Learning Music Theory Part 8 (Key Signatures)

What are key signatures in music?  According to my absorption on this topic as I’m trying to learn music theory, key signatures help musicians to remove the clutter of accidentals in a music sheet when writing music notes.  Furthermore, knowing how to read key signatures helps musicians reading the accidentals on the music sheets that use key signatures.  So, instead of writing in every sharp and flat there is into a music sheet, a musician can use key signatures to tell other musicians to read his music sheet’s accidentals through key signatures.

By knowing key signatures on a piece, one will also know the scale type which one should play when reading a music sheet that uses key signatures.  For an example, let’s assume you know or remember all about G major scale, and by knowing G major scale by heart you know that this scale only has one sharp in it.  Furthermore, let’s assume you also know this G major scale has only one F sharp (accidental) in the whole scale.  So, by knowing these info, whenever you see a starting of a staff that uses key signature pattern of only one F sharp, right away you should know that you are playing a G major scale section.  Some musical sheets of whatever musical piece may change key signatures and scales throughout the whole musical piece.  Thus, one needs to be careful in reading key signatures in order for one to know when to play what accidentals of which scale at a specific section of a musical piece.

Key signatures fit nicely between the Clef and the Time Signature.  For an example, a Treble Clef would be written first, then the Key Signatures, then the Time Signature on a music staff.  There are rules to keep the using and reading of key signatures bearable and understandable:

  1. First rule, key signatures of a pattern of sharps or flats will always be in the same order.  OK, you probably scratch your head already.  No sweat, and here is the explanation.  Follow this simple exercise and you shall know the answer.  Take a look at the piano’s keyboard layout (get a piano’s keyboard layout through the Internet), you need to count how many sharps there are in the whole G major scale starting from the G musical note.  If you are doing it right, you see that there are only 7 sharps.  If you count backward from the last G musical note to the first G musical note (i.e., GFEDCBAG), you should see there will always be only 7 flats for G major scale.  Guess what, there will always be 7 sharps and flats for all scales.  How come?  It’s all because we use the half step rule.  As we all know, whenever we do a half step down, we are lowering the pitch by half step to create a flat.  Same thing goes for sharp, we make a sharp whenever we raise a pitch half step up.  Although a specific scale, except the C major scale, would have different accidentals in specific key places, the half step rule would always be successfully turned any key within a specific scale into a flat or sharp.  Since now we know that there are always be 7 flats or sharps in all scales, we can safely assume the order of these flats and sharps can never change, because these flats and sharps in any scale don’t have feet to move around the piano’s keyboard.  Thus, the first rule — which states the order of the pattern of sharp or staff will always be the same — is sound.
  2. Second rule, you cannot mix the flat and the sharp key signatures together in a key signature pattern for a section of a staff.
  3. Third rule, key signatures of a pattern of flats will always be in this order [BEADGCF].  If we reverse the flat key signature pattern, we form the sharp key signature pattern which is [FCGDAEB].  Same thing as the flat key signature pattern, the order of the key signatures in the sharp key signature pattern cannot be out of order.  You probably scratch your head already and ask why there are patterns for key signatures, right?  I scratched my head too, and I tried to find the answer to this scratching head curiosity.  Nonetheless, I found none, but then I thought to myself, perhaps the telling is in how many flats or sharps each scale has and how these key sharps and flats are fitting nicely onto a staff in specific orders for key signatures of sharps and flats.  Still scratching your head?  Let’s do this simple exercise and we shall see the answer:
    1. Take out a blank sheet of paper and draw a five line musical staff.
    2. Create a Treble Clef (ignoring time signature symbols as we don’t need them in this exercise).  We will draw in the key signatures in the staff later.
    3. On the very top of the blank sheep of paper you need to write out the key signatures’ sharps and flat patterns (i.e., BEADGCF for flat key signatures and FCGDAEB for sharp key signatures).
    4. If we play the G major scale on a piano’s keyboard layout, we know that there is only one F sharp as our accidental.  Draw the #F (F sharp) onto the five line Treble Clef staff which we had drawn out onto our blank sheet of paper earlier.  The #F sharp should overlay the 5th line of the five line staff, right?  If you remember your music theory correctly about the staff, the 5th line is the very top line of the five line staff since we’re counting the lines and spaces from the bottom up.
    5. Next, we need to play the D major scale pattern out on the piano’s keyboard layout, and by playing out this pattern we know that there are 2 sharps in D major scale.  These sharps are #F and #C.  Instead of repeating the drawing of #F sharp onto our five line Treble Clef staff, we ignore the #F and draw down the #C onto our five line staff.  The position of the #C should be above the 3rd line of our five line staff, and so this means that our #C is sitting in a space which sits between the third line and fourth line of the staff.
    6. Next, we need to play the A major scale pattern out on the piano’s keyboard layout, and by playing out this pattern we know that there are 3 sharps in A major scale.  According to our FCGDAEB for sharp key signatures, we know the 3 sharps are #F, #C, and #G.  According to how we play out the A major scale on our piano’s keyboard layout, we confirm that the sharps are #F, #C, and #G, but of course when we play these sharps out in A major scale in the piano’s keyboard layout, these sharps are not going from left to right or vice versa in order.  Nonetheless, if we draw out these sharps in our five line Treble Clef musical staff, we know that we don’t have to repeat the drawing of the #F and #C, because we’d drawn them earlier.  The only sharp for the A major scale that we need to draw onto our five line staff is the #G.  You should draw your #G in the space above the 5th line of the five line staff.

