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LESSON TWO: INTERMEDIATE STUDIES

Student NotesImagine that you are the composer of a song. And, you would like to base this song on the B scale. That means that B is going to be the root. Since the song is based on the B scale, the song is said to be in the Key of B.


From the previous lesson, you learned that when you constructed a major scale using the root note B, there were 5 sharps (black keys). Check this again on your own keyboard (remember whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half). Now you could either label each sharped note on the staff that needs to be played during the song or you could use something new. You could use a "Key Signature." Look at the figure above. The first measure on the left shows the B scale in eighth notes. Each note that needs to be sharped for the B major scale is labeled with a sharp sign. This method could get very messy and hard to look at for the reader. Can you imagine what it would look like with lots of sixteenth notes?

Now look at the measure on the right. Instead of labeling every sharped note within the measure, the sharped notes are all shown at the beginning of the staff before the Time Signature. This keeps the staff cleaner and easier to read. The performer of your music can tell at a glance that there are 5 sharps used in this song over and over again. And, that this music is written in 4/4.

When I get ready to play a piece of music, I first look at the Key Signature and then the Time Signature. This is the standard approach for many musicians. You may have over heard musicians speaking to each other and saying, "Hey man. What key is this in? And what's the tempo?" These are the two most important questions other than, "Hey dude what's the ending do?" Every musician is concerned, up front, about how to start a song and how to end a song. It's like new directions to a person's house. "Where do I start and what will I see when I get close to the end of my journey?"

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