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Difference Between Motives and Phrases

Question: Hi Albert,

Would you be so kind as to help me get clear on the meaning of “motive”? Also can you differentiate a “motive” from a “phrase”? I want to...

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Difference Between Pitches and Notes

Question: What are the two pitches in music called?

Albert’s reply: There aren’t just two pitches in music, there are as many pitches as there are colors.

Yet pitches aren’t the...

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Distinguishing Minor from Major

Question: How can I distinguish minor from major pitches?

Albert’s reply: Major and minor aren’t properties of single notes or pitches but rather of groups of notes. Major and minor...

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Fugue Analysis

Question: I’m starting to learn Bach’s Fugue in D major from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier. I’ve read your extremely useful article, How to Learn a Fugue, and I have...

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How to Play a Piano Scale

Piano scales are one of the biggest stumbling blocks for most piano students. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to build any major scale at the piano; starting from any note.

We’ll focus...

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How to Practice the "Moonlight" Sonata

Question: Albert,

I am very impressed with this website. It is sure to help many people as it has helped myself. I am going to be playing the “Moonlight” Sonata in 22 days at my high...

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Key Signatures and Accidentals

Question: I am currently working on naming the keys of melodies with accidentals, then re-writing them with key signatures. How can I go about doing this? I have forgotten the steps my teacher...

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Major and Minor Chords

Question: How do I determine the difference between major and minor chords?

– Antonia (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)

Albert’s reply: Major and minor chords are both triads. A triad...

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Major and Minor Keys

Question: This may be very basic, but could give me a broad overview of major and minor keys and scales?

My real question is, for every major there is a minor in the same exact key, so...

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Melody Writing

Question: What is the definition of the following?

  1. Tendency tone
  2. Stable tone
  3. Active tone

– Timothy (Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria)

Albert’s reply: These are harmonic terms having...

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Memorizing the Keys

Question: Hi Albert,

I’m finding it nearly impossible to memorize the keys. (Which key has 5 sharps, which key has 4 flats, etc.) It may not help that I’m 74 years old, but I would...

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Minor Chords in the Major Scale

Question: Hey, good day to you. I’m a bit confused when it comes to chords/chord progressions. The thing is if I’m in a scale, let’s say G major, I would play the chords (triads)...

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Music Theory Intervals

Question: I have a question about intervals. My assignment is to write the full name of each interval:

  • D to C-sharp?
  • F to E-flat?
  • B to G-sharp?

I’m very confused. Can you help me?

–...

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Piano Key Chart

If you’re just learning to find notes on the piano keyboard, this basic piano key chart is designed for you. The chart includes naturals (C, D, E, F, G, A, B), flats and sharps. (Double...

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Piano Notes Chart

This simple piano notes chart is designed to help beginners find their way around the piano keyboard. If you’re just getting familiar with the piano keyboard, all you need to do is recognize...

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Piano Theory

A piano is indispensible for learning music theory. Piano theory implies the use of the instrument, which in turn implies sound, which of course is what music is all about. However, many music...

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Sharps and Flats

Question: How do you know if a note is a sharp?

When the sharp sign (#) is next to the G clef and F clef, how do I know what notes in the music piece are played as sharps?

Albert’s reply:...

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The Major Scale

Question: These are the questions that my music teacher asked me and I didn’t quite know what he was trying to tell me.

Here are the questions:

  • Of what is the major scale composed?
  • What...
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Accuracy on Black Keys

Question: As an adult (aged 54) student of the piano, I have encountered lots of difficulty achieving stability (and/or a firm grip) on black keys and have often wondered whether this is connected...

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Changing Fingerings

Question: When sight reading new music by professional piano players, are the fingering positions subject to interpretation or are the fingerings “set in stone”?

– Don...

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Chopin Etude Op. 10, No. 4

Question: Hi, I would like to have some explanation about the third measure of the Chopin Etude, Op. 10, No. 4. I already play it up to tempo, but only on this passage am I having some problems....

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Chromatic Minor Thirds

Question: I am in urgent need of the finger settings for the following scale: A-sharp chromatic major – double note thirds for both hands. Can you please help me?

– Heleen

...

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Chromatic Sixths Fingering

Question: Hello Albert,

It’s good of you to help me, thanks. Like you, I am an extremely “late starter” but I feel this is my time now to achieve my dreams. I only did 3 years of...

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Dynamic Balance and Voicing

Question: What’s the best way of practicing to make the left hand give a lower sound than your right hand? And to make a lower sound in one finger of another in the same hand?

– Ali...

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Fast Octaves

Question: I have problems with playing the fast octaves at the end of the third movement of Schubert’s Sonata in A minor D. 784 (Op. 143).

Do you have any advice on how to practice the...

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