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Chapter Ten
Intervals: The Circle of Fifths and
the Key Signatures of the Major
The Pattern of the Major Scale
When major scales begin on notes other
than C, sharps or flats must be used to
produce the correct pattern of whole and
half steps (WWHWWWH)
The Keys with Sharps
The only scale among the major keys with no
sharps or flats is C major. If a scale begins a
perfect fifth higher than C, it will have one
sharp. This process may be continued until all
the notes of the scale are sharped.
The order of the scales is C G D A E B F# C#
The order of sharps is FCGDAEB.
The Keys with Flats
The major flat scales are found by beginning
each scale a fifth lower than the preceeding
scale, beginning with the fifth below the C major
scal. This process is continued until all the notes
of the scale are flat.
 The order of scales is
Cb Gb Db Ab Eb Bb F C
The order of flats is BEADGCF
The Circle of Fifths
The order of all the sharp and flat scales
can be shown by a circle because by
moving in either direction in perfect fifths,
you eventually return to the starting key.
The Key Signature
Music using the notes of a particular scale is said
to be “in the key” of the first note of that scale.
When a composer writes music in keys that have
sharps or flats, it would be quite cumbersome to
have to write a sharp or flat sign in front of
every affected note, so a key signature is used
at the beginning of every staff to show which
sharps or flats are in the key.
Because the pattern of sharps and flats never
varies, it is easy to tell at a glance the key.
When sharps, flats, or naturals that are not part
of the key signature are used, they are placed to
the left of the note that they affect. They are
called accidentals. When an accidental occurs, it
affects all notes of that pitch that follow it in the
same measure. The effect of an accidental is
canceled by the bar line. If a sharp or flat has
been used at the beginning of a measure, and a
note without accidental is need later in the
measure, a natural sign must be used.