We can go on with the exercise of the rule #3, but it would be tedious.  By going through the exercise that I created for rule #3 earlier, we now see the pattern of why the key signatures for sharps are always in the order of FCGDAEB.  Thus, if we had completely done the whole exercise through and through, we should be able to reverse the order for sharp key signature pattern into flat key signatures pattern.  Anyway, check out the orders of flat and sharp key signatures on Treble Clef staves right after the break.

order-of-key-signatures-on-treble-clef-staff

I don’t know if I’d missed any rule in regarding to key signatures or not, but the 3 rules I listed should help you a lot in knowing how to identify key signatures.  So, the next time we read a music sheet that got sections rig with key signatures, we know that whenever a music note — that is not being labeled with accidental symbol but matched a key signature — is an accidental instead.  For an example, if we see #F (F sharp) key signature, we know we have to play #F no matter what even if we see a music note is F natural in a section of a music sheet.

I know it’s hard to remember the patterns of key signatures for sharps and flats, thus mnemonic trick should be used to help you remember how to recall these key signature patterns.  For me, I only need to remember the flat key signature pattern, because it’s easy for me to remember the flat key signature pattern and then reverse the flat key signature pattern into the sharp key signature pattern.  Flat key signature pattern is [BEADGCF], and my mnemonic for it is BEAD Greatest Common Factor.  Nonetheless, you should come up with your own mnemonic for the flat key signature pattern so it will stick in your own memory better.

In the next music theory blog post, I’ll touch on the Circle of Fifths, because this is one of the formulaic methods of helping us easily to correlate the key signatures to a scale.  Basically, if one knows how to use the Circle of Fifths, one should be able to see what keys are being sharpened and flattened in which scale in seconds.  Thus, Circle of Fifths will help us name the scales such as G major scale when seeing the key signatures in place, quickly and easily!

In summary, knowing key signatures helps a musician to read and play accidentals on a music sheet that does not spell out each individual accidental.  Furthermore, knowing the key signatures’ position and pattern and the number of key signatures in place helps a musician to know which scale he is playing in.  Knowing which scale is important as it helps a musician not to lose his place on a music instrument.

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Learning Music Theory Part 7 (Major Scales)

Whatever a color a tonality would be according to your imagination, but musicians say that there are two tonalities to describe the scales in music.  First and the most important tonality is all about the major scales, and the second tonality is all about minor scales.  Up to now I’ve learned how to construct any major scale in Western music’s doctrine, but don’t ask me about the minor scale construction just yet since I’ve yet to learn the essentials of minor scales.

