Grade 1 Music Theory | David Hartley | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Note Values

    • 3. Time Signatures

    • 4. Notes on the Stave

    • 5. Keys and the Major Scale

    • 6. Common Musical Symbols

    • 7. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

In this class, I will guide you through everything you need to know for the Grade 1 Music Theory exam.

The class is divided into 5 lessons;

  1.  Notes - note names, length and rests.
  2.  Time Signatures.
  3.  Notes on the stave - pitch, sharps, flats and accidentals.
  4.  Scales and Keys.
  5.  Frequently used terms.

By the end of the class, you will able to write out a short piece of music of your choice.

Check out my other Skillshare Classes.

An Introduction to the Classical Guitar

Next Steps in the Classical Guitar

How to play 'Spanish Romance' on the Classical Guitar (TAB and Notation)

How to Arrange an Easy Melody for Fingerstyle Guitar

Check out my website.

More great Skillshare Music Classes!

Meet Your Teacher

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David Hartley

I'm a musician based in London, UK.


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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone, and welcome to this class. Grade one Music theory. This is a class for beginners. You have no knowledge of music theory, and it will cover everything you need in order to pass the Grade One music theory exam. By the end of this class, you'll be able to compose a short piece of music, which will be the class project using all of the information that we have covered. 2. Note Values: in this lesson where going to be looking at musical notes notes are really the thing that make up a piece of music. When we talk about music theory often and often incorrectly, sometimes people tend to talk about notes. Notes can be different length. They could be long, they could be short or they can have different pitches. And a note is really just a sound. Any sound. It can be played on a piano on a guitar on a drum. It's all the different sounds that make up a piece of music. And by using notation, which is what we're going to look at here we can visualize the sound of a piece of music onto the page. So let's look at our first note and our first notice, just going to look like this now, you've probably seen this written, written down before. It's very common, this symbol on, and this little stem here can go up or down. It doesn't really matter. There are certain ways of doing things as things get more advanced, but there isn't really any difference. And certainly for the purpose of this lesson, there's no difference. So we're just gonna have more pointing up to make it easier. This note here is called a crotch. It or it may also be called 1/4 note, and that's quite important. We'll come to that later. So just to kind of fill this out a little bit, I'm going to write a few of these. So we get for them here. And so how could we? We say this hack, We make it a bit easy to understand. Well, let's let's have a little word for this one, and we're going to say talk. So each time we see one of these were going to say ta Okay, well, that's all very well. But music has different lengths of note says completion ation short ones, awesome long ones. So let's look at a different kind of note. Let's look at this one here on this one here is called a minimum, and you'll notice that it's got a white center. It's not filled in on this note is also called Ah, half notes, and for this, we're going to say to let me write the's. That would be a bit It's simpler, I think so. This court trades were going to say tar on this minimum we say to now if you go back, Teoh some basic maths. We know that 2/4 equal half. So this minimum last twice as long has a crotch it. So this actually in fact has the same length of time. Four crotch. It's equals two minimums. What if we wanted a really short notes or shorter one? We could have this one here, which is called a quay ver cueva. And this is also called an eighth note. Hands for this, I'm going to say t so we could go if we wanted to have two of these and then one of thes we could say Tato too. Okay, off. We wanted one of these and then two of these we could say to toe to toe Okay, Cuevas to quivers equal one crocheted. And you should start to see that this number here the eight There's eight in a bar 2468 And there's four in a bar on two in a ball. Now a bar is just a repeating pattern of notes. It doesn't have to be four or eight or two. It will be written at the start of a piece of music. So you can you can see what the composer wants it to be and we can keep going. We can go down to semi Cueva and this is 1/16 and you can imagine that it's two semi cuevas equal one quiver and also to minimums equal one semi brief. And this is also called a whole notes Just a number one or do for this. And this looks like this just a circle. This lasts for the entire bar. Okay, semi quavers. Let me just write thesis in these look like waivers, but they have another line between them, and I won't be able to do it that small, but you can see