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Thread: Key signatures and grid boxes above the treble clef stave

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    Question Key signatures and grid boxes above the treble clef stave

    I am new to the piano and have just come across key signatures. I bought some sheet music (please see short extract). I think this piece of music is in either E flat major or C minor (probably C minor?).

    But where I am really confused is by the grid boxes above the staves for the chords.

    Cm(add9) - C minor?
    What is the "add9", what are the x and o trying to depict, and what are they trying to represent by the round black circles?

    Cm/D
    Why both Cm and D?

    Gsus
    What is the sus in G?
    Why does it say 3fr (finger?) A G Major chord uses 3 fingers as standard doesn't it (G B D)?

    Sorry for all the questions but I have two more please.

    Why is it that there are always two keys associated with a key signature (in this key signature; E flat Major and C Minor)?

    The flats at the beginnings of the score mean (I think?) that I have to flatten all occurrences of B E A notes (unless cancelled by an interval) but is that all it means or is there more to it than that?

    Thanks
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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    The grid boxes are suggested guitar fingerings for the chords. The black dots are where the fingers are placed on the frets. It has nothing to do with the piano.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Quote Originally Posted by tontoOz View Post
    I am new to the piano and have just come across key signatures. I bought some sheet music (please see short extract). I think this piece of music is in either E flat major or C minor (probably C minor?).

    But where I am really confused is by the grid boxes above the staves for the chords.
    THAT is 'Guitar tablature'.

    The six vertical lines are the guitar strings. L to R is low strings to high strings, which, when you're holding a guitar, is lower strings closer to your head, higher strings closer to your feet. The 'x' denotes a non-played string, the "o" is an open string.

    The horizontal lines correspond to the frets on a guitar, so the dots are where you put your fingers between the frets, which makes the string shorter (and therefore a higher note) on the fret. Each fret is a half step higher than the next.

    Quote Originally Posted by tontoOz View Post

    Cm(add9) - C minor?
    What is the "add9", what are the x and o trying to depict, and what are they trying to represent by the round black circles?
    Cm(add9) is a C minor chord with the 9th added. A C minor chord is C - Eb - G, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the C minor scale. Keep going until you get to the D which is the 9th.

    The piano notes show that nicely.

    Quote Originally Posted by tontoOz View Post

    Cm/D
    Why both Cm and D?
    Cm/D denotes a C minor over a D bass, just as the piano notes show.

    Quote Originally Posted by tontoOz View Post

    Gsus
    What is the sus in G?
    Why does it say 3fr (finger?) A G Major chord uses 3 fingers as standard doesn't it (G B D)?

    Sorry for all the questions but I have two more please.

    Why is it that there are always two keys associated with a key signature (in this key signature; E flat Major and C Minor)?

    The flats at the beginnings of the score mean (I think?) that I have to flatten all occurrences of B E A notes (unless cancelled by an interval) but is that all it means or is there more to it than that?

    Thanks
    Yes, you have a lot of basic questions. You should get a piano teacher or a book on basic music theory. There's probably a hundred websites that go over all of this as well, but I can see where the guitar tablature and chord names are mostly easily answerable.

    The Gsus is a more complex chord: A 'suspended chord" is a musical chord in which the (major or minor) third is omitted, replaced usually with a perfect fourth.

    Key signatures can denote two different keys, a major key and it's relative minor key.

    The key of C major has no sharps or flats. It's relative minor key, A minor, also has no sharps or flats, so a key signature could potentially be either - you'll usually be able to figure out what key you're in as soon as you get through a few measures, or you can simply look at the last chord of the piece . . . if it's a C major chord, you're in C Major; if it's an A minor chord, you're likely in A minor.

    And yes, the three flats in the key signature in the example you've given might mean you're in the key of Eb Major, but judging by the chords in the example, you're definitely in the relative minor key, C minor.

    So every time you see a B, E, or A in your music, they are flatted: Bb, Eb, or Ab. Unless there are sharps or natural signs that indicate a change. Changes last throughout whatever measure you're in, then those notes revert back to the original key signature.

    But again, trying to figure out music theory on a vBlog is a clunky way to learn. You need a teacher, a book, a course, some YouTube videos.
    Last edited by pianozach; Apr-29-2020 at 18:14.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianozach View Post
    ...
    But again, trying to figure out music theory on a vBlog is a clunky way to learn. You need a teacher, a book, a course, some YouTube videos.
    Nicely explained (I just cut quote to last sentence to add something there:

    It is very helpful to follow some book or course because it introduces you to music theory step by step as you progress. It is so tempting to play what we really like but without skills and knowledge it will not sound good, or sometimes may brake you due to unrealistic choice (based on your skills level) and as final result you may QUIT. WE DON'T WANT THAT. So, as suggested work on your skills using what serves you the best, knowledge will expand on the way, and most important you will have more fun actually playing something... so what! It will be simple at the beginning. You see... all those members here who play advance music and know so much about it were at your and mine level at some point. So, heads up. Teacher, course, book, YT <- Those things will keep you going and expand your knowledge! Choose what suits you the best and have fun. There is load of FUN playing
    “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ― Bob Marley
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    Piano Marvel discount code for you: jw (practice every day )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaro View Post
    Nicely explained (I just cut quote to last sentence to add something there:

    It is very helpful to follow some book or course because it introduces you to music theory step by step as you progress. It is so tempting to play what we really like but without skills and knowledge it will not sound good, or sometimes may brake you due to unrealistic choice (based on your skills level) and as final result you may QUIT. WE DON'T WANT THAT. So, as suggested work on your skills using what serves you the best, knowledge will expand on the way, and most important you will have more fun actually playing something... so what! It will be simple at the beginning. You see... all those members here who play advance music and know so much about it were at your and mine level at some point. So, heads up. Teacher, course, book, YT <- Those things will keep you going and expand your knowledge! Choose what suits you the best and have fun. There is load of FUN playing
    Excellent point.

    I learned, many decades ago, using the John Thompson red series piano books, and later, the green series. That foundation served me quite well now - for five decades.

    "The John Thompson Modern Course series provides a clear and complete foundation in the study of the piano that enables the student to think and feel musically."

    Nowadays, if I were to teach, I'd still use these, although I'd supplement them with materials that have a stronger emphasis on theory and a more "wholistic" music education, as I look back on them, I realize they had some shortcomings. But as a young student they captivated me, and I was always enthusiastic about what would be next in the books. That's really something.

    Here's a link to the thread about the JT series on PianoWorld. Mostly they seem to disparage the series, then turn around and say something nice about them in the same comment. Kind of like "Well, they suck, but I really like how they do such and such . . . ."

    http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthrea...John_Thom.html

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