Eastern Kentucky University School of Music


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Eastern Kentucky University School of Music
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
Serving Kentuckians Since 1906
Music Theory Study Guide
for Prospective Music Students
Compiled by Dr. Richard Byrd

Lesson One: Musical Symbols Staff—a set of five parallel horizontal lines and four intervening spaces that each represents a musical pitch. Grand staff—the combination of the treble and bass clefs joined together by a brace.
Middle C—the name given to the pitch C which is near the middle of the piano keyboard.
Bar line—a symbol used to organize music into groupings or patterns. Double bar line—a symbol used to mark the end of a composition or the end of a major section of a composition.
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Ledger lines—short lines equidistant from each other used to extend the staff above or below the written staff.
Clef—indicates where the pitch letter names are placed on the staff. Treble clef—also called the G clef, it designates the pitch g with a lower loop. Bass clef—also called the F clef, it designates the pitch f with two dots. Alto clef—a specific kind of C clef, it designates the Middle C pitch with an indention. Tenor clef—a specific kind of C clef, it designates the Middle C pitch with an indention.
(Middle C is circled on each of the scales above.) Accidentals—chromatic alterations placed directly before the affected note and on the same line or space as the note head (flat, sharp, double flat, double sharp, double flat, natural). A flat lowers the pitch by one half step and a sharp raises the pitch by one half step. A double flat lowers the pitch by one whole step and a double sharp raises the pitch by one whole step.
Note: It is important to make sure that you carefully notate each accidental so that the middle of each accidental is centered on either the line or the space that it is marking.
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Lesson One: Musical Symbols Practice Questions
1) Write one of each of the four clefs (treble, bass, alto, tenor) on the staff below.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2) Write one of each accidental (flat, sharp, double flat, double sharp, natural) on the staff below.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3) Identify the following pitches in various clefs by placing the correct pitch letter name below each pitch.
4) Notate the requested pitches in the various clefs on the staff below.
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Lesson Two: Key Signatures & Scale Degree Names Key signature—accidentals written at the beginning of a composition (which can be changed throughout the work) used to designate the key or tonality of a work. The order of flats is always: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb The order of sharps is always: F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#
v Circle of fifths—a diagram that illustrates the order of keys from the least to the greatest number of sharps (clockwise), and the least to the greatest number of flats (counterclockwise)
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Note: It is best to just memorize both the major and minor key signatures! There are just 15 major keys and 15 minor keys to learn for a total of 30 keys. While there are all sorts of clever methods to use to figure out the keys, it is in your best interest to have all the keys memorized without using aids to “figure out the keys.” For example, when you see a key signature of 4 sharps, 2 keys should IMMEDIATELY pop into your head—E major and c# minor. Using tricks and other clever methods will ultimately slow you down and potentially increase the possiblity for error for more complicated theory problems. Note: The flats and sharps appear in the same order and pattern for key signatures written in both the alto and tenor clefs). Relative Keys—the pair of major and minor keys that share the same key signature (e.g., G major and e minor both share the same key signature of 1 sharp). Parallel Keys—the pair of major and minor keys that share the same tonic note (e.g., C major and c minor both share the same c tonic pitch). Enharmonic Keys—the pair of major keys or pair of minor keys that share the same tonic note in sound, but are written with a different key signature. (e.g., C# major and Db major both share the same tonic note in sound, but are written as 7 sharps and 5 flats respectively). Scale degree names—the traditional names given to the pitches of a scale as represented by their order. 1st scale degree—tonic 2nd scale degree—supertonic 3rd scale degree—mediant 4th scale degree—subdominant 5th scale degree—dominant 6th scale degree—submediant 7th scale degree—leading tone or subtonic (The term leading tone is used for a raised 7th and the term subtonic is used for a lowered 7th)
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Lesson Two: Key Signatures & Scale Degree Names Practice Questions
1) List the correct order of flats: _________________________________________ 2) List the correct order of sharps: ________________________________________ 3) What is the relative key of f minor? __________ 4) What is the relative key of B major? __________ 5) What is the parallel key of c# minor? __________ 6) What is the parallel key of Eb major? __________ 7) What is the enharmonic key of B major? __________ 8) What is the enharmonic key of F# major? __________ 9) Name the following keys with both a major and minor key for each key signature:
10) Write the key signature for the requested keys:
11) Name all 7 scale degrees in order: 1 ______ 2 _______ 3 _______ 4 _______ 5 _______ 6 ________ 7 ________ 7

