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Having the worst trouble trying to read music #1181122
04/15/09 07:48 PM
04/15/09 07:48 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 30
florida
Connietwilightfan26 Offline OP
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florida
I was told to come here and see if I could get some help in trying to learn how to read music. I do not understand the what are the notes on the ledgers and how to understand why it is the note that it is. can anyone help?


connie reeves
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Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Connietwilightfan26] #1181165
04/15/09 09:13 PM
04/15/09 09:13 PM
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R0B Offline
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Hi Connie,
There really is no mystery to the ledger notes. They simply go up (or down) in the same sequence as the normal staff notes written on the lines and spaces.
Taking the Treble Staff, for example, the line notes starting from the bottom, are, E, G, B, D and F (F being the top line note). The note that sits just above the top line, is G. The note on the first ledger line above G, is A. Just above that ledger line, is B. The next ledger line up, is C, and so on, in sequence.
The same applies to notes written on, or between ledger lines that are below the bottom line of the Treble Staff.

The Bass Staff, works in exactly the same way. For example,
the bottom line of the Bass Staff is G. The note sitting immediately below that line is F. The note on the first ledger line below that is E, with D below that, and so on.

Hope it helps,
Rob


Rob
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Connietwilightfan26] #1181166
04/15/09 09:15 PM
04/15/09 09:15 PM
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Denver, CO
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Hi Connie,

Welcome to the forum.

From reading your posts over in the piano teachers forum, I think you have learned to tell the lines of the treble clef as E G B D F (some people say Every Good Boy Does Fine) and the spaces as the word F A C E. This is good when you are looking at the notes on the staff, but they don't repeat when you go to the ledger lines.

Try this way:

We use 7 letters for our notes, A B C D E F G, and when we reach the last one, we start over again at A.

For this to work, you need notes that you know well and start counting from there. It's good to learn where all the C's are and then figure out where other notes are - G is another common one to start with.

I'll start with what you already know - E G B D F are the lines on the treble clef.

So the top line is F. The next note above that, which is in the space just above the treble clef would be the next letter - G.

One line above the treble clef is the next letter. Since we are already at the end, we start back at the beginning with A.

The next note which is drawn as in the space just above the first ledger line would be B.

Then we come to the note on the second ledger line above the treble staff which would be C.

Remember that one. It gives you a starting point to start counting from again.

I think everyone has problems with ledger lines. I've been playing for a long time and I still sometimes have to count notes when I'm learning a new piece.

Hope this helps.
Rich


[Linked Image] [Linked Image]
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Connietwilightfan26] #1181247
04/16/09 12:21 AM
04/16/09 12:21 AM
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Here are a few, to get you started, Connie.
The same principle applies to the Bass staff.
[Linked Image]

Rob

Last edited by R0B; 04/16/09 12:22 AM.

Rob
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Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: R0B] #1181343
04/16/09 07:41 AM
04/16/09 07:41 AM
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Maryland
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Thanks for providing the picture Rob. I am also ledger challenged - I printed out your picture to use as a reference.


BillM (formerly b528nf7)
Roland KR-17M
Baldwin R
Clavinova CLP-150
Piano Vocals of Old Guy Tunes
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: BillM] #1181349
04/16/09 07:52 AM
04/16/09 07:52 AM
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Singapore
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Wye Mun Offline
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Hi Connie

Try to get a keyboard chart! It's like a lifesize keyboard that shows you the entire keyboard and the associated notes on the staff and ledger lines. I have one and it helps! And sooner or later, you'll know without having to look up at it (I place mine on my piano top, propped up).

You would also benefit from a good beginner's theory book.

Wye Mun

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Wye Mun] #1181473
04/16/09 10:39 AM
04/16/09 10:39 AM
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Welcome to the Ledger Lines are Impossible Club.

A while back, someone, can't remember who, gave me these tips. Maybe they can help.

