Just started your music lessons and feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, here we’ve got a ‘cheat sheet’ on the 5 most basic music concepts you’ll need to know:
1. You’ve got to know how to read the rhythmic values first!
Here’s a small table of the basic rhythmic values you’ll encounter in your beginner pieces:
2. There are different Pitches in music
Here are the names of the basic pitches or notes in a scale :
C D E F G A B (and after B, it will go back to C, and then D, and so forth)
Sometimes, musicians call them by their solfege names:
Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti
Since these notes repeat all over again, we can distinguish them between high and low. For example, in the piano, the right side has all the higher notes. We can play a high C or a high D or a high A over there (and so on). Conversely, on the left side of the piano, we can play the low notes – we can play a low B, a low F, a low C, and so on. The Middle of the piano, of course, has all the middle notes that are neither high nor low – we usually sing the pitches in that part of the piano.
3. How loud or how soft we play the music is called dynamics
Usually, on your music sheet, these are denoted in letter symbols:
stands for ‘piano’ – but NOT the instrument! It is actually the Italian word for ‘soft’; so when you see this on your music, play softly!!
stands for ‘forte’ – this is Italian for ‘loud’!
4. We also have silences in music – these are called ‘rests’
And like the rhythmic values in item no. 1, they also have different durations:
The semibreve rest and the minim rest look awfully similar, don’t they? Just remember that the Semibreve rest looks like an upside-down hat and the minim rest looks like a hat. The crotchet rest looks like a lightning bolt!
5. It’s important to know how to read musical notation
When we read music, the notes are on what we call ‘the Grand Staff’, which looks like this:
The grand staff has either ‘line notes’ or ‘space notes’. Line notes have the lines going through them, while the space notes are in the spaces between the lines.
We also read music from left to right. The notes also follow how high or low the music is going. In this grand staff, the notes are going higher.
The funny-looking symbols on the left side of the grand staff are called ‘clefs’; they let us know what kind of notes we should be playing (whether high or low). The Treble clef (orange box) is for middle to high notes. The Bass clef (green box) is for middle to low notes.
So there you have it! 5 basic music concepts for beginners. We hope it helps you in your musical journey!