Music Theory – 0002

Wow. Lots of page hits for the first post in this series. I will take this as interest in what I’m doing here. I will post daily on this until things start to get a little complicated and then I’ll slow it down some to give you time to digest and experiment. I’m going to keep it very simple and slow for now and it is up to you to comment if I start going too fast or if you have questions.

Today I’m going to expand on what I did yesterday where I showed you Middle C. The grand staff is perfectly symmetrical with respect to other C notes that are above and below it. If you can remember where these other C notes are located then you can go through the musical alphabet forward or backward from these anchor points to figure out what other notes are. Over time you will not need to do that because you will eventually be able to look at any note and just know what it is. Here are five C notes on the Grand Staff:


I know that there are a total of six notes in the picture above. The first two C notes on the left are the same key on the piano, as we covered last time. In the Treble Clef we start with Middle C and go up one octave and then another. In the Bass Clef we start with Middle C and then go down one octave and then another. See those vertical lines between two consecutive C notes? Those are called Bar Lines. What is between two Bar Lines is called a Measure. (I am capitalizing certain words and none of them really should be. I do this for emphasis that I think works better than italics.)

In the picture in the first measure we have the Middle C below the staff in the Treble Clef and also the Middle C above the staff in the Bass Clef. It is very important to understand that without the Clef these notes are just circles on the page, they have no meaning without that Clef. We could have a Bass Clef on both the top and bottom Staves, and we could also have a Treble Clef on both staves. The Clef symbol matters a great deal.

Moving on to the second measure notice the symmetry. The C note is one space above the center line in the Treble Clef and the C note is one space below the center line in the Bass Clef. In the third and final measure, the C note is two Ledger Lines above the Staff in the Treble Clef, and in the Bass Clef the C note is two Ledger Lines below the Staff.

Enough for today. This has all been extremely simple so far. There is a method to my mad simplicity: What I am showing you needs to be firmly ingrained so that I can move forward more rapidly.


I need you to get a free program called NotePad. I will provide the address on a separate line. This is free and will work for both the Mac and PC so most will be included. Today download and install it. Tomorrow I will teach you the basics of how to use it in a step-by-step tutorial. Get it here:

Once you go there, near the top of the page on the right is an orange button labeled “Free Download”. Click that and then follow the directions to download it and install. You can try to play with it until next time.

G – F – E – D – C – B – A: Make that like a mantra until it is natural to say and think.

4 thoughts on “Music Theory – 0002

    • I have a friend in Australia who tweeted about this new line of my blog, about music theory toward song writing, and I’ve also mentioned it to my step daughter in New York who has a lot of connections. I haven’t yet gotten into the meat of the subject matter. I am starting from the very beginning, and slowly. Anyone who wants to learn a good understanding of music from the ground up can start at the beginning and get there. I’m wondering if within a week I start getting comments asking me to slow down and explain something or other. I will do lots of hand holding, but otherwise I might inadvertently get too deep too fast. If the past couple days are any indication, word is already getting out. I’m getting page hits from 12 different countries today, almost exclusively looking at these last two posts. We’ll see.

      I have “your” song done and need to score it properly and then learn it(!). At a certain point I wanted it to go one way and I swear the song refused and said, “No, you are going this way instead.” I think the new third part is the best, very sweet and fragile. It didn’t find Diane so I was thinking of stealing the title from your novel, with your permission.

      The middle part you haven’t heard yet, the words, “Sunshine dies when the clouds appear” are very insistent in my mind for the beginning of that part. I don’t know if anything will grow from there. If words don’t come it will make a lovely instrumental. “My” guitar player in the Netherlands complements me well, I hope he can contribute. A violin might make a good lead voice. I have a fantastic violin sound.

    • Your thanks is very much appreciated. Please do ask questions if any little thing doesn’t make perfect sense to you. My aim here is to teach music from the perspective of also learning to write songs, much like learning to read while at the same time writing little paragraphs and stories to better understand how the whole thing works. This is very difficult for me to approach this with two minds, firstly from what I know and secondly trying to pretend I know nothing. I am doing this for Emiliano and my real-life students. There is no reason to not share this with anyone who wants to jump on board. Questions will help me explain things better.

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