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This is the song I wanted to do, not on a piano but in FL Studio. But I don't play the piano so I need some help in dissecting this piece.

  1. Those ##C, what do those mean (and what are they called?)
  2. That first F note directly right of the C how am I supposed to play it because it seems to me that it is a 4/4 yet its all by itself.
  3. That previous note I was taking about that line, does it mean I hold it down until I get those F A notes and kind of switch
  4. What the deal with that rest note with the 2 dots on top of those 2 notes how does that effect them?
  5. On the end there is a whole note yet there's a half (correct me if I'm wrong cause wiki says its a eighth note but it seems to not sound right) why is that there?

That's all the questions I can think to ask at the moment. Thank you in advance.

P.S. If you use FL Studio and have any advice on doing this and/or making a realistic piano (or at least one that sounds like original in the video link) will be greatly appreciated.

Here's the orginal song:

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Thank you everyone for posting on my last post but I think I should have put the piece I wanted before asking questions. I'll take a look through your answers tomorrow to give you a chance to edit them and since it's late where I am. –  Reuben Renquist Sep 16 '13 at 6:01
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5 Answers

The two sharp signs are the key signature. They identify the key the piece is to be played in. On the right of the time signature (that's what you call the 4/4) is an anacrusis, an incomplete measure. The curved line over the first six notes tells you to slur those notes (not hold them). This has slightly different meanings depending on the instrument. However, it always means that there should be no break between the notes. They should flow right from one to the next smoothly. The rest (a double-dotted half-rest) indicates that the first voice should be silent for a minim plus a crotchet plus a quaver (or 3 and 1/2 beats). The following quaver is the last 1/2 beat of the measure.

The key signature instructs you to sharp or flat certain notes unless otherwise specified. In this case, all F's and C's are sharped unless they have an accidental (sharp, flat, or natural) next to them. This also tells you that the key is D major or b minor. Either the D note or the B note is the tonal center of the piece.

The anacrusis is an incomplete measure. In this case it lasts only half of a beat. To keep the piece balanced, the last measure will be only three and a half beats long. Think of it as taking a half of a beat from the last measure and tagging it in front of the first measure.

The slur is played in various ways. On wind instruments, it is played by not tonguing between the notes. On stringed instruments, the bowing direction is not reversed between the notes. On the piano, the first note is held to slightly overlap the second note. All of these techniques have the effect of making a smooth transition between the notes. The opposite would be a sharp staccato.

The rest is a half rest with two dots, as you see. The first dot tells you to add half of the length of the rest to the rest.The second dot tells you to add half of the half to the rest (a quarter). So, a double-dotted rest lasts 75% longer than its respective rest.

With the rest being 3 and 1/2 beats long and there being four beats in a measure (in this piece), there is 1/2 of a beat left over. Because a beat in this piece is a crotchet, half of a beat would be a quaver and that is where you get the quaver F#.

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I'm sorry I meant right –  Reuben Renquist Sep 16 '13 at 1:58
    
@AmericanLuke: To retain the good quality of your answer, I suggest you edit to reflect the changes in the question. It seems that it has become stable now... ;-) –  awe Sep 17 '13 at 6:46
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@AmericanLuke-"The anacrucis...etc"great answer, but I bet in this piece, someone's forgotten in the last bar. –  Tim Sep 17 '13 at 13:57
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Good answer, though one omission and one error (sorry it sounds rude). The D is not necessarily the central note, as two sharps means D major or b minor. Now the error: on a piano, legato has nothing to do with pressing gently and softening the attack. Every now and then it reads ff at the beginning of a giant slur, and Beethoven (for example) has the habit of placing sfs under slurs. On a piano one should release the first note shortly after one starts the second. This is often taught later on because it leads to 'gluey' play if not played well. –  11684 Dec 7 '13 at 9:36
    
