You are on page 1of 66

MusicArrangers.

com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Good keys / Bad keys


Transposing instruments give us more scope for colour in the orchestration. Some keys don't get much colour out of the orchestra. On every instrument C is the easiest key to play in. The more sharps and flats in the key the more difficult the piece is to play. Some keys are just plain difficult to play in.

The best keys are: Eb, Bb and F concert. Secondary keys are: G, C and D concert. Notably bad keys are: A and E concert.

A and E concert are strange keys to the orchestra. Colourful pedal notes allude you when you use these keys. The keys are also out of favour with transposing instruments. E concert transposes Eb instruments to six sharps and Bb instruments to seven sharps. Just a semitone higher than E, Eb concert is a wonderful key for colour, transposes Eb instruments to C and Bb instruments to F. Avoid keys that put instruments playing sharps alongside instruments playing flats. In this syllabus we talk of F# and Gb as the same note. This is true for tempered instruments like the piano. For instruments in the violin and brass families where the note is felt for, F# and Gb are subtly different. Concert Key Transposing instruments Bb Eb F G C D A G F G A E D C D E B A G A B F# E D E F# C# B A B C# Ab F# E F# Ab Eb C# B C# Eb Bb Ab F#

Good or Bad ?

Concert Key

Bb

Eb

Ab

Db

Gb

Cb

Transposing instruments

Bb Eb F G

D A G F

G D C Bb

C G F Eb

F C Bb Ab

Bb F Eb Db

Eb Bb Ab Gb

Ab Eb Db Cb

Db Ab Gb E

Good or Bad ?

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Transposition
These instruments play in a different key to the piano. They are transposing instruments.

Bb trumpet French horn (F) Alto saxophone (Eb) Tenor saxophone (Bb) Cor anglais (F) Bb clarinet

Before you can write for a transposing instrument you need to know

its key any octave shifts in the transposition the clef the player is expected to read.

You can look this information up in the Musical Instruments Reference. You can read more about transposition underneath.

Transposition, a simple example


Bb Trumpet part Concert pitch Excerpt from Figlio Del Capo, arranged and composed by Joe Paparone

Bb trumpet transposes a tone above concert. 1. Transpose the key signature a tone above concert. Eb concert transposes up to F. 2. Transpose each note up a tone. C concert transposes up to D. D concert transposes up to E. Eb concert transposes up to F. As an aid, write the diatonic scale of the concert key above the diatonic scale of the transposed key. The top row of notes transposes to the bottom row. Concert key Transposes up to Eb F G A Bb C D Eb F G A Bb C D E F

Bb trumpet part transposed

Transposition, a more complex example


What happens when some notes deviate from the key signature? Bb Trumpet part Concert Excerpt from Figlio Del Capo, arranged and composed by Joe Paparone

Write the diatonic scale of the concert key above the diatonic scale of the transposed key. Concert key Transposes up to Eb F G A Bb C D Eb F G A Bb C D E F

Each note transposes up a tone. B natural is not in the diatonic scale of the concert key. B natural transposes up a tone to C#. Tip: If a note is altered from the key signature in the concert key it will also be altered from the key signature in the transposed key. Bb trumpet part transposed

Transposition for a baritone saxophone


The baritone saxophone is scored in bass clef. It is transposed up a diatonic 13th (diatonic 6th and an octave) to the treble clef. Eb Baritone saxophone part concert Excerpt from Giacca di Feru composed and arranged by Joe Paparone

The concert key is C. It transposes a diatonic sixth up to A. Concert key Transposes up to C D E F G A B C A B C# D E F# G# A

Remember to write it an octave higher ...

... and put it in treble clef. Transposition is complete.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7

Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Key, colour and orchestration


I asked a pianist to play C. I asked an alto saxophonist to play C. They played different notes. Why? The piano is pitched to C. The alto saxophone is pitched to Eb. Why? An orchestra with instruments pitched in different keys provides more opportunities for colour in the orchestration.

So how do we define C? C is the easiest key for any instrument to play in. C# and Cb are the most difficult. The more sharps or flats in the key signature the more difficult the piece is to play. NB: When the piano is in the key of E (4 sharps) alto saxophone is in the key of C# (seven sharps) so E is not a good key for a piano and alto saxophone duet. Let's hear this melody played by a variety of instruments.

