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  1. #1
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Default Basic Music Theory

    [In the future, I'll post a basic guitar article. For now, this is what you got]

    Basic Music Theory

    Music is organized in notes. Notes vary in length and pitch. Music is set up in measures. For reasons of simplicity, consider a measure to be four beats. It can be more than four beats, but almost all music is written so that a measure is four beats. Most of the time, a beat is a quarter note. A half note is two quarter notes, a whole note is four, an eighth note is half of a quarter, and a sixteenth note is a quarter of a quarter note, and so on.

    Pitch is organized by letters. A, B, C, D, E, F, and G make the rage of musical pitch.

    There are also sharp and flat notes. These are “halfway” notes between two notes. There are two sets of notes that don’t have these halfway notes. The interval between E and F doesn’t have a halfway note, and the interval between B and C doesn’t, so the full 12 note scale is as follows (this is referred to as the chromatic scale):




    Sharp notes are indicated by a number sign after the note, and flat notes are indicated by a small superscript of “b” after the note. You’ll notice that there are notes with a slash between them. This means that they’re actually the same note, written two ways. Halfway above C is the same as halfway below D. B# is the same as C, and E# is the same as F.

    An octave is eight notes. If a note is an octave above or below another note, it’s the same letter, but much higher or lower than the other note. A note has the same sound as a note an octave above it or below it.

    Music can be written many different ways, but I’ll be concentrating on writing music on a staff, as follows.


    There are three main things here. There’s the clef symbol, which is the big fancy drawing. The symbol there means “treble clef”, and is the clef that instruments such as guitars and trumpets almost always play in. A clef is a way of organizing music on the staff.

    The next thing is the time signature. That’s the numbers. Basically, what they say is how many beats are in a measure, and how much a beat is worth in length. Don’t worry about that for the moment.

    The next thing present is the staff itself. Notes are written on it like so:


    Normally, the name of the note isn’t written above the note itself, but I did so to show what the notes were, as a reference.

    Next, I’ll be showing you how you determine length of notes. Use this as a reference.



    As I said, a quarter note is the beat of a song. There are four quarter notes in a measure.

    Also, when there is a dot after a note, you increase the length of a note by half its original value. For instance, if you have a dotted whole note, you hold it for six beats.

    I’ll demonstrate different rhythms that I’ll write on the board and then demonstrate.


    Now, you’re going to write music on a staff. Take these notes and write them:
    F (quarter note)
    F (Eighth note)
    G (Eight note)
    A (Quarter note)
    A (Eight note)
    G (Eighth note)


    When you play music, you play in a key. This key can be major or minor, but I’ll concentrate on major scales.

    A key can be on any note, F#, C, A, you name it. To determine how scales work, I’ll have you look at a piano.




    You’ll notice that there are black keys and white keys. The white keys are the notes that aren’t flat or sharp (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and the black keys are the notes that are sharp or flat. (A#, C#, D#, F#, G#).The Key of C has only white keys on it. To figure out a Key, and what notes are on it, you find the root, which is the note whose key’s name you’re finding, and count from there. You go two keys forward (a whole step) once, hit that note, go another whole step, hit that note. Move one key, or a half step, hit that note, go a whole note, whole note, whole note, half note. The keys hit are the ones on the scale. You’ll notice that if you use this process in the key of C, you’ll only hit white notes on the piano. If you repeat this process for any major key, you’ll find that, as I demonstrated, black keys are hit.

    For instance, the scale of A has A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, and A

    The other scale I’ll be covering is the minor scale. It goes whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, and whole step. The A minor scaled is the same as the C major scale, but it starts on a different note. The minor scale gives a slightly more dissident and edgy sound than the major scale.

    For instance, the minor scale of C has C, D, D#, F, G, G#, G, A#, C.

    There are also what are called Chromatic Scales. These scales are made by hitting every key, white or black, between the root note and the note an octave up from that.
    Last edited by Netrosis; December 26th, 2009 at 08:45 AM.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
    DQ 1337 Member Sirrin Nacht's Avatar
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    Once, long ago, I was taught how to write music in my school music class. Now, years later, I........................can't remember how to do any of this. I'm disappointed in myself, but not surprised.

