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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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I need help on some theory desperately! :(

Hello everybody!! this is my first post on the forum , there are some questions i would really like to know the answers of with help from you guys , theory confuses me lots

Ok , here it goes , I dont understand what people mean when they say 1st 2nd 3rd 4th etc , would i be right in saying it is the degree of the major scale ? so C major :

C D E F G A B C , = 4th right ?

1then what about when people are talking aboutt minor and what about when people play harmonic minor scales with raised 4ths etc , which scale are these '4ths' relevant to , the 4th of a major scale again ?

next question:
2 when i see music in notation form , i see that there are often sharps and flats written on near the time signature , and apparently you can find out the key of the piece ? how ? , and what if there are none there ? if there is no sharps or flats near the time signatures is it c major because this scale has no sharps or flats ? , theory really beats me , also ,

3i never know which sharp or flat it is! , they always seem to hover over a couple of lines due to their size ,

if anybody can help me it would be very beneficial to me , ive tried researching these questions but i didnt get anywhere

- Daniel
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 01:58 PM
 
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Quote:
would i be right in saying it is the degree of the major scale ?
It's the degree of which ever scale is being played.

Quote:
C D E F G A B C , = 4th right ?
Correct

Quote:
1 then what about when people play harmonic minor scales with raised 4ths etc , which scale are these '4ths' relevant to , the 4th of a major scale again ?
Yes, essentially. If a scale is referred to as having a 'diminished 5th' then it means it is the major (or minor) scale with a flattened 5th instead of the usual 5th. People normally quantify this by saying which scale it refers to however, for example "It's a major scale with a flattened 7th"

Quote:
when i see music in notation form , i see that there are often sharps and flats written on near the time signature , and apparently you can find out the key of the piece ? , then what if there are none there ? if there is no sharps or flats near the time signatures is it c major because this scale has no sharps or flats ?
That's the key signature of the piece. Every key has a 'signature'. C major and A minor have no sharps and no flats, hence no key signature. (Every major key has a 'relative' minor which shares its key signature; A minor is the relative minor of C major, they are basically the same scale with different tonic (1st) note.)

If you play a 'C' major or 'A' minor scale, you'll notice there are no accidentals: C,D,E,F,G,A,B hence nothing to note in the key signature. If you look at the D major scale, it has 2 sharps: D,E,F#,G,A,B,C# so it's key signature has 2 sharps - F# and C#. Looking at the key signature tells you which accidentals to play, so if the key signature has an F# in it, you know that any F notated must be played as F# unless it is preceeded by a natural symbol.

If you didn't do this you'd have to write out every accidental which would be messy, and the only way to find out which key a piece was in would be to analyse the harmony, and that wouldn't always give the correct answer!

Quote:
3i never know which sharp or flat it is! , they always seem to hover over a couple of lines due to their size
Basically the centre of the symbol will intersect the line or space it is affecting. To notate Bb you would put the round bit of the flat symbol on the B line of the stave.

There is a tonne of music theory to be learnt, but you've got to start somewhere!

HTH
A
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
 
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thank you! , any tips for working it out by the sharps or flats? I realise what your saying but it would take me a long time to work it out what a piece is in
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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also , how do i know if it is the major or minor scale from the key signature?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 02:50 PM
 
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The flats and sharps are always in the same order...

i.e. the flats are ALWAYS Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb (they go up in 4ths)
and the sharps are ALWAYS F#, C#, G#, D#, A# (they go up in 5ths)

The key is determined by the number of sharps/flats.

As Andrew said, no sharps/flats = C major.

Since the flats go up in 4ths, so do the keys...
1 flat = Key of F
2 flats = key of Bb
3 flats = key of Eb
and so on and so "fourth".

By the same token, sharps go up in 5ths.
1 Sharp = Key of G
2 Sharps = key of D
3 Sharps = key of A
and so on...

Every major key has a relative minor key. The minor key Is three notes (or a minor 3rd) below the major key.

i.e. C major and A minor have the same scale, as do G major and E minor.

To clarify a litle further... if you take a C scale:
C D E F G A B C
but start and end on A
A B C D E F G A
you have the A minor scale. Why is it minor? because when you start on A, you're putting the half-steps between the 2nd and 3rd degrees (B and C in this case) and the 6th and 7th (F and G in this case).

There isn't a way to tell just by looking at the key sig whether the composer meant to write A major or F# minor - you just have to hear the piece.

Hope this helps.
~Kenny
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 03:25 PM
 
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Quote:
By the same token, sharps go up in 5ths.
That's a good tip. I always find a quick way to find a 'sharp' key is to look at the last sharp in the key signature, this is always the leading note of the key (i.e. the 7th).

For example, the last sharp in the key of A (3 sharps) is G#, so you know that the key is A major, or C# minor. Or with 4 sharps the last sharp is D#, so the key is E major or G# minor.

There is a trick like this for the 'flat' keys, but I can never remember it! (And I recall it's not quite so simple...)

