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Term 1 Theory Lessons & Quiz

Term 1 Theory Lessons & Quiz

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Course: Music 7
Book: Term 1 Theory Lessons & Quiz
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Date: Saturday, 24 August 2019, 8:23 PM

1 Staff, Note Names & Clefs

The Staff

Music is written or "notated" on five lines and four spaces. This is called a staff.

Notes that sound higher are placed near the top of the staff. Notes that sound lower are placed further down.

Note Names

We use the first seven letters of the alphabet to label notes. There are obviously more than seven notes in music, so we repeat these same letters over and over again.

All of the A's are the same note, all of the B's are the same note, all of the C's are the same note, etc. The only difference is that one will sound higher or lower than the other. This difference is called an octave.

As you move up the alphabet, the pitch (the sound of the note) goes higher. As you move down the alphabet, the pitch goes lower.

Clefs

At the beginning of a staff, you will see something called a clef. The clef is responsible for telling us how to read the notes on the staff; specifically it will tell us what note name to assign to each line or space. There are many different types of clef, but the two most commonly used are: treble clef and bass clef.

Treble Clef

The treble clef is sometimes called the "G Clef." When the treble clef is correctly placed on the staff, the line of the staff that the clefs curls around is the note "G." Also, the clef itself sort of looks like a G.

The lines and spaces of the treble clef are each assigned a certain note name. The notes alternate between line and space as you go. If you can not remember the name of a certain note, it is very easy to find a note that you do know and simply follow the alphabet up (or down) in the lines and spaces until you find your answer.

Two phrases that you can use to help you remember the names of the notes in the treble clef staff are:

Learning to recognize these notes quickly will help you learn music faster because you won't have to stop and find the note every few seconds. The more you practice your note reading, the more automatic it will become.

Here is an exercise to help you practice reading notes in the treble clef.

Bass Clef

The bass clef is sometimes called the "F Clef." When the bass clef is correctly placed on the staff, its two dots go on either side of the line that represents the note "F". Also, the clef itself looks like an F.

The lines and spaces of the bass clef are each assigned a certain note name. The notes alternate between line and space as you go. If you can not remember the name of a certain note, it is very easy to find a note that you do know and simply follow the alphabet up (or down) in the lines and spaces until you find your answer.

Two phrases that you can use to help you remember the names of the notes in the bass clef staff are:

Learning to recognize these notes quickly will help you learn music faster because you won't have to stop and find the note every few seconds. The more you practice your note reading, the more automatic it will become.

Here is an exercise to help you practice reading notes in the bass clef.

For some final practice, here is an exercise that uses both treble and bass clef. Watch carefully!


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2 All About Notes

The Basics

In written music, a single sound is shown with a note. This note must tell us two important things what the pitch of the note is and how long is played. This is the note duration. To determine the duration of a note, you need to understand that all notes are based on the whole note.

whole note receives four counts of time. (In common time, but we'll get into that later.)

half note lasts half as long as a whole - so for two counts.

quarter note lasts for a quarter of a whole note - so each quarter note is worth one count.

An eighth note lasts for an eighth of time. Each eighth note is worth 1/2 a count of time.

Finally, a sixteenth note is worth 1/4 of a count.

You can see a pattern forming here - eight, sixteen, ... You can have notes that are even faster than a sixteenth note, but they aren't very common. A note that is one step faster than a sixteenth note is called a thirty-second note. One step higher than that is a sixty-fourth note. And so on.

A hierarchy of notes can be seen here. Each line shows the amount of that type of note that it takes to add up to a single whole note.

Eighth and sixteenth notes can be written two ways. When written alone, they are written with a flag. An eighth note has one flag and a sixteenth has two. When they are grouped together, they can be joined with a beam. A group of eighth notes has one beam and a sixteenth has two. Usually the top beam is a bit thicker than the lower one.

Each note also has a corresponding rest with the same name. The rest is worth the same value as the note. A rest represents a silence in the music.

Drawing Notes and Stem Direction

Different types of notes determine how long a note will be heard. Accuracy when you are drawing notes is very important. Your note must be aligned on the staff perfectly in a line or space and the note must be drawn correctly. This is very important because when you or someone else tries to read something you have written, they may not play it correctly if it is not written correctly. It's just like spelling words properly when you are writing a story.

There are two parts to (almost) every note. The stem and the head.

Stems can go up or down, depending on where the note is on the staff. Remember these rules:

1. Stems going up are attached on the right side of the note. Stems going down are attached to the left side of the note.

