Your first Piece
We Are Young
On this page I am going to explain to you some of the fundamental
pieces of knowledge that you must have before you can play a piece
of music. If you already know this stuff then feel free to skip
ahead. These will be divided into the following sections. If you
dont already know this stuff then I have some bad news, this is
the stuff that *must* be memorized and learnt. Dont worry its fiarly
simple stuff and you will be playing your first song very soon!
The Keyboard - Note names and positions
Ok the first thing you need to do is learn the names of the keys
on the keyboard, this is not as difficult a task as it sounds, there
are only 12 unique keys on the keyboard. The musical alphabet goes
from A through to G, so every white key on any keyboard will take
one of these letter names(forget about the black keys for the moment).
Now if we look at the keyboard below all the unique white keys
have their letters written under them. Notice that the black keys
come in a group of two followed by a group of three, this is what
we can use to identify the white keys. For example, the white key
immedately to the left of a group of the two black keys is called
C. The white key in the middle of the two black keys is D, the white
key to the left of the three black keys group is F and so on. The
note names repeat after every 8 white keys as can be seen on the
keyboard below. You only need to learn the positionsn and names
of the seven unique white keys, this allows you to name any
white key on the keyboard.
So go on, learn the positions of the white keys now, spend a little
while on it, its best to do it in front of a real keyboard. Once
you think you know them fairly well, try closing your eyes, pressing
a white key at random, opening your eyes and trying to name what
key it is.
The unique white keys on a keyboard
Ok, I've focused on the white keys so far, and thats because the
black keys are easy to learn once you know your white keys. In fact
the names of the black keys are based on the white keys near them.
There are only 5 unique black keys on the keyboard, these have been
named and shown below.
I must explain to you what sharp and flat means before you can
understand the black key names. Basically sharpening a note means
raising it to the next note immidately to the right of it. So if
we find the F key (its to the left of the three black keys) and
sharpen it, the note immidiately to the right of it is a black key
and is called F sharp or F#. Similarly the note immidiately to the
right of G is the black key G# and so on.
The black keys on the keyboard in terms of sharps
One little thing I must explain before moving on is that each
black key has two names, this is because of the flat operator. The
flat operator is the opposite of the sharp operator, instead of
going up to the next note above, you go down to the next note immidiately
below. Lets look at the next graphic to see this in action.
The black keys on the keyboard in terms of flats
So the black key immidiately below G becomes G flat or Gb, the
black key below A becomes Ab and so on. It is important to learn
and remember both the names for each black key (the sharp and the
flat name) because both names are used in music.
This should be your next task, to learn both the names for each
of the black keys on the keyboard. Spend a little bit of time on
this to get it right, because you are going to be using it all the
time throughout this webpage as well as any piece of music you may
decide to play.
Chords and Scales
Ok, you've come this far, let me just explain a couple of terms
used commonly by musicians all over the world.
A chord is a group of notes played at the same time. Yes its that
simple! Ok it gets a bit more complicated, because the exact notes
that are being played determine the type of chord. Common chords
are usually played with 2, 3, 4, 5 or indeed any number of notes
that people can possibly play with their hands. The chord is the
basic building block of all modern rock and pop music. In a piece
of music the melody is usually based on the chord being played at
that time, we'll see exactly how this works a little later on.
A scale is basically a sequence of notes, it might be best to
demonstrate with an example. The most popular scale is the C Major
scale, you can play this yourself right now. Start at the note C
and play every white note in succession until you get to the C above
the one on which you started. You'll notice this scale as you've
no doubt heard it many times before.
Listen to this scale here
Now this is just one possible scale, there are hundreds of different
types of musical scales, thankfully we will only need to know a
couple to be able to play rock and pop music.
Dont worry you're doing well, you almost know enough to play your
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