bottom through all the staffs. A full score is one such as an orchestral conductor uses, in which each part is on a separate staff, while in a condensed score two or more parts are written on a single staff. Full scores are also printed in miniature pocket editions. In a vocal score or piano-vocal score of an opera or a choral work, the vocal parts are written out in full but the accompaniment is reduced to two staffs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.