Personal Notes: L2 – pg2

NOTES  L2: 1  2  3  4  5  |  L3: 1  |  L4  |  Other


What is a music scale?

In music theory, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch. A scale ordered by increasing pitch is an ascending scale, and a scale ordered by decreasing pitch is a descending scale. Some scales contain different pitches when ascending than when descending.

C Major

  • C major is a major scale based on C. The notes are C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Its key signature has no flats and no sharps.
  • Right hand: Relative notes in scale, with finger positioning – C (1), D (2), E (3), F (1), G (2), A (3), B (4), C (5)
  • Relative notes in scale: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13
  • Finger positions of scale, right hand: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Finger positions of scale, left hand: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

C Natural Minor

  • C minor is a minor scale based on C. The notes are C, D, E♭, F, G, A♭, and B♭. Its key signature consists of three flats.
  • Right hand: Relative notes in scale, with finger positioning – C (1), D (2), E♭ (3), F (1), G (2), A♭ (3), B♭ (4), C (5)
  • Be aware…there are also harmonic and melodic scales, which are slightly different.


Left and right hands together : Left hand, only : Right hand, only
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C
C D E F G, G, F, E, D, C

Play left and right together. Hands will move away.
Right hand: C (thumb), D, E, F, G, A, B, C
Left hand: C (thumb), B, A, G, F, E, D, C

Play left and right together. Hands will move closer.
Right hand: C (pinky), B, A, G, F, E, D, C
Left Hand: C (pinky), D, E, F, G, A, B, C

What are chords?

A chord is any harmonic set of pitches consisting of multiple notes or pitches that are heard as if sounding simultaneously.


  • 1, 3, 5 = notes of scale that make a root chord
  • 6 notes right, counting tonic note = 2nd Chord
  • 6 notes left, counting tonic note = 3rd Chord

Chords + Inversions

  • CEG or 1, 3, 5 = root position — meaning, 1 3 5 notes of the C scale.
  • EGC or 3, 5, 1 = 1st inversion
  • GCE or 5, 1, 3 = 2nd inversion


CEG, EGC, GCE | now each chord | then with broken notes | now reverse

Seventh Chord

  • 1, 3, 5, flat 7
  • To find the 7th:
    11 notes right, counting tonic note
    or 3 notes left, counting tonic note

Minor Chord

  • 1, 3, 5 becomes 1, 2, 5 (or…3 a half step down)

Diminished Chord

  • 1, 3, 5 becomes 1, 2, 4 (or…3 and 5 a half step down)

Augmented Chord

  • 1, 3, 5 becomes 1, 3, 6 (or…5 a half step up)

Suspended Chord

  • 1, 3, 5 becomes sus4: 1, 4, 5 (or…3 a half step up: C–F–G)
  • 1, 3, 5 becomes sus2: 1, 2, 5 (or…3 a whole step down: C–D–G)

Other Terms and Theory

What is an octave? 

An octave is the interval comprised of 12 half steps up from a starting note. It is called an octave because it is typically represented as part of a 7-note scale. A 7-note scale has 8 notes technically, but there are 7 different note names in the scale, since the 8th note is the same as the first note.


Playing Octaves – left and right hands together
C+C, D+D, E+E, F+F, G+G, A+A, B+B, C+C |  now reverse  | now each chord D, E, F, G, A, B

What is a suspended chord?

A suspended chord (or sus chord) is a musical chord in which the (major or minor) third is omitted, replaced usually with either a perfect fourth or a major second although the fourth is far more common. The lack of a minor or a major third in the chord creates an open sound, while the dissonance between the fourth and fifth or second and root creates tension. When using popular-music symbols, they are indicated by the symbols “sus4” and “sus2”. For example, the suspended fourth and second chords built on C (C-E-G), written as Csus4 and Csus2, have pitches C–F–G and C–D–G, respectively.

  • 8va – Play 1 octave higher than written on the staff.
  • 8vb – Play 1 octave lower than written on the staff.
  • D.C. al fine, or da capo al fine, means “from the head [beginning] to the end.” D.C. al fine is an indication to repeat from the beginning of the music, and continue until you reach the final barline or a double-barline marked with the word fine.
  • marcato: informally referred to as simply an “accent,” a marcato makes a note slightly more pronounced than surrounding notes.
  • legato or slur: connects two or more different notes. In piano music, the individual notes must be struck, but there should be no audible spaces between them.
  • dal niente: “from nothing”; to gradually bring notes out of complete silence, or a crescendo that rises slowly from nowhere.
  • decrescendo: to gradually decrease the volume of the music. A decrescendo is seen in sheet music as a narrowing angle, and is often marked decresc.
  • delicato: “delicately”; to play with a light touch and an airy feel.
  • dolcissimo: very sweetly; to play in a particularly delicate manner. Dolcissimo is a superlative of “dolce.”

