Why the different form on sheet music?

In some of the print music I use, I sometimes I find the same notes in each of the first four measures. Then I find those same notes, but in 2 measures. Is this to conserve space or should it be played differently? Also,
I seem to recall Josh mentioning “shape” in a lesson. I like to play Killing Floor, and the (I hope this is the correct way to use the term) "Shape is the same, with different notes. In the R&B classic "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch, the same thing occurs. If this is not a “shape” how is this defined?


The only use of shapes I’m familiar with is when playing various scales. There’s a major scale shape, a minor scale shape, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, etc.
I guess if you’re playing a chord progression of triads, that could be considered a shape too.
Anyone, correct me if I’m wrong.

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@cajarmj61 - any chance you could provide images to go with this question? I’m intrigued and would like to help, but I’m not exactly sure as to the problem or how best to approach it.

I think you have the idea about shape correct - the same relationships between notes happening in many different songs = they’re played with the same fingerings on the bass / they are all proportionally the same on the fretboard (even if they don’t all happen on the same frets) = a shape.


Gio you described perfectly what I was talking about, thank you for verification.

I will try to submit an image.


I don’t think I have the skill to forward an image, but I hope this helps clear up my question. I have sheet music for Jimi Hendrix 's “Machine Gun.” On the first page the music is broken down into three measures. On the following couple of pages, the music is broken down into two measures per line. The last few pages return to the three measures per line. Since everything on a page of music has some purpose, I can’t help but wonder why this is so.


I think I can help.
If the music has a different number of bars per line it is usually due to the music that has to fit in those bars.

It’s like writing words. The computer will auto-format the music (or the musician writing the music will format his paper) to fit the music so that it can be read most clearly.

If I write a sentence and I use very long, many-syllabled words, I will only fit a few words on a line of type.
If I use very short words, I can fit a lot of words on one line of type.

Same with music. The reason there are a different number of bars per line is due to the visual formatting of the written music. It has nothing to do with the way the music is played.

When music is formatted nicely, line breaks tend to happen at phrase breaks in the music, but this is not always possible.

Hope that helps!


That really helps. You must have teaching in your background, you really know how to lay it out. My burning question has been answered, thank goodness it doesn’t affect how the music is played.