Piano Concert pitch

Eb Alto saxophone a diatonic 6th lower

Bb Trumpet a tone lower

An absolute identifier of pitch is Concert Pitch. At the instruction to play Concert C all instruments play the same sound.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights

Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Key, colour and orchestration


I asked a pianist to play C. I asked an alto saxophonist to play C. They played different notes.

Why? The piano is pitched to C. The alto saxophone is pitched to Eb. Why? An orchestra with instruments pitched in different keys provides more opportunities for colour in the orchestration. So how do we define C? C is the easiest key for any instrument to play in. C# and Cb are the most difficult. The more sharps or flats in the key signature the more difficult the piece is to play. NB: When the piano is in the key of E (4 sharps) alto saxophone is in the key of C# (seven sharps) so E is not a good key for a piano and alto saxophone duet. Let's hear this melody played by a variety of instruments.

Piano Concert pitch

Eb Alto saxophone a diatonic 6th lower

Bb Trumpet a tone lower

An absolute identifier of pitch is Concert Pitch. At the instruction to play Concert C all instruments play the same sound.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments

Music Lessons Joe Paparone

The best accidental


Should I write F# or Gb? It depends on the context. Here are some guidelines.
In a melody

stick to the key signature where you can. Accidentals should deviate no more than a semitone from the key signature. If F# is in the key signature you can write Fx (double sharp) or F (natural) but not Fb. Have a good excuse ready before you write a double flat or double sharp. G is almost always preferable to Fx. Use Fx in preference to G only when G# is prevalent in the melody, or you have some other good excuse. Lean towards principal note names. Rare names like B# and Fb should be used only when there are four or more sharps (for B#) or four or more flats (for Fb) in the key signature.
In a chromatic run

run up in sharps and down in flats.


In a scale

write your accidentals so the musician recognises the scale.


In a chord

write the chord so the player will recognise it. Give chords to players that use chords (guitarists, pianists and soloists). Don't worry instrumentalists with chords if they won't be needing them. Guitarists and pianists map their physical position to the chord. When they recognise the chord they relax to it. Give them the chord and you give them the freedom to improvise (unless Strict is written or implied).

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Accidentals, the principal name


Now we know our diatonic scales and we know our key signatures. We are ready to believe that F# is more common than Gb. The more common a name the more familiar it is to us. The common name is the principal name. Recall how 9 of our 12 notes have two names. C# Db C B# D D# Eb E Fb F E# F# Gb G G# Ab A A# Bb B Cb

Well let us do some detective work. How many key signatures is F# in? 7. How many key signatures is Gb in? 3. F# is the principal name of the F# / Gb enharmonic pair. Enharmonic names B# C C# Db D D# Eb E Fb F E# F# Gb G G# Ab A G# is in 5 key signatures Ab is in 5 key signatures D# is in 4 key signatures E is in 7 key signatures F is in 7 key signatures F# is in 7 key signatures Eb is in 6 key signatures Fb is in 1 key signature E# is in 2 key signatures Gb is in 3 key signatures The enharmonic name that appears in the greater number of key signatures is the principal name B# is in 1 key signature C# is in 6 key signatures C is in 7 key signatures Db is in 4 key signatures C C# D Eb E F F# G Ab A Principal name

A# Bb B Cb

A# is in 3 key signatures B is in 7 key signatures

Bb is in 7 key signatures Cb is in 2 key signatures

Bb B

C# C D

Eb E F

F# G

Ab A

Bb B

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales

The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

The diatonic scale on the stave


There are two ways to write a diatonic scale on the stave. With a key signature

Without a key signature

With a key signature you establish the accidentals at the start of the stave. Without a key signature you define each accidental as it is played.

The key
In the key of G, F# is normal. The key signature of G is appropriate.

To write a melody without a key signature you define each accidental as it is played. Scroll down to the next illustration. Press the midi buttons to hear each illustration. Can you hear the difference? No. Can you see the difference? Yes. The melody with a key signature looks cleaner and more informative. The key signature tells the musician to expect F# and it tells the musician which key the music is in.

We can distort the look of the melody by changing the key signature. This melody sounds the same as the two above but it looks awful. It is still in the key of G. The key signature has changed to Ab.

Now shift each note up a semitone. What have we done? We have changed the key. We have changed the sound. The melody is now in the key of Ab A melody in the key of Ab looks right in the Ab key signature.

