Free music lessons

The following are the outline of this brief music lesson you can used very well in your songwriting. Mostly deals with basic theory. To start with, you must be familiar with:

1. Staff
2. Notes and Rest
3. Tempo/Time signature

The above 3 are the most important in music writing, let me explain it in detail:

1. Staff

-is the place where notes are found. There, we can also see the G-clef and and the Bass Clef. G-clef is the most common, and is the one used for songwriting. No one in the world would like to write song always in the bass clef. It sounds so weird, because all notes will be very low in pitch.

Below is a picture of a staff with G-clef.

picture of staff with G-clef

2. Notes and Rest

– are the symbols of the melodies you hear. Basically there are many types of notes. They are differentiated by their length in time. “Beats” means it can be heard, and “rest” means it is a pause.

2.1 Whole note or rest =Equivalent to 4 beats or rest of time.

Whole note Symbol:

Whole note

Whole rest Symbol:

Whole rest symbol

2.2 Half note or rest = Equivalent to 2 beats or rest of time.

Half note Symbol:

Half note

Half rest symbol:

Half rest symbol

2.3 Quarter note or rest = Equivalent to 1 beat or rest of time.

Quarter note Symbol:

Quarter note

Quarter rest symbol:

Quarter rest symbol

2.4 Eight note or rest = Equivalent to 1/2 beat or rest of time.

Eight note Symbol:

Eight note

Eight rest symbol:

Eight rest symbol

2.5 Sixteenth note or rest = Equivalent to 1/4 beat or rest of time.

Sixteenth Note Symbol:

Sixteenth note

Sixteenth Rest Symbol:

Sixteenth rest symbol

3. Tempo

– is how fast or slow the beats. It is useful to use a metronome. It is a device that will sound continuous beats, and can be adjusted in terms of beats per minute. So if a metronome is adjusted to 60 beats per minute. There will an equivalent of 60 quarter notes in the musical staff. The best way to learn music is to use a metronome along with you, to keep you in timing with the music. The good rule of thumb is to adjust the metronome slow when writing music, so that you can feel the harmony well, then adjust the tempo depending on the final part.

Visit this page to hear a sample of metronome, it will just tick and tick according to your prescribed beats per minute.

Free online metronome

Now in the staff, there what we call as “Time signature” , it is a fraction like form: 4/4, 3/4 or 2/4.

It is important to take note that these fraction like time signatures means:

1. The upper portion of the fraction, means how many beats are there in a bar. A bar is a separation of music in the staff which looks like this “|”.
2. The lower portion of the fraction, means the note value which indicates the “beat unit”.

For example: For a time signature 3/4 means there are “3 beats in a bar and and a quarter note (value note) receives one beat”
And also in our example above, if our metronome is adjusted at 60 beats per minute, at 4/4 time signature. We can expect 60/4 = 15 bars of music with each bar consisting of quarter notes at 1 beat.

The time signature 4/4 is mostly associated with pop type of songs, and is the most common time signature. In addition the time signature 3/4 are used in “waltz” and “minuets” music.

Below is a sample 4/4 beat where quarter note is one beat,half note are two beats of music and eight note 1/2 beat of music. The tempo is set to 60 beats per minute (like 1 second per beat). There is a bar of metronome beat in the first followed by this notation, to fully understood the relationship between the time signature and it’s notation beats. Take note that when you do not see a fraction like number in the staff, it is using the most common 4/4 time signature.

Now for the 3/4, I have written a sample music below at 120 beats per minute, quarter note plays at 1/2 second. I basically put the melody this time as opposed to the 4/4 where I play a steady note.

The above are the basics, and refer to other pages for melody construction using scales, arrangement, others.

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