Haven’t you ever come across that beautiful country music song and wished you could play it or make a cover of it? Music is one of the most stunning elements in our lives. It liberates us and can change a sour mood into a pleasant one within seconds. Contrary to what most people believe in, reading music is not one of the most difficult jobs around. It does require some time and understanding and a whole lot of passion. Firstly, it is imperative to understand that music is like a language like any other. Here, the notes are the letters of the language, the measures are the words, and the sentences are in the form of phrases and the likes. Here are some basic steps involved in reading music.
Start With the Basics
This includes the basic information you must possess before you start learning the language of music. The horizontal lines here indicate the staff which is a combination of 5 parallel lines and the spaces in between form an important component. Next is the Clef, which will give you an idea about the range of the instrument. The lines here are marked E G B D F and the spaces F A C E. This makes up the Treble Clef. The structure of the Bass Clef is G D B F A with spaces in A C E G.
Another important aspect of the basics is the note which include the note head, stem and the flag.
Lines and Timing
On a piece of music, you will come across a number of lines known as measures. The spaces between the lines are known as first measure, second measure and the likes. These help the musician to keep up with the pace of the tune. The Meter then forms the pulse of the musical piece. It is represented by a fraction next to the clef. This comprises of a numerator and a denominator.
As learnt previously, the meter tells you how many beats are played in the piece. The rhythm here signifies how each of these beats are used in the piece we are reading or constructing. This can be understood by something as simple as tapping your fingers on the table to get an idea of the rhythm. There are some practical exercises you can carry out to understand the rhythm. For instance, when you walk, each step comes across as a beat. Sometimes, you move faster and sometimes slower; the sound becomes louder and then soft. All of these represent the beats and notes of music.
Also, beaming is a process in which notes are packaged in small groups. This substitutes the individual note flags by note stems joined by thick lines.
Understanding the Melody
Once you are thorough with the notes and the rhythm, let us now dive deeper into melody.
C scale: This is the most important scale in music. Every other scale you learn in music are derivations of C scale. This is where we use the piano as a reference. The C scale is made up of 8 notes that are basically the white keys on the piano. If you are familiar with Do, Re, Mi… you will find the solfège very convenient. This opens the real gates for reading music.
Terms like flats and Sharps
Let us now learn the terms typical to any musical note.
Sharp: Resembles a typical hash tag in the musical note; black in color.
Flat: Looks like a lowercase b; black in color.
These indicate that the note to be followed is either a half step higher or a half step lower.
Tones: A tone is a distance between two notes. The distance between notes C and D is called a whole tone.
There is a certain thumb rule followed by this. It is said that in a musical note, if you are going up the scale, the note that is produced is merely a sharp rendition of the beginning note. This is just the opposite in case of going down the scale where a flat version of the beginning note is obtained.
Learning the Expressions and Dynamics
The variations in the volume of the musical piece are denoted by dynamics. Another type of dynamic variation that is usually observed in these pieces of music is denoted by crescendo-decrescendo. A crescendo leads to an increase in volume while a decrescendo leads to a reduction in the volume of the music. If the symbol has an open end, it denotes a louder dynamic, while a closed end represents a quitter dynamic.
Apart from learning the theory of music, the best way to understand the nuances of it is to keep on practicing. Only a practical experience can give you the final finishing touch it requires.