Music Sheets

A few comments about musical theory


John started to learn to read music at the same time as he started with the trombone so you won't find anything startlingly novel here.
The AB Guide to Music Theory by Eric Taylor published by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music is an excellent guide to music theory and notation. They also publish "Theory in Practice" course books to help prepare for their grade exams. John has got AB theory grades 1, 2 and 3 under his belt. He's done the coursework for grade 4 but has decided to skip that exam and work for grade 5. He took the exam in March 2003 and managed to pass "with distinction". A grade 5 theory pass is required to go beyond grade 5 for an instrument.
There are just a couple of things I want to mention here:


Music Written for the Trombone
Because I started to learn to play the trombone in an English brass band I found the music written in the treble clef. It was some time later that I learned that this was unusual, and that most music for the trombone is generally written in the bass clef. A further complication is that the bass trombone part in brass bands is also written in bass clef.
I've now learned that the B-flat trombone is a "transposing instrument" as far as brass bands are concerned. In base clef the note is played as it is written. So the notes played with the slide in the closed position are Bb-F-Bb-D etc. In treble clef the "Bb" is written as a "C" (actually written an octave higher too! hence the use of the treble clef) and the same closed position notes are called C-G-C-E etc.
In practise I've learned to read either clef independently and have learned the alternative note names for each position. For example there is a closed position note known as "F", written on the fourth line of the base clef. The same note is sounded when I play a "G" written on the second line of the treble clef. Confusing isn't it?!
Click here to return to John's trombone page
Click here to return to the top of John's music theory page

John's Circle of Six
I've noticed an interesting bit of numerology concerning music key signatures. First write the twelve chromatic scale notes around the face of a clock, starting with C at "12 o'clock", Db at "1 o'clock", etc. all the way round to B at "11 o'clock". Next interchange the "1" and "5" digits on the clock face; Replace the "12" with "0"; and finally replace the "7" to "11" digits with "1, 4, 3, 2, 5" as shown in the diagram below.
Circle of six diagram

The altered digits represent the number of sharps (#) or flats (b) of the corresponding key signature. They alternate between keys signatures with flats and sharps. Furthermore the sum of sharps and/or flats across the clock face always adds up to six. For example 5 & 1, 2 & 4, 3 & 3, etc.
This has helped me to remember the key signatures. It might help you too, if I've explained it clearly enough!
Click here to return to the top of John's music theory page


Click here to return to Musical Interests Index