THEORY TIPS – Part 1: Notation Location

This is the first of my posts on Theory Tips. I hope to put up one each week or so. Like and comment if you find them helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions on theory topics, please put them in the comments too. I’ll try to answer them in coming installments 🙂

Today’s post is about writing music, specifically, “Where does everything in a music score go?”

Here are 5 questions and answers, accompanied by illustrations:

1. First things first –
Clefs, Key-signature, Time-signature

Q: Which do you write first, clef? Time-signature? Key-signature?
A: Remember this order: CKT = Clef ~ Key-signature ~ Time- signature. It follows the alphabetical order! 🙂
* The clef and key-signature are written on every line of music, but the time-signature is only in the beginning of the music (and wherever there’s a change in time)



Stem Directions2. Stem directions –

Q: Where do the stems go, on the notes?
A: Remember “pond” – When the note-head is above the middle line of the stave/staff, the stem goes down (on the left of the head, like “p”) and when the note-head is below the middle line, the stem goes up (on the right of the head, like “d”).

Notes on the middle line can have stems going up or down.

Continue reading “THEORY TIPS – Part 1: Notation Location”


Transcribing music for piano – Q & A’s

I’ve been asked many times, for advice and hints on transcribing music. Here are some Q & A’s first. I’m thinking about doing a step-by-step pictorial someday on that…Meanwhile, hope this helps. Please feel free to post more questions here ok? 🙂

Q: I’m thinking of doing some transcribing. Can you give me some hints on how to start please?

A: Ok…simple transcribing, which I will call Stage 1. Listen to the song with earphones, while sitting at your piano or keyboard. Stop and rewind as often as you need while you write down what you hear, starting with the melody. If you are using a manuscript sheet, write the notes of the melody as just black noteheads, without any rhythm. If you want to just use letternames on an exercise paper, write the melody notes in lower case, not capital letters. Then, go through it again, listening for the lowest note in each chord. Write the chord changes at exactly  the correct note, above the melody notes. Chord names should be in capital letters. Here’s a picture of a simple ‘transcription’ I did for my student:

Continue reading “Transcribing music for piano – Q & A’s”

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