Top 5 of the rules before starting reading sheet music
To start with, on sheet music, there is a staff. The staff is the base structure for everything. It is composed of five horizontal parallel lines and perpendicular lines called “measure lines”.
Above, you can see two staves. It is not a trick! The paragraph below will explain why.
A Staff always starts with a Clef. The Clef gives the tonality for an instrument or voice.
For instance, in the sheet music above, the Treble Clef (the upper purple circle) identifies the higher range notes, and matches with the right hand of the pianist whereas the Bass Clef (the lower purple circle) identifies the lower range notes, and matches with his left hand.
BEAT & RHYTHM
Right next to the Clef, you will see a type of fraction, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 7/8 or 9/8…
These fractions are called “time signatures”.
So, for instance, if it is written 4/4 next to the first clef symbol: the numerator indicates there are four beats in a measure and the denominator tells you each quarter note is equal to one beat.
Usually, musicians use the 3/4 signature for waltzes, the 4/4 one for Western popular music
There we are! There are 6 different note figures and each of them has a timing value. The values of the notes constitute the rhythm of the music.
A Semibreve is a whole note, equal to four beats
A Minim is a half note, equal to two beats
A Crotchet is a quarter note, equal to one beat
A Quaver is an eighth note, equal to half a beat
A Semiquaver is a sixteenth note, equal to a quarter of a beat
A Demisemiquaver is a thirty second note, equal to an eight of a beat
You now get the very basics of music theory, hopefully enough to increase your appetite for music…