Accidentals on the stave

In the key of D, F# and C# are expected. When the key signature is D each unaltered F is F# and each unaltered C is C#.

To override the key signature you place an accidental at the note-head.

The accidental in front of the note-head holds true:


for the line or space it is on until the next barline or until it is changed by another accidental

Take a close look at this example. The barline is the vertical line cutting through the stave at regular intervals. The barline measures the pulse. The music starts on AB The second note is A natural. Remember the rule: For the line or space it is on. The higher A is natural until we make it flat. The 4th and 8th notes are F#. We must repeat the sharp accidental to repeat F# because high F# is on a different part of the stave to low F#. The last note before the first barline is AB We do not put a flat in front of the note head. Trace the AB space from the first note on the stave to this note. Remember the rule: For the line or space it is on until the next barline. We had F# in the first bar. We want F natural in the second bar. This is easy to achieve. We do nothing. F# in the first bar lost its power at the barline.

Clarity
How do we define success? When a professional musician can play your music comfortably at first sight. How to we achieve success? We clarify ambiguous accidentals. A correctly written note may have no accidental at the note-head but still cause confusion. You don't want rehearsal time wasted on such questions as Is that natural or sharp? Arguments may spark along the lines of ... "Musically it could be ..." and "Yes, but I think that's a printer's error." If half the musicians play C natural and half play C# together you are in trouble. Study this example. Is the first note of bar 4 C natural or C#?

If you mean C# write C#.

If you mean C natural put a natural accidental in brackets in front of the note head. By putting the accidental in brackets you are confirming the key signature.

The key signature

tells the musician which key the music is written in and which accidentals (flat, natural, sharp) are normal to the stave.
Standard accidentals at the note head

tell the musician that this note is altered from the key signature or altered again in the bar. Do not go mad putting accidentals in front of every note head. Learn the rules. A well-written melody is one a professional can sight read perfectly at first glance. Aim to please the professional musician.

Accidentals in brackets at the note head

confirm the key signature where ambiguity may otherwise arise. Don't bracket accidentals which shouldn't have brackets. The accidental in brackets is always true to the key signature. It is a reminder of the key signature, never contrary to it.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales


We know the 15 diatonic scales. Each has a key signature. G has one sharp in its diatonic scale and the same sharp in its key signature. The diatonic scales are matched to their key signatures below.

Sharp notes enter in order F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#. You remember this sequence from the diatonic scales. Flats enter in mirror order Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb.

Know the C# and Cb key signatures and you know all key signatures.

C# is the key signature of 7 sharps. Cover the right most sharp. You now have the key signature of F# (6 sharps). Cover two sharps to the right. You now have the key signature of B (5 sharps). Now start with a clean stave (no key signature). A sharp on F# is the key signature of G. Another sharp over C# changes the key signature to D. Keep adding sharps in this sequence to change the key signature. Key signatures are building blocks to each other.

You must be able to recognise and write every key signature in every clef.

Flat key signatures change height but otherwise stay constant through all clefs. They change height to match the names of the notes. Bb is middle line of the treble clef and second space up on the alto clef. Sharp key signatures similarly change height through the treble, bass and alto clefs. On the tenor clef the standard pattern won't fit. The pattern is mirrored so all sharps in the pattern can fit on the clef.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Key signatures and accidentals


This chapter translates the diatonic formula into music notation. Be sure to read pages 1 to 12 before continuing.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave

Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

More in the positions


The 7th is always sharp when there are sharps in the diatonic scale.

Take for example G A B C D E F# G D E F# G A B C# D When there are two or more sharps the third is sharp. Take for example D E F# G A B C# D A B C# D E F# G# A When there are three or more sharps the sixth is sharp. Take for example A B C# D E F# G# A E F# G# A B C# D# E Only when there are seven sharps is the fourth sharp. That is the scale of C# where every note is sharp. There is an order of entry of sharps through the positions. 1 G D A E B F# C# 2 3 # # # # # # 4 5 6 7 # # # # # # # 8ve

# #

# # # #

# # #

# # # # #

# #

F# leads the way through the positions. It is the first note to be sharp in the seventh, third, sixth, second, fifth, first and fourth positions. The other sharp notes follow suit. 1 G D A E B F# C# 2 3 F# # # # # # 4 5 6 7 F# # # # # # # 8ve

