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#2138197 - 08/24/13 10:28 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
I left out the aural component of this. You may find, either now or later with more experience, that you can tell by the sound of a piece if it's in a major key vs. a minor key. That can be another clue or confirmation in determining the key -- not the letter name, but at least if it's major or minor.

I'm not very good at this aural skill. Or maybe it's that I don't have a lot of confidence in my ability. I do often experience starting to play a piece and thinking "I really like the sound of this." Then I check the key and lo and behold it's in a minor key. (I like minor keys a lot.) So clearly I recognize something in minor keys, but I can't bring it into analytical verbal focus just from my aural experience.
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#2138449 - 08/24/13 06:47 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: PianoStudent88]
Shey Offline
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Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Oooops, I said dumbing down, you said, 'structuring information into manageable chunks' well I am from the North of England, we talk like that, please excuse. Thanks, you also said you have never tried explaining keys before, I am so lucky to have you providing all this interpretation for my understanding.
I have to say the circle of 5ths, is a little intimidating, well, very. I have looked at it several times and it means nothing at all. I will have a look at the songs in Alfred's to see if I can determine the key they are in from the steps you gave me.
Are you able to look at a piece and see instantly the key it is in?
I know I am digressing a little, but I looked on Youtube at 12 bar blues for piano, I couldn't understand how to get to play it, the people on the videos were playing too fast and very differently naming chords I haven't yet learned. I really wanted to play out a little.
Oh well back to study.
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Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
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#2138451 - 08/24/13 06:54 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Shey

I have to say the circle of 5ths, is a little intimidating, well, very. I have looked at it several times and it means nothing at all.

That's why in my post on the subject I wrote:
Originally Posted By: keystring
]The patterns I described are reflected in the "circle of fifths" diagrams. I suggest that you understand how the music works, and then look at the diagram to see what you already know rather than the other way around.

Originally Posted By: shey

Are you able to look at a piece and see instantly the key it is in?


I have learned my key signatures so when I see four sharps I know that the piece will be in E major or C# minor. But then I have to study the music to check for the things I wrote about. If I play the piece, I may hear that it hovers around E or C#.

Don't try to learn them all at once. Start with one and two sharps and flats (G major, D major / F major / Bb major), get familiar with those, add the minor keys and move on from there. Play music in those keys and become familiar. Your method book is probably going in the same direction. As you get familiar, the circle of fifths chart will start making sense too, more like a reminder.


Edited by keystring (08/24/13 06:59 PM)

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#2138517 - 08/24/13 09:42 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Shey, I made a mistake in trotting out the circle of fifths/chart of key signatures diagram. I can see in it the little bit of information I meant it to be used for at this point, but I didn't put myself fully in the shoes of someone for whom all this is new, and I didn't give any guidance in which little part of it I thought you might look at, and furthermore saying "don't look at all of this shiny complex toy" is probably about like saying "don't think of pink elephants."

Chalk it up to first-time-explaining error, and let me come at this from a different angle.

Let me say first that you can determine key without knowing the circle of fifths at this point. As keystring says, as you learn more keys, the circle of fifths will naturally emerge and become a reasonable way to organize information about key signatures and other aspects of music. What I'll do instead is start to lay out some steps that are connected to the key signatures you already know, and that over time will lead to all the knowledge and understanding for the circle of fifths.

The steps I gave as the simple start for determining key still stand. Let's review the keys that you know already.

So far you know 5 keys:
  • F major and D minor, with one flat (Bb).
  • C major and A minor, with no sharps or flats.
  • G major, with one sharp (F#).

When we were talking about chords, I introduced the E minor chord to fill out a set. Here I'm going to mention the key of E minor to fill out this set. The key of E minor has one sharp (F#). The E natural minor scale is E F# G A B C D E. So we can make that last line look like the other lines:
  • G major and E minor, having one sharp (F#) in the key signature.

So now you know six keys: three major and three minor. Here they are:

  • F major and D minor, with one flat (Bb).
  • C major and A minor, with no sharps or flats.
  • G major and E minor, with one sharp (F#).


