13 -Pitch This

 

Pitch is one of the most necessary ingredients to melody. Personally, I can’t think of a melody which exists without pitch. Can you?

What is pitch? In simple terms, pitch is the measurable difference between tones. Obviously, if we dig a little further we can uncover a treasure of math and science behind this simple definition, but we may save that adventure for later.

Pitch can be sung with your voice, played on just about any instrument, and recognized (and analyzed) from any sound producing source….even those beyond our scope of natural hearing. In other words, you can sing different pitches with your voice, play different pitches with any instrument and recognize (and analyze) different pitches from any sound producing source.

Pitch is a building block to most music. If you want to sing or play an instrument, it would be a great idea to understand pitch.

Lets play the musical matching game:

Press play and then as you hear the pitch try singing that pitch inside your head so no one else can hear you.

If you need help:


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NEXT LESSON: an introduction to the musical staff

 

 

01 -The Language of Music (an introduction to the Musical Alphabet)

Music Teacher

abc-musical alphabetI am a teacher. Teachers give assignments. I am a father too. I teach my children. I give my children assignments.

One time I gave them the following assignment as we were talking about building a music business on the way to school. I asked my oldest son Ezekiel and my middle daughter Jaylia to survey their friends and teachers with this question.

“What do you remember about your first lesson and If you have never had a music lesson before, what would you want to learn during your first lesson?”

The response…overwhelmingly? notes. the notes.

But…. before we get into those notes, let’s talk about something really first. Let’s talk what music is. First. Before anything.

First

First, it is a language of emotion and culture.

Second, it is a language of written symbols. If a language is to be read by others, a system of symbols must be available.  Are you able to name any music symbols?

staff? note? rest? how about this one…..fermata!

Doesn’t that sound fun? FURRRRR MAHHH TAAAAAAAAAH

Like most languages, it could be said there are also many dialects or accents to this language of music. Depending on the style, mood, and culture, music can be expressed in a variety of different ways through the spectrum of emotion. Take a moment and think about one of your favorite songs. Why do you like the song?

I’m not sure about you, but it’s hard for me to think of my favorite song, as of this writing I’m listening to a song rolling thru my playlist entitled Better is One Day by Matt Redman.

Actually, the first song title that comes to mind is King Solomons Marbles by The Grateful Dead…..

In all honesty, there are so many great, great, great songs I could list off (and I’m certain you could too)..and the list would change each day, week or month…right?

So, for your first lesson, let’s introduce to you one of *the* basic building blocks to the written language of music: The Musical Alphabet!

Ready? simply read the following letters:

G
F

E

D

C

B
A

Did you start from the top and read down? Great. Now take a second and re-read starting from the bottom. This idea of going up and down is important in music …very important, and we will learn more about this later.

We started with the letter ‘G’ because this is where the musical alphabet ends. Visionaries ‘begin with the end in mind’, so let’s be visionaries today! Once we know the end we can begin with confidence. Right? Ready? A B C D E F G.

So, what comes after ‘G’?

If you said ‘H’, then you are either (1) trying to be really funny or (2) just don’t know the musical alphabet yet….(actually, in Germany the Bb is still referred to as B, while the B is known as H…yep)

abc keyboard 1

There are no ‘H’s, no ‘I’s, no ‘J’s, etc. in the musical alphabet. Just ABCDEFG! What comes after G? you start over with A again (one octave higher), then B, then C…until you get to G. Then what? another A, then B, then C….and so on. So, how many letters are there in the Musical Alphabet? ________

In all practical and common senses, these seven letters are used as a standard to represent certain pitches played on just about any musical instrument you can name and think of.

Next Lesson?

 

05 -What is a Musical Interval (an introduction)?

 

The easiest definition for musical interval is simply: the space between

The Space Between

Think of a measuring cup. What is the distance between 1/4 cup and 3/4 cup?

Think of a ruler or tape measure. What is the distance from one end to the other?

Think of the ticking second-hand of an old clock. What is the amount of time called between each ‘tick’?

Think of a tall building. What is the distance from the first floor to the top floor? Are there any floors in between?

…or, best example yet: Think of a ladder with 12 rungs (those are the things you step on to get up and down the ladder).

Did you know? The word used for the musical ‘scale‘ in the English language comes from the Latin word ‘scala’. This Latin word means ladder!

Scala

Do you see the 12 numbers? Think of each of those numbers as a type of step. Do you remember the names of the two types of steps you’ve learned so far?

Think of each ‘step’ on the ladder as a way to move up (or down) to the next step, right? Would you like to go up or down? Have you ever climbed a ladder and skipped a rung (or two)?

There are twelve ladder rungs used in this diagram because in western music, there are twelve half steps between any given octave on the keyboard.

Did you know? One of the technical and fancy words for ‘half step’ is: semi-tone. (wow……, right?)

It really helps to understand the ideas of distance and space when learning about musical intervals. Why? Because some intervals are ‘bigger’ than others. In other words, some intervals have more distance between them than do others…like skipping steps on the ladder…

There is more distance between A and E than there is between A and B.

Take a look at the diagram once again. Do you see the red dotted line? What would happen if we tipped the ladder over to the right?

Think about this:

< low pitch – – – – high pitch >
1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12

Going up? -or is it down?

Your next free online music lesson?