that four equal to Cuevas now. Music isn't completely repetitive. There are certain gaps. You might have a drum playing, um, on repeats, and then it suddenly stops. Or you might have ah, piano solo. And there's a note missing something like that. So what we have for them is called rests and rests very much related to notes. It's just we have a symbol for when there's silence. That's all it is, the symbol for whole note rest. It's like this little lying with a little box underneath it. And that means that there's arrest or silence for the length of a whole note or a semi brief. If we have a line with a box above it, that means that there's arrest for the length of a minimum or half notes. This funny symbol here is the rest for 1/4 note. This perhaps isn't a very good example. It's quite hard to do these something like that. It's kind of just a squiggle, and that would mean that you have a rest for 1/4 note and I can write one in. I can get rid of this note and it still adds up to full okay, and then we have a quick arrests which looks like this. And then we have a semi Cueva arrest that looks like this. If you look at the sheets of music, it will, it will be consisting of all these kind of notes in a very strange order. It all depends on what the composer or the songwriter wanted. The music to be made up off. There are a couple other symbols as well. Let's use a nice green for this, this symbol when you see a line between two notes is called a tie. I mean, like that. And that means that you play the first notes, which is this one. And it lasts for the length of the two notes, which are tied together. So this actually lasts for his long as thes two. Now you may be asking yourself, Why not just play a minute? Because that last for two. Koch it's well, there's. There's lots of different reasons for using a tie. Often we want the music to look a lot simpler. And that means that all these notes you see are aligned. If we if we wanted to tie these two notes together, it looks a lot simpler to do this than to get rid of this and do, ah, Cratchit and then have, ah, kind of, um, nothing here. And then you can see that is getting a bit out of, um, out of order. So it's a lot simpler just to have a little tie between two notes like that. So that means that you play the first note and it lasts for the length of the two notes, which are tied together another symbol that you might see written after notes. It's just a little dot certainly find another Karloff analyses a nice blue. And if you see a doctor just here, this means that it lasts for the length and half again, so you could say 1.5 times the lengths. So this, instead of lasting for 1/4 note, last for 1/4 on a night, so you'd have to have a little quiver in here. 3. Time Signatures: in this lesson, we're going to be looking at time signatures and also ways to organize the notes that we've learned so far. So what is a time signature? At the beginning of a piece of music, you'll see two numbers on top of one another. Probably something like this. Okay, and then you have all your your lines coming out like this, but at the beginning are too numbers, and it could be it could be a range of numbers, so we'll come back to that just in a minute. Let's remind ourselves off. What are notes are. So we have Cratchit, which is also 1/4 note. We have a quiver, which isn't eighth notes on We have a minimum, which is 1/2 note. We'll stick with those ones for now, just to give ourselves an example. So these two numbers, What do they mean? Well, the top number means how many beats in a bar. So if we see four for a start of a piece of music, we'll know that there's four beats in every bar. But what kind of beats are they? Are they going to be crotch? It's orc waivers or minimums. Well, the bottom number tells us the value off those notes. So we know because the bottom number is four. And this number here is for we know that there's four crotch. It's in every bar. Let's do a time signature. Let's do 38 like this. So what does that tell us? Where the top number that tells us that there are three beats in every bar? On what? What is that beat? Is it aquatic for a minute? World is an eight, so it's a cuevas. So 38 means that in every bar there are three cuevas. So what exactly is a bar well about? It's just a repeating pattern of these notes over here. So I could do if our time signature was for full. That would mean I would do full crotch. It's and then I do a bar line, which is just a line between the notes and then start the pattern again, simple as that. And then we do another bar line. Now, in between these bar lines, um, any number of notes could be in place as long as they equal 4/4 notes so I could get rid of these two and have a minimum because to crotch it's equal one minimum. Or I could get rid of this crochet and have to cuevas. This still adds up to four crotch. It's in total. 