Graphical shapes are often used to express a gradual change in pitch or dynamics. Graphical shapes are also used for instruments that support a sustain pedal.

A crescendo marking can be expressed with two lines beginning from a single point opening up into an angle. The length of the lines depend on how long the crescendo should take effect. A crescendo means to gradually get louder over a marked period of time.

The decrescendo, or diminuendo, has the opposite effect of the crescendo. The two line are angled and converge to a single point. The length of the lines also depends on how long the decrescendo should last. A decrescendo means to gradually get softer over a marked period of time.

A line or a squiggly line may represent a glissando. The beginning of such a line is placed on the right side of the starting note head. The line is extended to the left side of the following note head. A glissando may either go up or downwards. It is played by gilding quickly over a series of notes.

Pedal markings can also be represented with lines taking the form of brackets. The down pedal line is a vertical line that is immediately followed by a horizontal line indicating the pedal to be held. The release pedal is also a vertical line placed after the horizontal line. The up and down pedal is often marked with two diagonal lines.