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#1098067 - 12/11/07 05:51 PM Question about reading music  
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internetsrsbusiness Offline
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I have been sort of playing the piano for a long time (since I was 4) but never actually learned to read music. So I am attempting to learn these things now since I am being asked to do so.

Aside from my pointless and silly introduction. I shall get to my question.

When there are sharp symbols at the beginning of the lines, what do they signify.

[Linked Image]

Sometimes there is only one sharp symbol, other times there are more, like 4. So what is it trying to tell me.

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#1098068 - 12/11/07 06:02 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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playadom Offline
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Ahh, the Moonlight sonata. 3rd mvt. Fun! Most people are learning the 1st.

The sharp symbols at the beginning mean that those notes are to be played sharped for the whole piece, unless canceled by another accidental(those only count for one measure), or a key signature(the thing you're asking about) change.


Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.
#1098069 - 12/11/07 06:02 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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gmm1 Offline
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The dreaded key signature.

4 sharps means key of E, so all F C G and Ds in the piece will be sharp.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_fifths for more info about how it works.

Just for the record, I still hate Key Signatures...


"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro
#1098070 - 12/11/07 06:07 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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pianojerome Offline
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Why do you hate key signatures?

They make things so conveniant.

Imagine if you had to read a # before every single F, C, G, and D in the entire piece. It's easier just to remember, those are always sharped.

Plus, it saves a lot of money on printing. wink


Sam
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#1098071 - 12/11/07 06:10 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Thank you very much everyone, I did not expect to get an answer so quickly. I was so confused, people were telling me extremely wrong things but now I must run off and play this song properly now, awesome!

Also I blurred out the image some, It is the 3rd movement, but with weird copyright issues and me not being completely familiar with this site I figured better to be safe than sorry.

Also once again thank you.

It makes me so happy that I have a place to come to with all my random piano related questions now.

#1098072 - 12/11/07 06:18 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Imagine if you had to read a # before every single F, C, G, and D in the entire piece. It's easier just to remember, those are always sharped.

Plus, it saves a lot of money on printing. wink
Exactly. I have gone so far as to write to Alfreds, Hal Leonard, Scott Houston, Yamaha, etc. and request they release a book written just this way, or at least color-code the sharps/flats.

I know, just learn it. I am getting better, but I still think there is a market for beginners who want to play in all keys.

Maybe when I win the lottery, I will do it myself. After all, I have all this sheet music with the sharps and flats marked already.


"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro
#1098073 - 12/11/07 06:20 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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playadom Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by internetsrsbusiness:
Thank you very much everyone, I did not expect to get an answer so quickly. I was so confused, people were telling me extremely wrong things but now I must run off and play this song properly now, awesome!

Also I blurred out the image some, It is the 3rd movement, but with weird copyright issues and me not being completely familiar with this site I figured better to be safe than sorry.

Also once again thank you.

It makes me so happy that I have a place to come to with all my random piano related questions now.
No reason to blur it, this piece is WELL out of copyright.


Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.
#1098074 - 12/11/07 06:28 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by playadom:
Quote
Originally posted by internetsrsbusiness:
[b] Thank you very much everyone, I did not expect to get an answer so quickly. I was so confused, people were telling me extremely wrong things but now I must run off and play this song properly now, awesome!

Also I blurred out the image some, It is the 3rd movement, but with weird copyright issues and me not being completely familiar with this site I figured better to be safe than sorry.

Also once again thank you.

It makes me so happy that I have a place to come to with all my random piano related questions now.
No reason to blur it, this piece is WELL out of copyright. [/b]
Although the effort in typing it all into a computer (or hand-setting it, depending when it was made), editing it, marketing it, printing it, binding it, selling it, shipping it, etc, is not necessarily out of copyright.

It depends how old that particular edition of the music is.


Sam
#1098075 - 12/11/07 06:34 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Well in all honesty it does fall under "fair use", or "educational use", and it is well bellow 2-3% of the whole piece. I'm sure that with non copyrighted music, even if the score IS copyrighted (which correctly was pointed out) there shouldn't be a problem by anyone.

#1098076 - 12/11/07 06:36 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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copyrighting Beethoven? absurd! Écrasez l'Infâme!!


[Linked Image]
#1098077 - 12/11/07 06:42 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by Nikolas:
Well in all honesty it does fall under "fair use", or "educational use", and it is well bellow 2-3% of the whole piece. I'm sure that with non copyrighted music, even if the score IS copyrighted (which correctly was pointed out) there shouldn't be a problem by anyone.
Yeah, I agree completely.

