More Music Theory Review

Review

More music theory review? Yep! We need to do a bit more review before we move on to more theory concepts. Let’s review things related to scales and keys and key signatures.

Whole Steps and Half Steps

First of all, you need to remember what we learned about whole steps and half steps. Half steps move, either up or down, from one note to the very next closest note. That is usually from a black key on a keyboard to a white key, but not always. Sometimes moving from a white key to another white key makes a half step.  Whole steps are made up of two half steps. In the example below half steps are marked in purple and whole steps are marked in green.

Illustrations of whole steps and half steps.
Blue arrows show half steps. Purple arrows show whole steps.

Sharp, Flat, and Natural Signs

Sharp signs, flat signs, and natural signs move notes either a half step higher or lower than they are written. Flats signs lower a note by a half step. Sharp signs cause a note to be raised a half step.  Natural signs eliminate what a sharp or flat sign previously did.

Sharp, Flat, Natural Signs
Sharp, Flat, Natural Signs

Major Scale Patterns

Then we talked about the pattern of a major scale. Remember, a major scale can start on any note, and goes in alphabetical order to the next note with the same name as the starting note (from an A to an A, or from a D to the next D). A major scale must always follow the same pattern of whole steps and half steps. We use sharp and flat signs to adjust the notes to fit the pattern of whole and half steps. And every note of a major scale must have a different letter name (until you get to the top note of the scale, which is the same as the first note of the scale).  The pattern is always:

W-W-H-W-W-W-H

 

Pattern of whole steps and half steps for C Major scale
Pattern of whole steps and half steps for C Major scale
Examples of Major Scales with Half Steps Marked
Examples of Major Scales with Half Steps Marked

Key Signatures

The sharps and flats used to adjust the scale to the proper whole steps and half steps are used to create the key signature for that scale. Key signatures allow us to write music without including the sharp or flat signs for all the notes that need one. We write them once at the beginning, (in a specific pattern and order), and repeat them at the start of each new line of music. The sharps or flats in the key signature apply to all the notes of that name in the piece until something is written to change that.

Key Signatures
Key Signatures

Finding the Name of a Key from the Key Signature

We also looked at the order of the sharps and flats and how they are written into a key signature. We can look find the name of the scale used to write the music just by looking at the key signature. Then we say that we know the key the piece is written in. I showed you how we do that. Remember, we always read key signatures in order from left to right. Here is a link to the information we looked over earlier:  Read Here

 

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