Anyway, to construct major scales according to Western music’s doctrine, we need to know the pattern of whole steps and half steps in a pattern.  Basically, there is only one pattern of whole steps and half steps that we need to remember in order for us to successfully construct any major scale.  The pattern is (whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half).  Furthermore, a C major scale does not have any accidental (i.e., sharp or flat), because C major scale utilizes only natural keys.  If we know about piano’s keyboard layout, natural keys are the white keys.  Except C major scale, all other major scales must utilize at least one accidental or more.  To understand why this is the case, one just needs to apply the major scale’s construction pattern of (whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half) to the piano’s keyboard layout (or any other musical instrument’s layout).

Don’t know what are whole and half steps?  For an example, on the piano, C major scale starts out with C natural key (white key on the piano which represents C note) and would end with C natural key to create one octave.  So, according to major scale pattern [(1)whole, (2)whole, (3)half, (4)whole, (5)whole, (6)whole, (7)half]:

  1. C to D is a whole key step movement, because there is a half key step movement of an accidental black key (#C or C sharp) which sits between C natural and D natural keys.
  2. D to E is another whole key step movement, because there is (#D or D sharp) which sits between D natural and E natural keys.
  3. E to F is a half key step movement, because there is no black key between E natural and F natural keys.
  4. F to G is another whole key step movement, because (#F or F sharp) which sits between F natural and G natural keys.
  5. G to A is another whole key step movement, because (#G or G sharp) which sits between G natural and A natural keys.
  6. A to B is another whole key step movement, because (#A or A sharp) which sits between A natural and B natural keys.
  7. B to C is a half key step movement, because there is no black key between B natural and C natural keys.

The series of key step movements that I posted above is for C major scale of course, but I did not include the repeat of a C key to end the whole series as an octave.  Nonetheless, we all know when a major scale starts out with a key note, to end an octave it should end with the same key note.  For a C major scale, we start out with key note C, and to end the C major scale octave we should end it with key note C.  The key note C that ends the current octave for C major scale should start a new octave which begins with this very key note C for C major scale.

Remember, half step is one key up or down from the original key, and whole step is two keys up or down from the original key.  Since the pattern of major scale is according to a series of whole and half steps, thus any other scale, except for C major scale, must use some accidentals (black keys on the piano) in the construction of a major scale.  By following the C major scale pattern of the series of whole and half steps accordingly, one can see how a finger should place on each key note in a series accordingly.  Thus, it’s important to remember when one has to play at least a black key (accidentals) in a scale, it’s not a C major scale.

With major scale pattern knowledge, it’s easy for anyone to construct any major scale.  According to what I’d read from books and watch videos from YouTube, people suggest that all major scales are very important.  They think all major scales are the DNA of music, because all other scales derive from major scales.  Perhaps minor scales derive from major scales?  I don’t know about minor scales yet, so I guess I’ll talk about minor scales when I finish minor scale lessons.

So, any major scale starts out with a note label should end with the same note label.  For an example, a C major scale starts out with C natural, and so it should end with C natural.  Thus, D major scale starts out with D natural and ends with D natural.  If I’m not wrong, each scale should form a complete octave.

Now, the question is why one needs to know any scale?  I guess and if I’m not wrong, from playing the piano perspective, knowing a scale can help a piano player to move from one octave to another while preserving the tonality color.  For an example, one octave higher can be played by the same notes in the same scale such as C major scale, yet preserving the same tonality color such as how things sound similar.  Also, knowing the scales by heart, this I’ve yet to achieve, may help one to remember all the notes on a specific musical instrument.  I notice that the notes in any scale do play nice and sound nice in whatever series.  By this I meant when you play any note in a specific scale in a series, the notes come together nicely in a series of sounds.  For an example, you can try to play a C major scale, but you can intentionally try to insert a non-member scale note into a C major scale without any careful thought — the series of sounds might come out unpleasant.  Of course, there is always an exception, thus with careful thought and listening, one might be able to form musical piece with notes that are not sync in any scale and yet such musical piece sounds totally awesome and sweet.  I guess, knowing scales can also help one makes music easier, because one can always fall back onto a scale!  Of course, there are other important keys that I’ve probably missed in pointing out why knowing any scale is important for knowing music, but I sure hope the keys I point out would help you a lot already!