Ledger lines below the treble clef, or above the bass clef, are just using the same notes that would appear in the proper clef if it was written. So, a note that is two ledger lines below the treble is the same note that is on the top note of the bass clef (A3 in this example), and two lines up from the bass is the same as the bottom line of the treble (E4 this time). If you can "see" the "missing" staff, then the notes are familiar.

Now, going up on the treble or down on the bass....

Notice that middle C is not on either staff, it is on the ledger line between the two staffs. The two staffs are seperated by one ledger line, which means three notes are always outside the two staffs (obvious, I know, but bear with me...).

So, C4 is below the treble (above the bass), the next C (C5) is in the treble, and C6 is two ledger lines above the staff. Two ledger lines. Hmmmm. That means the pattern we see in the treble is repeated starting on the 3rd ledger line, two octaves up.

OK. C4 is 1 ledger line above the bass, C3 is in the bass, and C2 is TWO ledger lines below the staff. Hmmm again. That means the third ledger line below the bass starts the pattern of the bass clef 2 octaves down.

If you can think of the treble clef just repeating up after two ledger lines, and the bass just repeating down after two ledger lines, then the written notes will be the same names, just two (or three,depending) octaves removed.

This trick helps me keep it within my tiny brain's grasp. It takes a little practice, but it just becomes "easier to see" after a while. Perhaps it becomes easier after time no matter how you learn it, but this trick stayed with me.

Hope it helps.....


"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
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: BillM] #1181489
04/16/09 11:12 AM
04/16/09 11:12 AM
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Pleased you found it useful, Bill.
Just for you, here are some Bass staff ledger notes :-)

[Linked Image]

Last edited by R0B; 04/16/09 11:12 AM.

Rob
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: R0B] #1181493
04/16/09 11:24 AM
04/16/09 11:24 AM
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Hong Kong
Jeff Hao Offline
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I think counting is unavoidable when it comes to a ledger with many lines.

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Connietwilightfan26] #1181822
04/16/09 08:13 PM
04/16/09 08:13 PM
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California
Scruffies Offline
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Connie.... welcome to forums.

I'm also a music reading beginner, and Ive' found the following web site helpful as I drill to memorize clefs and then ledger lines:

http://www.emusictheory.com/practice.html

I use the Piano Notes drill, start out with just the treble clef and without ledgers or accidentals (go into "Settings" to configure it). I have now added ledgers to the treble clef but not accidentals, and I can do 100 notes in about 190 seconds with perhaps 6 errors; however, I know that if I stopped doing the drill I would get rusty fast.

I think it will take some months of drills and reading music, maybe longer, before the notes of the grand clef and a few ledgers above and below become as easy to read as middle C is now.

I have not even started yet on bass clef, so I have a long way to go.

There are other drills to help you on this excellent site.

Good Luck!

/Scruffies

PS: I sometimes just visualize the clef and random notes on it and then mentally identify the note (so like visualize the top line in the treble clef and think "F", etc.) You can do this mental drill at any time and any place really.

Last edited by Scruffies; 04/16/09 08:35 PM.

/Scruffies
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: R0B] #1181824
04/16/09 08:22 PM
04/16/09 08:22 PM
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California
Scruffies Offline
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Rob... nice crisp visual you posed of both clefs.

Would you also happen to have the Treble Clef ledger lines below Middle C and similarily the Bass Cleff ledger lines above Middle C?

/Scruffies


/Scruffies
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Scruffies] #1181864
04/16/09 09:29 PM
04/16/09 09:29 PM
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Connie, one thing that helps many people is to not try to memorize the entire staff plus ledger lines all at once.

Instead, look for "Landmark" notes, lines and spaces that you do recognize, and then the rest of the lines/spaces will fall into place as you learn more music.

One memory "trick" I use to facilitate this with my students is:

Most likely, the first note you learned was middle C. So that is a important Landmark note, one that you are familiar with on both the staff and the keyboard.

The second C above middle C can also be a Landmark note, along with the second C below middle C. Both are on Ledger lines beyond the staffs.

The memory trick is this:

* Middle C is a one ledger line between staffs.