Use those keys and the method I outlined before to determine key for the pieces I listed before. I specifically chose those pieces; there are pieces that I left off the list which introduce nuances and complications into the method for determining key. I will use the omitted pieces to introduce those nuances gradually, building on, expanding, and modifying the initial simple set of guidelines. Are you comfortable with having an initial simple set of guidelines, knowing that they will be modified later?
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#2138539 - 08/24/13 10:52 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Shey
Are you able to look at a piece and see instantly the key it is in?

I know all the key signatures. I learned them over a period of time, partly by using them, partly by mentally analyzing them. But in addition to the key signature it's necessary to examine features of the piece, beyond the key signature, to be sure of the key.

Originally Posted By: Shey
I know I am digressing a little, but I looked on Youtube at 12 bar blues for piano, I couldn't understand how to get to play it, the people on the videos were playing too fast and very differently naming chords I haven't yet learned. I really wanted to play out a little.

I can provide a little information about 12-bar blues at some point. There's still some language about chords that I haven't gone over yet, which will make it easier to talk about 12-bar blues.
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#2138549 - 08/24/13 11:38 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 301
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Hey Shey,

Circle of 5ths:

I think I know what's intimidating about the Circle of 5ths. It's the stupid "Circle" itself! Why a circle? Well, look at the top of the circle. You see a "C". Now follow around the circle clockwise and the next thing you'll see is a "G" with a (1). Then on around you see a "D" with a "2", then "A" with a "3", E-4, etc. So why these letters in this order around the circle?... Let go to the keyboard first....

Now look at your keyboard and play a C major chord. What's the 5th of the C chord? "G" right? OK now play that G chord. What the 5th note? D Right? Now play the D chord. What's the 5th? A, right? .... turns out to be the same letters as what you see on the circle, right? They are "5ths" and it keeps on going. In fact, if you kept going on the keyboard with these 5ths you wind up back on C where you started like, you guessed it, "a circle"

Perhaps that's why they call it the "circle of 5ths" because, just like on the keyboard you come back back around to C like it was a circle. See it now?

But what does it have to do with KEY?

Well, did you notice on the circle the numbers that were beside the letters C G D A and E and so on? The letter is the "Key" but the number is the "number of sharps" to those Keys as seen around the circle. The circle is showing the "Keys" in "the order" by the number of their sharps and it just so happens that this order are "5ths apart" you see on the keyboard starting with note C. Kind of ironic!

Key of C has zero, Key of G has 1 sharp, Key of D has 2 sharps, Key of A-3 and E-4, and so on. See the order? When you play scales you hit these sharps for whichever scale you're playing other than C.

So do you see it now? No mystery to it at all. In fact, you'll realize how utterly simple the "circle of 5ths" is. On the other side of the circle are the flats which may cause you to have questions.

Give it a try on the keyboard:

Start on the C note and go up a 5th which is G. From G go up another 5th which is D... and keep going until you wind up back on C. You will land on every note, by the way. Also, you will have to come back down the keyboard at some point because you'll run out of keyboard. Just pick up where you left off. Basically what you'll be doing is playing a "scale of 5ths", going from one to the next to the next until you end up back on C again. Just one big FAT circle, "circle of 5ths".

So does that do it for you?

Russ
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#2138610 - 08/25/13 02:32 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 301
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Shey,

Just want to clarify one thing about what I said above about the Circle of 5ths. If you already know this, I apologize. I don't mean to insult your knowledge or intelligence. The problem is: I'm not sure of what you know already. Anyway...

A 5th... what the heck is a 5th?

Ok, I must assume you've played the C major scale. You at least know that scale. It has just the white keys, right? You've got 7 notes and your back to C again.

OK. Simply this: The "5th" is merely the 5th note up from C in that scale. C is the first note and G is the 5th note but in scale now. Remember the pattern for the major scale: WWHWWWH, no black keys to count in this scale. So the 5th "up" from C is G, or the 5th note up as you count the notes in the scale. Pretty simple so far, right?

But also understand that "a 5th" can be the distance from any note to another as long as..... you figure it by the Major Scale Pattern. The easiest way to know what the 5th note is from any note on the keyboard is to simply just play that note's chord. The 3rd note of the chord will be the 5th note in that chord's scale. It is also an important note position to the chord itself.

