The Complete Language of Music – The Foundations.

Music is a language and the better you are at speaking the language the better a musician you will be. In the coming weeks I am going to show how to learn the language and how to communicate it to others.

When I was younger I didn’t know the language but I still had these creative ideas. All I felt was frustration because I couldn’t turn my ideas into reality. It was only when I started learning the language that I became closer and closer to being able to convert what was in my head into something for others to hear. One of the down sides was that every time that I learnt more it opened more doors and I realised that I had more and more choices. The next lesson was to use the ideas sparingly because too many ideas left the listeners struggling to keep up.

The whole point of a language is to communicate not alienate.

With that in mind –

Foundation 1.

All music (western culture music) starts with 12 notes. Everything that you listen to use just 12 notes. When I realised that it had a huge impact on me. I sudden realised that music was not this huge mountain to climb it had suddenly become smaller and more achievable.

The 12 notes are given the name – THE CHROMATIC SCALE.

The notes use 7 alphabetical notes with 5 variations. If we start on the first letter of the alphabet – A – we get the following.

A, A# or Bb, B, C, C# or Db, D,D# or Eb, E, F, F# or Gb, G, G# or Ab.

# – This is the sign for a SHARP.

B – This is the sign for a FLAT.

The reason for these 2 signs is wrapped up in Scales.

Over the years people have taken some of the notes of the Chromatic Scale and grouped them together to form smaller scales.

The most common ones of these scales use either 5 or 7 notes.

The scales developed over time and as such sound right to us because we hear them from our time in the womb and all through life.

The main scale that is a foundational scale is the MAJOR SCALE.

When we hear this scale we feel happy because of the way that the notes work together.

In modern theory all other scales use the Major Scale as their reference point.

So the Major Scale is created by a set formula and the notes of the chromatic scale.

Firstly you need to know that certain things have been decided to make it easier for everyone to work with the scales. They just are. There is no discussion and the reason would take pages to explain.

1)  The distance between the notes of the chromatic scale are called semitones.

2) Every scale has a combination of Tones (2 semitones put together) and Semitones called a formula.

3) If you apply the formula to any note in the Chromatic Scale you will get the Scale you want for that note.

4) The formula to get Major Scales is –

Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone.

If you have applied the formula correctly you will always get back to the original note.

5) With all Major Scales you must have only one of each alphabetical name.

So to get the A Major Scale notes we apply the formula to the Chromatic Scale below.

A, A# or Bb, B, C, C# or Db, D,D# or Eb, E, F, F# or Gb, G, G# or Ab, A.

Start by writing the first note of the scale and then apply the formula.

A

Tone                           B

Tone                           C# or Db

Semitone                   D

Tone                           E

Tone                           F# or Gb

Tone                           G# or Ab

Semitone                   A

So we have to have one of each alphabetical letter so working backwards – A – is the important note so we cannot have an Ab therefore we must have a G#.

By the same principle we must have an F# and a C#.

This gives the A Major Scale with the notes A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G# and A.

To play music you find these notes on any instrument, play them one after the other and you will hear the familiar sound of a Major Scale.

Watch this space for more Foundations. Enjoy.

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