Sunday, January 16, 2011

Recap of lessons 1 - 15

Each daily entry in this blog builds on the ones before it, so I thought it would be good to do a review to keep new people up with what we've covered. If you are unclear on any of the information, click on the links or go back to the previous lessons. I apologize for my late posting of today's entry.  My excuse is that it is Sunday. 

Music is notated on a musical staff that consists of 5 lines and four spaces. Each of these lines and spaces has a distinct name depending on the clef that is assigned to it. (There will be a lesson later on clefs and note names on the staff.) If you think of the lines on the staff as a ladder, the pitches of the notes get higher as you go up the ladder.

A scale is a stepwise organization of the pitches in a song. There are many different types of scales each of which has its own distinct sound related to the pattern of whole and half steps. Two common scales are the major scale and the natural minor scale.

Solfege is a system of reading music that assigns a syllable to each note in the scale. The syllables are do, re, mi, fa, so, la, and ti. Most people know these from The Sound of Music. In the moveable "do" system, "do" becomes the tonic (home tone) for the major scale regardless of which key you are in. Once you learn the system, this enables you to sing in any key as long as you are given the "do". It's a pretty amazing tool.

Rhythm is hard to define but easy to identify when we hear it. Rhythm is what we hear that moves the song forward in time. It is the sound of the song if you tap it out rather than sing or play it.  If the rhythms have an underlying feeling of a pulse, then we call this the beat. The way the beats are grouped is called the meter. If a song has the feel of two, like marching or walking, we call this duple meter. If it has a feel of three, like waltzing, we call it triple meter.  Read and listen to Lesson 14 for practice with rhythms in simple duple and triple meter.

When notating rhythms, we can group the threes together and count each group as a beat. This is called compound meter and has to do with how we notate music not how we hear it.  It is important to understand note equivalencies in order to notate rhythms.  You can print and cut out these flashcards to reinforce your understanding of note equivalencies.