By knowing how to construct major scales, it probably will be very useful for you in learning how to read key signatures.  I’m still trying to learn more about key signatures.  When I attain enough knowledge on key signatures, I’ll post another blog post on key signatures.  For now, major scales are all that matter!

Perhaps, you may not totally know what I’m talking about in this blog post in term of major scales for whatever reasons, then the YouTube video which sits right after the break may help you understand better at how to construct any major scale.  This YouTube video isn’t mine, but I’ve found it on YouTube.  I think the video is quite helpful in helping one to understand the construction of the major scales.  Enjoy!!!

 

Learning Music Theory Part 5 (Musical Repeat Signs)

In Western music, mostly I think, the way we are reading music has a tradition in Italy, because back in time, around 1500s (if I’m not wrong on this), Italy was prolific in Western music.  Since Italy had set a tradition for how we’re reading music today, thus many musical terms are usually in Italian.  This is why I found many musical terms are escaping my memory easily.  Have you ever heard of Staccato?  Staccato is an Italian musical term for a form of articulation (another term but in English for how music is describing note’s sustain, attack, and release).  Basically, Staccato means the articulation form is short, and it is usually being represented by a period-like symbol (or dot-like) which usually sits above a note.

Now we know why musical terms do sound strange to non-Italian speakers.  Besides weird musical terms, there are more musical signs that can also behoove music theory beginners.  For an example, there are signs that help a musician in knowing how to repeat a section or sections of a musical piece.  Instead of explaining these signs through the written form in my own written words — which I think I might not do a good job in doing so — I’m just going to post a video which I found on YouTube that is very good in explaining the musical repeat signs.  Enjoy!!!

Learning Music Theory Part 4 (Leger And Clefs)

What about leger or ledger lines?  Have you ever wondered about the strange notes — with lines that sit above or below or strike through them — that sit outside the five line staff?  These notes are there to indicate extra notes that the staff isn’t capable of fitting.  When extra notes require, people use leger or ledger lines to indicate the notes’ positions.  For an example, next higher line that sits above the 5th line of a five staff can be represented by a note that sits above or below a line (or a note gets a line which strikes through the middle of the note).  Hint:  five line staff can only have five main lines, thus leger or ledger lines are there to extend the five line staff.  Leger can also be called as ledger line.

What about Clefs?  In theory, a five line staff can represent any group of line names, but this would be confusing isn’t it?  Thus, people name common group of lines in a five line staff to certain clefs.  There are couple common clefs, but there are other uncommon clefs, also.  I won’t mention uncommon clefs here, but you can look them up on the Internet.  The common clefs are Treble, Bass, and Rhythm clefs.  You can search the Internet to see how these clefs look like.  Nonetheless, a clef usually gets drawn to the very left of a staff.  These clefs do look fanciful!

Treble clef indicates that a staff starts out with line G on the second line, and people usually use Treble clef for musical instruments that can do high pitches (e.g., piano, flute, guitar).

Bass clef indicates that a staff starts out with line F on the fourth line, and people usually use the Bass clef for musical instruments that can do lower pitches (e.g., drum, piano, etc…).

Rhythm clef got no line name, because Rhythm clef is for a staff that represents musical instruments with no pitch such as percussion instruments.  Usually, one line staff with a Rhythm clef is good enough for a single non-pitched musical instrument, but five line staff with Rhythm clef can be used to represent a set of non-pitched musical instruments in a song or a piece.  There is no standard of how to name which line on a staff for which non-pitched instrument when it comes to a staff with Rhythm clef.  Nonetheless, once you know a specific instrument position in a staff with Rhythm clef for a song or a piece, usually it means the line position of such an instrument on a five line staff won’t ever change (of course it may change on a new song or a new piece).  When you see x marks on five line staff with Rhythm clef, it means the x marks are there to represent the small percussion instruments such as cymbals.

Leger and Clefs JPG

To name the lines on a five line staff, you can use alphabetical letters of A to G (i.e., ABCDEFG).  You name the lines on the five line staff in alphabetical order from bottom up.  No other letter besides ABCDEFG can be used to name the lines on the five line staff.

