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Sounds of the World - Online Classroom

1.- The Western Music System by Jonatan Arriaga- Mexico.

The study of the music theory is a must for those who want to understand the
structures, formulas and the reasoning behind a musical composition.

We will start with a very simple yet important topic; understanding the western
music system.

The western music system consists of 12 sounds. Each one of these twelve
sounds is known as 'note' and has specific characteristics. In the western
music system there are 7 different names for the notes. Although there are
twelve different sounds, only seven receive a specific note name that
corresponds to the DIATONIC SCALE that we will analyze later. These 7
notes are:

The notes contain certain tonal characteristics; one of these characteristics is

the tonal distance between one note and another. This feature gives us the
The tone is the unit in which a scale is divided. A semi-tone represents half
tone and receives the name of accidental. From the accidentals we obtain
the other five sounds that complete the 12 sounds.
There are 5 kinds of accidentals and are represented by the following
Sharp #
Sharp symbol tells us that the following note will be raised half step

Flat b
Indicates that the following note will be lowered half step (or a semitone).

Double Sharp x
Indicates that the note will be raised a whole tone (two semitones).

Double Flat bb

The note will be lowered a whole tone (two semitones).

Cancels any received accidental in a note.
The semitones that are originated from accidents in a note complete the
whole 12 sounds of the western music system. These twelve sounds give
birth to what it is known as CROMATIC SCALE.
The chromatic scale is the representation of those twelve sounds in
ascending or descending order.

Every single semitone is included in the chromatic scale. You might be

wondering why from E to F and from B to C there are no sharps, the reason is
because the tonal distance from E to F and from B to C is only half-step.
I am not saying that accidentals cannot be applied to those notes or that there
should be 5 different sounds to each note because there are 5 kinds of
The rules for their application and more will be seen soon in our next class!