Music notation is taught incorrectly *

Feyspalm The teachers are ready to share with you all the mysteries of musical theory, but not before you learn to read these squiggles yourself.

It is assumed that the student should suffer independently master the notes, by repeated repetition. And in general, if "niasilil", then you have no talent - go revenge the yard.

Imagine what it would be like if ordinary literacy were taught in the same way. But for some reason we, for the most part, have learned to read and write.

Under the cut, I will describe my methodology, which in my amateurish view works better than what is usually offered to beginners.

* Disclaimer

I apologize if the title of the article seemed to you too impudent and provocative. Such he, in general, is.

I do not in any way detract from the merits of teachers who put soul into their students, just as I do not detract from the importance of musical theory and solfeggio. I'm just trying to take a different look at the very first steps in the study of musical notation from the point of view of a self-taught musician.

I do not claim that I was the first to find this method and fully admit that it was known before. And it would be strange if for five hundred years no one noticed it. That's just on the Internet about this is not heard, and all the musicians I know repeat the same ineffective mantras.

I evaluated the effectiveness solely on myself, since this subject turned out to be the most accessible for research.

Instead of the preface

It is surprising that, in fact, the notes have evolved so that they are as easy as possible to read fluently from the sheet. At the same time, to an unprepared person, all this seems to be a Chinese script.

image Speaking of Chinese writing. There is a magnificent book with the ornate name “the way of a tailless bird or hieroglyphic by the method of Sherlock Holmes” by Adil Talyshanov. In the book, the author uses the original approach of teaching hieroglyphics, which is so productive that the first hundred hieroglyphs are remembered even before the reader has managed to realize this. By the end of the book, the reader confidently and without any problems seizes a thousand and more characters (checked on himself).

At the same time, the author writes that Japanese schoolchildren spend a whole year to master their first hundred characters (and the entire set is given six long years). But instead of a mnemonic approach, poor children cram material in the traditional way. Hence the difference in time and efficiency.

In this article I will try to describe my approach to memorizing which notes correspond to which rulers on the noteplate and how one can make the memorization process natural and pleasant.

Medical history

How do you usually get acquainted with the notes? Independently, or with the teacher, the future musician gets acquainted with the basic elements: a stave with rulers, notes, keys, alteration signs; learns that the keys are different: the treble (which everyone knows) and the bass (in fact, there are many more).

Perhaps even a student will know that, in general, the keys are the letters of the Latin alphabet that have changed beyond recognition. If you try, in the curl of the treble clef, you can recognize the uppercase letter G, and the squiggle of the bass clef with dots are parts of the letter F.

But they are usually limited to the definition that the treble clef shows the position of the note salt on the noton bearer, bass, respectively, the notes of fa. The location of the remaining notes is uniquely determined with respect to the key and is remembered by pain and suffering practice.

But then, who in that much.

Usually, studies begin with a treble clef, as the most common melody for recording.

In English-speaking countries where notes are usually called letters, students use the mnemonic phrases Every Good Boy for Fine to Remember and FACE to memorize. The first encodes the location of the notes on the rulers, the second in between.

In the Italian tradition, the naming of notes (pre-mi ...) has more space for fantasy. Here, the mnemonics look completely schizophrenic, like: “REFALE in DoMica from Silicon Salt (Si)”.

Having mastered the limits of the main lines, the student proceeds to the great and terrible - additional lines, which "the more, the more difficult." Mnemonic phrases do not help much here, and in the worst case, the dull counting of lines and lip waving begins. However, if a student has mastered the intervals at this point, then everything goes calmer.

At the very least, having learned to read the treble clef, the student moves to the bass key and it all starts over. Even worse: knowledge begins to conflict! The brain tied the names of the notes to their position in the camp and stubbornly shoved the rooted violin names of the rulers. And poor fellows, students of organists (and not only), with horror meet in the musical text also the alto key.

But we did not even touch upon the problems of signs at the key!

... over time, the correct associations of notes and their positions in the camp are hammered into the head and the problem is inherited by the next generation of sufferers. Either not hammered in, and then the person gets used to the end of his life with the thought that “notes are difficult,” or even “notes for suckers, and a real musician should be able to play by ear,” if he doesn't throw music at all. In this case, the error of the survivor does not allow to realize the fact that the memorization technique may be different, therefore everything remains as it is.

The trouble, as it seems to me, is that the mnemonics described above replace the understanding of the true structure of musical notation with a meaningless phrase that does the student a disservice.

Why are notes difficult to read for beginners?

Let's try to understand why letters are easy to learn, and notes are difficult, although the latter are much smaller?

