Music Theory – L1 Lesson 2

Octave Relationship

If we look at our treble clef again (Example 2) we notice that there is an “e” on the first line and a “e” on the 4th space. Our ear recognizes these pitches as being the same pitch but the “e” on the 4th space sounds like a higher version of the low “e”. In musical terminology the higher “e” is said to sound an octave higher than the lower “e”. Example 7 show where these two “e’s” would be located on a piano keyboard. img05

To summarize what we have learned so far: there are 7 pitches which are represented on a staff with the letter names A,B,C,D,E,F,G. These 7 pitches keep repeating themselves in different octaves. To represent these notes in other octaves we need to use ledger lines or other clefs.

Chromatic Scale

One of the inconsistencies of the notation system we have learned so far is that it doesn’t show all the available notes in western music. There are a total of 12 pitches used in western music which of course as we have learned can be found in many different octaves. To show all 12 notes in the system, 4) and “flat” (b) symbols are used to represent the tones that occur between the letter names of the notes. For example between the note C and D there exists a pitch which can be called either C sharp or D flat. These notes are represented as follows: C# or Db. The and (b) symbols work in the following way, the flat (b) lowers a pitch and a sharp which raises the pitch. If a note is sharped it is said to have been raised a half step; if it IS flatted it is said to have been lowered a half step. A half step is the smallest distance possible in western music. If we show all 12 notes on the staff within one octave we get what is called the chromatic scale. (See example 8) This scale contains all possible notes in the western system of music. Notice that there is no sharp or flat between E and F and B and C which is just one of those inconsistencies you have to accept with this notational system. Both chromatic scales shown below sound the same on the piano; the decision to use sharps or flats depends on the musical situation. You will notice that the D in the chromatic scale with flats has a symbol in front of it. This symbol is called a natural sign. It is used to cancel the flat that appears before the previous D In written music, measures are used to delineate time, and sharps and flats carry through the whole measure until a new measure starts, unless a natural symbol is used to cancel it.