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EpISODE 05 MAJOR SCALES AND KEY SIGNATURES

HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips

 

TYPE- Theory 101

 

DURATION- 41: 41

 

BUMPER MUSIC- "Mjr. Cool" (Area 47)

 

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe

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DESCRIPTION

Listen as we dig a little deeper into the major scale. We will also discuss key signatures and how to identify them by using the order of sharps or flats and a few other tricks we picked up along the way. The circle of fifths will make its brief debut as will the concept of diatonic and chromatic steps.

KEY WORDS SCALE- A pattern of notes, arranged in whole steps and half steps, that span an octave. KEY- A representation of a particular scale or group of notes that a piece, or section, of music is based on. KEY SIGNATURE- A set of sharps ( # ) or flats ( b ) at the beginning of the staff that indicates what key a piece of music is in. SHARP ( # )- A natural note is SHARPED when it is raised, in pitch, by a half step. A natural note can also be DOUBLE SHARPED (notated as " x ") when it is raised, in pitch, a whole step but the letter remains the same. FLAT ( b )- A natural note is FLATTED when it is lowered, in pitch, a half step. A natural note can also be DOUBLE FLATTED (notated as " b ") when it is lowered a whole step, in pitch, but the letter remains the same. NATURAL ( n )- This is a note that has not been sharped or flatted. For example, C, D, E, F, etc...all the white keys on the keyboard. ENHARMONIC EQUIVALENCE- More than one name being give to the same note. For example, C# and Db may refer to the same note (the note that is a half step up from C and a half step down from D). CHROMATIC HALF STEP- A half step, up or down, in which the letter name of the note DOES NOT change. Instead, an accidental ( #, b or n ) is added to the same note. An example of this is when a C moves up to C# or down to Cb. DIATONIC HALF STEP- A half step, up or down, in which the letter name of the note changes. In this case, an accidental ( #, b or n ) may be added to the next or previous letter, depending on the circumstance. One example of this is when a C moves up to Db or down to B . ACCIDENTALS SHARP (#)- A sharped note is a natural note that has been raised by a half step. DOUBLE SHARP (X)- A double sharped note is a natural note that has been raised by a whole step. FLAT ( b )- A flatted note is a natural note that has been lowered by a half step. DOUBLE FLAT ( ∫ )- A double flatted note is a natural note that has been raised by a whole step. NATURAL ( n )- A natural note is an unaltered note, with no sharps or flats. EXAMPLES

HALF STEP

(C moving up to C#)

HALF STEP

(C# moving up to D)

WHOLE STEP

(C moving up to D)

GOING FROM B TO C AND E TO F

 (two exceptions where there is only a half step between two white keys)

CHROMATIC HALF STEP

A half step in which the letter name stays the same and an accidental is added or subtracted. The below example, C moving up to C#, shows a CHROMATIC HALFSTEP

DIATONIC HALF STEP A half step in which the letter name changes and an accidental is added or subtracted. The below example, C moving up to Db, shows a DIATONIC HALFSTEP
ENHARMONIC EQUIVALENCE In the below example, the first measure shows a G note moving up a half step to G#. The following measure shows the same G note moving up a half step to A b. In both measures, the second note in the sequence (G# in measure 1 and Ab in measure 2) is the same note. It just has different letter names and accidentals. These notes are said to be ENHARMONIC to each other

Measure 1                                         Measure 2

THE MAJOR SCALE

C MAJOR SCALE PATTERN (keyboard)

C MAJOR SCALE PATTERN (notation)

IDENTIFYING KEY SIGNATURES

Here are 4 helpful methods to help you identify and understand key signatures.

CIRCLE OF FIFTHS METHOD

THE ORDER OF SHARPS

(on the right side of the circle)

-The C major key signature has no sharps or flats.

-Go up a 5th from that point. So, count up from C: (1) C  (2) D  (3) E  (4) F  (5)  G

-We landed on G.

-Count up the G major scale to the 7th note:

  (1) G  (2) A  (3) B  (4) C  (5) D  (6) E  (7) F

-Sharpen the 7th note you land on (F becomes F#)

-So the G major key signature has one sharp (F#).

-Each time you go up a 5th, from your new note, you add one sharp to the 7th scale note from that point.

-This will reveal the next note to sharpen, in the order of sharps, and add one more sharp to the new key signature.

THE ORDER OF FLATS (on the left side of the circle) -The C major key signature has no sharps or flats. -Go up a 4th from that point. So, count up from C: (1) C (2) D (3) E (4) F -We landed on F. -Count up the F major scale to the 4th note: (1) F (2) G (3) A (4) B -Flatten the note you land on (B becomes Bb) -So the F major key signature has one flat (Bb). -Each time you go up a 4th, from your new note, you add one flat to the 4th scale note from that point. -This will reveal the next note to flatten, in the order of flats, and add one more flat to the new key signature.