* Two C's above middle C is two ledger lines above the treble Clef.

* Two C's below middle C is two ledger lines below the Bass Clef.

Check it out on the staffs Rob posted above.

Once you internalize this, you can build up and down from those C's just as you do from middle C.

Hope this helps.



Last edited by rocket88; 04/16/09 09:33 PM.

Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Scruffies] #1181877
04/16/09 09:50 PM
04/16/09 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Scruffies
Rob... nice crisp visual you posed of both clefs.

Would you also happen to have the Treble Clef ledger lines below Middle C and similarily the Bass Cleff ledger lines above Middle C?

/Scruffies


Thank you Scruffies,
I just quickly knocked up those graphics, in response to the OP.
Shouldn't take too long to do a couple more....watch this space.

Rob


Rob
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Scruffies] #1181891
04/16/09 10:07 PM
04/16/09 10:07 PM
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Here you are Scruffies :-)
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Rob


Rob
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Scruffies] #1181892
04/16/09 10:07 PM
04/16/09 10:07 PM
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vertigo11 Offline
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Before I learned how to read quickly, I used pivot positions on the music notes. I only needed to remember one note, and I usually picked the central one. Example: The treble symbol looks like a 'B', so the middle line is a B note. Conversely, the base clef locks like a 'D' so the middle line is a D note.

So if you followed this correctly, you should have five pivot points that are easy to remember. (an E note, a G note, a B note, a D note, and middle C). That should be enough to see patterns within the notes.

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: vertigo11] #1181963
04/16/09 11:54 PM
04/16/09 11:54 PM
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Hong Kong
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ROB is a nice guy!

I am no good in this as well. But I now don't think a lot about it because I work with my own system ...

Now, putting myelf in your shoes ... I have done some thinking ...

I think to overcome having to count the ledger lines, we need to imagine that they are all continuation of "long lines". Of course only 5 lines are usually shown.

Then you need to remember that C alternatively sits on the line, and then space, and line, and space, in different octaves. If you remember the treble clef well, then that's the image with C sitting on the second space from the top.

Then the "middle C" sits on a line, you can try to remember the image of the middle C together with the whole bass clef.

With these two images in mind, then you try to remember as many Cs as possible with a lot of ledger lines added.

Then when you are actually reading music with many ledger lines, you will first check where the nearest C is, and whether it is sitting on a line or space. Then you will call up one of the images that you have stored in your mind, and imagine that it is the same five line staff. That way you will be able to read all the different notes nearby sitting on ledger lines, without having to count to read each and everyone of them. Because you recognise all the lines and spaces on the image.

I will try it myself as well.

Jeff


Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: R0B] #1182472
04/17/09 06:17 PM
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/bow

Scruffies


/Scruffies
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Jeff Hao] #1182505
04/17/09 07:12 PM
04/17/09 07:12 PM
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Jeff, how about adding G4 and F3 to the system. The swirly thing in the treble clef marks G like a bull's eye, and the fat dot starting the bass clef symbol marks F. They are stylized G's and F's from the old days.

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: keystring] #1182532
04/17/09 07:51 PM
04/17/09 07:51 PM
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Hi, keystring. Yes, of course. The ancesters marked them for us.

In fact, what I said about C applies to every note: that it sits on a space and a line alternately in different octaves.

Using Gs and Fs as your "landmarks" in the ledger lines has added advantage. They remind you of the images of the 5-line treble staff or the bass staff. But this only applies to a region where the nearest G or F is sitting on a line (and the nearest C below them will be sitting in a space). One has to get used to another pattern, where G or F is sitting "in a space".

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Jeff Hao] #1182782
04/18/09 07:20 AM
04/18/09 07:20 AM
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Chromatickeys Offline
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The memory trick is this:

* Middle C is a one ledger line between staffs.

* Two C's above middle C is two ledger lines above the treble Clef.

* Two C's below middle C is two ledger lines below the Bass Clef.