F# #

F# # # #

F#

F# # #

F# # # # #

F# #

If the sharp notes enter through the 7-3-6-2-5-1-4 positions then you guessed it, the flat notes enter through the 4-1-5-2-6-3-7 positions. The flat notes are lead by Bb. 1 F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb b b b b b b 2 3 4 b b b b b b b 5 6 7 8ve b b b b b b

b b b b

b b

b b b b b

b b b

1 F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Bb b b b b b

Bb b b b

Bb b

4 Bb b b b b b b

8ve Bb b b b b b

Bb b b b b

Bb b b

Bb

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Tetrachords

Recall the diatonic scale formula of TTSTTTS. A tetrachord is TTS. A diatonic scale is two tetrachords separated by a tone. C D E F G A B C

T T T S Lower TetrachordXX

T T S Upper TetrachordXX

The same tetrachord will do for two diatonic scales. The lower tetrachord of C is the upper tetrachord of F. The diatonic scale of F concludes in the same way the diatonic scale of C begins, CDEF. The upper tetrachord of C is the lower tetrachord of G. The diatonic scale of G begins in the same way the diatonic scale of C ends, GABC.

MIDI tetrachords

Diatonic scale Diatonic scale

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries

The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Diatonic intervals

Assign a number to each note of the diatonic scale. Begin on 1. End on 8. CDEFGABC 12345678

Diatonic 4ths and 5ths


The diatonic 4th of C is F. The diatonic 5th of C is G. As you will see, memorising the diatonic 4ths and 5ths is all you need to do to memorise the diatonic scales. And it is even simpler than that. Memorise the ascending sequence of alphabetic 5ths: FCGDAEB. Reverse this sequence and you have the ascending sequence of alphabetic 4ths: BEADGCF. There is one flat in the diatonic scale of F. F G A Bb C D E F The 5th of F is C. There are no flats in the diatonic scale of C. CDEFGABC The 5th of C is G. There is one sharp in the diatonic scale of G. G A B C D E F# G The 5th of G is D. There are two sharps in the diatonic scale of D. D E F# G A B C# D The entire pattern is in the diagram. Remember FCGDAEB. The diatonic scale of C has no sharps or flats, the diatonic scale of F has one flat, the diatonic scale of Bb has two flats, the diatonic scale of G has one sharp, the diatonic scale of D has two sharps. The first sharp is F#, the second sharp is C#, the third sharp is G#, the first flat is Bb, the second flat is Eb, the third flat is Ab. >>> diatonic 5ths diatonic 4ths <<< Cb 7 Gb 6 Db Ab Eb Bb 5 4 3 2 number of flat notes in the diatonic scale F 1 C A E B 3 4 5 number of sharp notes in the diatonic scale | >> order of entry of sharp notes G 1 D 2 F# C# 6 7

1 F# Fb 7

2 3 4 5 6 C# G# D# A# E# Cb Gb Db Ab Eb 6 5 4 3 2 order of entry of flat notes <<

7 B# Bb 1

Stepping through the closeness of the diatonic 4ths and 5ths


The diatonic scales of F and C are very close. F is the diatonic 4th of C. One note in F is a semitone lower to what it is in C. C D E F F G G A A B Bb C C

The diatonic 5th of C is G. One note in the diatonic scale of G is a semitone higher than what it is in C. C C D D E E F F# G G A B C

Step through the diatonic scales. The diatonic 4ths and 5ths are very close. G A B C D E F# C D E F F G G A B G A Bb

C C D E F

Step down the diatonic 4ths, up the diatonic 5ths


C D E F G A B C # # # # # # # # F G A C D E F B # # # # # # # B C D F G A E B # # # # # E F G C D A B E # # # # A B C F G D E A # # # D E F G A B C D

# G A B C D E F G #

C D E F G AB C

C D E F G A B C F G A B C D E F b B E B C D F G A b b b E A B E F G C D b b b b A B D E A C F G b b b b D E G A B D F C b b b b b b G A B C D E G F b b b b b b b C D E F G A B C b b b b b b b b