So.. Looking at the circle of 5ths diagram, you see those 5ths outlined beginning with C on top: C to G to D to A to E and so on. From here, if you understand what I said above and what the circle of 5ths is illustrating... super!


The problem with the circle of 5ths that confuses beginners is likely its title. It's purpose has little to do with 5ths accept for a coincidental, mathematical fact that the succession of 5ths works out that way to illustrate key escalation of sharps and flats. The purpose of the circle of 5ths is to outline all Key signatures and there are other spreadsheet like chart designs to show the exact same thing.


Edited by RUSS SHETTLE (08/25/13 02:37 AM)
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#2138680 - 08/25/13 08:34 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
Shey Offline
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Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Russ, thanks for that, I did see another chart describing key signatures which was really helpful, now I see the 'circle' was probably what was confusing me. Yes I do know, about 5ths as intervals, but what really helped was "the 3rd note of the chord will be the 5th note in that chord'scale". Would that just be for the Major scale though?
I am not at the piano just now but I feel relieved that I've comprehended quite a bit more theory today. Thank you. S

Edit: not just for major scale, I realise, 'fifths' gave that away.


Edited by Shey (08/25/13 08:36 AM)
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Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
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#2138682 - 08/25/13 08:45 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: keystring]
Shey Offline
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Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Thanks Keystring, my method book is building gradually, it's just that somethings are not explained in depth in it, but I am not trying to learn all signatures at once, just trying to see the patterns in the theory, as you said Will be checking with the diagram with what I already know.
_________________________
Alfreds All In One Level 1 graduate and various other tutor sources
Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
Fundamental Keys
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#2138685 - 08/25/13 09:01 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: PianoStudent88]
Shey Offline
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Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
PS88, thank you for the guidelines, all very clearly explained. I really think the more I play a scale the more I understand, if that makes any sense. Maybe that's what the learning is. I read recently, forgot where, that if you count one note up on the staff from the last sharp or group of shaps/flats at the start of a piece, that is the key signature. Does that work?
I am happy for simple now then modifications later.
Ok, off to sit at the piano, my note reading is coming on a treat too.


Edited by Shey (08/25/13 09:02 AM)
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Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
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#2138753 - 08/25/13 12:51 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Shey
Yes I do know, about 5ths as intervals, but what really helped was "the 3rd note of the chord will be the 5th note in that chord'scale". Would that just be for the Major scale though?

That's true for the minor scale also. In fact, it's true for every major triad and for every minor triad.
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#2138755 - 08/25/13 12:58 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Shey
I read recently, forgot where, that if you count one note up on the staff from the last sharp or group of shaps/flats at the start of a piece, that is the key signature. Does that work?

Yes, the new sharp is always the seventh degree of the scale and the new flat is always the fourth.
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#2138758 - 08/25/13 01:04 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: PianoStudent88]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: Shey
Yes I do know, about 5ths as intervals, but what really helped was "the 3rd note of the chord will be the 5th note in that chord'scale". Would that just be for the Major scale though?

That's true for the minor scale also. In fact, it's true for every major triad and for every minor triad.

Yes, to clarify once again: a triad is ALWAYS composed of a root, some type of 3rd, and some type of 5th. About the question you asked, as PS88 said, it's true for major and minor triads, but not for diminished and augmented.
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#2138780 - 08/25/13 01:43 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Pattern of fifths between keys

I listed the scales and keys you know so far in this order:
  • F major and D minor, with one flat (Bb).
  • C major and A minor, with no sharps or flats.
  • G major and E minor, with one sharp (F#).

I did it this way because it shows a sequence of fifths.

Play the names of the three major keys in order, ascending. That is, play the note F, then play the next C higher than F, then play the next G higher than C. Can you hear that each note is a perfect fifth higher than the previous one? Count the semitones from one note to the next: you should get 7, the number of semitones in a perfect fifth. Write these three notes on staff paper: can you see the fifths (remember that a fifth written out is two line notes with a line in between, or two space notes with a space in between).

