Thursday, March 3, 2016

Intro to Writing Music: How To Read Music, Day 2!


Welcome to Day 2 of learning how to read music in order to write your own! In this second day, we will dig a little deeper into some musical terms and ideas that you will need to know to be able to read music. Here is a link to Day 1, in case you missed it, where I cover the letter names of the white notes on the piano and the grouping of the black notes.



Ok, lets get right to it!
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The Staff and Clefs:

In music, the notes are written are a staff, which consists of five parallel lines (see photo) with four spaces in between. Each note on the staff corresponds to particular key/pitch on the piano. You must consider both the lines and the spaces to read music!


Notice that the notes can written “on the line,” meaning that the line goes through the note head (circle part of the note), as well as “in the spaces,” meaning that the note head is in-between two lines—in the “space” between them (See Photo).


There are two clefs that are commonly used in music, and are used in playing the piano, and these are placed at the beginning of a staff. What is a clef? A clef is a musical symbol that tells you what area of the piano (low or high) the notes a written/what keys should be pressed on the instrument.

The Treble Clef, pronounced like the word “trouble” but with an e “eh” sound, also called the G clef (we will get back to why in a later section) – this clef is used for all of the high notes from C4 (middle C) and higher (to the right) on the piano!


The Bass Clef, pronounced “base,” not the fish, is also called the F Clef (we will come back to this idea later) denotes that you are using the lower notes, from the bottom of the piano to C4 (middle C).


If we stack two staffs on top of each other with a little gap in-between, with the Treble Clef in the top staff and the Bass Clef in the bottom staff, we get what is called the “Grand Staff.” In this Grand Staff, we can write all of the notes/keys that can be played on a piano (88 total)!


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Why is Middle C (C4) special?

Remember that I said that Middle C (C4) was special, back on Day 1? It is special because the note is written between the two clefs in the gap in the middle. Middle C is also special because it is frequently seen written in both Treble Clef and Bass Clef! See the image below:


Please note that middle C has a little line (called a ledger line) going through the middle of the note head, regardless of if it is written in the Treble or Bass Clef. This makes this note/pitch distinct and memorable!
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Reading Your First Notes!


This photo shows the notes above and below 
Middle C (C4) on the Piano

Just like the musical alphabet where the letters occur in alphabetical order as you play the white keys in a row (this is called step-wise motion), notes on the staff also keep alphabetical order, as the notes move in succession upward from line note to space note to line note to space note, etc… see photo!

Shown above, from left to right, are the notes: 
Middle C, D, E and F. 


When the notes go higher on the staff (as seen above, moving right on the piano), they go up in pitch, however, if the notes go down the staff, then the pitch also becomes lower (moving left on the piano).

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This is where we will stop for Day 2 of our “How to Read Music” article series. I will be back tomorrow, Friday, with Day 3. Not a bad start to learning how to read music, you now can read your first four notes! Be sure to come back tomorrow, when we will jump into reading all the notes of the Treble Clef! 

Thank you so much reading this article series, I hope you have found it to be interesting and informative. I am so excited to share my passion for creative activities in music, but we must take it one step at a time. As always, have a fantastic creative day, and I will see you tomorrow with Day 3!

—Charles

Read Day 3 Here

PS. If you have any questions regarding the information provided in this article or would like clarification for any of the above ideas, please do not hesitate to ask questions in the comment section below! I am happy to answer all of your questions!  
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