Beginners Music Theory
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Introduction to musical notation 
Musical notation is used to indicate the pitch (how high or low), temporal information (speed or placement in time) and duration (how long) of discrete sounds, which we call notes. Notes are graphically represented by various signs depending on their duration and position. Notes are named successively using the first seven letters of the Roman alphabet, i.e. A, B, C, D, E, F, G.( however the musical alphabet is C.D.E.F.G.A.B.C.) The notes that continue upwards beyond G begin at the beginning of the sequence with A again. The interval from one A to the next A is called an octave (i.e. : 8 notes). Likewise, the interval between one C and the next C is also called an octave, etc...
The notes are placed on a set of five horizontal lines separated by spaces. This group of five horizontal lines is referred to as a staff or stave. The plural form of either word is staves. The position of the note on the stave is directly related to its pitch. Thus, the higher up the stave the note is, the higher its pitch. The notes which fall outside of the range of the staff are placed on, above or below shorter lines, called ledger lines.
In order for us to be able to determine the exact pitch of any note on the stave, we make use of a symbol called a clef, which is placed at the beginning of each stave and enables us to determine the pitches of the notes for that particular stave.
There are many different clef signs, the two most common are the Treble (G) clef and the Bass (F) clef. The treble clef is an embellished G, and sits on the second line from the bottom of the stave, making notes placed on that line G's. The bass clef is an embellished F, which looks like a backwards C with two dots on top of each other (like a colon), and the two dots are on either side of the fourth line from the bottom (second line from the top) of the stave. This causes every note on that line to become F's.
The notes of the stave 
The notes of the Treble clef can be easily worked out by applying a simple rule, the spaces between the lines of the stave from bottom to top spell the word 'F A C E'. Thus the bottom space is an 'F', the next space above that is an 'A', then a 'C' is the next space above that, and finally, the top most space is an 'E'. It is therefore easy to work out the notes on the lines. The first line at the bottom is an E, as E comes directly before F. Then the second line is a G, as G comes after F (also, the treble clef rests on the G line). The third (middle) line is a B, as B comes after A. Then the second line from the top is a D, as D comes after C, and the top most line is thus an F, as F comes after E.
The notes in this image from left to right are therefore F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F.
The notes of the Bass clef can be worked out in a similar fashion. I like to use an acronym for remembering the spaces of the bass clef. The acronym is All Cows Eat Grass ('A C E G'). So the bottom most space is an 'A', then the second space from the bottom is a 'C', then and 'E' and, finally, the top space is a 'G'. The lines can be worked out as described above, making the first line a 'G', then an 'B', 'F', and the top line is a 'A'.
The notes in this image from left to right are therefore A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.
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Elements of rhythm 
Rhythm is a general term that refers to the time aspect of music. The duration of each note is determined by the note head and stem. The note head is the round part of the note and it can by filled in or hollow. The stem is the vertical line which stems from the note head. All notes have both of these parts with the exception of the whole note and the breve.
Beat is the basic pulse of music. This can be found by tapping one's foot to music; the beat falls in line with the foot hitting the floor. The rate at which beats occur is called tempo. The time signature of music indicates the number of beats that will occur in each measure and what note value will represent the beat. This is expressed with two vertically stacked numbers with the number on top indicating the number of beats per measure and the number on bottom indicating what note value represents the beat.
The whole note is so named because in the most common time signature, one whole note lasts the entire measure. All other note values are named for the fraction of a whole note that they represent. Therefore, a whole note lasts twice as long as a half note and a half note lasts twice as long as a quarter note.
|Note Value name||Note Value Description (American Term/British Term)||Equivalence in terms of American dollars|
|Whole Note/Semibreve||hollow head||1 dollar|
|Half Note/Minim||hollow head with a stem attached to the right of it||50 cents|
|Quarter Note/Crotchet||a half note, but with a solid head||25 cents|
|Eighth Note/Quaver||a quarter note with a flag facing downwards and rightwards attached to its stem||12.5 cents|
|Sixteenth Note/Semiquaver||a quarter note with two flags at different positions on the stem||6.25 cents|
|Whole Note||Half Note||Quarter Note||Eighth Note||Sixteenth Note|
|Rest Value name||Rest Value Description (American Term/British Term)|
|Whole rest/Semibreve rest||bar attached to the underside of the line above the middle|
|Half rest/Minim rest||short bar placed on top of the middle line|
|Quarter rest/Crotchet rest||squiggly backward 's' spanning three lines|
|Eighth rest/Quaver rest||figure 'seven' with a hook facing upward attached to the uppermost end, touching the line above the middle with its head|
|Sixteenth rest/Semiquaver rest||two eighth notes attached, one above the other and atop its head, and spanning four lines, starting at the bottom.|
|Whole rest||Half rest||Quarter rest||Eighth rest||Sixteenth rest|