Incidentally, the "name" note of a key is called its "tonic". So the tonic of the key of C major is C; the tonic of the key of A minor is A, and so on. Each note in a key has a special name, but I'm going to introduce them slowly, only as needed to simplify discussion.

Do the same thing with the three minor keys: D minor, A minor, E minor. Notice the pattern of a perfect fifth from one tonic to the next: listening, looking at the keyboard, and written out in notation.

Starting the circle of fifths

The following looks long because one picture is worth a thousand words, and these are the thousand words: you get to draw the picture.

Take a piece of staff paper and draw a treble clef on one of the staffs and a bass clef on the staff underneath. (It's OK if they're messy; if you're interested I can post instructions for how to learn to draw elegant clefs later.). Draw bar lines to make three measures. (I can't remember: in England do you usually call these measures or bars?)

In the first measure draw the one flat key signature for the treble and bass clef. Do you remember where the flat goes? It goes on B in both clefs, but that's s different line in the bass vs. the treble clef. Check Alfred's if you're not sure.

Above the measure write the name of the major key that goes with this key signature: F major. You can abbreviate it by just writing a capital F if you like.

Below the measure write name of the minor key that goes with this key signature: D minor. You can abbreviate it if you like in one of two ways: either Dm (capital D, and then the lower case m stands for minor), or by just writing a lower case d (lower case letters also stand for minor).

For the next measure, this is for the key signature with no sharps and flats. So don't write anything in it. Above it write the name of its major key. Below it write the name of its minor key.

For the third measure, draw the one sharp key signature in the bass and treble clef. Do you remember where it goes? Check Alfred's if unsure. Remember bass and treble clef indicate that the same note is shared, but in different locations. Write the name of the major key above and the name of the minor key below.

Congratulations! You now have your own personal copy of part of the chart of key signatures, arranged according to the circle of fifths.

I'll try to post a picture of what this looks like tomorrow.
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#2138805 - 08/25/13 02:28 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Shey
PS88, thank you for the guidelines, all very clearly explained. I really think the more I play a scale the more I understand, if that makes any sense. Maybe that's what the learning is.

Yes yes yes yes yes! All this information is connected in many ways. The more you practice it, play it, write it out, think about it, listen to it, wonder about it, ask questions about it, the more it becomes second nature to navigate among all the connections. Just keep practicing, and you will find that things that were hard at first and took a lot of thought, become easier over time.

Quote:
I read recently, forgot where, that if you count one note up on the staff from the last sharp or group of shaps/flats at the start of a piece, that is the key signature. Does that work?

Hmmmm. You have part of the story, for sharp signatures.

The following works for major keys:

The last sharp is a half step below the tonic of the major key.

For example, one sharp (which is F#), the tonic is G. Two sharps (in order: F# C#) the tonic is D. (Hey, when we added a sharp, the tonic went up by a perfect fifth! How cool is that! See, a connection between topics.). And so on. Notice that this means that the last sharp is the seventh note of the major scale (do you see why?), as Polyphonist says.

For flat keys, it's a little bit different.

As Polyphonist says, the last flat is the fourth note of the major scale. But I find that hard to work with (perhaps only because I've never thought if it that way. Hmmmm, I bet if I practiced, I'd find it easier, and strengthen some connections at the same time.). Anyway, what I use is that the next to last flat is the name of the major key. Suppose I have a key signature with two flats: Bb Eb. The next to last flat is Bb. Aha! This is the key signature for Bb major.

F major is an exception because there's only one flat (Bb). So in my way you have to memorize that. In Polyphonist's way, you would look at the last flat (Bb) and go down a perfect fourth, to find F as the tonic. (Oops, we haven't talked about perfect fourths yet. I'll post about that in another post. It isn't essential for what we're doing right now but there are some connections that can be a useful part of building a strong web of connections within music study.)

Quote:
Ok, off to sit at the piano, my note reading is coming on a treat too.

