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Key Signature Chart

This Key Signature Chart is designed to help you learn all the key signatures easily. It’s written with increasing sharps and flats.

It’s essential for all musicians to memorize the key...

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Music Modes

Why does a piano keyboard look the way it does? The answer has to do with music modes. The modes are types of scales. A scale is simply a specified sequence of intervals from one note to the same...

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Key Signatures

Key signatures are designed to simplify music notation by indicating the key. Without them, composers would be forced to write accidentals (sharps and flats) every time they’re used, which...

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Chord Inversions

Chord inversions are “spellings” of a chord with a note other than the fundamental in the bass. Let’s take a simple example:

The C major triad consists of the notes C, E and G, in...

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Circle of Fifths

The Circle of Fifths depicts all key signatures in order of increasing sharps and flats:

It’s a very easy way to learn the key signatures by depicting them graphically. With C major at the...

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Bach's Musical Signature

Question: How do I calculate Bach’s musical signature?

– Alfi M.

Albert’s reply: Bach often wrote his name in musical notation, sometimes hiding it in his works. In German,...

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Bach's Ornaments

Question: Great Web Site!

I am studying the Bach B Minor Invention BWV 786. In the Explication, the manner of execution of the trill is very clear, and yet one can find conflicting interpretations...

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Common Chord Progressions

This lesson will introduce you to the most common chord progressions, so widely used that they can be found in virtually every piece of tonal music regardless of genre or era. Astonishingly, the...

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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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