Interesting and useful landmark, I have not seen this in any book.

James

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Chromatickeys] #1182829
04/18/09 09:25 AM
04/18/09 09:25 AM
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It's true, James. Thanks! And the other 2 C's sitting inside the 5-line staff are like mirror images. One sitting in the second space from the top of the trebble clef, the other sitting in the second space from the bottom of the bass clef. We got quite a few land marks now.

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Jeff Hao] #1182977
04/18/09 02:03 PM
04/18/09 02:03 PM
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Jeff, credit where credit is due. Rocket88 posted that first, not me.

One thing strikes me and I have already mentioned this. (and Another credit) If the collective and colaborative knowledge of PW had ever been in a book, we would have a lot more players than now exists. (It would be a pretty big book) I have only been active at PW for a couple of months. It has brought some very useful information to me and a little dusting off as well. All to my benefit.

PW may succeed where Coke failed (like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony). But of course here we want to let the world in on the harmony of making music at the piano.

James

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Connietwilightfan26] #1182978
04/18/09 02:06 PM
04/18/09 02:06 PM
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Hello Connie

I don't think that you need help, as much as you need time and patience. I am in the same situation as you, I started to learn to read music when my little girl started her piano lessons. I have really come a long way in two years. I have had neither more nor less difficulty than her.

Still I'd like to add my 2 cents, or my two sense, ha ha!

cents #1) Adopt the french names for the notes: do, ré, mi, fa, sol, la, si. These names are so beautiful, and give a deeper meaning to each note. Each note has its name, just like your children. You have to talk and think affectionately of your notes, so call them by their names.

I can add that, once again like you, I am an American living in Europe, and today I am perfectly at ease with these names and it is a, b, c and so on that seem foreign.

I believe that these names have an ancient significance, although I don't know much about that. Like "sol" which means the sun of course (not a needle pulling thread!) A piece written in the key of "sol" -- in G major -- was to reflect the warmth and power of the sun, the basis of all life, (of god maybe, I don't know) the resolution of all dissonnance or tension, like the 6th and last suite for cello by Bach.

As I say, I don't know much about that. But I think that it is not an accident that the G is the note chosen to place the clef, this note under the name "sol" had a great symbolic importance.

cents #2) Start with the simple idea that there is only one staff: a big staff of 11 lines.

Middle c, or "do" is on the middle line. The grand staff that is used for the piano, with the bass clef below and the treble clef above, is in fact nothing more than just that ... an 11-line staff, with a big space between the 5th and 7th lines to facilitate reading for the two hands.

The line above the f-clef and the line below the g-clef, are really the same line: they are the middle line, the 6th line, of an 11-line staff.

cents #3) Instead of memorizing notes, habituate your eye to recognize intervals: seconds, thirds, fourths and so on. The only notes that you need to memorize are the "landmarks" as someone else has already said, that is, c (or "do") and g (in the g-clef) and f (in the f-clef).

Start with seconds: that is, the notes above and below each "landmark" note.

Then thirds: if the "landmark" is on a line, then so are the thirds; if the landmark is between two lines, than so are the thirds. You will very quickly be able to recognize them.

And so on.

There is an excellent little book widely used in France that develops this method, called "Manuel Pratique" by Georges Dandelot. It is for reading music, it isn't a piano method book. I don't know if it is translated into English or Italian. The "Manuel Pratique" dates from 1928. There is an updated edition, but many teachers say that it is no good. The old edition, which is still in print, is the only one to get.

I am curious if others on the forum know this book, or this method. Perhaps there are other books that develop along the same principles.

Last edited by landorrano; 04/18/09 02:09 PM.
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: landorrano] #1182986
04/18/09 02:22 PM
04/18/09 02:22 PM
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Landorrano, the choice of using solfege names (do re mi) might not be practical if someone is living in parts of the world where C,D,E is used. As soon as you do Internet research and participate in discussions you will have to be familiar with letter names anyway - You would have to be fluent in both (which some of us are). I agree that the names have more personality then letter names. Another thing you should be aware of when discussing in the international community, is that there is "fixed do" (which is what you are using), as well as "movable do" which has a different sense and gives names to pitches for different reasons. You don't have to learn these other systems: just be aware of them so that the odd discussion won't be confusing.

