For anyone interested in learning to play a musical instrument, whether it be a piano, a clarinet, a cello or a trumpet, it is imperative to first learn some basics about reading music. In this article, you will find information on music staffs, the different types of meters, the different types of musical notes, the different types of music staffs, and the notes on a music staff.
A music staff is made up of five horizontal lines four spaces. Each line and space is a pitch. Pitches are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). See Diagram 1.
There are two main clefs in music; the treble clef and the bass clef. The clef determines the notes for each line and space. The treble clef lines form an acronym (Every Good Boy Does Fine) while the spaces spell F-A-C-E (face). See Diagram 2. The bass clef lines also form an acronym (Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always) and the spaces do as well (All Cars Eat Gas). See Diagram 3.
Each note played has a specific duration. The basic notes are a whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note and sixteenth note. For each note, there is a rest with the same duration (whole rest, half rest, quarter rest, eighth rest, and sixteenth rest. See diagram 4. A whole note gets four beats while the half note only gets two beats. The quarter note gets just one beat but the eighth note only gets half of a beat and the sixteenth note gets just a fourth of a beat. The corresponding rests have the same duration.
A meter is also known as the time. It is indicated by a fraction at the beginning of a piece of music. The lower number tells what kind of note gets one beat. The upper number tells how many beats are in a measure. In a simple meter, the upper number is either 2, 3, or 4 while the lower number is always 4. See diagram 5.
These are the basics of music theory. Practice these fundamentals before moving into the more compound and complex parts of music theory. Practice hard and before you know it, you’ll be entertaining crowds with your musical skills.