You can use mnemonic method to allow you to remember the line names of five line staffs that have common clefs.  For an example, I use Empty Garbage Before Dad Flip mnemonic for lines on five line staff that uses Treble clef.  In a five line staff with Treble clef, Empty represents name E for the 1st line of the five line staff, Garbage represents name G for the 2nd line of the five line staff, and so forth.  I use Farting Always Causes Enemies or FACE mnemonic for remembering space names in five line staff with Treble clef.  I use Goofy Babies Do Funny Acts mnemonic to remember the lines on five line staff with Bass clef.  I use All Cows Eat Grass mnemonic to remember the spaces on five line staff with Bass clef.

Learning Music Theory Part 3 (What Are The Triplets?)

Triplets are hard for music theory beginners like me.  I got the idea of how to count the triplets and so, but I’m not at the point of saying that I can feel comfortable with triplets.  This is why I’m not going to bother with trying to explain the essence of triplets to you in my own words, instead I’m going to post few YouTube videos that I found to be excellent in explaining the triplets to you.  Enjoy!!!

Learning Music Theory Part 1

My love for making music began with Cakewalk’s Music Creator software which I bought on Steam a year or two back if my memory is correct.  From Music Creator, I saw how easy it was for me to produce sounds from MIDI controller devices such as M-Audio’s AXIOM AIR 25 MIDI Keyboard controller.  Furthermore, Music Creator allowed me to record audio and piece audios together with ease.  From Music Creator, I graduated to Sonar X2 Studio and eventually Sonar X3 Studio.  Right now I’m using Sonar X3 Studio with various third party VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology).  With different specific VSTs, I was able to produce wide variety of sounds and musics.

Anyhow, I was not able to read music and write music in music language, because I was lacking in music theory knowledge.  Instead, I was making music with my hearing only.  I used my ears and my love for feeling a new tune to come up with music that I was able to record through Sonar X2 and Sonar X3 Studio software (and various VSTs).  Sometimes, I used loops and samples too!

Nonetheless, as my love for making music expands each day, now I begin to see my lacking of music theory knowledge is a drawback.  I want to be able to write music and read music without the help of a software.  For your information, software such as Sonar X3 Studio does provide Staff view, and this view automatically writes out the musical notes that you play from your MIDI controller.  Although software can obviously write out the musical notes and keep musical notes on records, the records of musical notes would be no good for me in the future if I can’t read these musical notes, right?  Furthermore, I think developing insight into reading and writing music and knowing more of musical theory might help me in creating better music in the future.  Nonetheless, music is all about sounds, and so sounds do come before theory!

At the moment, I’m reading a musical theory book, “Basic Music Theory: How to Read, Write, and Understand Written Music (4th ed.)” by Jonathan Harnum, on Kindle software.  It’s a wonderful beginner book for musicians who want to start learning music theory.  It’s so easy to understand that I think I’m being blessed for being able to read this book in this time.  I’ve gotten only to Chapter 9 — each chapter is very precise and thoughtfully brief to the point of keeping things easy to understand and digest — and yet I’m able to decipher what are musical notes, time signatures (or meters), musical rests, importances of musical staffs (one line and five lines staff or staves),  musical bars, musical measures, and counting music.  This is a lot of materials to digest, and yet this book helps me digest so much music theory knowledge in couple hours.  Of course, how much music theory knowledge I will retain over time can only be told by my perseverance of staying in touch with music theory for some times to come.

Without musical beats and silences and pitches, tunes will hard to come by.  With good tunes, sounds from beautiful instruments, and good lyrics, good music can be achieved.  Of course, good music doesn’t necessarily need to include lyrics, but with good lyrics music can become another fascination.  I’m no expert in making music, and I’m a student of music as long as I breathe, I think.  This is why I intend to write blog posts on some of the music theory I’ve learned, and only in this way that I can record what music theory I’ve learned.  In this very way, I can ensure my effort of learning music theory can be revisited by me in the future through my blog posts.  Perhaps, I may need to rekindle my music theory knowledge somehow in the near or distant future, because of bad memory or whatever.  In addition to my own benefits, hopefully these coming blog posts of mine on music theory will also help others whose desire is to learn music theory.

