Music Theory – 0003

I’m starting out assuming that you have downloaded NotePad from:


Today we are going to “write” a piece of music.

I’m assuming that NotePad is not active. Start it up now.

1. If a “Document Setup Wizard” window does not automatically open, select “New…” from the file menu and it will then open.

2. In the “Title:” field of the Document Setup Wizard window enter:

Music Theory – 0003

3. In the “Composer:” field enter your own name or anything that amuses you (I don’t need credit for this).

4. You can make note that you can have Portrait or Landscape mode and that you can dictate a variety of page sizes. Leave all that as is and click the “Next >” button on the bottom right.

5. Now we need to select instruments. In the left box click “Keyboards”, in the center box click “Piano”, and then click “Add >” and the word “Piano” should appear in the right hand box.

6. Now go back to the left box and click “Voices”, select “Soprano Voice”, and again click “Add >”.

7. Since we want the voice to appear above the piano part, click on “Soprano Voice” in the right-hand box until it is hilighted, and then click the up arrow button on the far-right center. “Soprano Voice” should now appear above “Piano”.

8. Click “Next >” in the bottom right corner of the window.

9. In this window we can select a number of Time Signatures at the top, select a Key Signature in the middle, and the Number of Measures at the bottom center. Please only change the Number of Measures to “4”.

10. Click the “Finish” button on the lower right of the window.

Something strange happened to me here. There are three measures at the top of the page and one measure at the bottom of the page with a lot of space in between. Don’t worry, if you see that it should correct itself shortly.

There are now four windows open, arrange them so they look like the picture below:


The upper left window is the “Main Tool Palette”. Be careful which of these tools is selected because when you so something with the score the program will think you are using the selected tool.

Below that is the “Simple Entry Palette”. You will use this to select specific note values.

The “Playback Controls” will play your piece any time you like.

Lets enter some notes. We are going to do so on the center staff, the Treble Clef of the piano part.

NoteTool< In the Main Tool Palette select the musical note so that it is highlighted. It is in the upper left, second from the top. Pictured on the left.



SE-ToolIn the Simple Entry Palette, select the quarter note. Pictured on the right. >






These two options were probably already selected. You can use the View menu to zoom in, making note entry easier.

Enter a Middle C on the middle staff in the first measure, the Treble Cleff of the piano part; and if you miss, while it is still highlighted in pink, you can use your cursor-up and cursor-down keys to move it up and down until it is on the first ledger line below the staff.

Continue adding notes until it looks like the picture below. Notice that the last notes in the second and fourth measures are hollow with stems. You will have to select a different note type from the Simple Entry Palette to match what I have entered, and then switch back. These are different rhythmic values which I have not covered yet. The hollow note with a stem is to the left of the solid note with a stem in the Simple Entry Palette. You will need to switch back and forth. If you make a mistake, select the correct note type and click over the wrong note, this will change it and/or select it and you can drag it up and down or you can use the cursor keys. The delete key will erase the highlighted note. (Ignore the pink note in the Soprano staff).


I imagine that was hard if you have never done it before. It gets easier with practice. If you have a numeric keypad, you can change the note values with the “5” and “6” keys. It won’t work with the other number keys, just on the keypad.

Since that was so much work, and because I want the voice part to be identical to the Treble Clef of the piano part, let’s copy and paste it. You need to change tools on the Main Tool Palette and select the upper left tool, the arrow over a dotted box. Click in the first measure of the Treble Clef of the piano part between notes and the entire measure of only that part should highlight in blue. Now while holding the Shift Key down on your keyboard click in the same way between notes in the fourth measure. The entire line should now be highlighted in blue. Now execute a regular copy command or select copy from the Edit Menu and then click in the first measure of the Soprano part so that it is highlighted. Then execute a paste command from your keyboard or select “Paste” from the Edit Menu. The result should look like the following:


Now for the last of the note entry let’s do something harder. First select the Note Tool from the Main Tool Palette, and then the eighth note from the Simple Entry Palette, they look identical with a single flag coming off the stem. Try to enter all these notes like in the picture below. You only need to change to the hollow note with the stem at the very end. Be careful of which lines and spaces you put the notes on, if you put them in the wrong place they probably won’t sound very good!


LyricsToolOne more thing. Let’s add lyrics to the Soprano part so you can vent your frustration over all this difficult work. You will need the Lyrics Tool from the Main Tool Palette. It is the one with the feathered quill and ink bottle.

