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music theory

Piano Sheet Music Confidential

by Tania Gleaves on January 23, 2015

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 to analyze details in music that aren’t always heard with the naked ear. Sight reading would not be possible if without the miracle of piano sheet music.

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The ability to read sheet music is a form of literacy. Musical notation is much like reading a foreign language. Each not and beat is another word and punctuation to add to the sentence also known as a musical phrase.

A piano reduction is a type of piano sheet music. It is a transcription for the piano of a score that was intended for many instruments, as in a symphony. These kinds of arrangements are made for a piano solo or a piano duet.

How Do You Read Sheet Music?

Sight reading for sheet music can take a little time to master. This is a skill in and of itself that gets easier with time and practice. The raising and lowering of the notes on the staves causes the eyes to bounce up and down across the sheet.

A common strategy when reading sheet music is to break the score into chunks or movements. This would be like reading a long sentence an breaking it into smaller parts to make it easier to remember.

When sight reading the focus is on instantly playing the notes as you see them. This is most challenging task for new musicians who are used to playing by ear. The timing and refixation of the eyes from instrument to sheet music does improve over time.

The Nuts and Bolts

The parts that go into making sheet music can be confusing at first, but become clear once you understand their purpose. The five line staff is used to create the basis for the notation. The placement of the notes on the staff dictates the pitch of the music.

The staff starts of with the clef which looks like a fancy letter “g” that is flipped backwards. The clef lets you know the range of the pitches that will be played throughout the piece.

The key signature identifies what key the music was written in. The key signature can also lets the reader know which notes will be flat or sharp in the piece.

The time signature follows the key signature. Music gains its character from the time signature. Measures or “bars” break the music into smaller chunks called beats which are dictated by the time signature.

Piano sheet music is read from left to right just like a standard book. Now that you know the basic structure of sheet music you can search at your local music shop and find some that you want to perform.

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Music Bar Lines

by Tania Gleaves on December 25, 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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Musically Notes With Dots – Understanding Staccato and Dotted Notes

December 14, 2014

Dotted Notes Dotted notes are the exact opposite of flagged notes. The small flag that follows a note decreases that note’s duration by half, whereas a small dot that follows a note increases that note’s duration by half. A dotted half note would therefore become three quarter notes (one half note equals two quarter notes). […]

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Understanding The Circle of Fifths

December 8, 2014

The circle of fifths, introduced by Johann David Heinichen in 1728, is a visual arrangement of related keys. Although its name gives the impression that it’s a difficult concept to grasp, it’s really just an easy way to remember the number of sharps and flats in a key signature and the major and minor key […]

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Beginner Lessons For Piano – Helpful Tips

November 29, 2014

Beginner lessons for piano will take you far in your quest. But supplementing your lessons with some ‘outside’ or unconventional training will shorten the time it takes to become an expert pianist. It goes without saying that practice makes perfect. However, there are a few additional things that you can do to improve the quality […]

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Various Notes

November 24, 2014

Beaming Notes Music beams are lines that seemingly connect a series of various notes. Since they’re thick and horizontal (as opposed to thin and vertical), they’re more noticeable and intimidating to beginners. Rest assured that beams are nothing to fear – even when sheet music is plastered with them. Music beams actually make notation easier […]

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Piano Lessons Made Easier – How To Read Music Notes

November 18, 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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Key Signatures – A Beginner’s Lesson…

October 19, 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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Learn To Read Music – A Gentle Introduction…

October 18, 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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Top 5 Myths About Learning To Play Piano

September 17, 2014

You have to be born with natural ability. As one of the top 5 myths about learning to play piano, this myth may have you condemned before you even start! Everyone and anyone can learn to play piano as long as they exercise the required amount of patience and practice. The piano in fact, is […]

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