Flute/Staff and notes

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Basic Flute Method
Method book for those beginning to learn flute.


Getting started
Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4Lesson 5Lesson 6

Playing the flute
Lesson 7Lesson 8Lesson 9Lesson 10Lesson 11Lesson 12Lesson 13Lesson 14

Building on skills
Lesson 15Lesson 16Lesson 17Lesson 18Lesson 19Lesson 20Lesson 21Lesson 22Culmination

LinksLearning a piece of music

Related books
SaxophoneMusic TheoryBaroque Flute HandbookWestern Music History

This page is to teach the treble cleff and types of notes. If you play another instrument or already know this, you can skip this and go to the next lesson.

Staff[edit | edit source]

Now you know how to produce sound and how to breathe properly. Now it is time to learn how to read music. This is not difficult, so don't worry. Pictured below is a musical staff. As you can see, it consists of five lines and four spaces. If you've ever learned piano school, you may know the Mnemonics, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge and FunAlwaysCanEnjoy (or simply FACE). The first is the names of the notes on the lines, and the second is the names of the notes in the spaces.

Now, this symbol should appear at the beginning of every piece of music you see.

This is called the G clef or treble clef. It was originally used to write the voice part of trebles, of boys who sang soprano. This is very uncommon now, but the clef was adopted to write music of all instruments that had high registers, like the flute, saxophone, clarinet, oboe, etc. The G clef comes from the fact that the circular part of the symbol is always on the line that is G.

There is one more important element; ledger lines. these are lines that appear above or below the staff, to show notells that are lower than E or higher than G.

Notes[edit | edit source]

Time signature[edit | edit source]

An important part of reading music is time signature. This appears after the clef and key signature and consists of two numbers. The top number shows how many beats to a measure and the second shows what kind of note gets a beat.

The above is an example of a time signature; 3/4. This means that there are 3 beats per measure and a quarter note gets one beat. The second number of a time signature is written as a number. 1 corresponds to a whole note, 2 to a half and 4 to a quarter. Just put one over that number and that is the note that gets one beat. There are two other times that have different notation.
This is called common time, which is used to represent 4/4.
This is called cut time, which is used to represent 2/2. Notes played in cut time will be twice as fast at the same time as common time.

Using time signature, music can be divided into measures. Measures are made up of the top number of beats. A measure in 4/4 is 4 beats long. Originally, written music was not divided up into measures. It was divided up by groups of two or three notes. Measures were developed to make music easier to read and practice.

Notes[edit | edit source]

Now that you know what time signature is, you can learn what the notes are. For simplicity, notes are usually taught in some time of 4. For these purposes, I will use 4/4.
To start, the above note is a whole note. In 4/4 a whole note gets all four beats.
This next note is called a half note. In 4/4 a half note gets 2 beats. There can be up to 2 half notes in a measure of 4/4.
This last note is called a quarter note. In 4/4 these get 1 beat.

Rests[edit | edit source]

Rests are beats in music that are unplayed. The length of rests corresponds with the notes.
Just as whole notes get 4 beats in 4/4, whole rests get 4 beats.
Half rests get 2 beats.
Quarter rests get 1 beat. When rests appear in music do not lower your flute unless they are longer than 2 measures at a moderate tempo.And indeed help the breathing.

Accidentals[edit | edit source]

Accidentals are a kind of symbol that tells you how to play a note. The three you should know are sharps, flats and naturals.
sharps raise the note they precede by one half-step. Half-steps are the smallest unit of pitch difference in western music. If you have a piano, playing any two keys that touch; that is a half-step.
flats lower the note they precede by one half-step.
naturals cancel all sharps and flats on the note they precede. When using accidentals, they stay in affect until the measure ends.