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments

Music Lessons Joe Paparone

The magic number 7


There is one sharp in the diatonic scale of G. There are six flats in the diatonic scale of Gb. The number of sharps in G and flats in Gb adds to 7. An easy way to remember your diatonic scales is by deduction. For each letter, the number of sharps and flats adds to seven. #s Dscale Dscale bs 0 C Cb 7 1 G Gb 6 2 D Db 5 3 A Ab 4 4 E Eb 3 5 B Bb 2 6 F# F 1 7 C# C 0

Flat to natural to sharp


In the diatonic scale of G the only note to be sharp is F#. In the diatonic scale of Gb the only note to be natural is F. G: Gb: G Gb A Ab B Bb C Cb D Db E Eb F# F G Gb

This makes sense. Deduce Gb by lowering the notes in G a semitone. Now raise the notes in G a semitone. Natural notes change to sharp, sharp notes change to double sharp. That is why G# does not exist as a diatonic scale. G#: G# A# B# C# D# E# Fx G#

C, C# and Cb all exist as diatonic scales. C is made of all natural notes. Natural notes can be raised a semitone without resorting to double sharps and lowered a semitone without resorting to double flats.

Patterns in the sharp notes


F# is very common. Every diatonic scale with a sharp in it has an F# in it. B# is rare. C# is the only diatonic scale with B# in it.

Dscale G: D: A: E: B: F#: C#:

#s F# F# F# F# F# F# F#

C# C# C# C# C# C#

G# G# G# G# G#

D# D# D# D#

A# A# A#

E# E#

B#

Sharp notes enter in order through the diatonic scales. The note F# is in every diatonic scale with a sharp note. C# is in every diatonic scale with two or more sharps. G# is in every diatonic scale with three or more sharps. D# is in every diatonic scale with four or more sharps. A# is in every diatonic scale with five or more sharps. E# is in every diatonic scale with six or more sharps. B# is in only one diatonic scale, the diatonic scale of seven sharps.

Patterns in the flat notes


Flat notes also follow a pattern, the direct mirror of the order of entry of sharp notes. Bb is as common as F#. Fb is as rare as B#. DScale F: Bb: Eb: Ab: Db: Gb: Cb: bs Eb Eb Eb Eb Eb Eb Bb Bb Bb Bb Bb Bb Bb

Fb

Cb Cb

Gb Gb Gb

Db Db Db Db

Ab Ab Ab Ab Ab

Remember
>>> Enter sharp notes FCGDAEB Enter flat notes <<

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

The 15 diatonic scales


The 15 diatonic scales are: They are not: C D E F G A B C# Cb Db Eb F# Gb Ab Bb D# E# Fb G# A# B#

All three variations of C (C natural, C flat and C sharp) can be written to a diatonic scale. For every other letter, two variations can be written. Browse the diatonic scales. Some have sharps. Some have flats. None have both sharps and flats.
C D E F G A B D E F# G A B C# E F# G# A B C# D# F G A Bb C D E G A B C D E F# A B C# D E F# G# B C# D# E F# G# A# C D E F G A B C# Db Eb F# Gb Ab Bb Cb D# Eb F G# Ab Bb C Db E# F G A# Bb C D Eb F# Gb Ab B Cb Db Eb Fb G# Ab Bb C# Db Eb F Gb A# Bb C D# Eb F G Ab B# C D E# F G A Bb C# Db Eb F# Gb Ab Bb Cb

Scales with sharps


There are 7 diatonic scales with sharps. D'scale G A D E A B E F# B C# F# G# C# D#

G: D: A: E: B: F#: C#:

B F# C# G# D# A# E#

C G D A E B F#

D A E B F# C# G#

E B F# C# G# D# A#

F# C# G# D# A# E# B#

G D A E B F# C#

A unique number of sharps can be counted to each diatonic scale.

Dscale #s

G 1

D 2

A 3

E 4

B 5

F# 6

C# 7

Scales with flats


There are 7 diatonic scales with flats. D'scale F G Bb C Eb F Ab Bb Db Eb Gb Ab Cb Db

F: Bb: Eb: Ab: Db: Gb: Cb:

A D G C F Bb Eb

Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb

C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb

D G C F Bb Eb Ab

E A D G C F Bb

F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb

A unique number of flats can be counted to each diatonic scale. Dscale bs F 1 Bb 2 Eb 3 Ab 4 Db 5 Gb 6 Cb 7