4. Notes on the Stave: now we're going to be looking at the musical Stave or staff as it's also sometimes called. The state is where we write our notes on, depending on where we write them. It tells us how high or low the notes are. If we write one of the top, it's gonna be a high note. And if the right one at the bottom it's gonna be a low note on different investments have different staves, depending on how high or low the notes are on that instrument. The stage in front of us has two sets of lines, and this is for a piano. The top one is for the right hand, and it has a treble clef at the beginning, which is this symbol here, also called a G clef. On the bottom set is for the left hand that's called a bass clef. Go on F Cliff. It's now let's look at the notes on the Stave. What are the notes actually called when we ride them on? Let's first look at the trouble, Cliff. We can write notes either on the line. All we can write them in the space between the lines. Let's first look at the notes in the space. This note here is an F. Then we haven't a and then a C and then in a Okay, let me write this hit half. Hey, see hey, and you noticed that this spells face. So one way you can remember these notes is with a little saying, Face in the space. Now there's also notes on the lines, and there's five lines this No, here's an E and then a g be de and then f he g the de f. And again, you can remember these notes with a little saying as well you could. You could say every good boy deserves Futch or every good boy deserves football Anything like that, that that you can think off. Just help you remember the name of the notes and you'll notice if I write in the ones with spaces as well. But actually, it's quite simple, really. It's just the alphabet in order e f g A B, C D E f. And it's the same with the bass clef as well, although there in a slightly different position. This note here isn't a and then we have a B see de he If G on a again, and there's gonna be a sheet attached with all these notes in the class description so you don't have to remember them all by memory. At first, you can look at the sheet and you'll get more familiar with the notes. Let me write these on a B C D E f g. Hey, now there's something else we can do. When we run out of lines and spaces, we can add our own lines so we can keep going with even higher notes so I could do a note on top off this line, this will be a G, and then we've reached the end. There's no more lines, but I conjoined my own line and then doing a and then on top of that line, I can do a B, and we can keep going pretty much forever and ever. But realistically, you you might see at the very most three or four lines we could do the same going underneath the stave. So this note on the line isn't e, but we can go underneath and that's a D. And we can draw our own line and make a C. Now this No here is very important because this is middle C on the piano. And if you've played the piano, it's probably the first note that you've learned on its rights in the middle of the piano. And you'll notice that this night with the ends here, which isn't a if we were to do the one above that, which is just above the line, it's a B on. This is where these two staves meats, if we need to do if we take up, be which is here and do the line above, which is here. This is the same middle. See, it's the same note. So there's only one line between these two states, and that's the middle C. Now there's also a few different types of notes. If you've looked at the piano or on your instrument, there's also sharps and flats. They are the black notes on the piano, so if we take a look like this, let's write in an A this at the moment, it's just a normal a. But if we do this little symbol in front of it, this makes it in a shop, and this will stay a sharp for the length of the entire bar until we put it back to normal by using a natural sign. The other type of note is a flat, and that's a little a little funky. Be on again that will stay in place for the whole bar until we put it back to normal with a natural sign. A flat is one note to the left off the white notes, So this so on a flat will be one note to the left of the A on the piano on a sharp will be one look to the right of the A on the piano, and you could do that for any of the notes. So it's easy to feel intimidated by how many notes there are on that. You have to remember all of them. You will eventually get used to them if you're reading lots of music. But you can also refer back to the sheet that I've attached to this class so you can help find the notes 5. Keys and the Major Scale: in this lesson, we're going to be looking at the major scale and also key signatures. Now, a scale is just a Siris of lot's from one letter until that letter happens again. As we know, music has the same alphabet as we use in English. So if I start with a C which is down here, then we have d Hey, half she a be and then see again Let me write these letters than see de okay, half g Hey, B c, This is the scale of C Major because it started. See, it uses all the letters a scale must have all the letters in it only once. And then it gets back to see again and it keeps going again. We can go with a D on a knee, but we're just gonna have one octave, which means one set of scale. Now, as we looked at in the last lesson notes could be shop which we used by