  4. #4
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    It's good reference in the very least. You could learn again using this, Sirrin.

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    Cynical Puppeteer Victory's Avatar
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    That was very well written - I quite enjoyed that and even learned a thing or two to boot. Looking forward to seeing more like it.

  6. #6
    n00b! Nico's Avatar
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    Very well written... I'll bet a music teacher couldn't do much better than that!
    I'm still in middle school, and I used to play piano, so I remember all this- It was mandatory to learn it!
    Well, Now I've learned about the confusing sharp and flat stuff...
    Thanks!
    I was gonna post a picture here... But it was a really crappy picture... 'Cuz I drew it... So yeah.

    ^_^

  7. #7
    i am 12 and wat is this? Diplomacy Domination Victory Aval's Avatar
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    DON'T LISTEN TO HIM! HE'S USING THE AMERICANISMS! :U

    Pretty hot otherwise. B)
    Quote Originally Posted by Polo View Post
    why the fuck can i never find what I'm after this is so gay

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    DQ Senior Member KingOfKong's Avatar
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    Now about that guitar article...
    "I know that human beings and fish can coexist peacefully" - George Bush

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    is Awesome. Tobu's Avatar
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    The thing i like about this is the fact it's so simple and easy to learn : )

  10. #10
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Happy to help you guys! I'm working on the guitar article, which will be a larger undertaking, so I should have that up next week.

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    Nice Silence! Gee, that almost rhymed...

    How many articles are you planning to make?

  12. #12
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Well, I'm currently working on a guitar article. It's coming along pretty well, to be honest.

  13. #13
    Formerly Big Boom Avver's Avatar
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    Yeah i use master theory, on the 5th book, and harmonizing different intruments into treble clef is annoying!
    I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid I haven't been alive enough.

  14. #14
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Oh, I didn't know you were a musician. What do you do?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silence View Post
    Oh, I didn't know you were a musician. What do you do?
    Oh, well playing piano is my main instrument, i have done it for 6 years. And I also play viola, im trying out for regionals for viola this year. But im in a school orchestra and my teacher wants me to try out for NJ jounture (sorry for grammar) orchestra also....so yeah thats all.
    I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid I haven't been alive enough.

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    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Wow, impressive. Well, you could sure show me up in your music theory knowledge. You got a MSN I can contact you on?

  17. #17
    Formerly Big Boom Avver's Avatar
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    yeah i will pm you, what exactly would you like to know?
    I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid I haven't been alive enough.

  18. #18
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    I dunno, I'd just like to learn a bit more about theory. I know my scales and modes, and how to use them for chords and such, and all the stuff I covered in this lesson, along with intervals, but other than that, my knowledge of music theory is minimal.

  19. #19
    Formerly Big Boom Avver's Avatar
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    ok i will tell you some advanced stuff over email, I will PM it to you
    I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid I haven't been alive enough.

  20. #20
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Awesome. Excited to hear it.

  21. #21
    DQ wannabe Member Kaza's Avatar
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    Lol i have been playing the cello for 6 years, and I can't remember any of this stuff. Now I do.

    Wait, I forgot again...

    Check out Echo! Link fixed!

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    I studied music for over 6 years but I couldnīt have explained better... No words to add.. very well done!

  23. #23
    DQ 1337 Member Rockonman's Avatar
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    Yea, I've been playing violin for over 12 years, and it's great to have a refresher course every now and then. Great summary, and keep posting these. Liking it!
    DQ's medical advisor.
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    DQ 1337 Member Draunia05's Avatar
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    In all the years of theory I did, I can't remember any of it. Yet I can still play.

    When I was taking lessons I'm pretty sure the last song I was learning was 'Fantasie Impromtu' by Frederic Chopin.

    Never managed to finish learning it since I stopped taking lessons ;__;
    New DeviantArt Account: http://neighday.deviantart.com/

  25. #25
    Administrator Oscar's Avatar
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    Added this to the articles section of the main site.

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