Sunday, 19 September 2010

Reading Music

2.0.Reading Sheet Music

Music is played via notes, common western music has is diatonic and thus uses set notes, this stops the piece sounding atonal and really from sounding terrible.
An example of these diatonic notes is the C note. A C note is largely considered the starting note on most musical instruments and throughout this post I will use the C note in examples. A C note is a C because when you say the note at the correct pitch it sounds like a C due to the mouth position you have to make. It is a set a frequency’s which indicate a pitch of a note and this is the same for all notes

Now western notes are broken up by half tones and whole tones. A whole tone is the difference between one named note (bar the E to F note) and another while a half tone is the difference between the note being sharpened or flattened. For example a C major scale starts of on C because that is the scale now a diatonic scale in C major goes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C which is a full octave. This logic applies to all scales such as G major which goes G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. 

Notice that the F is now sharpened, in every key apart from A minor, C Major and atonal keys a key has sharps and flats, your best bet is to research how many sharps and flats a key has because it can change the entire sound of the chord with different sharps and flats. However between the F# and a G is a half tone difference which if the F was double sharpened it would become a G note.
These are the list of notes ascending in half notes and these will be used throughout so make sure you remember these:

•          C (or B#)
•          C# or Db
•          D
•          D# or Eb
•          E (or Fb)
•          F (or E#)
•          F# or Gb
•          G
•          G# or Ab
•          A
•          A# or Bb
•          B (or Cb)
•          C (or B#)

I have write out the entire scale for each key. If you look at the scales I have written out you can see that a scale gains more sharps and flats as you modulate further. This can be shown on a piano via the piano notes, see the picture below

2.1.On a Piano

This looks like this on sheet music in treble clef

2.2.Piano Notes to Sheet Music

For your right hand read the top line, for your left hand read the bottom line. However female singers can use the top line and male singers can use the bottom line

You’ll find that most instruments that are not guitar, bass or drums can and will use these charts because it’s the concert pitch
Which, translates to this on a guitar

2.3.Note Reading on a Guitar

With guitar players I suggest learning how to read tablature as it is easier and most music with guitars have got tablature notation for it.

For bass parts reading is the same as reading guitar parts except lower and with only 4 strings. This can be seen as in this diagram

2.4.Reading Bass Sheet Music

Drum reading is a bit different though. Since drums do not play the melody and add backing to the rhythm, melody and singer they have no true pitch. Reading for conventional western music is different as each notation displays a part of the drum kit itself instead of a pitched note. His looks a little something like this

2.5.Drum music reading

Some other musicians write in different ways and for speciality parts of a kit (such as a percussion) but this is usually stated within the bars, phrase or section

However understand why and working out keys is not necessary to making songs so for the time being I will not write up about this


  1. All pretty good, except "A whole tone is the difference between one named note and another" is not always true, eg E to F is only a semi tone, not a whole tone.

  2. Ah yes true, unless you start getting into trippy A tonal stuff where you can get F flats

  3. umm does anyone know whats after the a note

  4. I would not suggest guitar players learning tablature first. Note reading will be important to read sheet music from other C reading instruments. Tabs should be learned second to note reading.

  5. Why can't we print all types of music sheet???