You are correct about the b minor. Piano is not my forte (no pun intended :P), though. –  American Luke Dec 7 '13 at 13:39
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To elaborate a bit on the key signature (since you asked)...if there were only two # (sharp) signs, the music would be in the key of D, with an F-sharp and a C-sharp to be played throughout the music.
There can be up to 7 sharps (or flats, which look like a flattened, lower-case 'b') in the key signature, and they always appear in the same order: sharps are FCGDAEB. Flats appear in the reverse order: BEADGCF. The symbols are always on the lines or spaces of the notes they identify as sharp or flat. Maybe you already learned the staff lines and spaces? Treble clef lines are EGBDF (Every Good Boy Does Fine), with FACE in the spaces. Bass clef lines are GBDFA (Good Boys Do Fine Always), and ACEG (All Cows Eat Grass) in the spaces. Before you try to start playing, be sure you understand all the music basics. There are lots of great music theory books available (check your local instrument retailer or go online) that will help you teach yourself. Try one in the Hal Leonard series. They are pretty self-explanatory. Good luck.

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This seems to be a team effort, so here's the answer to your questions 3, 4, and 5:

That previous note I was taking about that line, does it mean I hold it down until I get those F A notes and kind of switch

The line that extends across each series of notes is called a slur. It indicates that those notes form a phrase, and should be played so that they are connected together. You do not need to sustain every note you play until the end of the slur; it simply indicates a melodic line.

This is different from a tie, which connects two or more of the same note written in series, simply by extending the rhythmic duration. This is being done to connect the chord on beat 4 of bar 1 so that its duration extends through bar 2.

(Note that my bar numbers are counting from the first full bar. The eighth-note (or half-beat) pickup note at the very beginning is called the "pickup to bar 1").

What the deal with that rest note with the 2 dots on top of those 2 notes how does that effect them?

The double-dotted half rest (which has a duration of three and a half beats) at the top of bar 2 is kind of a weird editorial decision, but it indicates a second voice, so that the rhythmic durations in that bar do not collide. It does not affect the F#-A chord. If there was no rest there, then the whole-note chord would have to be an eighth-note shorter to make room for the F# eighth-note pickup to bar 3. The way it's written, that bar has a bottom voice that plays the F#-A chord for four beats, and a top voice that rests until playing in the last eighth-note in the bar. Do note, however, that some editors would have considered that to be obvious, and left out the double-dotted half rest.

On the end there is a whole note yet there's a half (correct me if I'm wrong cause wiki says its a eighth note but it seems to not sound right) why is that there?

We kind of just answered this with the last question, but it bears repeating that the names of note durations (half, quarter, eighth) are relative to a 4/4 bar (the C at the beginning of the piece is shorthand for 4/4 time). It's a bit counter-intuitive when you get into other time signatures, but that's just the way it is. A note with one flag on the stem lasts for half a beat, but it is called an eighth-note, because it takes up one-eighth of the duration of a bar of 4/4 time. So, assuming we're still talking about bar 2 or 4, the double-dotted half rest above the whole note indicates that there is a second voice above the whole note, thus none of the rhythm of that voice will conflict with the whole-note chord below it.

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I agree with your synopsis of the rest - but with the phrase including the quaver, I'd say it's not written well. Maybe the notes for the 'melody' should have tails pointing up ? However, it could have been written in a better way. –  Tim Sep 17 '13 at 7:16
    
@Tim It's definitely not the best engraving. There are layout collisions with slurs EVERYWHERE, too. –  NReilingh Sep 17 '13 at 17:20
    
Later in the song, the vocalist sings the same tune as the intro. It would be impossible to sing it as written - you can't rest and sing simultaneously ! –  Tim Sep 21 '13 at 4:03
    
Well yeah, but that's because you can't sing two notes at the same time to begin with. (Unless you're Bobby McFerrin.) –  NReilingh Sep 21 '13 at 4:10
    
I disagree with the relativity to the 4/4 signature. I was told it has a historical basis: in early music, most pieces had an x/1 signature. Over time (we are talking centuries here) it became x/4, but the names of the notes didn't evolve along. –  11684 Dec 7 '13 at 9:41
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Bunch o'questions > bunch o' answers !