Quote
copyrighting Beethoven? absurd! Écrasez l'Infâme!!
But it's not the music that's copyrighted anymore. It's the physical book, which Beethoven did *not* make, which in this case was scanned onto the internet by someone, presumably someone other than the publisher (although it might not be the case).


Sam
#1098078 - 12/11/07 07:11 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Quote
Originally posted by playadom:
[b]
Quote
Originally posted by internetsrsbusiness:
[b] Thank you very much everyone, I did not expect to get an answer so quickly. I was so confused, people were telling me extremely wrong things but now I must run off and play this song properly now, awesome!

Also I blurred out the image some, It is the 3rd movement, but with weird copyright issues and me not being completely familiar with this site I figured better to be safe than sorry.

Also once again thank you.

It makes me so happy that I have a place to come to with all my random piano related questions now.
No reason to blur it, this piece is WELL out of copyright. [/b]
Although the effort in typing it all into a computer (or hand-setting it, depending when it was made), editing it, marketing it, printing it, binding it, selling it, shipping it, etc, is not necessarily out of copyright.

It depends how old that particular edition of the music is. [/b]
This was just your vanilla edition though. Indistinguishable from any other computer typeset editions.


Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.
#1098079 - 12/11/07 07:16 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Indistinguishable -- just as many medicines at the store are indistinguishable. Generic brands are often just duplicates of brand brands, just with a different label. That doesn't mean they aren't different products, produced/sold by different companies, and it doesn't negate the right of the producer/seller to earn a living through his work.


Sam
#1098080 - 12/11/07 07:18 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by gmm1:
Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
[b]Imagine if you had to read a # before every single F, C, G, and D in the entire piece. It's easier just to remember, those are always sharped.

Plus, it saves a lot of money on printing. wink
Exactly. I have gone so far as to write to Alfreds, Hal Leonard, Scott Houston, Yamaha, etc. and request they release a book written just this way, or at least color-code the sharps/flats.[/b]
If memory serves, there was a well known pianist (I want to say William Buckley, but don't hold me to it) that proposed printing music with red note heads for sharps, and I can't remember if flats were the same color or a different one. Anyway, Sheet Music Magazine tried it for an issue and the reaction was surprisingly (to me) negative.


Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius

Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. ~Jean Paul Richter
#1098081 - 12/11/07 07:19 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Indistinguishable -- just as many medicines at the store are indistinguishable. Generic brands are often just duplicates of brand brands, just with a different label. That doesn't mean they aren't different products, produced/sold by different companies, and it doesn't negate the right of the producer/seller to earn a living through his work.
While that is true, I doubt that it would hurt anyone to post the first 4 measures of this well-known piece.


Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.
#1098082 - 12/11/07 07:20 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by playadom:
Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
[b] Indistinguishable -- just as many medicines at the store are indistinguishable. Generic brands are often just duplicates of brand brands, just with a different label. That doesn't mean they aren't different products, produced/sold by different companies, and it doesn't negate the right of the producer/seller to earn a living through his work.
While that is true, I doubt that it would hurt anyone to post the first 4 measures of this well-known piece. [/b]
I agree.


Sam
#1098083 - 12/11/07 07:27 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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pianojerome Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Mechanical Doll:
If memory serves, there was a well known pianist (I want to say William Buckley, but don't hold me to it) that proposed printing music with red note heads for sharps, and I can't remember if flats were the same color or a different one. Anyway, Sheet Music Magazine tried it for an issue and the reaction was surprisingly (to me) negative.
It's an interesting idea, though again, it would be very expensive to print. Color ink is much more expensive than black ink, and for a piece of music in C# Major (7 sharps), you can imagine how much ink would be required.

On the other hand, as digital technology improves, there might not be any need for printing.

On the other other hand, there's also something to be said about learning things without the extra tricks. When you really know what key you are in -- and that includes the key signature, the scale degrees, the scale fingerings, the various chords and their functions -- it can make a world of difference. Coloring the sharps a different color encourages not learning what key you're in... it encourages just playing whatever note you see next, without any attention to why that note is what it is.


Sam
#1098084 - 12/11/07 07:36 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Quote
Originally posted by Mechanical Doll:
[b] If memory serves, there was a well known pianist (I want to say William Buckley, but don't hold me to it) that proposed printing music with red note heads for sharps, and I can't remember if flats were the same color or a different one. Anyway, Sheet Music Magazine tried it for an issue and the reaction was surprisingly (to me) negative.
It's an interesting idea, though again, it would be very expensive to print. Color ink is much more expensive than black ink, and for a piece of music in C# Major (7 sharps), you can imagine how much ink would be required.

