Does anybody learn how to read notes on a page today? What is the importance of Music Theory? What is the Circle of Fifths?
It’s very easy to figure out how to read and use tabs for learning cover songs on guitar. Tabs tell you what frets of what strings to press on, hammer on, or pull off on. Tabs sometimes even include what fingers to use. There are also tabs available for wind instruments that indicate which valves to be open or closed and tabs for keyboards that show what keys to press on. Tabs are often accompanied with notes. Tabs are a fast and simple method of learning how to play somebody else’s music. When learning with tabs you need to know how the song goes for the length and force of each note.
Learning music theory is like learning another language. When you’re in Spain, you need to know how to speak Spanish to communicate. When you’re with musicians, you need to know how to speak music to communicate. If you are fortunate enough to have the funds to hire a teacher, or to have the ability to take a music theory class, or to have a friend who is patient enough to teach you, there are many reasons why music theory is good to know.
Jennifer Paterson , Founder & President of California Music Studio:
Music theory is the understanding of written music, and it provides a language for composers and musicians to communicate with each other. Students that understand musical theory can read a page written by a composer hundreds of years ago, and understand what that composer wanted them to play, and how.
Music theory is mostly about how music is written on a page, and how to interpret that written music. This can include understanding what a note is, what a scale is, what a key is, and what accidentals (sharps and flats) are. Composers use written music to communicate which notes should be played, for how long, and in which key.
Music theory also helps guide musicians on how to play written music. Composers use written symbols to communicate how they would like their music played by the musicians. For example, composers can use these symbols to tell musicians to play quiet or loud, or with quick or long notes.
For students that have ever considered learning new instruments or writing music themselves, music theory will be a key piece in their musical journey. Even for students that are happy to play just one instrument, music theory will help them understand how music works and how to play their instrument well. For students that want to play music with other musicians, music theory makes it much easier to understand what their part is, and how to play well with others.
Though some students can find music theory difficult, the music teacher can help pace the theory lessons and make sure not to overwhelm the student. Learning theory at the same time as learning how to play an instrument will also make theory lessons easier to understand. Piano in particular is a great instrument to learn when you are learning music theory, as it allows you to visualize intervals and scales, while also hearing how notes work together.
Circle of Fifths
The term ‘fifth’ defines an interval or mathematical ratio which is the closest and most consonant non-octave interval. The circle of fifths is a sequence of pitches or key tonalities, represented as a circle, in which the next pitch is found seven semitones higher than the last. Musicians and composers use the circle of fifths to understand and describe the musical relationships among some selection of those pitches. The circle’s design is helpful in composing and harmonizing melodies, building chords, and modulating to different keys within a composition.
At the top of the circle, the key of C Major has no sharps or flats. Starting from the apex and proceeding clockwise by ascending fifths, the key of G has one sharp, the key of D has 2 sharps, and so on. Similarly, proceeding counterclockwise from the apex by descending fifths, the key of F has one flat, the key of B♭ has 2 flats, and so on. At the bottom of the circle, the sharp and flat keys overlap, showing pairs of enharmonically equivalent key signatures.
Starting at any pitch, ascending by the interval of an equal tempered fifth, one passes all twelve tones clockwise, to return to the beginning pitch class. To pass the twelve tones counterclockwise, it is necessary to ascend by perfect fourths, rather than fifths. (To the ear, the sequence of fourths gives an impression of settling, or resolution.
If you can explain this in easier terms or have additional information, please add your comments.