That's wonderful. Do you have any thoughts as to what's making the difference? I ask because when people post about trying to learn or improve reading music, I never have anything useful to say, even though I'd love to be able to be helpful. I can't turn my own ability to read music into any form of useful advice. So I'm eager for insights from those learning as to what works for you.
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#2138863 - 08/25/13 04:12 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
Shey Offline
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Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Hello again, I think the difference for me with my learning, is mainly people here saying things like, no matter if you need to ask the same questions more than once, or in a different way to get to help my own particular way of understanding. Also, to take the time for a new idea to be understood and applied however long it takes.

I have lots of books and of course can Google lots, but it doesn't help because there is so much I don't know. With the music theory, it's linked and connected and combined, with patterns and structure, like building something. I thought I had some basic knowledge, but it wasn't in any order, it was patchy and for the most part kept stopping me from moving on. So for me, the advice of sitting at the piano, just pressing keys and listening was amazing, I was initially waiting to hear myself play a tune then getting frustrated. I know some people here have said, the theory is not required to play piano and that's good news, but for me I want to grasp it, it's become important to me, especially as people here think I can.

Well, you have provided me with quite a lot of information to work with in these last postings and I am still catching up with the other posts and I have to take my time. I will be working hard on everything this week I hope I can digest most of it.

Actually it will take me more than a week to absorb the circle / chart, but I'm not so puzzled by it now.
_________________________
Alfreds All In One Level 1 graduate and various other tutor sources
Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
Fundamental Keys
Adult returner

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#2138917 - 08/25/13 06:02 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 301
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: PS88
That's wonderful. Do you have any thoughts as to what's making the difference? I ask because when people post about trying to learn or improve reading music, I never have anything useful to say, even though I'd love to be able to be helpful. I can't turn my own ability to read music into any form of useful advice. So I'm eager for insights from those learning as to what works for you.


I hope you're just being hard on yourself! You've been a huge help to me in theory and one time you gave me the best clue so far about reading. And what you've given to everyone here on PW in regard to theory couldn't be better stated out of a textbook. I know you're a super reader, I don't have any particular question myself right now but I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to ask you about it.
_________________________
Russ
Yamaha CP5
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#2138932 - 08/25/13 06:30 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 301
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: Shey
Actually it will take me more than a week to absorb the circle / chart, but I'm not so puzzled by it now.


Shey,

I hope you're not trying to memorize the circle of 5ths. It's just a reference like a dictionary. When you need to lookup a word, you find it in a dictionary. When you need to look up an unfamiliar key signature you refer to your circle of 5ths chart. Any chart will do that job and show the relationship of the 5ths as well.

Your knowledge of the keys will build as you progress along working with more and more scales.
_________________________
Russ
Yamaha CP5
Casio PX130
Yamaha AP Upright

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#2139246 - 08/26/13 02:40 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Russ, thank you for the kind compliments. I can't remember what I told you about reading -- what was it?

Some things to explore with perfect fifths

Shey, I agree with Russ -- don't try to memorize the full circle of fifths at this point. It would be worthwhile to get familiar with the strip of it that I had you draw in a previous post:
Code:
F   C   G
b       #
Dm  Am  Em


Here is another pattern connected to perfect fifths that is useful to start getting familiar with: You can arrange the major chords you know so far in a sequence of perfect fifths. The top note of each chord is the bottom note of the next chord:

F C G D A E

Notice that a major triad can be referred to in shorthand by just the capital letter of its name. This note is called the chord's "root".

What white note is missing? Can you figure out where to attach it to this sequence?

You can also arrange the minor chords you know so far in this order:
Fm Cm Gm Dm Am Em

Notice that a minor triad can be referred to in shorthand by just the capital letter of its name plus a lowercase "m", for "minor."

Play these chords up the keyboard, noticing and feeling that the last note of one chord is the first note of the next chord. (I think Russ suggested doing this.) If you run out of keyboard, move down several octaves and then pick up the sequence.

Listen for the perfect fifths.

Write out these chords. Again, notice, the relation of last note of one chord to first note of the next chord. Visually notice the pattern of fifths. If you run out of places where you know the notes on the staff, move down a few octaves and then pick up the sequence.

Play these sequences in reverse order, moving down the keyboard.