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries

The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

How to make a diatonic scale

Pick a letter from A to G, accidental natural, sharp or flat. Follow through with the natural letters of the alphabet. A T B S C T D T E S F T G T A

The pattern of tones and semitones from A to A is TSTTSTT. This is not TTSTTTS. It is not a diatonic scale. We use accidentals to make a diatonic scale. 1. The first interval of the diatonic scale is T. o Start with the first note (A). o A to B is T. o B is the second note of the diatonic scale. 2. The second interval of the diatonic scale is T. o Start with the second note (B). o B to C is S. o B to C# is T. o The third note of the diatonic scale is C#. 3. The third interval of the diatonic scale is S. o Start with the third note (C#). o C# to D is S. o The fourth note is D. 4. The fourth interval of the diatonic scale is T. o Start with the fourth note (D). o D to E is T. o The fifth note is E. 5. The fifth interval of the diatonic scale is T. o Start with the fifth note (E). o E to F is S. o E to F# is T. o The sixth note is F#. 6. The sixth interval of the diatonic scale is T. o Start with the sixth note (F#). o F# to G is S. o F# to G# is T. o The seventh note is G#. 7. The seventh interval of the diatonic scale is S. o Start with the seventh note (G#). o G# to A is S.

The eighth note is A, the same as the first.

The diatonic scale of A is: A T B T C# S D T E T F# T G# S A

How to work magic


Can a diatonic scale be written to D# ? No. D# Eb D# Why not? What is wrong with D# E# G G# A# B# D D#. Answer: C is missing and G is repeated. Every letter must be present in a diatonic scale. What can we do? We can introduce double sharps and double flats. Fx is G and Cx is D. This is also wrong D# E# Fx G# A# B# Cx D# Double sharps and double flats are banned from diatonic scales. What can we do? Rename each note to its enharmonic. Now we have a diatonic scale. Eb F G AB Bb C D Eb Every key on the keyboard can be written to a diatonic scale, but not every note name. When the first name you try doesnt work, switch to its enharmonic. Its enharmonic will work. C# D# F# G# A# E Fb F E# E# F# Gb G G G# Ab G# A A# Bb A# B Cb C B# B#X C# Db D D D# Eb D#

dB C B# D

Eb E Fb

GB F E# G

AB A

Bb B CB

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Diatonic scales
The diatonic scale is a formula. tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone (T T S T T T S)

We write it with the letters of the alphabet and sharps and flats. The diatonic scale of D is D E F# G A B C# D. D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D

Eb D T

Fb E

E# T

Gb F# S

Ab G T A

Bb T

Cb B

B# T

Db C# S

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals

15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Enharmony
The ability to write the same pitch in many ways is called enharmony. F# and Gb are enharmonic.

Accidentals
A letter is natural, sharp or flat. The letter is natural unless otherwise indicated. Ab (flat) is a semitone lower than A natural. A# (sharp) is a semitone higher than A natural.

Flat Ab

Natural A

Sharp A#

A word of caution. In text the accidental follows the letter, as in Ab and A#. On the stave the accidental precedes the note head.

Watch your step!


C# is Db. E# is not Fb. Remember, C to D is a tone and E to F is a semitone. While C# is Db, E# is F and Fb is E. Beginners and advanced students often trip-up on this fact. Gb Fb Cb C C# Db D Eb D# E F E# F# G G# Ab A A# Bb B Cb B# C C#

Draw the keyboard for the pattern. C# Db C B# D# Eb E Fb F E# F# Gb G# Ab A# Bb B Cb

Double flats and double sharps


Double flats and double sharps are accidentals for special occasions. A double flat is a semitone lower than flat. A double sharp is a semitone higher than sharp.

double flat

flat natural

sharp

double sharp

The complete set of accidentals and their enharmonic equivalents follows. Bx C# D# Eb Ex F# G# Ab A# Bb

Db B# C Dbb

Fbb Cx Dx D E Ebb Fb

Gb E# F Gbb Fx G Abb

Cbb Gx Ax A B Bbb Cb

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals

15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Tones and Semitones


Now you understand pitch on a grand orchestral scale. We turn to the smallest intervals in western music the tones and semitones. The letters of the alphabet are separated by tones and semitones. E to F is a semitone. Twice a semitone is a tone. F to G is a tone. The alphabet is not equidistant. F to G is twice the distance of E to F. Tone C Tone D Semitone E Tone F Tone G Tone A Semitone B

The ruler of pitch


Western music is divided into 12 equidistant semitones.