We are accustomed from childhood that words are often written not at all as they are pronounced. This is an example of contextual dependency. The same letters, but in another word can be read differently. In English, this is even more pronounced. Due to the great shift of vowels and other reasons, the spelling of a word can be very different from pronunciation. At the same time, the letters themselves are context-free.

Note signs work in a similar way, only in contrast to letters, notes have no meaning at all outside their context. Without knowing the key, we simply cannot read the note; forgetting about the current alteration sign, we risk reading the note incorrectly. The context can vary from one note (accents), one measure (for random alterations) and to the entire work (for keys and signs at the key).

A novice musician is required not only to remember the correspondence of graphic signs and notes, but also to clarify the rules for their contextual use.

Thus, the difficulty of reading the notes stems from a non-local contextual dependence, supplemented by very uniform graphics (unlike letters, all notes are drawn the same way). When training the eye (and the brain) there is simply nothing to cling to; in the end, the naively chosen benchmarks tend to be wrong and one has to spend a lot of time on retraining and crafting the true values ​​of “not trying to understand the logic”.

What to do?

In order not to waste time, we must correctly orient our consciousness and initially operate with the right abstractions. It is necessary to find such an invariant that will not break when changing the key. Even better, if you manage to find a symmetry that allows you to learn less.

And mathematics and physics in one voice say that it is easier to study a symmetrical object. Laws and equations using the principles of symmetry turn out to be much simpler than asymmetric alternatives.

Tycho Brahe devoted his entire life to astronomical observations and compiled detailed tables on the basis of which Johann Kepler derived his famous laws of the motion of celestial bodies. Before Kepler, astronomers tried to predict the motion of the planets, but nothing good could happen because of the excessive complexity of the trajectories when viewed from Earth.

So symmetry is the key to understanding.

In search of symmetry

Let's try to find the symmetry in the musical notation. At first glance, it is not there and can not be, because the notes on the camp are arranged sequentially and grow monotonously:

In general, I like the Italian names of notes, but in this article I will use letter notation for compactness.

To find the right answer, it is often necessary to go beyond the limits of ordinary perception. Remember the task, where it is necessary to cross out all nine points with four straight lines without removing the pen?

We will do the same. See:

These notes are an octave apart, so they will always be equal to each other, no matter what key we choose.

We look at the symmetry that has been before our eyes all this time! Knowing this rule, very soon we will be able to navigate in three positions on the camp in each of the keys. And if you add immediate neighbors to them, then the number of positions increases to nine (see below). In addition to this, there is also a key ruler, the note of which is usually remembered first.

It turns out that the key note is the reference point, but not the origin. And only for the alto key these concepts coincide.

Just like ABC

Well, then the matter of technology. We found islands from which you can stretch bridges to the neighboring notes.

I think that the absolute majority of those present not only know how to count to three, but also know the order in which the notes in the octave follow: before the regi fa sol la ci. This information we use for good.

So be it, let's start with a treble clef, which, as mentioned earlier, marks the position of the note salt (G) on the musical staff:

For successful recognition of notes in this key, we need to remember only that the origin of coordinates (central ruler) corresponds to note C (B), which are highlighted in red in the picture.

Who still likes mnemonic phrases, can remember it like this: " SI is the SI center of metmetry." Well, someone might like that the threes of neighboring notes form ABC.

Without lingering for a long time on the treble clef turn to bass:

In fact, this is a very important point. Do not try to immediately learn all the notes of the treble clef. Remember: we learn patterns , not concrete notes.

The bass clef marks the position of the note fa (F) and has a note re in the center (D). Seedina? Three of the neighboring notes, form a sequence of do-re-e, familiar from childhood.

At the moment, you only need to remember the correspondence of the key and its central note (b for treble clef, re for bass), everything else will follow itself.

Thus, from the situation “as everything is complicated” we turn to “oh, and I know that!”. Such an approach makes it possible to divide knowledge into “simple” and “complex”. And he creates the feeling that things are going well and everything is not so scary.

If you do not pay special attention to symmetry, then all the lines of the camp will be equally uncomfortable, and the matter of mastering musical notation will seem like a dull craze, which it usually is.

How do you think, how long would it take to master musical notation if the mill were like that?

If you remove the husk, it becomes clear that all the notes are located on the ruler, below or above it:
I think you do not need a lot of mind to choose one note out of three depending on its position.

So, using our islands of symmetry, we can reduce the task of mastering a full-fledged musical notation to confident recognition of notes in the islands and the conclusion of the remaining positions through them.

Over time, the brain will learn to recognize intermediate positions as well as island ones, especially since I still have a couple of tricks in store to simplify life there.

How exactly to learn?