Optional familiarization with the circle of fifths

Some other thoughts of things to do with the circle of fifths -- familiarization, not memorization. All of the following are purely optional at this stage.

Play the tonics of the major keys that are printed around the outside of the circle of fifths. (Remember tonic = the first note of a scale, or the note a key is named with.) Verify that from one note to the next is a perfect fifth: ascending if you go clockwise around the circle, descending if you go counterclockwise around the circle.

Do the same thing with the tonics of the minor keys that are printed around the inside of the circle of fifths.

Question to explore: Why does it have to go from B to F# instead of staying with the white keys from B to F? (Hints: listen to B to F vs. B to F#. Count the semitones.)

Look for the sequence I showed above, of major triad names, among the letters for the major keys around the outside of the circle of fifths. Look for the sequence of minor triad names around the inside of the circle.

Check, by counting, that the key signatures on the sharp side add one sharp at a time as you go clockwise.

Check, by counting, that the key signatures on the flat side add one flat at a time as you go counterclockwise.

Check the rule I gave about determining the major key that goes with a key signature, by checking the rule against the key signatures and the major key names on the circle.

In the next post I'll give a rule for determining the minor key that goes with a key signature. Check that rule against the circle of fifths.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2139256 - 08/26/13 02:57 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Previously I gave a rule for determining the major key that goes with a key signature. There are several ways of determining which major key goes with a key signature, and the way I gave is perhaps the most mechanical shorthand. Other ways would be things like learning a major scale, and knowing from that how many sharps or flats that scale has, and recognizing that in the key signature. E.g. "I know D major has two sharps -- F# and C# -- so this key signature with two sharps in it goes with D major." I think some people frown on the mechanicial shortcuts, and perhaps in an ideal world you would learn all the scales first and then start to notice the patterns. But since you're asking about the circle of fifths now, I wanted to give you that method now which is doable with what you know so far.

Anyway, what I want to give now is one mechanical shortcut for determining which minor key goes with a key signature. Again, there are various ways to do this, and as you learn more scales you will start to learn other ways. That will build up a set of connected information, where you know the same fact in multiple ways.

Here is the rule: Given a key signature, to find out which minor key it goes with, first determine the major key it goes with. Then find the note a minor third (three semitones) below that. This is the minor key it goes with.

Here are some examples

For example, one flat (Bb). The major key is F major. Count down three semitones from F to find D (F to E, one semitone; E to Eb, one semitone; Eb to D, one semitone). Therefore the minor key is D minor.

This means that a relationship between F major and D minor is that they both have the same key signature. We say that D minor is the "relative minor" of F major. We also say that F major is the "relative major" of D minor.

Another, equivalent, way to express this is to look at the sixth note of a major scale. For example, take G major. Find its sixth note: G, A, B, C, D, E. Aha, the sixth note is E. The scale built on E, using the same key signature, is a minor scale. We say that E minor is the relative minor of G major. G major is the relative major of E minor.

Play your three major scales and verify that the sixth note of the ascending scale is also a minor third lower than the tonic. For example, in C major, the sixth note is A. A is a minor third (three semitones) lower than the next C (the C an octave higher than the starting C).

(In another direction, there is also a relationship between F major and F minor, and between D major and D minor. Others have talked about this relationship earlier in the thread. I've been holding off giving the details of the relationship until you learn more major and minor scales in Alfred's Level 2, so that you have some concrete previous knowledge to connect to.)
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2139261 - 08/26/13 03:05 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
That's a bunch of information and experiments. It leads a bit away from specifically "how do I determine the key of a piece." However, getting familiar with the perfect fifths (not the whole circle of fifths and all the key signatures, just some of the connections above) will be helpful for the next chunk of things to look at when determining the key of a piece, after the simple rule I gave earlier.

The next step will be to look at the chords used in a piece. But I will hold off giving more information until you've had a chance to experiment with the explorations I've given already.

Take as much time as you need. As you can see there are a bunch of interconnected ideas here and it was hard for me to stop at just one post. It's OK if all the parts and interconnections don't fall into place yet -- really the only thing needed before progressing to looking at chords for key, is to look at the pieces I gave earlier and check the key of them using the simple rule I gave.

