The Basics of Pitches

Notes Go Up, Notes Go Down

By now, you should have a fairly good grasp of rhythm reading, and so the next equally imporant aspect of reading sheet music is understanding picthes: how pitch information is communicated in 5 staff lines.

The most obvious thing is that if the notes go up on the staff line, that means the music goes higher in pitch.

But how much higher? It's all relative.

Uncle A# and Aunt Bb

No, not that kind of relative!

Let's say the first note is on the middle line in the staff. If the next one is in the space right above it, then the pitch is just a little bit higher. If the next note is in the space right below the first note, then the next note is just a little bit lower.

But how much is a little bit?

Defining a Little Bit

Every space and line is like a ladder of pitch, but instead of notes only holding onto 'rungs' they can also hold onto the spaces between the rungs. It's a good thing too, or we'd never fit a sheet of music onto one page!

You'll learn this all later, so don't worry if it doesn't make sense now-- but the amount of the jump (that little bit) depends on things like the key signature, any 'accidentals' that are indicated, and what the starting note actually is.

Doh, Re, Me

You ever see the movie, "Sound of Music?" If so, you know all about the "Doh, Re, Me" scale, right? Well this scale plays a prominant part in determining what the note sounds like. We'll get into that later.