As far as I know, the traditional approach involves playing simple melodies, gradually remembering the position of the notes on the camp.

Of course, I tried this option, but with a good hearing from nature, I memorized the melody faster than the notes of which it consists. As a result, having lost the musical text once or twice, I stopped “reading” and in fact used it as a hint about which melody to play.

From my point of view, notes need to be memorized without reference to the context of the melody. Since now we are learning the position of the notes, there should be nothing else in our field of vision.

And here the program Anki , created to memorize cards of foreign words, hieroglyphs, and any other information, comes in handy. The program is sharpened for the periodic repetition of cards with certain intervals selected for optimal memorization.

Anki controls your learning progress and more often slips the cards in which you “float”. But also successfully memorized cards are periodically added to the deck in order to check themselves and guarantee memorization.

For a minute, out of the 17 most running positions of the noto-bearer (5 main lines with 4 intervals and 2 rulers and 2 intervals on each side) we can already navigate to 10 (three triples and one key note). And this is in every way! Without knowing the symmetry, we would have to independently learn 34 positions of the treble and bass clef.

There remain some seven positions to which we are to send bridges from our islands of stability.

Actually technique

Below is described my methodology, which allowed me to confidently recognize all running positions in the treble and bass clef without any problems in just a few days.

Study base notes

As I wrote above, the key point of the technique is the division of all positions into simple and complex, into basic and derivatives. First, we confidently remember the basic positions (notes on the islands plus the key note) and only then proceed to the derivatives.

  1. Install the Anki program
  2. From the great variety of cards for music choose the appropriate option. I liked this one , which is quite simple and does not contain too much. For myself, I added sounds from another deck to this deck. This way, it will be possible not only to learn the conformity of positions and notes, but also to memorize their sound.
  3. In the deck editing mode, we place a tag for all positions that we want to remember. I called it “Fundamentals” and added all the base notes from the treble and bass keys.
  4. Create a new filter deck in which we select cards with our tag. For what we open the deck, click on the “custom study” button at the bottom of the window, select the “study by card state or tag” mode, select the appropriate tag.
  5. If everything was done correctly, you should get a separate deck with 20 cards.
  6. “We recline on the back of the chair” and before enlightenment we play the game “choose one note out of three”, not forgetting to have fun in the process.

I draw your attention that there is no need to hurry. No need to guess and run ahead of the train. Thoughtfulness and slowness in this step will pay off in full later.

The basic rule of musical practice: do not practice your mistakes (do not practice your errors). The point is that you don’t have to try to play fast until you can’t play correctly. So here, no need to hurry, if errors occur.

Thus, the algorithm should be as follows:

  1. Opened another card
  2. First, look at the key: treble or bass?
  3. We recall that the treble is the lyasi-do, the bass is the dre-mi.
  4. Realized what place of the island corresponds to a note: the center, the bottom edge or the top edge?
  5. Chose one note out of three, according to the position
  6. Optionally sing it in tone
  7. Repeat until you have an answer in your mind before you could explain it to yourself. That is, literally: they opened the card and already immediately know which note was drawn on it.

And once again: pay attention that it is necessary to learn all the necessary keys in parallel. It is simply extremely important.

Study of derivative notes

At this point, the fear of notes, as well as a sense of extreme complexity, must pass. Both keys must be perceived naturally, without internal protest.

If everything went smoothly, now you must confidently recognize all the base notes:

See how much you can achieve, knowing only three notes in each key! Well, four, if you consider the key itself.

If we add to this set the extreme lines of the not-bearers, then all the other notes (except for very distant additional lines) will be at a distance of just one step from those already familiar.

The following observations will help us in memorizing these lines:

That is, the lower ruler is separated from the top by an octave and another level: mif, salt-la.

For example, if you remember well that the lower ruler of the bass speaker is salt, then the upper ruler is la. And the gap between the two lower main rulers is also la (and vice versa).

And in order to remember which notes correspond to the extreme rulers, you can link them with the key note of this key.

The last fact, which I would like to point out, and which can be of great help in analyzing the present note text: in fact, there is only one additional ruler between the treble and bass clefs, and this is the note to the first octave:
For example, the second additional ruler above the bass key is actually the lower ruler of the treble clef, that is, mi.


That's all I wanted to say this time. Of course, there is still a lot beyond the article. Absolutely nothing is said about the extra lines beyond the second. Again, the signs at the key were ignored.

I think that having grasped the main idea, you will be able to independently come up with the method that will work best for you.

However, it should be noted that this method has significant advantages compared with traditional cramming:

I hope that my article was useful to you, or at least interesting. And if thanks to her you will be able to master a musical notation, it will be for me the greatest praise.

See you and happy new year!


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