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Learning the Language of Music ; Pitch

Pitch

As a musician, you must gain an understanding of the spectrum of high and low frequencies which apply to music.


This quality of sound is called pitch.


To hear a clear difference in pitch, play string number 6 on your guitar, and as you pluck the string, listen for the lower pitch in the tone. Now play string number 1 on your guitar, and as you pluck the string, listen for the lower pitch in the tone. Now play string number 1 on your guitar, and as you pluck the string, listen for the higher pitch in the tone.


The Staff

To show differences in pitch, composers write their notes on a staff.



A staff has 5 lines and 4 spaces for note placement, so in a piece of music, you may see a note written on a line, or you may see a note written in a space. It's important to remember that the lines of the staff do not represent the strings of the guitar.


The staff is actually a pitch ladder.


A note placed lower on the ladder sounds lower in pitch, and a note placed higher on the ladder sounds higher in pitch.


Musical Alphabet

In music, pitches are given letter names. The musical alphabet uses only 7 letters: ABCDEFG


As you move through the alphabet, each letter represents a higher pitch. After the pitch G, the musical alphabet starts over with another A, which is higher in pitch than the first A, and the alphabet continues: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D...


So each line and each space on the staff will represent a letter name for a pitch.


Treble Clef

In guitar music, the first symbol written on the staff is the treble clef. The treble clef is a marker; it marks out on the staff, where the pitch G will be written. The treble clef crosses and circles the line that represents the pitch G, and if you know where the pitch G is written on the staff, all of the other pitch letter names fall into place.



After the pitch G, the next higher pitch, which is written in the second space of the staff, is A.


After the pitch A, the next higher pitch, which is written on the third line of the staff, is B.


And the pitches follow: C,D,E,F & G, which sits on top of the staff. Understanding the purpose of the treble clef is one way of recalling pitch letter names as you read through the music.


Strategies for Recalling Pitch letter Names

As you practice reading music, you will begin to memorize the position and letter name of each pitch on the staff. To help with this process, musicians use two strategies for quick recall. Starting from the bottom of the staff and moving upward, the spaces of the staff spell out the word FACE.


F A C E


Use this strategy for any notes that fall in a space. Starting from the bottom f the staff and moving upward, the lines of the staff can be quickly recalled by applying the sentence: Every Good Boy Does Fine where each word in the sentence begins with pitch letter name of a staff line. Use this strategy for any notes that fall on a line.



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