1..The 2 hash signs refer to 2 notes which will remain a semitone higher than normal for this piece. Imagine an F note (on piano) as the white one to the left of 3 blacks - this F gets sharpened and is now played as the left one of the 3 blacks.

2.That 1st F (now an F# !!) is the last 1/2 beat of a bar that should be shown, to make it clear, but isn't. 1st and last bars often do this. Count 1,2,3,4and, and this note gets played on the 'and' bit. 3. That line is a phrase line - if you were to sing the tune, you would not take a breath till you got to the end of that curved line - it's somewhat like a comma in writing.

4.That rest with dots is unnecessary. It's supposed to mean do nothing till you play the next note (another F# !!), but since there are other things going on, and the music isn't split into SATB, it's a waste.

5.Don't understand this question. Now I'm off for a lie-down.

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About 4: It's not a waste. As @NReilingh say in his answer, it indicates an overlap where the the two whole notes should last fully out the entire measure, and the eight note will overlap with the very last duration of the whole notes. This is notated as a separate voice ,which means that the first part of the measure, the voice that belongs to the eight note needs a double-dottet half rest to fill the first part of the measure. –  awe Sep 17 '13 at 6:28
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  1. The 2 hash signs at the beginning of each line is the key signature, and is dictating that these will sharp (raise by a half step) all notes on those lines (F and C raised to F# and C#).

  2. The eighth note at the beginning is a note that is just applied before the first measure as a pre-addition (prelude) before the first measure starts. This could be written by a double-dotted half pause first to give a full measure, but how you see here is more common when it's just a sort of quick prelude into the first full measure.
    If you look at the very last measure of the entire piece, you will probably see that the last measure is missing one eighth in it, which is just a technicality required to have everything sum up to a set of full 4/4 measures.

  3. As indicated in previous point, the first note has duration only one eighth, but the bow above means that all the notes under the bow will hang together (not separating them with a noticeable attack). You see that there is an extra bow on the last quarter note in the measure that ties over to the whole note in the next measure, which means that this is basically the same note that should be played as one without separation.

  4. The double-dotted half measure is to fill the void before the eight note preluding the next measure. This is to not conflict with the whole notes below on the same line in that measure. This way of doing it normally indicates a separate voice, but is here done to indicate that the eight should be played before the two whole notes end because they should last throughout the entire measure.
    To explain the dots: Without the dots, the pause would be half a measure (2 beats). Each dot say that the duration should be added by half the length of the previous noted. This means that the first dot will add the duration of half of the half pause (which is a quarter). Now the total is 3 beats. The additional dot means also add half of the quarter, which is an eighth. The result would then be a duration of 3.5 beats. The last 0.5 beat is the eighth note at the end to add up to the full 4 beats in the measure.
    Another way of saying this is: (a mathematical approach)
    The pause is 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 = 7/8
    The eighth note is 1/8. Then it is easy to see that a pause of 7/8 plus a note of 1/8 adds up to 8/8, which is one whole.

  5. I'm not sure what you mean by "the last" here. The last on line is an eighth note preluding the first measure on next line. Really the same as the eight note preluding the 3rd measure.

Note: With all the explanations in mind, you will see that the first 2 measures are basically equal to the next 2 measures.

Additionally, you should rely on wiki when it says "eighth". The basic for naming of the length of a note is that a measure is 4/4.

  • A whole note is 4 beats (duration of the whole measure).
  • A half note is 2 beats (duration of half the measure).
  • A quarter note is 1 beat (duration of one quarter of the measure).
  • An eighth note is 1/2 of a beat (duration of one eighth of the measure).
  • A sixteenth note is 1/4 of a beat (duration of one sixteenth of the measure).

So the naming is reference to the length of a measure, not the length of a beat. The length references are always based on 4/4 measure, even if the actual time signature is something different.

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