How do we write the interval between F and G? We introduce new notation. A semitone higher than F is F#. A semitone lower than G is Gb. F# and Gb are the same pitch. They represent the semitone between F and G. The step-like alphabetic ascension of tones and semitones is familiar to all who play the piano keyboard. The Ruler of Pitch C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E Db Eb Gb Ab Bb Db Eb

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

Scaling the heights


Soprano instruments lend themselves to melody, light harmony and colour. Tenor instruments too play melody. Bass sometimes plays melody. It takes a skillful arranger to write an effective and appropriate bass melody. Bass is the band's tonal foundation. If an inappropriate move is made the building comes tumbling down.

To study bass we must be able to talk about it in quantifiable terms. Bass C is an octave under Middle C. Pedal C is an octave under Bass C. Bass notes are between Bass C and Pedal C. Pedal notes are all notes under Pedal C. We must also talk about very high notes in quantifiable terms. The higher the note the thinner it is. Above the treble clef notes noticeably thin out. Very thin notes are used for colour and effect, rarely melody. Some instruments play as high as C above the treble clef (Top C). Very few instruments play as high as C above Top C (double top C). Notes between top C and double top C are top notes. Notes above double top C are double top notes. >>> rising pitch

below above double pedal notes bass notes Middle C Middle C Middle C top notes top notes DEFGABC DEFGABC DEFGAB C DEFGAB CDEFGAB CDEFGAB CDEFGAB ---XXXX XXXXX-XXXXX XXXX--Bass Clef Treble Clef

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

The Grand Stave


Though we know the stave as five horizontal lines it originated as eleven. The 11 line stave is called the grand stave. Pitch ascends through the lines and spaces of the grand stave.

Our five line stave is easier to read than the grand stave. But to reduce our stave to five lines we need to know which five lines we are referring to. For that we use a clef.

The top five lines = the treble. The bottom five lines = the bass clef. The middle five lines = the alto clef. The tenor clef stave is one line down from the alto clef stave.

It is comforting to see how closely the staves are related.

ABCDEFG
We name the ascensions of pitch with the first 7 letters of the alphabet, A B C D E F G. The alphabet ascends smoothly through the lines and spaces of the grand stave. We repeat the names at each eighth ascension. ABCDEFGA 12345678

The easy ascension on the grand stave doesn't look so easy on the 5 line staves. The middle line is B on the treble clef, D on the bass clef, C on the alto clef and A on the tenor clef.

I often find it helpful to think of the grand stave. The top two lines of the alto clef are the bottom two lines of the treble clef. The bottom two lines of the alto clef are the top two lines of the bass clef. The tenor clef is a line under the alto clef. The top of the tenor clef is the bottom of the treble clef. The middle of the tenor clef is the top of the bass clef. The bottom of the tenor clef is the middle of the bass clef.

Alternative names for the clefs


Here is another way to remember the clefs and the names of the notes on the stave. This method will suit you if you think in pictures. Look to the pivotal point of the clef symbol. The treble clef symbol winds round G above Middle C. The bass clef symbol curls round F below Middle C. The alto and tenor clef symbols mirror through Middle C.

The treble clef is a G clef. The bass clef is an F clef. The alto and tenor clefs are C clefs.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

The 15 diatonic scales

The 15 diatonic scales are: They are not:

C D E F G A B C# Cb Db Eb F# Gb Ab Bb D# E# Fb G# A# B#

All three variations of C (C natural, C flat and C sharp) can be written to a diatonic scale. For every other letter, two variations can be written. Browse the diatonic scales. Some have sharps. Some have flats. None have both sharps and flats.
C D E F G A B D E F# G A B C# E F# G# A B C# D# F G A Bb C D E G A B C D E F# A B C# D E F# G# B C# D# E F# G# A# C D E F G A B C# Db Eb F# Gb Ab Bb Cb D# Eb F G# Ab Bb C Db E# F G A# Bb C D Eb F# Gb Ab B Cb Db Eb Fb G# Ab Bb C# Db Eb F Gb A# Bb C D# Eb F G Ab B# C D E# F G A Bb C# Db Eb F# Gb Ab Bb Cb

