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how to read music

Music Bar Lines

by Tania Gleaves on July 17, 2014

Introducing the Bar

In order to represent pitch and tone, music notes need a staff. If you’ll remember from our other lessons, the music staff is a system of five horizontal lines and it provides a foundation for all the beautiful music that we hear. Notes sit on, above, between, and below these lines. But there’s another kind of line that you’ll find in sheet music, and it’s the bar line. This *vertical* line also sits on the staff but it doesn’t indicate pitch or tone. It instead, indicates measures or groups of notes. Measures and music bar lines make sheet music easier to write and read.

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To understand the role of the bar line, you can compare it to any type of punctuation that ends a sentence. Imagine for a moment, a paragraph of four or five sentences that doesn’t use any periods, question marks, or exclamation points. As you can see, this paragraph would look more like a gigantic run-on sentence than it would look like a group of complete statements. Punctuation lets us know when its specific parts start and finish. This is similar to what music bars do. Music bars let us know when specific parts of a song start and finish.

Like with our paragraph analogy above, music without bar lines would look as though it played continuously without any indications of rhythm or rest. It would also be difficult to reference because quite often, a conductor, tutor, or music book will ask us to play from “measure five” or “measure eight.” That doesn’t mean that “bar-less” music doesn’t exist or isn’t purposeful. Creative types like to reference such music as unmeasured, where music moves freely without a steady beat.

What’s in a Measure?

The measure usually divides notes into three to four beats each, depending on a song’s signature. If the signature of a song indicates 3/4 time for example, each of its measures will contain three beats. Measures of a song played in 4/4 time then contain four beats each. All of this is of course, applicable to the single bar line. The double bar line and thin double bar line indicate other things.

There’s More Than One Bar

Take the double bar line for instance. Two lines make up the double bar line. One line is thin and it sits in front of a second, thick line. This double bar line sits at the very end of a song’s movement and/or completion. The thin double bar line one the other hand, is made of two thin lines only, and it’s used to indicate sections. Like measures, sections are frequently referenced in practice mode. But when a number sits atop a double bar line, it means its section has changed key or meter.

Another kind of bar line is the repeat bar. Music between a double bar that sits in _front_ of two dots — and a double bar that sits _behind_ two dots (the repeat bar) — is played twice. In complicated pieces, you may find repeat bars *and* repeat endings with accompanying numbers. These numbers tell musicians that there’s more than one ending in a song, and that each successive play ends with a corresponding ending.

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Music Theory Key Signature – The Basics

by Tania Gleaves on July 13, 2014

You have been hearing about the music theory key signature during your first piano lesson but do you know what they are made of? Key signatures are actually one of the basic foundations of playing the piano. These music fundamentals guide you in “tuning” the music pieces you are playing.

Music theory key signature can be found at the beginning of every music sheet, other times they can be found in other parts of the music sheet, which all depends on the composer of the music piece. Key signatures are composed of either sharps or flats. At first you might think that they are similar to accidentals but they are totally different.

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Accidentals only require you to play a key in its sharp or flat tune if you see the symbol right before the key. But key signatures require you to play the sharp or flat tune of every key they are embedded on, all throughout the music sheet except when you see the natural symbol before the key. You can see the difference of accidentals and key signatures at the figure below.

key signature Music Theory Key Signature – The Basics

key signature2 Music Theory Key Signature – The Basics

Another thing you should know about the music theory key signature is the enharmonic equivalents of all the orders of sharps and flats. The orders of sharps and the orders of flats may be written in a different manner and corresponds to different keys but they are all played the same way in the piano.

key signature3 Music Theory Key Signature – The Basics

key signature5 Music Theory Key Signature – The Basics

The easiest way to learn the music theory key signature is to memorize the C sharp and the C flat key signatures. C sharp has seven sharps all in all, when you remove the last sharp, you’ll get the next key signature which is F sharp that has only six sharps as its key signature. Keep on doing this until you reach C major, which doesn’t have any sharp in its key signature.

key signature4 Music Theory Key Signature – The Basics

You can also apply this basic knowledge to the order of flats key signature. When you remove the seventh flat symbol of the C flat key signature, you will get the G flat key signature. The process goes on until you reach the C major which doesn’t have any flats.

Click Here And Refresh Your Memory On Music Theory Key Signatures!

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How to Read Music – Definitions to Help You Learn

July 2, 2014

L earning how to read music is like learning another language. It has its own letters, syntax and grammar. Whether you are learning to play the piano through the classic method or the chord method, you’ll have to be familiar with how to read music. A page of music has a lot of symbols and […]

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Piano Sheet Music Confidential

June 18, 2014

Piano sheet music has been around since the birth of the piano. It is the diary of the process of the composer. All of the heart and soul of piece lies within the notation of the sheet music. Sheet music can be used to record or to create a musical score. Musicians often use it […]

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Music Time Signatures – What Are They?

June 2, 2014

When you start studying piano lessons, you will learn the basic knowledge of music which also includes music time signatures. Time signatures are composed of two numbers in the form of a fraction which tells you the number of notes and the kind of note receiving one beat in each measure. Say what?! That might […]

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The Play Piano Roadmap – Your Journey From Beginner To Advanced

May 10, 2014

Whether you already play piano or want to learn, I’m glad you stumbled across this page. It means there’s one more person out there looking for a better way to add music to his or her life, or perhaps to improve on an already established skill set. Either way, welcome. The good new is, I’ve […]

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Piano Music Notes – Hear Them Speak To You

May 8, 2014

Unless you plan to play music by ear, you’ll need to learn how to read sheet music for piano. Sheet music displays the notes of a song and musicians interpret it as if they were reading the words of a speech. It isn’t difficult to read piano music notes once you understand the basic structure […]

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Learn To Read Music – A Gentle Introduction…

March 30, 2014

Figuring out how to learn to read music may seem intimidating — especially if you’ve never paid any attention to sheet music before. But once you learn the basics, you’ll discover a whole new world that paves a road of confusing symbols with a coat of comfortable, natural, and perfect logic. This article serves as […]

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Key Signatures – A Beginner’s Lesson…

January 15, 2014

What Determines The Quality And Quantity Of A Song’s Notes When watching musicians play piano, you may see them refer to a piece of music in the key of “A” or “C.” These letters refer to the key that the music is played in or its key signature. Key signatures are what determines the quality […]

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Piano Lessons Made Easier – How To Read Music Notes

January 5, 2014

One of the basic lessons of learning to play the piano involves how to read music notes. Reading music notes is like learning your ABC’s. Effectively reading music notes requires you to learn the basic parts of a music sheet; sometimes they call this song sheet. If you look at the music sheet, you will […]

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