Lesson Three: Major and Minor Scales Half step—the shortest interval traditionally used in Western music, represented by two adjacent keys on the piano (e.g., B—C, D—Eb, F—F#, etc.). Whole step—the combination of two half steps (e.g., G—A, B—C#, D—E, G#—A#). Major scale—a series of seven consecutive letter-name pitches found diatonically in its major key with a pattern of whole steps and half steps as follows: W W H W W W H.
Natural minor scale—a series of seven consecutive letter-name pitches found diatonically in its minor key with a pattern of whole steps and half steps as follows: W H W W H W W. Harmonic minor scale—a natural minor scale with the seventh scale degree raised one half step. Note that this scale creates the interval of an augmented 2nd between the 6th & 7th scale degrees. Melodic minor scale—a natural minor scale with the sixth and seventh scale degrees raised one half step in the ascending part of the scale, and a return (or re-lowering of the sixth and seventh scale degrees one half step) of the natural minor scale in the descending part of the scale.
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While it is possible to spell all the major and minor scales using the patterns shown above, it is much more efficient (and easier) to use the key signatures that you memorized in the previous lesson. Here are some examples of how this would work:
To spell an E major scale: 1) Write all the alphabet letters through one octave starting with an E on the staff using
whatever clef is requested as follows: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E. 2) Apply (plug in) all the sharps or flats of the requested scale in front of all notes that apply.
Since there are 4 sharps in the key of E major (F#, C#, G#, D#), place these four sharps in front of the corresponding pitches as follows: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E. Notice that this answer illustrates the W W H W W W H major scale pattern.
To spell an e natural minor scale: 1) Write all the alphabet letters through one octave starting with an E on the staff using
whatever clef is requested as follows: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E. 2) Apply (plug in) all the sharps or flats of the requested scale in front of all notes that apply.
Since there is 1 sharp in the key of E minor (F#), place that sharp in front of the corresponding pitch as follows: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E. Notice that this answer illustrates the W H W W H W W natural minor scale pattern.
To spell an e harmonic minor scale: 1) Write all the alphabet letters through one octave starting with an E on the staff using
whatever clef is requested as follows: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E. 2) Spell an e natural minor scale as shown above: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E 3) Raise the 7th scale degree by changing D to a D# as follows: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D#, E.
Note: Each letter of the alphabet must be represented, so be careful not to use enharmonic pitches that represent the same alphabet letter. For example, in e harmonic minor, you should use a D# for the 7th scale degree rather than an Eb, otherwise there would be no alphabet letter represented for the letter D (e.g., E, F#, G, A, B, C, D#, E is correct and E, F#, G, A, B, C, Eb, E is incorrect).
To spell an e melodic minor scale: 1) Write all the alphabet letters through one octave starting with an E on the staff using
whatever clef is requested as follows: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E. 2) Spell an e natural minor scale as shown above: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E 3) Raise both the 6th and 7th scale degree by changing C to C# and D to a D# as follows:
E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D#, E for the ascending part of the scale, and return the C# and D# back to its natural minor form as a C and D for the descending part of the scale:
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Lesson Three: Major and Minor Scales Practice Questions
1) Spell the following requested scales without writing in the key signature by adding in the appropriate accidentals: Note: Be sure to write both the ascending and descending form of the melodic minor scale. All other scales can be spelled with just the ascending form.
2) Write in the missing pitches in the blanks provided for the following requested scales: F# Major: F# G# _____ B C# D# _____ F# Eb harmonic minor: Eb F _____ Ab Bb Cb _____ Eb Ab Major: Ab Bb C _____ Eb F _____ Ab B melodic minor: B _____ D E F# _____ A# B _____ G F# E D _____ B G# natural minor: G# _____ B C# _____ E F# G# 3) What is the 6th scale degree of a B Major scale? _____ 4) What is the 3rd scale degree of a c# natural minor scale? _____ 5) What is the 7th scale degree of an f# harmonic minor scale? _____ 6) What is the ascending 6th scale degree of a c melodic minor scale? _____ 7) What is the descending 7th scale degree of a g melodic minor scale? _____
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Eastern Kentucky University School of Music