Vital Understandings on the Subject of
Okay, we have a new key, the
key that "comes after" the key of C, namely, the key of G. Yes, keys come in
a certain order, and each one is "close to" other keys, its neighbors. This
means that the two keys close
to each other have almost all the same notes, and so ,
almost all the same chords. (more explanation below).
There are going to be lots of "keys" coming at you as you go
on learning music, and one of your jobs is to make sense of them, and
remember them. To do that, you need to understand certain relationships that
exist among the various keys, and I will explain those relationships.
But first, what does it mean to "remember" the "key
signature". First, it means remembering the sharps or flats grouped together
at the beginning of the piece or song, and found at the beginning of each
subsequent line. We did not have any in the key of C. It is the only key
with no sharps or flats (along with its relative minor, A minor).
There is an order that keys follow, as we go from the key of
C with no sharps or flats, to the key with one sharp, then two sharps,
three, and so forth. The order is this: keys progress by "fifths". This
means if we start at C with no sharps, the key that has one sharp will be 5
LETTERS AWAY FROM C, or, we could say, the key that follows C will start on
the 5th note of the C scale, or the note G.
C D E F G
1 2 3 4 5
Knowing this, we can predict that the next key after G will
start on D, which is the 5th note of the G scale. The key of D will have two
sharps. The next key after that will be 5 letters after D, or the key of A,
which will have 3 sharps.
Another thing to know is that as these keys progress, the
sharps are cumulative, in other words, D, with two sharps, will have the
same sharp that G had (F#), as well as a new one. The key of A, with 3
sharps, will have the two from D, and one new one.
Knowing this fact, and keeping it in mind as you learn each
new key, will give you a framework in which to place each new key as you
learn it. As the Mel Bay series progresses, you will learn keys in this
order, the "order of 5ths". This larger perspective will help you keep this
knowledge in your brain in an orderly arrangement, and enables you to see
that even though there are many keys and key signatures, there is a logic to
it that makes it more accessible, and keeps it from becoming a disorderly
mess in you head.
Another relationship to know
and bear in mind as you learn the keys is this: the new sharp (#) that
appears for each new key WILL ALWAYS BE
THE SEVENTH NOTE OF THE SCALE.
So, we see the first sharp in
the key of G appearing on the seventh note, F#. The next key, D major, has
its new sharp on the seventh note, C, so that is why the key of D has two
sharps, the "old one" F#, and the new one on the seventh note, C#.
So, to sum up the two
fundamental relationships you should absorb about keys:
Keys progress by 5ths as they
add their sharps (flats are a different matter, more on that later).
The new sharp is always the
7th note of the new scale.
Before we leave the subject,
let us look at one more interesting and helpful relationship that exists
between keys: the last 4 notes of one key are the first notes of the next.
So, the last 4 notes of C are
the first 4 notes of G. The last 4 notes of G are the first 4 notes of D,
Review these understandings
many times, over and over, until they begin to penetrate. Keep them in mind
from now on as you continue to learn new keys in the Mel Bay Course. This
will act as a pre-existing framework into which new knowledge will be
fitted, helping you learn and retain your growing knowledge of keys.
On the technical side of
things, you should practice that G scale as written, BUT DO NOT
UNDERESTIMATE THE DIFFICULTY. It IS a difficult scale to do correctly,
really correctly. It is quite easy, however, to learn it badly, which is
what most people do.
Here are the things to do, and
DON'T allow your inactive
fingers to tense and curl around the 3rd finger as it depresses the string
for the first note. Your training from the Foundation Exercises, if properly
done, will serve you here to prevent "finger squeeze".
DO keep the other fingers
spread over their respective frets at each step of the way in playing this
DO watch the 4th finger from
the beginning, keeping it relaxed and in position over the 4th fret, waiting
for its first job on the 7th note. DON'T let it tense in sympathy to other
fingers being used.
DO pay attention to the
degrees of heavy/floating arm you are using as you play. You could
experiment with using a floating arm throughout, using only the muscles of
the hand/forearm to apply force to the string, or you could use some heavy
arm where appropriate, for example between the 3rd and 4th notes, where two
consecutive notes are fingered, shifting arm weight from the 2nd to 3rd
finger. The sensations will change as the tempo increases. As
USE THE BASIC PRACTICE APPROACH!