Chapter One

Fundamentals of Music

Music uses a set of symbols called notation to convey musical concepts. While the symbols are at first imposing, students typically grasp the concepts quickly. Notation is used to convey the pitch and the duration of music.

Music is written on a set of five lines called a staff. Notes are written on the lines and the spaces. The higher the note on the staff, the higher the pitch.

Modern music is written on staffs which are referred to as clefs. There are two clefs: the G clef and the F clef. Below are the G and F clefs.

If notes are written above or below the staffs, the notes are written on ledger lines. Below is the note middle C, which is especially important to piano players because middle C is in the middle of the keyboard. Note that middle C can be written below the G clef or above the F clef. The following gif shows middle C in both of its forms. One is below the G clef, the other is above the F clef.

A piano keyboard has eighty-eight keys. Notes represent pitch and are designated by the letters C, D, E, F, G, A, B. We start with C because of middle C. Depending on where a note lies on the grand staff, the notes repeat upward or downward. Below is the grand staff and its corresponding notes. Note that all the listed notes are on the white keys. We'll discuss the black keys latter. The arrow designates middle C. Note that the black keys are almost always in groups of two or three. C is always the white key which precedes a group of two black keys.


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