2. If the note is above the third line of the staff, the stem should go down.

3. If the note is below the third line of the staff, the stem should go up.

4. If the note is on the third line of the staff, the stem should go down.

5. If a group of eighth notes or sixteenth notes is joined with a bar, the same rules apply. The bar will either be above or below the notes. If there is a mix of high and low notes, use with the direction the majority of the notes would go. If there are equal amounts of each, then the overall shape of the melody dictates whether the bar is above or below.

6. The length of the stem should continue up (or down) to the space or line with the same letter name. For example, if your note is a D, then your stem should stretch all the way to the next D on the staff.


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3 Beats and Tempo

Beat

Music typically has a constant underlying pulse that is heard and felt throughout the music called a beat. This beat usually stays the same speed throughout the whole piece of music, unless it is altered by special instructions in the music. Keeping a steady beat is very important, but also difficult because we have a natural tendency to want to slow down when a passage of music is difficult to sing or play.

Tempo

The tempo of a piece of music is its speed, or how fast the beat is. Beats are measured in bpm or "beats per minute." Just like timing your heart rate after a workout. In music, you might see a marking that looks like this:

This means that the speed of this music is 120 beats per minute. Think of the second hand on a clock - its tempo is 60 beats per minute. So, this piece of music has beats that are twice as fast as the seconds going by on a clock. This metronome marking tell us exactly how fast the composer intended the piece of music to be performed.

The word "Allegro" is an Italian word. Italian is the international standard language for music that is understood all around the world. You can have musical terms and words that are written in other languages like French, German, Spanish, etc. but the Italian terms are used by everyone. If you see an Italian word written at the top of a piece of music and it doesn't give you an exact metronome marking, it is still pretty easy to know what the composer wants because each word is associated with a certain tempo range. As long as you perform the piece of music within that range of speed, then you will be correct, generally speaking.

Here is a list of some commonly used tempo terms. There are certainly WAY more Italian words to learn as you go forward with your musical journeys, but these will get you started.

Pulse

In a lot of music, the quarter note is used for the beat. Other notes can be used, but the quarter note is the most common. Look at the following 8 quarter notes:

To make it easier to feel the pulse and count the beats, they are often grouped together according to how the beats are emphasized. If we emphasize beats 1 and 5, we are grouping the beats into 4's. This makes it easier to feel the pulse and count the beats.

Once we have organized our beats into groups, we can separate them into easy-to-read sections called bars or measures. A barline is a vertical line through a staff that is drawn after every certain number of beats. In our example, the strong beats happened after every group of four, so that is where we will draw the barline.

At the end of any piece of music, there is always a final barline. This tells the musician that a piece of music is finished.


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4 Time Signatures

Review

We know that the beat is the steady speed of the music. Pulse is the way that the beats are organized according to a pattern of strong beats. A good thing about most music is that it's very predictable. A piece of music usually only has one speed and the pulse stays the same throughout the entire piece. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, but let's keep things simple for now.

Time Signatures

time signature is a musical marking that tells a musician in one glance what the beat and pulse of the music will be. It is written right at the beginning of the piece, directly after the clef on the staff.

The most common time signature is called "four-four." It's so common, in fact, that we sometimes call it common time. It looks like this. It's sort of like a fraction, except there is no line between the top and bottom number.

The top number tells us how many beats there are in each measure.

The bottom number tells us what kind of note represents the beat.

In this example, the bottom number is 4. That means that a quarter note will receive one beat.

The top number is 4, so that means each measure will contain 4 beats. However, this doesn't necessarily mean it will have only 4 notes in it. A whole note is worth 4 beats, so the measure could be filled up with only 1 whole note. If there are eighth or sixteenth notes involved, the measure could contain many notes indeed. Ultimately, they all need to add up to 4 beats in total.

Common time can also be shown with a C instead of the numbers.

Other Time Signatures

There are many different time signatures. Some you will see more often than others. These are two other common time signatures that you might encounter.


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5 Term 1 Theory Quiz

Before you attempt this quiz:

1. Ensure you review the written lessons in this lesson book.

2. Use the exercises (click on the green "try this" image) to help you practice your skills.

Term 1 Theory Quiz

This quiz consists of 15 questions that review the concepts you have learned so far.

You may not use any books, websites, papers, or any outside assistance to complete it. You may use a printout or picture of a piano keyboard to help you, if you want.

You have 10 minutes to complete the quiz.

After the first attempt, look through the test and see where your mistakes are. You have 2 attempts on this quiz.



Click on the image below to complete the Term 1 Theory Quiz.