"Sol" meaning "sun" is a beautiful image, and I'm inclined to adopt it myself. smile The real meaning behind the names is less poetic. A number of centuries ago there was no written music and singers had to memorize every song by hearing it. A scholar named Guido d'Arezzi came up with a system, and he gave a name to the notes of a scale. He used an existing chant that was in Latin which climbed up the scale every few notes. The first word syllable used to be "Ut".

The song was a Hymn to St. John the Baptist
UT queant laxis REsonare fibris MIra gestorum FAmuli tuorum, SOLve polluti LAbi reatum, Sancte Joannes.

There was no "ti" or "si" because only 6 notes were used.

It translates as:
"That thy servants may freely proclaim the wonders of the deeds, absolve the sins of their unclean lips, O holy John."

I like the idea of the sun for sol better. smile

Last edited by keystring; 04/18/09 02:24 PM.
Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: landorrano] #1182989
04/18/09 02:34 PM
04/18/09 02:34 PM
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Quote
here is an excellent little book widely used in France that develops this method, called "Manuel Pratique" by Georges Dandelot. It is for reading music, it isn't a piano method book. I don't know if it is translated into English or Italian. The "Manuel Pratique" dates from 1928. There is an updated edition, but many teachers say that it is no good. The old edition, which is still in print, is the only one to get.

I am curious if others on the forum know this book, or this method. Perhaps there are other books that develop along the same principles.


This sounds very interesting. smile

KS

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: keystring] #1182991
04/18/09 02:47 PM
04/18/09 02:47 PM
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This sounds very interesting.

KS

Just broke away to look at Amazon. $79.00 for an original edition and that is in French. Geez, wish I could have spent another couple of months in France to practise the language and absorbe the culture.

James

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Chromatickeys] #1183008
04/18/09 04:00 PM
04/18/09 04:00 PM
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Horwinkle Offline
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keystring ... I know you're right about the do-re-mi ... but I'm sure glad I don't have to speak Latin to play the piano! smile

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: Horwinkle] #1183050
04/18/09 06:03 PM
04/18/09 06:03 PM
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Posts: 2,572
France
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landorrano Offline
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What you explain, keystring, is very interesting. I had never heard about this.

Still, I would think that there is a determination in the choices of these words, I don't believe that in the middle ages a simple anagram would have been made to help memorize a scale or the names of notes, like "Do: a deer, a female deer, ray: a drop of golden sun." Everything was filled with simbolic meaning or linked to religious or mystical conceptions. No accident that Sol comes from solve meaning absolve, and the note or the key Sol were surely imbued with a sense that I think is not so far from what I state above.

Not that I want to defend what I say. I admit to knowing really nothing about all of this. But what you explain seems to vaguely corroborate what I said, instead of contradict it.

Also, I'm not so quick to believe that there was no written music before the year 1000. Or that the notes had no names. But that is beside the point.

Anyways, my idea is not original. I gleaned it on the film of Rostropovitch playing the Bach suites, which I saw over 10 years ago. He speaks about the choice of Bach of the key of Sol major for the last suite. I think that if someone like Rostropovitch speaks that way, it is not denuded of truth.

Whether Connie should or shouldn't use the do ré mi nomenclature, well obviously that's up to her. If she was in Germany or in Nebraska I wouldn't have spoken about that. She is, however, living in Italy. It's a way to have a fresh point of departure. And if she is going to turn to a teacher there where she lives she'll have to speak latin as Horwinkle says. And she ought to find a teacher, it would be a pity not to.

I'd like to know what you think, Connie.

Finally, $79 for the Dandelot, there must be a mistake. It sells for around 13 or 14 euros at music shops in France.