this symbol, or they could be flat like this all they might have nothing at all. They might just be a normal note. And if one note is sharp or flat and we want to correct back to normal. We use the natural side, but there's no sharps or flats over here, so there's no need to correct any of them to natural. They're just all natural by themselves. Now we can construct a major scale by looking at the distance between the notes on and to measure the distance between the notes. We call that interval. So if I was a measure, all of the's one, 234 56 seven hate. I can measure the interval just by counting. So see two f is 1/4. See a his is six. Okay? And then they all just used the number apartment last one. This is called an octave. Now, at the beginning of a piece of music, you may see some sharps or flats. If I write this symbol hair on the F line, this means that every F is going to be an f sharp, and I don't need to write the shop symbol before it, because I've done at the beginning. If I were to do a symbol here, that would mean that every be because it's on the B line is a B flat, and I wouldn't have to write it on every time. Because I've done at the beginning on every key has a different key signature. That means there's a different number of Sharps or flats in every key in C major, there's no sharps and flats in G major. There's one shop in D major. There's two shops on an F major. There's one flats I've also attached to this class, a document called the Circle of Fifths, and this will just help you identify different key signatures and you'll see that G has one shop to have her. He has to, and so on. You'll see it all in the document. The final thing to look at in this lesson is the construction of chords, and for this we're going to be looking at the court on the first note. This is called the Tonic. The first note is always called The tonic on a cord is just a group of notes, but there's a specific formula we use for identifying the courts, and it's a very simple formula. It's the first, the third on the fifth, So a C major chord is C, E and G, or played together. If I was to look at the notes in an F major court would be f hey and see, because F becomes the first and then a is the third and see is the fifth. 6. Common Musical Symbols: Finally, which is going to be looking at some common symbols that you might find when reading music . Firstly, we're gonna be looking at symbols concerning tempo now. Tempo is how fast or slow a piece of music goes on the several ways we can use to show that versus with a metro no mark, which will look something like this. And this will mean that there's 120 beats per minute Just next to this music note. Another way would be using a word of the beginning of a piece of music, such as a Dar Geo on Dante or, unlike Ruthie's Air. Just a few common words. There's plenty more, but you'll probably come across thes the's air Italian words for slow. This is kind of walking pace, a quite medium and then, and allegro is quite fast, so that concerns tempo how fast a piece of music goes. Now let's look at dynamics. Dynamics is how allowed a piece of music is, and there's again several words and symbols we can use to describe that dynamics of a piece of music. First is with the symbol F, and that stands for the Italian word Forte, which means loud or strong. And then, if you want the music to be quiet, you'd use the symbol P, which is shortly telling words piano, piano. And that means soft or quiet. You could make the music louder by adding more EFS, and you could make the music quieter by adding more peas. If you want it just to be a more normal dynamic, then you might use MP or M F. M stands for Met, so you could think of it as as middle piano or middle. Forte is just in the middle. If you want the music to change dynamics, you wanted to get louder. We use thes symbols here, and these symbols are called a diminuendo, and it will be written like this on a crescendo will be like this, and you can see the this kind of arrow shows the volume expanding. We're getting quieter, so this is softer this his louder. Finally, there's a few other symbols we can look at. If you have a note like this, just a normal note and you have a dot above it. That means that it's to be played staccato and staccato means that the music is, um, It's like when you press the piano and you touch your finger very quickly. That that that that, as opposed to Lo Gatto, where you hold the note the, uh uh, dark, so staccato, these quick notes We could also have an accent on Accent Looks like this, a tiny little arrow, and that just means that notes is a bit stronger. At the end of a piece of music. We have a couple of lines, and if before these lines you have a couple of dots, that means that you should repeat the music. And finally we have the symbol that we looked at earlier, which is a tie, and that joins two notes together so that you play the note last England, both of them. 7. Final Thoughts: Thank you very much for watching this class. Don't forget to leave Review That followed me for lots more musical classes. I look forward to looking at your projects.