Reading music 2

Accidentals

sharp sign
This is a “Sharp” symbol. When placed in front of any note, it increases the note’s pitch a half-step higher. In guitar terms, it raises a note up one fret.

flat sign
This is a “Flat” symbol. When placed in front of any note, it decreases the note’s pitch a half-step lower. In guitar terms, it lowers a note back one fret.

natural sign
This is a “Natural” symbol. It eliminates any Sharps or Flats from the note that it is placed in front of.

When an accidental of any kind is placed on a note, all the same notes after this note in any octave in the measure the accidental appeared on will be played as though they too had the accidental in front of them, although only the first accidental will be on the staff. This means that if you sharp a C note, anytime another C note appears on the same measure thereafter will also be sharped. If you flat a B note, all future B notes in the measure will also be flated. Putting a natural sign on a C sharp note will eliminate the “sharp” from that C note and all future C notes remaining in the measure.

Key Signatures

key example
If you look at enough sheets of music, you will notice that many have sharps and flats right after the clef. This is because there are many “keys” that a piece can be written in, and each key naturally has different numbers of sharps and flats. Major keys are characterized by their “happy” or “upbeat” feeling, while minor keys are said to be “sad”. All the sharps or flats that appear on a key signature affect the notes of the music those sharps/flats are on. D major has two sharps, F sharp and C sharp. Whenever an F or C note appears, they will be played sharped automatically without the need of adding any sharp accidentals into the music. Here are all the keys. Notice that C major and A minor naturally have no sharps or flats, but are keys nonetheless.
major keys
minor keys
These diagrams were borrowed from this site:
http://library.thinkquest.org/15413/theory/intervals.htm#keys

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