MNEMONIC DEVICES METHOD

THE ORDER OF SHARPS

-F# is always the first sharp in a sharp key signature.

-Each time you go up a 5th, you add another sharp.

-The resulting order of sharps is as follows:

(1) F# (2) C#  (3) G#  (4) D#  (5) A#  (6) E#  (7) B#

-Think of a sentence where all the words begin, in this order, with the given letter names:

 Fat Charlie Goes Down And Eats Breakfast

THE ORDER OF FLATS -Bb is always the first flat in a flat key signature. -Each time you go up a 4th, you add another flat. -The resulting order of flats is as follows: (1) Bb (2) Eb (3) Ab (4) Db (5) Gb (6) Cb (7) Fb -Think of a sentence where all the words begin, in this order, with the given letter names: Big Ed And Dan Go Camping Frequently REMEMBER THAT THE ORDER OF FLATS IS ALSO THE ORDER OF SHARPS IN REVERSE

OBSERVING THE KEY SIGNATURE METHODS

(The figuring used in the following methods is strictly intended for identifying MAJOR key signatures)

IDENTIFYING SHARP MAJOR KEY SIGNATURES

(LAST SHARP METHOD)

 

-Observe the key signature. This one has 4 sharps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Find the last sharp in the sequence, from left to right. In this case its a D# (circled in green).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-That note (D#) is the leading tone (7th scale degree) of the major key signature

 given. D# is the leading tone to E. So, we are in the key of E.

IDENTIFYING FLAT MAJOR KEY SIGNATURES (2ND TO THE LAST FLAT METHOD) -Observe the key signature. This one has 5 flats. -Find the second flat to the last, in the sequence, from left to right. In this case its a Db (circled in green). -That note (Db) is the the root of the major key signature given. So, we are in the key of Db. IDENTIFYING FLAT MAJOR KEY SIGNATURES (LAST FLAT) -Observe the key signature. This one has 4 flats. -Find the last flat, in the sequence, from left to right. In this case its a Db note (circled in green). -That note (Db) will be a perfect 4th above of the root note of the major key signature given. -The note, Db, is the 4th scale degree (sub dominant) of the Ab major scale. So, we are in the key of Ab.

THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS THE KEY OF F MAJOR

However, it's easy enough to remember that one flat represents the key of F major.

F major is the ONLY major natural key with a flat in the key signature.

PEN STROKE METHOD

(this method is strictly for identifying MAJOR keys)

-You can relate the first five keys, in the order of sharps, to the number of pen strokes it takes to draw the letters of those keys:

   1 stroke     2 strokes   3 strokes     4 strokes     5 strokes

   1 sharp     2 sharps     3 sharps     4 sharps      5 sharps

This method falls apart at 6 sharps (F#) and 7 sharps (C#). But thats only 2 key signatures that you have to memorize compared to 7.

SCALE DEGRESS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS

1) TONIC- Scale degree 1 is the root, or the foundation, of the scale. This is the note for which the scale is named. The C note is the tonic of the C scale.

 

2) SUPER TONIC- Scale degree 2 is the note above the tonic.

 

3) MEDIANT- Scale degree 3 is the midpoint between the tonic, scale degree 1, and the dominant, scale degree 5. This is the middle, or "third", of a triad.

 

4) SUB DOMINANT- Scale degree 4 is the note immediately below the dominant.

 

5) DOMINANT- Scale degree 5 is roughly at the center of the scale. This note is second most important note only to the tonic. It often precedes tonic in a chord progression.

 

6) SUB MEDIANT- Scale degree 6 is the same distance below the tonic as the mediant, scale degree 3, is above the tonic.

 

7) SUB TONIC or LEADING TONE- The note below (and that often precedes) the tonic, in a chord progression. It is only considered the LEADING TONE when it is a HALF STEP below the tonic. If it is a WHOLE STEP below the tonic, it is still considered the SUB TONIC but not a LEADING TONE.

THINGS TO REMEMBER

-Mnemonic devices can be great aids in learning and memorizing many things in music. The more ridiculous, the more effective!

 

-Now that you're getting used to thinking of notes as scale degrees, start thinking of them also as their functions (ex. tonic, dominant, super tonic, etc...).

 

-Heinrich Schenker was one of many theorist who postulated that all tonal music is, at a base level, comprised of movement from the tonic to the dominant and back to the tonic.

 

-Try not to confuse the SUB DOMINANT with the LEADING TONE. These two terms are not interchangeable.

EPISODE MUSIC

 

 "MJR. COOL"

 (Area 47 Music)

 Jeremy Burns- bass, guitar

 Brian Maloy- drums

 

MUSIC STUDENT 101

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