I won’t be able to do a good job in capturing music theory knowledge as the book I’d mentioned in this blog post earlier, and so I advise you to check out the book if you are wanting to pick up on basic music theory essentials.  Nonetheless, here let me mention few basic music theory essentials.

From what I’ve retained of reading on music theory so far, it seems that learning music theory is to facilitate one’s knowledge into reading, writing and understanding music language.  Although music is all about sounds and patterns of sounds, only with certain music theories (because there are different theories of how to form music in readable symbols and numbers and words) that we can really capture music in records that can be passed onto others for reading and replaying the same music.  Furthermore, I’ve the feeling of music theory is far beyond in just forming music language, but it’s more of tricks and what-not that can enhance one’s music production.

The trick to be able to read and write music is definitely beginning with familiarizing musical notes.  Musical notes represent musical beats.  Musical beats are steady sound pulses that can form patterns, thus we have musical tunes and music in general.  According to what I’ve read, common musical notes are quarter, half, and whole notes.  Commonly, a quarter note represents one beat, a half note represents two beats, and a whole note represents four beats on common staffs such as 4/4 time signature staff (or four four as in 4 beats per measure and quarter note per beat).  These notes can be written on one line or five line staff.  One line staff was the easiest to read, but cannot represent the sophistication of intricate musical instruments and sound patterns, I think.  Thus, we have five line staff that allows us humans to record music with greater sophistication.  Five line staff is more complex and harder to read, but it’s more common today.  According from what I’ve read in the book I mentioned earlier, one line staff is commonly used with recording musical notes made by percussion instruments.  Five line staff is commonly used with music instruments that have greater sophistication in sound pitches and so forth.

Each staff can be divided into measures.  These measures can be represented by single musical bar (or bar-line) and double musical bar (or double bar-line).  The measures are there for making reading music easier.  Thus, each measure divides group of musical notes into a section within a five line staff.  A double musical bar signifies the end of a section, movement, or entire song.  Let’s backtrack a bit, a five line staff has five lines and four spaces, and each line and space has to be counted from bottom up.  The very bottom line is line 1 and counting up from here.  This means the very top line is line 5.  The between of line 1 and line two forms space 1, and we can count the upward from here (up to space 4).  The musical bars I mentioned can also be called bar-lines (e.g., single bar-line, double bar-line).

You can tell a musical note is a whole note when a symbol of emptied elliptical circle is being drawn onto a staff (whether that would be a single or five line staff).  You can tell a musical note is a half note when a symbol of emptied elliptical circle attaches to a stem which either goes up or down.  You can tell a musical note is a quarter note when a symbol of filled-in elliptical circle attaches to a stem which either goes up or down.

Musical note with stem goes up needs to be positioned either directly on the third line of the five line staff or below the third line of the five line staff.  A half note with stem goes down needs to be positioned either directly on the third line of the five line staff or above the third line of the five line staff.  Don’t you notice how strange that a third line of the five line staff allows the stems of musical notes to either go up or down?  It’s because the third line allows musical notes with stems to conform to the direction of the stem of the next musical note.  A musical note with stem goes down needs to have a stem attaches to the left of the elliptical (either filled in or emptied) circle.  A musical note with stem goes up needs to have a stem attaches to the right of the elliptical (either filled in or emptied) circle.  Easy to remember trick is imagining note with stem down as letter d for (down) and note with stem up as letter p for (up).

Musical Five Line Staff JPEG By Vinh Nguyen

Silence in music is known as rest, and there are various rests.  Rests can be represented in various symbols, but the way we count the rests in beats are comparable to the non-rest counterparts.  For an example, in the picture above, we can see a hat looking icon represents a half rest (non-rest would be half note in four four time signature), and this half rest can only be sit upon the third line in the five line staff.  The upside down hat looking icon represents the whole rest (non rest would be whole note in four four time signature), and this whole rest can only be hanging from the fourth line in the five line staff.

