It is very easy to locate the key of a song when there are sharps in the key signature (major keys — we’ll discuss relative minor keys later) simply by locating the last sharp to the right in the key signature in a piece of music and going up one-half step. Watch this short video and your instantly understand:
Archive for March, 2011
An arpeggio is one of those terms in music that sounds very impressive. If you go to your friends and tell them that you played arpeggios in your piano lesson today, they are sure to be impressed. It sounds like something complicated and difficult and our first word of advice is to let you friends think that. You’ll impress a lot of people!
Now for the secret. We music types know that an arpeggio is not a difficult concept at all. In fact, the name contains the definition. Arpeggio is an Italian word meaning broken chord. Simply speaking, when we play an arpeggio, we split a chord in to its component notes and play them individually.Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say that we play a C Major chord. You probably remember from our chord article that a simple three note C Major chord is the 1st, 3rd, and 5th scale degree of a C Major scale. In this case, a C Major scale has the notes C-E-G and they are all played at the same time. When we play an arpeggio we simply play each of these notes separately. Maybe we play 1-3-5 up and down in quarter notes. In this case, we would play 1-3-5-3-1 broken up like we would play a melody.
You might be wondering, “what’s the point of an arpeggio? Why would we bother learning these?” Your teacher will probably show you various exercises using arpeggios but here are a few reasons that they help you to be a better musician:
• If you’re a wind player, they increase the range of notes both high and low that you can play. By playing arpeggios that start in your low range and go to the top of your range, you’ll practice sounding good in all areas of your instrument.
• If you’re a string player, arpeggios help with hand positions.
• Pianists learn specific fingering patterns for various arpeggios depending on the key you are playing. Learning these different fingering patters is essential as you advance as a player.
• For any musician, in order to play an arpeggio you have to know how to spell your chords. This helps you learn and practice constructing chords.
Of course there are many other reasons that arpeggios are important but your private teacher will help you make arpeggios something that will help you to be a better musician.
Last, arpeggios don’t have to be just 1-3-5. You could play arpeggios based on any chord you can think of. You can also combine chords. For example, you could play a C Major Arpeggio as you go up and a D Major arpeggio going down. The amount of exercises and music constructed using arpeggios has no limit and if you study some of the music you play, you’ll find countless examples of arpeggios.
When there are flats in the key signature, how do you locate the key of the song? It’s easy. Just count down 4 scale degrees and that is the key. Another way to say it is: the next to the last flat in the key signture IS the key. Watch this short video and you’ll understand:
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The key signature at the beginning of a piece of music announces which sharps or flats (or neither) are in the piece, determining the key of the song. And just as the flats always occur in the same order in a key signature, so the sharps do also. Not many people realize (except musicians, of course) that the sharps and the flats are just backward to each other: in other words, the order of the flats is just reverse to the order of the sharps. Watch this 5-minute video:
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