Quite a lot of the time you don't need to know what the actual key is, so long as you read the signature and remember the accidentals you can play the music no problem. In fact I'd bet if you asked a lot of musicians they couldn't tell you what key they were in, other than it has 6 sharps! (That's F# major )

I just found this page which you might find useful (or confusing ):

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Marble/9607/0009.htm
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2003, 06:41 PM
 
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A way of remembering the order of the sharps / flats in the key signature is this :

Sharps :

Father F
Christmas C
Gave G
Dad D
An A
Electric E
Blanket B

Flats :

Blanket B
Explodes E
And A
Dad D
Gets G
Cold C



When looking at a key signature, if it has sharps in it. To work out the key you look at the last sharp in the key signature

E.g. key signature has F, C, G Sharps.
So we look at the G sharp. and raise it a semitone. G sharp raised a semi tone gives us A. This tells us that the key is A major OR the relative minor of A major, which can be found by counting down 3 semi tones from the Major.
So A, down a semi tone = G#, again = G, again = F#.
So it will be F# Minor.

To work out flat keys from the key signature look at the second from last flat, and that is the key.

E.g. key signature has B, E, A flats.
Second from last flat is E flat, so the key signature is E flat (or the relative minor, hop down 3 semitones to C minor)

To distinguish whether a piece is in a minor or major key (e.g. A minor or C major) you can :
Look for a root note being highlighted, e.g. starting / ending the piece / runs on an A or a C.
Or if the piece is using the harmonic minor scale, look for the sharpened 7th in the piece (not in the key signature). In the case of A minor this will be a G sharp.
NOTE! Composers do not play by the rules (thank god) so they may switch between relative major/minor keys, modulate to other keys, be atonal, use modes, and other harmonic compositional devices. This can all be very tricky when reading music.
(sometimes tab is just so much easier!, tho less analysable [as music, not as performance means])
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-25-2003, 12:02 PM
 
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I use a rule that no one really expained to me but it is really really useful:
(I'll only be talking about major tonalities but the same thing applies to minor ones)

It's based on the fact that every tonality with # (G D A E B F#) adds up to seven alterations in key with the omologous tonality with the flats (F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb). The problem with determining tonalities from key signature usually comes when you see too many alterations so I just memorised the ones with few (G D A F Bb Eb) and when I see too many # or b I just subtract it to seven. Here are a few examples if I didn't make myself clear cuz it's actually very easy:

I see 5 flats as the key signature and I can't be bothered to start descending by fifths from C to get the tonality so what do I do?

I know that the tonality with 2 # as key signature is D which means that the one with 5 flats will be Db.
With the same reasoning I can say that if G has only 1 # then Gb will have 6 flats.
and so on..

F (1b) = F# (6 #)
Bb (2b) = B (5 #)
Eb (3b) = E (4 #)
Ab (4b) = A (3 #)

to conclude it should be noted that since C major has 0 alterations then that means that C# will have 7# and C flat will have 7 flats. These two tonalities however are kind of only theorical because typically you would say B major instead of C flat major and D flat major instead of C# major.

Cool tip:

F# and Gb are the same and they are used equally so keep in mind that. It is however very easy to spot them because F# has 6# and Gb has 6 flats.

As helpful as all of this may be I would still suggest that you buy a theory book and read it from the beguinning making sure you understand everything before moving on to the next chapter. Oh and try getting a teacher who will probably be able to explain all of these things better than us through these posts.

Hope it helps dude!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-25-2003, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewTodd
For example, the last sharp in the key of A (3 sharps) is G#, so you know that the key is A major, or C# minor. Or with 4 sharps the last sharp is D#, so the key is E major or G# minor.
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Marble/9607/0009.htm
A major or F# minor, E major or C#minor. The relative minor is rooted on the 6th of the major scale, not the 3rd. I know you know that, fast typing and all I think what you meant was that if a key signature has three sharps, the rightmost will be over G, so the minor is F# and the major is A. And again, if a key has 4 sharps, the rightmost being over D, the minor is C# and the major is E. The "rock and roll" way to tell which key is the correct one is to either check the piece's first note or last note, that will tell you most of the time.
jim
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-26-2003, 04:19 AM
 
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A major or F# minor, E major or C#minor.
Doh! Well, it was late.... ;-)
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2003, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
 
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hi guys im back , could someone explain how piano music is wrote in notation , because there are 50 white keys ? , i dont get it ,

thanks alot for your help by the way guys !!, ive been doing alot of research and practicing key signatures! you guys truley rock
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-30-2003, 05:02 AM
 
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Firstly (if you didn't already know) Piano music is written using two staves, one for bass and one for treble. Normally, but not always, these have a bass and a treble clef respectively. They usually correspond to the left and right hands and hence a piece which uses both hands in a high register might have two treble staves and vice versa for a low piece.

This gives a large range, but simply using the staves isn't enough. The very lowest notes on the piano are written using ledger lines below the bass stave, and similarly the highest notes are written using ledger lines above the treble stave. Extra ledger lines are those lines you see drawn above or below the stave, extending it.

Because of the range of the piano you end up having a lot of ledger lines above the treble stave, which is difficult to read, so often the terms 8va and 8vb (actually this should really be 8va basso, but it's shortened to 8vb) are used. 8va means "play this an octave above written" and 8vb means an octave below.

You'll sometimes also see 16ma, which means play two octaves above written, although I couldn't find any reference to this in any of my music dictionaries.... You'll also see these symbols used in guitar music since the guitar has quite a large range also.

Whilst we're on the subject did you know that the guitar sounds an octave below written? If you play a written middle C as 3rd fret on the A string, you're actually playing and octave below middle C... just to confuse you futher

Hope this helps!
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