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Musical Symbols & Keys

 ■ View All Musical Symbols  ■ View Key Signatures

Musical Symbols:

Musical Symbols of Piano Notation
Learn about the musical symbols, commands, and terminology found in sheet music.

Music Note-Lengths in U.S. & U.K. English
Learn to read the different music notes, including eighth notes, whole notes, quarter notes, and more.

Accidentals & Double-Accidentals
View the accidentals, and learn the purpose of double-sharps and flats.

Note Accents & Articulation Marks
Learn about "articulation" and see the most common note ornaments.

Playing Notes With Rhythm Dots
Learn to easily count dotted, double-dotted, and triple-dotted notes.

Musical Rest Lengths
Rests convey pauses in music, and are written in lengths just like music notes; see them on the staff.

Chord Types & Symbols
Each chord type (major, diminished, seventh) can be signified by a few different symbols; learn how to identify them in sheet music, and build them on your own.

Volume & Dynamics Symbols
See the most commonly-used dynamics symbols and abbreviations, and learn the best methods for interpreting volume commands.

The Piano Grand Staff & Clefs
Learn about the G-clef and F-clef, and memorize the notes of their staves.

8va & Other Octave Commands
You've probably seen abbreviations such as 8va, 8vb, or 15ma; and if you haven't, you will! They make things easier, so you'll want to learn more.

How to Read Time Signatures
Learn to read and write time signatures, and see common meters written on the staff.

Why Is 4/4 Time Written With a C-Shaped Symbol?
Learn the history behind the c-shaped semicircle used to represent the 4/4 time signature.

Tempo Commands
Tempo is the speed of a song, and is expressed in music using tempo terms, metronome marks, or both.

Triplets & Other Tuplets
Triplets are extremely common in piano music; identified by a small '3' above a note-beam. Learn how to count triplets and other common tuplets.

Understanding Key Signatures
Learn the basics of key signatures, with clear illustrations.

Repeat Barlines
The easiest musical repeat signs are written right into the barlines; learn how to play them.

Segno & Coda Signs
Segno and coda signs belong to a more complex system of musical repeats, and work with commands such as D.C. and D.S. al coda; learn how to easily master these repeats.

Sustain Pedal Marks
The most heavily-used piano foot pedal is the sustain, or "damper" pedal; learn the symbols used to control it in sheet music.

M.D. & M.S.
Learn the meaning of the abbreviations M.D. and M.S.

Building a Musical Staff
Learn about single barlines, double barlines, final barlines, and measures.

What Are Ledger Lines?
Notes that fall off the staff are placed on ledger lines, which can make reading notation a bit more difficult; learn how to avoid them.

Musical Keys:

Key Signature Locator
Find the image or name of any key signature quickly and easily with the interactive key signature wizard - try it for yourself!

All About Relative Keys
Relative keys are major and minor scales with the same key signature; and a good understanding of them can improve your song-writing skills and musical ear; learn more.

Outline of the 15 Key Signatures
Consult an easy-to-read outline of the 15 key signatures. Learn parallel and relative keys, and the chords found in each scale.

♫ Key Signature Quiz ♫
Test yourself on the major and minor key signatures; the order of their accidentals, and how they appear on the grand staff! (Choose length, 20 questions max.)

The 6 "Enharmonic" Key Signatures
Some keys go by two names. Cb and B major both have their own key signatures, yet they contain the same exact tones. What is the point of all this? Continue to find out!

The Circle of Fifths
Learn about the circle of fifths; by Espie Estrella, our Guide to Music Education.

What Is a Keynote?
Learn the meaning of "keynote."

Table of the Keynotes
Consult this table to find the home key(s) of a particular keynote; and, which keynotes have no key signature of their own.

Rare & Theoretical Musical Keys
Some scales -- G# and Fb major for example -- appear to be missing from the circle of fifths. Where did these scales go? Can they ever be used? Read on to learn more …

Key Signature Map (Sharps)
Browse all key signatures that contain sharps (#).

What Are Parallel Keys?
Relative keys share a key signature, but what are parallel keys? Continue to learn more.

Practice Scales in the Major Keys
Complete list of piano drills and exercises in the major keys.

Practice Scales in the Minor Keys
Complete list of piano drills and exercises in the minor keys.

Musical Symbols of Piano Music
Musical symbols, abbreviations, and terminology of piano notation.

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