Below the first Middle C in the Soprano part, position your cursor until the little cursor has a tiny arrow pointing up to the note and then click. If you are too low that arrow will point downward and we don’t want that.

Enter the words like in the final picture below. You move from note to note using the tab key. Also, using the space bar or hyphen will move you to the next note. You only need to position the cursor with the mouse once. You can use my words or make up your own. The grand finale is below:


You can click on the above to make it larger, even print it out after right-clicking on the enlarged image and saving it.

This was an extremely hard exercise for a beginner. I had you focusing on placing notes on the staff that you might not be familiar with. I’ll go easier next time and that will give you time to experiment with this until you can make it work.

Ask questions if you are having trouble. I’ll not give another assignment like this for a little while. Once you get it right, print it out. The quality of the output is remarkably good and worth the effort.

Until next time.

9 thoughts on “Music Theory – 0003

  1. Hi Jim, thanks for the exercise. It was very interesting setting it up in NotePad and listening the music it made from that. Very interesting how it has to adapt the display based on what notes you put in there. Put in a lot of eights and it has to make the quarters further appart. I kept on thinking about their poor coders having to work all that out.

    I did the exercise on NotePad first and then I got an iPad app called Notion and did it on that as well. It forced me to use a virtual piano for note input and it really helped to cement the relationship between the keys and the displayed notes.

    Notion plays the soprano as a piano though so the musical output was a little dissapointing. Nice software regardless though and I was able to mail myself a midi version of the score from Notion to the Mac and then from that into NotePad and wouldn’t you believe it, it sounds the same as the one I input into NotePad an hour prior.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this, Emiliano, I did start this series specifically for you although I think I am laying groundwork for new novice students. This is turning out to be a mountain of work but If I get it right once I can then save a lot of effort later in explaining things my way. It took me a minute or two to create the example from head to “paper”, but it literally took all day to write it out. I lost focus toward the end with the lyrics which I don’t think I explained well in the step-by-step manner.

      I was so relieved to wake up this morning and see that at least you were able to do this. You have computer skills greater than most. I will look into this app for the iPad for my own use. I have a different one called “Symphony” that is awkward to use although it works and does so directly with notation.

      Thanks so much for this feedback. It means a lot more than you can imagine. I only hope that others had as positive an experience as you did.

      • Thank you Jim. I was originally going to try Symphony but it’s not available on the App Store, at least it wasn’t yesterday in Australia. While researching notation apps I read that they were having some issues with QC.

  2. I’ve also been practicing the exercise from lesson 1 and that can get a little addictive. Reciting in my head from C to B and back down to C, then doing it all again from D to C and back to D, then E to D and back to C etc.

    • This alphabet exercise is something I’m afraid people won’t do. It is very important and I am treading water waiting for people to have time to get comfortable with it. The next few lessons will be very simple and necessary.

  3. Thanks Jim! I’m starting these lessons properly, if a bit late. The lessons I learned in my early high school clarinet classes are flooding back. It’s exceptionally useful to have applications that allow us to put down notes and hear them play back. I’m using the iPad app that Emiliano suggested called Notable and it’s really good!

    One thing that Might help beginners in remembering the notes is the FACE and Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit method, I found myself relying on it again as I’m getting used to looking at sheet music again after 16 years.

    • Yes, I bought NOTION after Emiliano suggested it. You guys are going to have to rely on each other for advice unless you directly ask me questions about how to do something with Notion. If something doesn’t work in Notion, like when I suggest using a “Trumpet in C” and the Trumpet in Notion is a Bb instrument, you’ll have to use the piano instead. Entering a C on the music keyboard is going to result in a D being input for that Trumpet because it sounds a full step lower when it follows the music. If some problem crops up please feel free to ask. I’m giving instructions only for NotePad because it is free and cross platform. Notion is better in many ways and if you use decent headphones like Apple’s Ear Pods then Notion can sound fantastic if you cater to its strengths.

      • Thanks for that info, In that case I’ll download and use Notepad as well. I find that I always feel much more inclined to pull out my ipad to learn anything than fire up my pc.

    • With the FACE and Every Good Boy Does Fine (there are so many versions of that), I’m trying instead to introduce the perfect symmetry of the Grand Staff. I came up with that myself while putting this together and it seems to me to be a superior way of looking at things. I did learn the way you did, but seeing where all the C notes are across the entire Grand Staff provides a wider and faster understanding, or so I hope.

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