How To Read Sheet Music 7 Easy Lessons PDF

How To Read Music 7 Easy Lessons

Fortunately, the system of musical notation divides into two clear parts: a way of indicating rhythm (how long the different tones last) and a way of indicating pitch (how high or low the different tones are).

I say “fortunately” because this permits us to study each part separately so that we can deal with simple things at the start.

We shall begin with the notation of rhythms because the system used is so straightforward and easy to learn that anyone can pick it up in a few hours.

With the toe of your foot, tap steadily four beats or pulses, at about the speed of a military march, over and over again, like this:

ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four, Make the ONE heavier than the other three beats each time. not slower, mind you, because they must be equal in time and speed, just heavier or more forceful so that you feel where each group of four begins.

Now while you keep up the steady tapping, sing one long tone, holding it as long as you can without straining. Just sing Da or Ta, the way people do when they are singing a tune without words. Suppose we agree on Ta for the moment.

low one, since we are concerned only with the lengths of tones right now; so just sing the first sound that comes into your head, anyone that is comfortable for you, use the syllable Ta to sing it on, instead of words, and make it one long sound:

Next, let’s try tones of differing lengths. For the following exercise, begin tapping in the same way as before, but this time hold each tone only as long as the line after it indicates.

In other words, each Ta will be held while four beats go by. and there will be four such Tasks altogether:

Enharmonic Equivalents

You will have noticed from the picture of a keyboard above that every sharp has a corresponding flat. e.g. C# is the same note as Db. This is called an enharmonic equivalent.

(This is not essential knowledge for learning how to read sheet music, but is the sort of geeky fact you can impress your friends with!!)

Double Sharps and Double Flats

Sometimes you will see a “x” before a note. This is called a double sharp and it means that the note should be raised by 2 semitones. The “bb” sign is a double flat sign and means the note should be lowered by 2 semitones.

Scales/Keys

If we consider music as a language then scales/keys are the dialect – the variations that can be found within a language that we must be able to understand. Letʼs have a look at some facts about keys:

i) There are 2 main types of scale/key – Major and Minor (major sounds happy, minor sounds sad).

ii) There is a major and a minor scale for every note (including sharps and flats) – this means that there are 12 major and 12 minor scales.

iii) Each scale has a different number of sharps and flats in it.

So, when a composer is writing a piece they will have to decide the following….

i) Which key (or scale) to write it in.

ii)Whether to write it in major or minor (this will largely depend on what mood they are wanting to create).

iii)Which note of the scale to write it on (different notes have distinctive tones to them. e.g. Bb Major is a very rich key, whilst F# Major is very bright in tone). They will also need to think about the range of the instrument they are writing for and the difficulty of the piece (keys with a greater number of sharps and flats tend to be more difficult to play in).

Letʼs start with the easiest key – C Major. Itʼs the easiest because C Major has no sharps or flats. So, if you play the white notes on a keyboard starting at C and ending at the C above then you will have played a C Major scale (have a go at this on a keyboard).

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