LEARNING TO READ MUSIC

for community choir singers

on ZOOM Sundays 4 pm GMT

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Cost - free to House Choir UK
Everyone else - first session free
After that - send me a coffee
from time to time : )

NOTES FROM SESSION ONE

14th Feb 21


Two ways to learn music written by another

Rote (repetition)
(from middle english meaning custom habit, perhaps rooted in Latin - rota - wheel).

Either Face to face (thousands of years) - singing the part to you
Or Recording (last hundred years)

Really suits short pieces of music that can be easily put to memory and also music that encourages extemporization (improvisation/adlibs)

Notation (written music)
from around the 13th century I think
Suits longer works where, for community singers, the music usually acts as a trigger to memory.


If anyone ever tells you that one of these methods is better than the other then you might suggest that both have their place in music making. Learning parts by rote can be a very skilled technique particularly when you are being asked to decipher a harmony part being sung behind the lead vocal of popular tune perhaps. Not an easy thing to do for anyone.

NOTATION COMMUNICATES THREE THINGS

The note.
The length of the note.
The volume of the note.

Other things too including the rhythm meter and pace of the music, but for another time.

THE NOTE YOU SING

Is indicated by the position of the dots on the page. Here are eight dots and they indicate singing eight notes, one after another ascending



 

 

 

Who is to know what the starting note is ? To help this we add what are called 'ledger lines'

 

The note on the bottom line is the note of 'E' two notes above a note called 'middle C' which is the note at the bottom with the small 'pretend ledger line' going through it.

Here you go :

 



The note of middle C (at the bottom in the picture above, with the pretend ledger line going through it) is a really important note in music and singing. It can normally be sung by most singers, male and female, and it sits right in the middle of a piano or organ keyboard, or there abouts anyway.

More about middle C another time.

Yes, the notes you sing are called A B C D E F and G. They then repeat as you get higher and lower.
So after G you go back to A.

Why we go from A to G and then start again is really interesting, rooted in the physics of sound and for another time.


TIME - WHEN DO I SING THESE NOTES ?

Notation tells you when to sing by providing 'bars' of music. One bar of music is five ledger lines with a vertical line at each end



Bars of music can contain different numbers of 'beats'. The bar of music below can contain four beats as indicated by the 'time signature' on the left. You are interested in the top number, not the bottom one. We will come to the meaning of that bottom number another time.



Here are two bars of music that can contain three beats each

 

There are many different 'time signatures' and we will talk about them another time.

Here's one 'bar' of music with four notes in it. This is a piece of music and you are reading it !!!

Can you name the notes ?

 

 




HOW LONG SHOULD I HOLD THE NOTE

this is indicated by the colour of the note and the design of it's stem. A note that should be sung for one beat has a simple line as a stem and is coloured black. A note that should be held for longer has a white dot and again a simple straignt line for a stem.



a note held for one beat is called a crotchet

a note held for two beats is called a minim.

There are lots of different note 'lengths' - more on that another time.

the reasons for these names is fascinating but not for now.

That's it !!!

More next time . . . .

F.A.B. !!!!

THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO !!





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MUSICHEALTH.CO.UK

Community Music

Song Therapy

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NIGEL NEILL

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