Besides knowing how to read the basic notes in common time signature staves, we need to know how to count the beats.  Counting the beats help one in knowing how the beat would play out and how long the beat would last and so forth.  Silents/rests can be counted with a whisper or in a lower audible tone.   Counting 8 (eighth) note would require an and in voice counting or + in writing, and whenever an and or + is met one needs to know this is an up beat, thus a foot goes up if one is foot tapping to the beats.  Counting 16 (sixteenth) note would require e and a in voice counting and writing (e.g., 1 e + a, 2 e + a, 3 e + a, 4 e + a).  When writing out silences or rests, the counting of writing needs to be in parentheses, and an example would be (1-2).

Eighth note (8) will have a flag, sixteenth note (16) will have 2 flags, and adding another flag indicate cutting down more of the lasting time of a beat by previous count by half.  When grouping same flag notes together, they form flag bar.  Single flag notes in group such as (a group of eighth notes) form a single horizontal bar above or below the notes’ stems according to the stems’ direction.  Double flag notes in group such as (a group of sixteenth notes) form a double horizontal bar above or below the notes’ stems according to the stems’ direction.

Eighth and Sixteenth Notes With Flags by Vinh Nguyen

 

Eighth Notes and Sixteenth Notes With Flags In Group

 

And then there is an eighth rest which looks like a number 7 with a small circle growing to the left and on the top of the horizontal line of the number 7.  I’m too lazy to draw it out and post a picture for this, but you will know what I mean when you see one, I think.  Eighth rest needs to be positioned in the middle of the staff.  Sixteenth rest has one more flag to the seven looking alike eighth rest.  So instead of one strange looking tip that attaches to the eighth rest, 16th rest has two strange looking tips as if a mini and bigger number sevens combine into one.

Let’s try to count in 2/4 time signature (meter) of 16th notes in a group OK?  If I’m not wrong, this is how it should be… This means we have to visualize beats in 16th notes, but the maximum we can group 16th notes into group is to have the 16th notes adding up to 2 quarter notes per measure.  How come?  2/4 time signature tells us that 2 can only have 2 beats per measure, but the secret code #4 tells us that #4 is a quarter note type beat.  So, basically we need four 16th notes for a quarter note.  Nonetheless, 2/4 time signature tells us that we can have 2 quarter notes in a measure, and so we need eight 16th notes for a measure.  By visualizing this we got the counting in writing for eight 16notes in a measure as 1 e + a,  2 e + a.  If there is a silence/rest in a counting somewhere, then we should add in the parentheses.  An example would be 1 e + (a), 2 e (+) a.  I think to understand this better, one needs to know how short a time of a beat is.  With this in mind, I guess we can imagine it takes four 16th beats/notes to make up a quarter beat/note, thus the 16th beat/note is 4 times shorter in duration than a quarter beat/note.

Let’s try to count in 4/4 time signature (meter) for 8th notes in a group OK?  If I’m not wrong, this is how it should be in writing… 1+2+3+4+.  If there is a silence/rest in a counting somewhere, then we should add in parentheses.  An example would be 1(+)2+3+4(+).

I also learn that familiarizing with the symbols of the notes allows you to facilitate the visualization of the counting of notes in writing or in silence.  For an example, in 4/4 time signature, if we need to write the counts of the eighth notes out fast, all we need to remember is that 2 symbols of eighth notes equal to one quarter note.  Since 4/4 time dictates 4 quarter beat type per measure, we know we need eight eighth symbol notes for the measure.  Of course, to make the picture even simpler, we can visualize that a pair of eighth symbol notes equal to a quarter, and so we need 4 pairs of eighth symbol notes.  Thus it goes 1+2+3+4+.  Of course, you have to count the + as and when you read it out.  + or and equal an eighth beat if we’re talking about eighth notes in 4/4 time signature (meter).

It’s sort of confusing the way I describe — in writing and images in this blog post — of what I can remember on the top of my head so far in term of my music theory learning progress.  Nonetheless, hopefully what I describe in this blog post will be useful for anyone who wants to learn some music theory’s basic essentials.  As I try to learn more stuffs from music theory from all reputable sources, I will try to post more of what I will know on music theory on this blog of mine.  Until then…