Scales with sharps


There are 7 diatonic scales with sharps. D'scale G A D E A B E F# B C# F# G# C# D#

G: D: A: E: B: F#: C#:

B F# C# G# D# A# E#

C G D A E B F#

D A E B F# C# G#

E B F# C# G# D# A#

F# C# G# D# A# E# B#

G D A E B F# C#

A unique number of sharps can be counted to each diatonic scale. Dscale #s G 1 D 2 A 3 E 4 B 5 F# 6 C# 7

Scales with flats


There are 7 diatonic scales with flats. D'scale F G Bb C Eb F

F: Bb: Eb:

A D G

Bb Eb Ab

C F Bb

D G C

E A D

F Bb Eb

Ab: Db: Gb: Cb:

Ab Db Gb Cb

Bb Eb Ab Db

C F Bb Eb

Db Gb Cb Fb

Eb Ab Db Gb

F Bb Eb Ab

G C F Bb

Ab Db Gb Cb

A unique number of flats can be counted to each diatonic scale. Dscale bs F 1 Bb 2 Eb 3 Ab 4 Db 5 Gb 6 Cb 7

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths

Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

Preliminaries
Draw five horizontal lines equally spaced. You have a stave.

Draw ellipses over the lines and in the spaces. The higher the ellipse the higher the pitch. Music rises and falls on the page as it does in your ear.

Clef
Which instrument would you choose to play these notes? High pitched instruments and voices use treble clef. Low pitched instruments and voices use bass clef. The clef is an ornamental symbol drawn far left of the stave.

Treble Clef

Bass Clef You may meet many clefs in your travels. Let us introduce two more. When you write for viola and alto voices you use alto clef. In classical music the alto clef is also used by trombone.

Alto Clef When you write for tenor voices you use tenor clef. Cello, bassoon and trombone use tenor clef occasionally.

Tenor clef Have a listen to the range of notes in each clef. Press the MIDI button.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.

MusicArrangers.com

Music Theory Music Instruments Music Lessons Joe Paparone

The Grand Stave


Though we know the stave as five horizontal lines it originated as eleven. The 11 line stave is called the grand stave. Pitch ascends through the lines and spaces of the grand stave.

Our five line stave is easier to read than the grand stave. But to reduce our stave to five lines we need to know which five lines we are referring to. For that we use a clef.

The top five lines = the treble. The bottom five lines = the bass clef. The middle five lines = the alto clef. The tenor clef stave is one line down from the alto clef stave.

It is comforting to see how closely the staves are related.

ABCDEFG
We name the ascensions of pitch with the first 7 letters of the alphabet, A B C D E F G. The alphabet ascends smoothly through the lines and spaces of the grand stave. We repeat the names at each eighth ascension.

ABCDEFGA 12345678 The easy ascension on the grand stave doesn't look so easy on the 5 line staves. The middle line is B on the treble clef, D on the bass clef, C on the alto clef and A on the tenor clef.

I often find it helpful to think of the grand stave. The top two lines of the alto clef are the bottom two lines of the treble clef. The bottom two lines of the alto clef are the top two lines of the bass clef. The tenor clef is a line under the alto clef. The top of the tenor clef is the bottom of the treble clef. The middle of the tenor clef is the top of the bass clef. The bottom of the tenor clef is the middle of the bass clef.

Alternative names for the clefs


Here is another way to remember the clefs and the names of the notes on the stave. This method will suit you if you think in pictures. Look to the pivotal point of the clef symbol. The treble clef symbol winds round G above Middle C. The bass clef symbol curls round F below Middle C. The alto and tenor clef symbols mirror through Middle C.

The treble clef is a G clef. The bass clef is an F clef. The alto and tenor clefs are C clefs.

Music Theory

Pitch Chords Time

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.

Baby stuff

Preliminaries The Grand Stave Scaling the heights Tones and semitones Enharmony and accidentals

Scales

Diatonic Scales How to make a diatonic scale The 15 diatonic scales The magic number 7 Diatonic 4ths and 5ths Tetrachords More in the positions

Keys

Key signatures and accidentals 15 key signatures to 15 diatonic scales The diatonic scale on the stave Accidentals, the principal name The best accidental

Colour

Key, colour and orchestration The score Transposition Good keys / Bad keys

MusicArrangers.com. Last Updated July 2006.