On the other hand, as digital technology improves, there might not be any need for printing.

On the other other hand, there's also something to be said about learning things without the extra tricks. When you really know what key you are in -- and that includes the key signature, the scale degrees, the scale fingerings, the various chords and their functions -- it can make a world of difference. Coloring the sharps a different color encourages not learning what key you're in... it encourages just playing whatever note you see next, without any attention to why that note is what it is. [/b]
Mechanical Doll, very interesting. Perhaps they should have tested it in "Beginners Quarterly" instead.

Sam - I don't necessarily disagree that having a tipoff will make learning keys slower, and perhaps have the effect you mention.

I would like to add that it also could assist a beginner in recognizing key signatures and become comfortable moving away from C. Most beginners are moving from note to note anyway, at least it's true for me. I do not begin to "learn" to play until memorized. I understand the more I practice, the better it becomes, but certainly any help now is appreciated.


"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro
#1098085 - 12/11/07 08:06 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Ahh, the Moonlight sonata. 3rd mvt.
I'm dying to know how you could know that from only the key signature.

#1098086 - 12/11/07 08:18 PM Re: Question about reading music  
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Not to be unkind, but how can you play what you don't understand?

It makes sense to me and to most piano teachers to start music study in the Key of C, and one new # at a time learn the key of G, D, A, E, B F#. Flats (b's): could be learned at the same rate with one new b added, F, Bb, Eb, A, Db, Gb.
This is so much easier by going through the process of playing just 1b or 1 # and then playing with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

When you don't understand what a Key is, or the Key Signature, don't know accidentals, and you look at a piece with 4#'s, how does one expect to get it?

I mean this as a serious question: what happens when you approach a piece of music that you don't understand and you are not a music reader?

#1098087 - 12/12/07 01:30 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Not to be unkind, but how can you play what you don't understand?

It makes sense to me and to most piano teachers to start music study in the Key of C, and one new # at a time learn the key of G, D, A, E, B F#. Flats (b's): could be learned at the same rate with one new b added, F, Bb, Eb, A, Db, Gb.
This is so much easier by going through the process of playing just 1b or 1 # and then playing with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

When you don't understand what a Key is, or the Key Signature, don't know accidentals, and you look at a piece with 4#'s, how does one expect to get it?

I mean this as a serious question: what happens when you approach a piece of music that you don't understand and you are not a music reader?
Well I have figured out the basics, then I have been listening to the moonlight sonata 3rd movement quite a bit and have been looking for similarities or themes between what is played and what I see on the page. Then I have mostly been playing it just straight note for note what I see in the page ignoring any other modifiers which in the end sounds pretty much nothing like the moonlight sonata should, but then as I am figuring out more of the symbols I have been making slight revisions to the keys I press and the buttons I use.

It is extremely frustrating and makes me want to throw the sheet music out the window and just figure it all out by ear, but I need to actually have to learn to read and play from sheets instead of just trying to memorize every song I want to play.

Yet still I don't really know any of the terminology for the different notations which may also be a problem in the future. But for now I am just taking it one step of a time and trying to abstain from eating the papers.

#1098088 - 12/12/07 03:50 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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internetsrsbusiness,

So it was determined that you are reading in E Major? Which has all F,G,C,D's #. Why don't you read it as no # or b's at all for a measure or two, and then go raise a half step on any F,G,C,D's you find in the music? If the Key Signature you posted is correct, did you notive that the RH will be playing the the Bass Clef? Watch for changes that insert Treble Clef signs.

I really caution people who can not play at that level not to attempt it as it is not a musical outcome, it is a mechanical outcome, and there may be errors because of your inexperience.

I really would like you to read my post again, and see if you can get some ideas from there as to why I hold this opinion.

And you could be building your understanding of C, G, D, A, E, B and F# scales. And learning the Tonic Chord of each scale. If you need more information I could provide some on scales and major chords and fingering. But you have to do the background work to make your reading of any piece of music understandable and musical.

Don't eat the papers, and don't throw they out the window, you're going to need them!

Betty

#1098089 - 12/12/07 03:57 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
internetsrsbusiness,

So it was determined that you are reading in E Major? Which has all F,G,C,D's #. Why don't you read it as no # or b's at all for a measure or two, and then go raise a half step on any F,G,C,D's you find in the music? If the Key Signature you posted is correct, did you notive that the RH will be playing the the Bass Clef? Watch for changes that insert Treble Clef signs.

I really caution people who can not play at that level not to attempt it as it is not a musical outcome, it is a mechanical outcome, and there may be errors because of your inexperience.