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: landorrano] #1183061
04/18/09 06:36 PM
04/18/09 06:36 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 15,965
Canada
keystring Offline
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Landorro, if you are truly interested in that side of things, I highly recommend the book that has given me my first insights. Believe it or not, I have only started learning the history of music less than a year ago, when I realized that I knew almost nothing about anything, and that really bothered me. I guess I'm going to go off on a tangent here.

I was given "Music in the Western World: A History in Documents" by P. Weiss & R. Taruskin, publ. Thomson Learning. This isn't the usual academic book - I suspect it's almost a companion book for people learning music history. This book takes you through time from the Greeks to the 21st century in 500 pages. You get a snapshot of the various eras, and you read excerpts of what people wrote and thought at that time - you enter their mindset. Meanwhile there is also a narrative describing things. I found it perfect for someone wanting to enter music in some depth, but starting from knowing nothing.

For what you are writing, the philosophical sides would probably interest you. Also how music was perceived. It would answer some of the things you have written above, which are hard to respond to without sticking in lots of background information.

Quote
She is, however, living in Italy.

I had not noticed. Italy uses the Solfege names Do Re Mi. International forums use C D E so it's good to have some familiarity with both.

In case it's of interest, music in the Middle Ages was simply something you memorized, and having names for notes or representing them had not been thought of, so no anagrams. Learning music was laborious and took years because you had to copy somebody else. Guido D'Arezzi invented a system of names, Ut Re Mi Fa .... which were not pitch names but simply the 1st, 2nd, 3rd note of any scale being used at the time. He assigned locations of these notes on his hand, so that people could learn a song simply by watching him point to areas of his hand:
Guidonean Hand
This idea changed a basic reality for people, who were blown away by the idea that you could sing a song you had never heard before by following notes represented visually. The "reality" that they were living was changed - it is an awe inspiring realization.

Re: Having the worst trouble trying to read music [Re: keystring] #1183117
04/18/09 08:54 PM
04/18/09 08:54 PM
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Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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To add to what is known about Guido d’Arrezzo -
Pronounced: (gwee'-doh dar-et'-tsoh)
Born: c.990 – Died: May 17, 1050

We have to thank Guido d’Arrezzo, a renowned monk, choirmaster and music theorist whose inventions revolutionized music pedagogy, for the development of music reading and writing.

In 1025 he successfully demonstrated his methods and is credited with perfecting the staff system of musical notation which is still in use today. His innovative teaching methods brought him lasting fame.

The origin of the MAJOR SCALE
What is now known as “do-re-mi” was based on a Latin hymn called Ut queant laxis.
Ut (Do) Re Mi Fa Sol La

Guido formulated the concept of a scale pattern comprising six notes where the interval between each syllable is a whole tone except for the one between Mi and Fa which is a half step. This is the beginning of our Major Scale system onto which the 7th and 8th degrees were later added. The syllables from the hymn were used to identify the fixed pitches of the scale to allow singers to learn melodies more quickly and accurately In time "do" was used instead of "ut" and "ti" was added.

The first two letters were taken from the first words of each line.
UT queant laxis
REsonare fibris
MIra gestorum
FAmuli tuorum
SOLve polluti
LAbii reatu

THE HYMN TO SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
(The ambitus is C to A or DO to LA)
UT QUE-ANT LA-XIS
C D F DE D

RE SO-NA-RE FI-BRIS
D E C D E E

MI RA GES-TO-RUM
E G E D E DE

FA MU-LI TU O-RUM
F G A G FDD

SOL VE POL-LU-TI
G AEG F G D

LA BI-I RE-A-TKUM. SANC-TE JO-HAN-NES
A G A F GA A G F D C E D
(Aligning is very difficult here/please resource the hymn on your own)

GUIDONIAN HAND
Guido made another invention to help choirs sight-sing by using the “Guidonian Hand” where a note is assigned to each fingertip, joint and knuckle of one hand.

The important differences are listed here including "fixed pitch". They were fixed pitch names, not merely relative to each other.

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