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Understanding sheet music

Posted: 05 Feb 2013, 19:54
by fapoo
I am currently trying to learn Avril 14th by Aphex Twin.

A simple piece I'm sure many will say, but I'm having trouble piecing the notes.


I'm having trouble with the bass notes, e.g The sheet music says the 3rd note is an "A" however I know the correct sounding note is defnitely an "A flat"
So can someone please explain as to why or how I am interpreting this incorrectly.

Also if anyone wants to convert all the notes into letters, I would be extremely grateful. That would be a bonus.

Re: Understanding sheet music

Posted: 05 Feb 2013, 21:54
by Feg
It is an A Flat :) The first note of the bass is also an A flat.

The key signature at the start of the stave tells you that there are four flats - B, E, A and D. Every instance of those notes will be flat unless the music states otherwise with a natural sign.

As to converting all of the notes into letters, that's a job for you, I'm afraid :lol:

Re: Understanding sheet music

Posted: 05 Feb 2013, 22:43
by fapoo
lol worth a try!

So just to confirm although the flat symbols at the start are not on the same "A" note line, every "A" whichever key "A" is in, has to be a flat?

Re: Understanding sheet music

Posted: 06 Feb 2013, 11:31
by gizzy
fapoo wrote:lol worth a try!

So just to confirm although the flat symbols at the start are not on the same "A" note line, every "A" whichever key "A" is in, has to be a flat?
That's right - there are eight As on my piano, imagine having to do a key-signature with four flats and having to put one on every line or space which has a B E A or D!

Actually you never need to look at the lines and spaces where the sharps or flats are in a key signature becasue they will awlays be the same ones. One sharp will always be F#, two will be F# and C# and so on. So you just have to notice how many there are and learn the order.

Sharps: F(ather) C(hristmas) G(ave) D(addy) a(n) E(mpty) B(ox)
and the flats run the other way. Quicker not to have to learn another sentence (and please, nobody, not that one with Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father - it's a good curiosity, but you can reverse little parts of it as well as the whole, it's unsafe) just remember the first four spell BEAD and it will get you through most keys you need.

Gizzy in Cambridge

Re: Understanding sheet music

Posted: 06 Feb 2013, 16:08
by fapoo
Just wanted to say thanks to all for the help.

Re: Understanding sheet music

Posted: 16 Feb 2013, 17:26
by Colin Nicholson
If you weren't bothered about the 'pitch' of the notes (and key) - and say, you were just playing this for your own enjoyment, you can have the music transposed - perhaps down a semitone to G major.... this would just involve ONE black note, F# - an easier key.
The music (melody & harmony) would sound the same, just the pitch a fraction lower.
However - if you are coping with 4 flats ok.... keep practising.

I could transpose it for you - but there would be a small fee.

(Appendix below....)

To give you some idea of the music, see below. The first line of the music (bars 1-3) - I have removed the key signature, and placed all the accidentals (flats) next to the relevant notes that need to be black... so this is still in A flat major. If a piece of music changes key suddenly (modulates), it can appear like this, however the accidentals in brackets would not normally be shown if the 'flat' appeared earlier in the same bar. A bit of a handful if you are not used to reading in "flat keys".

As an example, on the 2nd & 3rd line of the music (below), I have transposed the music a note lower - so we are now in G major - note the new key signature of F sharp?. As it happens, the F# is not needed until page 2 (bar 17) in your music, so all the notes are white keys up to bar 17.

Personally, I prefer A flat major - the left hand arpeggios form a good pattern to go by, and reduce the risk of hitting wrong notes when my hand crosses over.

If you want any further help, please email or PM me....
Avril 14 transposed

Re: Understanding sheet music

Posted: 12 May 2013, 01:35
by Jonathan the 2nd
I came to piano late and invented my own way of dealing with keys. I just check which black notes apply by playing them as a reminder before starting the notes. I have never made a habit of practising scales ,to my shame . But I can manage all the different keys without any uncertainty .