I really would like you to read my post again, and see if you can get some ideas from there as to why I hold this opinion.

And you could be building your understanding of C, G, D, A, E, B and F# scales. And learning the Tonic Chord of each scale. If you need more information I could provide some on scales and major chords and fingering. But you have to do the background work to make your reading of any piece of music understandable and musical.

Don't eat the papers, and don't throw they out the window, you're going to need them!

Betty
Yeah, that is the thing, I really have practically no idea what you just said. My musical knowledge is incredibly limited. I just pound the keys until my piano makes a sound similar to the one I am trying to recreate or produce.

#1098090 - 12/12/07 04:14 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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An "Essential Dictionary of Music" by Alfred Publishing Company, purchased at a music store for about $4.95 in the USA will give you a good start in reading about the vocabulary of music, theory, and composers. A lot of information in a little handbook.

Start in the "A" letter and read through. You need some basic skills and fundamentals with a good orientation to the piano keyboard and to the music staff.

Good luck in finding what you need.

Betty

#1098091 - 12/12/07 10:38 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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I'm wondering why, after playing by ear
since 4, you're suddenly wanting to read
music. Many classical players, after years
or reading music in order to obtain
a modest repertoire, yearn to be able
to play by ear "in order to become a
complete player" and to "sit down and
play anything without the score." Thus,
you're already a superior musician
with your ear playing and are regressing,
in my view, by trying to become constrained
to playing with the score.

Throw the damn sheet music out and return
to making real music.

#1098092 - 12/12/07 10:56 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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the ability to read music is essential for a serious player of course, which has nothing to do with whether one is a classical or pop or jazz player. what's the 'real music' by your definition, Gyro?

#1098093 - 12/12/07 11:15 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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internetsrsbusiness,

What you are talking about goes under the fancy name of "music theory" -- and while Betty's suggestion of the dictionary is an excellent idea (and one I would pursue if I didn't already own that little book) there might be another approach you want to take. Consider the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory by Michael Miller (2005, Alpha Books, New York). I've recommended this book to others who are in situations similar to yours, and they all claim that it has helped them to a) understand what all those sharp and flat thingies at the beginning of the staff dealybobs mean, b) to understand the other musical marks (p, pp, ppp, f, fff, mf, mp, smorz [not cookies], etc.) mean. The current edition also includes a CD that Michael calls The Complete Idiot's Guide Ear Training Course that will take what you already know from playing by ear and link it to the notations that you see on paper.

Oh, and "real music" is both played by ear and from scores. Both can be fun and fulfilling. I think that playing by ear is a wonderful talent (I have to use my fingers) but knowing music, understanding how it all works makes improvisation so much better!

Ed


"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria
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#1098094 - 12/12/07 11:19 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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Quote
Originally posted by Gyro:
Thus, you're already a superior musician
with your ear playing and are regressing,
in my view, by trying to become constrained
to playing with the score.
Complete nonsense. The normative judgments that folks assign to "playing classical" versus "playing by ear" are false and unhelpful. There are many different styles and approaches to playing, but they are all valuable and musical. The most well-rounded musician should be able to do it all, but even if you don't these discussions of who is "better" or "more musical" or "truer to their inner artist" are just plain silly.


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#1098095 - 12/12/07 11:34 AM Re: Question about reading music  
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People who play piano are either musical or unmusical in their unique ways. The more skills and understanding you gain, the better the outcome.

Not to be unkind, but to compare a closely related subject to piano playing only by ear, is:
you are more likely to be able to communicate in all areas of your life if you can read your spoken language, write it, have a good vocabulary in it.

Being limited to only hearing a language - music is a language - greatly reduces your ability to use the piano. You are the human that brings music to life on your piano. Your ability is the sum product of all that you know about it.

You might be absolutely fascinated by what you learn, and it could provide huge enrichment to your understanding of what music is.

Let's no one mock or discredit being musically literate.

#1098096 - 12/12/07 11:53 AM Re: Question about reading music  
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 794
Donna R. Offline
500 Post Club Member
Donna R.  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 794
Quote
Originally posted by gmm1:
I have gone so far as to write to Alfreds, Hal Leonard, Scott Houston, Yamaha, etc. and request they release a book written just this way, or at least color-code the sharps/flats.
I just bought a nice set of 8 (or maybe 10) Sharpie highlighters in different colors for highlighting dynamic and tempo markings. I thought I'd shade everything that was slow/quiet in cool colors and everything fast/loud in warm colors. Then I'd see the markings at once without having to peer. But they could be handy for sharps and flats as well.

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