Also please ask any questions you want, or make any observations, while experimenting with and playing with this material. As you can tell, I love talking about this stuff, and thinking of ways to help explore it and help make it make sense.


Edited by PianoStudent88 (08/26/13 03:08 PM)
Edit Reason: add a thought
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#2139269 - 08/26/13 03:15 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
changed mind


Edited by keystring (08/26/13 07:38 PM)

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#2139373 - 08/26/13 07:07 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 301
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: 88
Russ, thank you for the kind compliments. I can't remember what I told you about reading -- what was it?


I don't recall your exact words but it had something to do with associating notes as seen on the staff "directly" with the keys on the keyboard without any other thought process in between. The key word here is "directly". Dot to Key direct association.

What I had been doing was learning all the names of the notes on the staff and I would have to think of the note names first before going to the right key to play. Doing that created additional paths with wrong associations. It was an extra thought process that was indirect and slower. It's just not the way to be doing it.
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Russ
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#2139380 - 08/26/13 07:23 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Ah. I learned that from Gary D. and keystring. I'm glad it was so helpful.

I learned to read music differently (with Every Good Boy Does Fine), and one reason I'm usually unable to offer reading advice is because I don't know what alchemy happened in my mind and fingers so that I have a quick three way connection of note on staff, key on keyboard, and note name.

One advantage that you had, for me to give that advice (channeling keystring and Gary), is that you have Gary's keyboard chart to use in forming that direct staff-to-piano-key association.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2140558 - 08/29/13 05:07 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
Shey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Hello all my teaching helpers, just an update to say, I am in the process of re reading all the posts in this thread as revision.
I really wanted to get to grips with some basic theory and whilst I am making really good progress, I am so much more relaxed about it all.

I really am taking my time, that seems to by my learning style (slow) and as there is so much to learn being methodical and using the info here in the best way I can.
I have two more songs in Alfred's, then I intend to revise everything from the beginning because I feel I have bypassed lots without understanding certain basic theory concepts, since which I have been helped with here. So my revision should be speedy.
Then I'll be back with a whole load of new questions!!
The whole thing is so much more enjoyable.
_________________________
Alfreds All In One Level 1 graduate and various other tutor sources
Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
Fundamental Keys
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#2140604 - 08/29/13 09:18 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Shey
The whole thing is so much more enjoyable.

Shey, this is fantastic to hear!
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2140624 - 08/29/13 10:05 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Shey

I really am taking my time, that seems to by my learning style (slow) and as there is so much to learn being methodical and using the info here in the best way I can.


Slow is fast.

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#2140628 - 08/29/13 10:10 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Shey, either before or as you begin your revision of Alfred's, there's some more ideas about chords I'd like to point out. This will go towards explaining the "I IV V" chords that Alfred's talks about, and also the "7" chords such as G7, C7, etc. It will also tie in with how to tell what key a piece is in, and will look at how to tell the key for the pieces I skipped over in my earlier list.

Just give a shout when you're ready. No rush. As keystring so wisely says, "slow is fast."
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2140918 - 08/29/13 07:14 PM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: PianoStudent88]
Shey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Definitely will do that thanks.
_________________________
Alfreds All In One Level 1 graduate and various other tutor sources
Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
Fundamental Keys
Adult returner

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#2143287 - 09/03/13 07:16 AM Re: Got totally stuck, need help [Re: Shey]
Shey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 333
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Hello, due to arrival of new baby to the family over this last week, I have spent very little time at the piano. However, I am back at it today.
Just one question, PS88 what is "Gary's keyboard chart", relating note to key? You mention it above, sounds very useful, I think I could benefit from it, if it is what I think it is.
I have not yet finished working through your posts and will carry on, making notes of any queries as I go along.
At first I thoughtI was supposed to be learning / memorising the circle of 5ths, it was intimidating, but again helpful advice here told me to use it for reference only. Now it's not scary at all, just another pattern.
Back to it.
_________________________
Alfreds All In One Level 1 graduate and various other tutor sources
Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
Fundamental Keys
Adult returner

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