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Ok, so basically the first thing you should know (at least, this is how I remember) is the names

of the notes. They are: A B C D E F G. Music is composed of these and their variants arranged in various rhythms. The Basic scale is:

The curly sign, that's the Treble Cleff. Most music is written in this Cleff. As I stated before, these are the Basic notes. They are Natural. Their variants can be found in what is called the Chromatic Scale.

If you'll notice, this scale has sounds at the bottom of each note. These are generally used with singing. The Notes of the Chromatic scale are as follows (and as shown in the above scales): NOTE: the # stands for Sharp, or that the note has been raised in pitch half a step, and the little b looking sign stands for Flat, or that the note has been lowered half a step. Also note that in most cases the sharps are interchangeable with the flats, depending on what scale you're on and what direction you're going with the music. C C# D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B C If you'll notice, on the staff (as the musical lines are called), when the notes begin to descend or come back down instead of showing them as Sharps, now it gives you their Flat counter parts. This comes in handy when you start reading/writing music in scales such as Eb Major or D#. All scales are are the harmonic descent and ascent of notes along the staff. The most common, and natural of them is C Major. You know, C D E F G A B C and back down. All natural notes, no variants, plain and simple. Then You have Bb Major.

Bb C D Eb F G A Bb. See? The variations? This is just one of the many different scales, and You'll be able to read them and learn them as you begin to understand the Theory of music better. Right now, lets keep things simple. So now that we have the notes out of the way. Let's discuss Tempo and Rhythm. First thing you need to know (and it's on almost any musical staff) it's the Time Signature. The Time signature is the little numbers located right after the Cleff (treble or bass) and it lets you know How many beats there are per measure. (Measures are the segments of the musical staff, separated by those thin black vertical lines you see up there).

The most Basic of times signatures is:

and it can be shown either way. C is used sometimes because like the C scale, it is the most basic of it's kind. So 4/4 is 4 beats per measure.

There are only 3 beats per measure. 2 / 4 only 2 beats per measure. Well, here:

Simple Meter
Simple Meter Meter 2/2 2/4 2/8 How Many Beats 2 beats 2 beats 2 beats Note That Receives the Beat half notes quarter notes eighth notes Division of Beats each half note can be divided into 2 quarter notes (= 4 quarter notes) each quarter note can be divided into 2 eighth notes (= 4 eighth notes) each eighth note can be divided into 2 sixteenth notes (= 4 sixteenth notes)

3/2 3/4 3/8 4/2 4/4 4/8

3 beats 3 beats 3 beats 4 beats 4 beats 4 beats

half notes quarter notes eighth notes half notes quarter notes eighth notes

each half note can be divided into 2 quarter notes (= 6 quarter notes) each quarter note can be divided into 2 eighth notes (= 6 eighth notes) each eighth note can be divided into 2 sixteenth notes (= 6 sixteenth notes) each half note can be divided into 2 quarter notes (= 8 quarter notes) each quarter note can be divided into 2 eighth notes (= 8 eighth notes) each eighth note can be divided into 2 sixteenth notes (= 8 sixteenth notes)

In case I didn't explain things correctly, here's a few paragraphs from About.com: The grouping of strong and weak beats is called meter. You can find the meter signature (also called time signature) at the beginning of every music piece; it is the 2 numbers written after the clef. The number on top tells you the number of beats in a measure; the number at the bottom tells you what note gets the beat. In simple meter, the beats can be divided into even divisions of two. 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures are all examples of simple meter, as are any time signatures with 2, 3 and 4 as the top number (ex. 2/2, 2/8, 3/2, 3/8, 4/2 and 4/8). 2/4 - Also known as simple duple; the number 2 on top equals two beats and the number 4 at the bottom represents a quarter note. This means there are two quarter note beats in a measure. What makes 2/4 a simple meter is that the beats (2 quarter notes) can each be divided into two eighth notes (1 quarter note = 2 eighth notes). 3/4 - Also known as simple triple; the number 3 on top equals three beats and the number 4 at the bottom represents a quarter note. This means there are three quarter note beats in a measure. So in 3/4 meter, the beats (3 quarter notes) can each be divided into two eighth notes. 4/4 - Also known as simple quadruple; the number 4 on top equals four beats and the number 4 at the bottom represents a quarter note. This means there are four quarter note beats in a measure. Therefor, in 4/4 meter the beats (4 quarter notes) can each be divided into two eighth notes. Which brings me to our next subject, The Notes themselves. There are 3 basic types of notes: Whole, half, and Quarter. Whole notes generally mean that the note is sustained throughout the entirely of the beats per that particular measure. A good example is that if the Time Signatures indicates that there are 3 beats per measure and you have

a whole note, let's say an E. You would sustain that E for 3 beats at what ever tempo (or speed) the music is being played (or sung) at.

In music, you will encounter these symbols. A note is played for as long as it's symbol indicates, a rest indicates a pause for how ever many beats it indicates. A Half note only lasts 2 beats. A quarter note lasts only 1 beat. An eighth note lasts a beat and a sixteenth note lasts a quarter of a beat. Standard beat counting (to keep rhythm and tempo) is counting out the beats depending on the time signature. one, two, three, four or One, two, three. One, two, three... etc. If you have eighth notes, the counting becomes, One and two and three and four and... or One and two and three and... depending on the time signature. Basically you're counting both beats and half beats (the ands) here. With Sixteenth notes, the counting becomes a little more complicated and fast paced, since you're now counting quarter beats. So, One ti te Two ti te Three ti te Four ti te... and you follow, minus the Four ti te if the time signature is less and so on. So below is another example of how notes ca be displayed on the staff. And really, these notes can be written in any number of combinations. Breaking down the entire rhythm of the musical piece.

You can have a whole note in one measure and then a half note, a quarter note, and eighth note, and a couple sixteenth notes in the next. The Possibilities are endless. One last thing before giving you a few simple exercises on music reading is Ties and Slurs as well as staccato marks and Legato marks, and dynamic signs. Ties are the little archways above or below musical notes which basically ties the notes of one measure over to the next.

So see? The tied notes continue for the length of the two notes combined. Slurs are notes in the same measure (and they sometimes go across measures) that are played (or sung) without a break between notes. Staccato marks basically indicate that the note with the mark is to be played or sung in a very detached and punctuated manner. Short and stressed.

Legato is just the opposite. With legato you carry the note over to the next one. Like spreading frosting.

Finally, there's the Dynamic signs or symbols. Those are:

well. I think that about covers it. Hope this helps, now for some simple exercises, see if you can piece things together. NOTE: It's simpler if you have something like a keyboard (even a virtual one on the PC) to help you pluck out the notes. Also, when trying to keep rhythm (or beat), it's often simple to just tap out the beat with your feet. Tap (1) tap (2) tap (3)... and so on. :) half beats and the like would be counted between the taps of your foot.