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iamfroogle
07-03-2011, 05:47 PM
Hi everyone, I've never been able to read music but I'm considering putting a serious effort into it for the sake of uku playing. But what I'm wondering and has always troubled me is the music staff.
I understand that there are 7 notes, A,B,C,D,E,F,G represented on the staff...simple enough. But then why and how does 13 different notes fit into the staff? They repeat I guess...but why and how?

http://www.guitarlessons4you.com/images/guitar-scales/music-staff-guitar-notes.jpg

So when I am plucking the A on the 2nd fret of the G string...where does that go on the staff? What about when I pluck it on the 9th fret of the C string, 5th fret of the E string, and the open A string? And how it is determined?


I know there is a lot of confusion on my part and any help would be much appreciated.
Thanks

Ukulele JJ
07-03-2011, 06:08 PM
Hi everyone, I've never been able to read music but I'm considering putting a serious effort into it for the sake of uku playing. But what I'm wondering and has always troubled me is the music staff.
I understand that there are 7 notes, A,B,C,D,E,F,G represented on the staff...simple enough. But then why and how does 13 different notes fit into the staff? They repeat I guess...but why and how?

Yup, it's confusing. Sorry about that. :-)

Where a note is on the staff indicates the note's pitch: How high or low the note is. It doesn't matter if you play that note on a ukulele or a piano or a slide whistle. It's completely independent of how you play the note of that particular pitch.

Which means that an "A" is written on the second space up on the staff, whether you play it as an open A string, or fret the E string, or whatever. As long as you're playing an "A" at that particular pitch, it gets notated on the second space. This is no big deal on, say, a piano. There's only one place to play that A note on a piano. But on guitars, ukuleles, violins, etc., you can have more than one place to play the same note--regular notation does not tell you which one to choose. That's up to you!

Now about those notes repeating... A note that is an octave higher or lower than another note gets the same letter name. But that doesn't mean it's the same pitch. So the C at the very bottom of your diagram is played on the open C string of your ukulele. But if you play the third fret of the A string you also get a C. But it's a C that is one octave higher. Same letter name--different pitch. So it gets notated in a different spot: On the third space up.

Not sure if that helps or just makes things worse. :p

JJ

marymac
07-03-2011, 07:07 PM
The notes do repeat. You can see it on the diagram you show: the C note at the bottom is middle C on a piano keyboard, and the notes go up from there. Do you know the "Doe a deer" song from Sound of Music? Do (doe) = middle C (at the bottom). Re (ray) = the D above it. Me = E, Fa = F, So = G, La = A, Ti = B. Then they start repeating one octave up (at the C in between the second and third lines from the top).

There are a few tools I've been using to learn more theory myself, and these could be helpful to you too. The first is the book "Edly's Music Theory for Practical People". Get this book and an inexpensive keyboard from Amazon (like this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003VX1GI8) and you can learn music theory. More recently I purchased Musition and Auralia from Sibelius (http://www.sibelius.com/products/musition/index.html) which teach and then drill you on music theory (Musition) and ear training (Auralia). Ear training is learning to recognize notes, scales, relationships between notes just by listening to them. If you like computer-based learning more than book learning, these programs are great.

Hope this helps! - Mary

Shastastan
07-04-2011, 07:56 AM
Idiot's Guide to Music Theory is a good book to learn theory, IMHO. A keyboard is also good, as stated above. You can find a computer screen keyboard, online, for free. I did buy a 25 (full size) key Alesis (with 2 additional octaves) from Amazon. It comes with a DAW program which is pretty complicated. However the keyboard can be used as a midi controller very easily and also for note input into a notation program. You can get keyboard software for free though and even free piano lessons online. Ain't computers wonderful? :)

iamfroogle
07-04-2011, 04:05 PM
Now about those notes repeating... A note that is an octave higher or lower than another note gets the same letter name. But that doesn't mean it's the same pitch. So the C at the very bottom of your diagram is played on the open C string of your ukulele. But if you play the third fret of the A string you also get a C. But it's a C that is one octave higher. Same letter name--different pitch. So it gets notated in a different spot: On the third space up.

Ok so the lower the note is on the staff, the lower in octaves it is (correct?)
C note on open C string=bottom of staff
C note on 3rd fret of the A string=3rd space on staff
What about the C note on the 5th fret of the G string & C on the 8th fret of E string? And what about the C on the 12th fret of the C string?

I guess to broaden it a bit so as to make it more applicable to every other note, how are octaves determined?
And why it is so that the C string starts out an octave lower?

marymac
07-04-2011, 04:46 PM
What about the C note on the 5th fret of the G string & C on the 8th fret of E string? And what about the C on the 12th fret of the C string?

The C notes you mention (5th fret of the G string and 8th fret of E string) are both the same C note as the C note on 3rd fret of the A string=3rd space on staff. Play each one and they sound exactly the same. There are just many ways on the uke to play the same note.

olgoat52
07-04-2011, 05:01 PM
Marymac is right. This all makes a lot more sense on piano than fretted instruments. The note on the staff is directly related to a particular frequency. Ie check this link on middle C. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_%28musical_note%29 As the note moves up or down and octave the frequence (or vibrations per second) doubles (up) or halves (down).

Pianists have one and only one place to play a particular note on the staff. Fretted instrument players have to content with more than one spot. So you think in terms of where you are currently playing on the next and use the location for the note you want that is closest to where you are. You don't want to moving up and down the neck needlessly. (unless you are Joe Satriani or something..) ;)

Ukulele JJ
07-04-2011, 05:38 PM
The other posts have done a pretty good job of answering these, but just to sort of consolidate things...


Ok so the lower the note is on the staff, the lower in octaves it is (correct?)


Correct.


C note on open C string=bottom of staff
C note on 3rd fret of the A string=3rd space on staff

Yup.


What about the C note on the 5th fret of the G string & C on the 8th fret of E string? And what about the C on the 12th fret of the C string?

These are all the same pitch as the C that is the 3rd fret of your A string, aren't they? So it's notated the same.

You can check for yourself and see: Play the C string at the 12th fret (or any of your other examples) and then play the A string on the 3rd fret. Same pitch--not lower, not higher. It's the C above "middle C", so it gets notated on the third space from the bottom.

But notice that it's not quite the same pitch as your open C string. The open C string is lower (deeper). It's the same letter (a "C"), but it's in a different octave, so it gets written differently.


I guess to broaden it a bit so as to make it more applicable to every other note, how are octaves determined?

By pitch. Higher pitches are in higher octaves, even if they have the same letter name.


And why it is so that the C string starts out an octave lower?

That's just the way standard ukuleles are tuned. The C string is (usually) tuned to middle C, which is written at the bottom of the staff (on the first ledger line). From a physics standpoint that note has a fundamental frequency vibrating at roughly 260 Hertz.

As you play higher and higher notes, you eventually wind up a full octave higher, which means you're at the same letter name. In physics terms again, you're at twice the frequency of middle C, or about 520 Hertz (260 x 2).

If you have enough room on your uke, you could theoretically keep going even higher than that! Eventually you'd wind at C again, yet another octave higher, which is a full two octaves higher than middle C. That's the A string at the 16th fret, if you have a 16th fret. (It's notated on the staff on the second ledger line up. You do not have this one in your diagram. It would be one more line up from the top "A" note you have there.)

Handy trick: If you ever need to remind yourself what an octave sounds like, just sing the first two notes of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"... the Judy Garland version, not the Iz version. The melody jumps up by exactly one octave.

JJ

iamfroogle
07-05-2011, 05:21 PM
Thanks JJ, and everyone who replied... really helpful stuff!