Music Theory – 0004

In the first two articles I gave you the slightest glimpse that there is an ocean out there somewhere. Yesterday in the third I had you step ankle deep in that water. While I did get one very positive feedback I’m wondering if it was too difficult for some. The water was unexpectedly cold and there were fish swimming around your feet. Scary! Today I want to step back to simpler things and work with that mental exercise I’ve had you working on and apply it to the musical staff. Anything we cover you can go back to NotePad and enter the notes and listen to what it sounds like. You should do this with every example I show from here on out so you can then play it back and listen, and when I very specifically want you to use NotePad because it is particularly important, I will tell you. Tend to use the piano sound.

I have so far shown you where Middle C is and also the octaves moving outward from Middle C on the Grand Staff. I will put that image here to remind you:


All of those are C notes, with Middle C on both staves in the first measure. Now lets go forward in the alphabet and look at the notes C – D – E – F, going upward from each of these notes:


In each measure, the first note is the same C note as it is in the first example. In every case in each measure starting with the first note we have the same series of notes, C – D – E – F. In the very first measure, not only is the first Middle C the exact same note on the piano, but all four notes are the exact same notes on the piano. It is very important to take note how each consecutive line and space is the next letter of the alphabet.

I made the above image in NotePad. What I did was to create a new file, left the Title and Composer dialog empty, selected the piano as the only instrument, left the Time Signature at 4 over 4, left the Key Signature at C Major, changed the number of measures to 3 and then entered all those notes using quarter notes (the solid note with the stem). The reason you should do that is to practice opening and creating a file and then entering a few notes. Remember to zoom in with the View menu to make it easier to enter notes.

In the next example I will do the exact same thing only I am going to go down four notes from each C note, going C – B – A – G in each case. Remember when going backwards when you hit A you wrap back to G:


From C to B we are either going from a line to the adjacent space or from a space to the adjacent line. I have now shown you each and every alphabetic note on the grand staff. To end I will show you a C Major scale and I would like you to enter it into NotePad and include the Solfeggio Lyrics as pictured. Instead of using piano I selected the Blank Staff. We will be going from Middle C up to the next C above and then back down again. The top C will repeat to keep things orderly:

C Major Scale with Solfeggio

If you want to see the above larger to make it easier to work from, just click the image and it will enlarge. All I did was make a 4-measure file and entered a title and composer as pictured. I left the 4 over 4 Time Signature and the Key of C Major. To enter the notes I just started with the quarter note and entered Middle C in the first Measure and then continued up using every line and space until I reached the C note above. Then in the third measure I started with that same upper C and came back down using every line and space. Finally I used the Lyrics Tool to enter the Solfeggio. You should sing the Do-Re-Mi right along with the playback. Sing it approximately a million times.

The notes going up are: C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C

The notes going down are: C – B – A – G – F – E – D – C

We have now covered all the white keys on the Staff from a low C two ledger lines below the Bass Clef to a high C two ledger lines above the Treble Clef. The black keys we will concern ourselves later, they are sharps and flats from these very same notes. Don’t worry about that for now.

Next time I will begin discussing rhythm.

[Note: New York just called and wants me to write a theme song for something I cannot discuss. Pirate themed is all I can say. It is needed by Monday and I’m not sure how long it will take me to write and orchestrate and record it. I won’t be able to show it here until the thing is publicized. I don’t know if I will be able to do a proper blog before I finish this but I will try. If you are subscribed via e-mail or RSS then you will be notified when I next post; if not, why aren’t you subscribed?]

[Second Note: For five extra credit points look up the word “retired” in a dictionary. Write a brief paragraph about what being retired means to you and send it to %$#@ New York.]

6 thoughts on “Music Theory – 0004

  1. Retired means you work for the fun and challenge, not for food. I think you’re retired as soon as you can stop work, any work you do after that you do because you’re enjoying it or because nobody told you, and you didn’t realise, that you are retired.

  2. Just finished doing this one (except for the repeat 1 million times bit). Notion for the iPad only allows for two bars per line so it looks a little different. I’m starting to see why musical people are very picky about their notation software.

    • I will say that I’m not picky about wordprocessors like I am about music processors. Wait, I’m getting partial to things like IAWriter that have almost no features and just stay out of your way. Layout comes last. Anyone who enters just the title and fusses over centering, font selection and size is not a writer, they are avoiding writing.

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