Tempo Meanings

  • Larghissimo – very, very slow (24 bpm and under)
  • Adagissimo – very slowly
  • Grave – very slow (25–45 bpm)
  • Largo – broadly (40–60 bpm)
  • Lento – slowly (45–60 bpm)
  • Larghetto – rather broadly (60–66 bpm)
  • Adagio – slowly with great expression (66–76 bpm)
  • Adagio sostenuto – slow and sustained (66–76 bpm)
  • Adagietto – slower than andante (72–76 bpm) or slightly faster than adagio (70–80 bpm)
  • Andante – at a walking pace (76–108 bpm)
  • Andantino – slightly faster than andante (although, in some cases, it can be taken to mean slightly slower than andante) (80–108 bpm)
  • Marcia moderato – moderately, in the manner of a march (83–85 bpm)
  • Andante moderato – between andante and moderato (thus the name) (92–98 bpm)
  • Moderato – at a moderate speed (98–112 bpm)
  • Allegretto – by the mid-19th century, moderately fast (102–110 bpm); see paragraph above for earlier usage
  • Allegro moderato – close to, but not quite allegro (116–120 bpm)
  • Allegro – fast, quickly, and bright (120–156 bpm) (molto allegro is slightly faster than allegro, but always in its range)
  • Vivace – lively and fast (156–176 bpm)
  • Vivacissimo – very fast and lively (172–176 bpm)
  • Allegrissimo or Allegro vivace – very fast (172–176 bpm)
  • Presto – very, very fast (168–200 bpm)
  • Prestissimo – even faster than presto (200 bpm and over)

Sound Dynamics

The two basic dynamic indications in music are:

p or piano, meaning “soft”.
f or forte, meaning “loud or strong”.

More subtle degrees of loudness or softness are indicated by:

mp, standing for mezzo-piano, meaning “moderately soft”.
mf, standing for mezzo-forte, meaning “moderately loud”.
più p, standing for più piano and meaning “more soft”.
più f, standing for più forte and meaning “more loud”.
Use of up to three consecutive fs or ps is also common:

pp, standing for pianissimo and meaning “very soft”.
ff, standing for fortissimo and meaning “very loud”.
ppp, standing for pianississimo and meaning “very very soft”.
fff, standing for fortississimo and meaning “very very loud”

Types of Scale

Based on their interval patterns, scales are put into categories including diatonic, chromatic, major, minor, and others. A specific scale is defined by its characteristic interval pattern and by a special note, known as its first degree (or tonic).

  • Chromatic, or dodecatonic (12 notes per octave)
  • Octatonic (8 notes per octave); used in jazz and modern classical music
  • Heptatonic (7 notes per octave); the most common modern Western scale
  • Hexatonic (6 notes per octave); common in Western folk music
  • Pentatonic (5 notes per octave); i.e., the black note scale
  • Tetratonic (4 notes), tritonic (3 notes), and ditonic (2 notes); normally limited to primitive music

Modal Scales

In the theory of Western music, a mode is a type of musical scale coupled with a set of characteristic melodic behaviors. Musical modes have been a part of western musical thought since the Middle Ages, and were inspired by the theory of ancient Greek music.

  • Ionian
  • Dorian
  • Phrygian
  • Lydian
  • Mixolydian
  • Aeolian
  • Locrian

Modus of C Major

  • Ionian: The tonic is still C — C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
  • Dorian: The tonic change to D — D, E, F, G, A, B, C
  • Phrygian: The tonic change to E — C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C
  • Lydian: The tonic change to F — C, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C
  • Mixolydian: The tonic change to G — C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C
  • Aeolian: The tonic change to A (i.e. A Minor Scale) — C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C
  • Locrian: The tonic change to B — C, Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C

Definition of étude
1: A piece of music for the practice of a point of technique
2: A composition built on a technical motive but played for its artistic value

Music Piece BPM

  • Down in the Valley: Moderato (98)
  • Tumbalalaika: Allegro Moderato (116)
  • Moonlight Sonata: Adagio (66)
  • Roman Holiday: Allegro Moderato (120)
  • Morning Has Broken: Moderato (98)
  • La Raspa: Allegro (130)



NOTES  L2: 1  2  3  4  5  |  L3: 1  |  L4  |  Other

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