I am reading an introduction of music theory recently. From the first few chapters I learn the fundamental idea about notes, time signatures, music staff, treble & bass clef, interval and scale. But it is still quite confusing when I try to read the music sheet regarding major and relative minor. Let me break my question in pieces

The book states that the music stave is created with notes (pitches) arranged in major scale. The treble clef tells where the G note should be. Each line and space on the staff is then label each note on major scale one by one. Here is what I get from the book to identify the arrangment of notes for G major enter image description here

The G clef locates the G note and according to major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C), I have each note landed as above. My first question is: is it sufficient to identify the above pattern to be a G major?

This question is not bothering me until I finish the chapter about the Circle of Fifths. With the help of the Circle, we could figure out how many sharp should be added to make a certain major key. To make a G major, we should add 1 sharp (i.e. F#) as the key signature as below (I copy that from the book)

enter image description here

If this is correct, I wonder what is the difference between the first and the second staff except for the key signature. The whole chapter of the Circle of Fifths tells that each stop on the circle counted from the top one (C note), and thus if I need a G major, shall I layout the notes on the staff with the key signature as below?

enter image description here

I add more detail on the question. I copy the following stave from the book enter image description here

which is claimed as a F# minor (i.e. A major relative minor). I saw that there is a common # on the F line so the very last F will be sharped but the very first F is still a F (not F#), so in what sense should we call this F# minor instead of F minor. Thanks.

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    Your last sentence is wrong. Accidentals in the key signature (as opposed to single ones occurring elsewhere, see here) apply to all octaves. – guidot Sep 16 '19 at 16:00

Firstly, the top stave is misleading. If it states that that is the G major scale, it's wrong. The scale goes from G to higher G, but they didn't include the fact that G major always has an F♯ note, not an F.

That fact can be shown in two ways. By putting the sharp sign (♯) on the F line at the top of the stave, at the beginning of each line, or by putting the same sign just before the F note. Note - the latter will only affect an F note in that bar, on that particular line, whereas at the beginning (called the key signature), it affects every F note in the piece.

This is where books and websites fall down - you can't ask questions, and sometimes there's erroneous information. That's where teachers come in handy.

So the second example is fine.The last example is confusing. There's an F♯ at the beginning, therefore it's the key sig., but the scale notes go C to C. C major has no sharps or flats in the key sig., so really what's written isn't the G major scale. it's not C major either. In fact, but don't worry about it, it's C Lydian...but that's for another day!

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  • I really appreaciate your answer. The statement "by putting the sharp sign (#) on the F line ... " clear my doubt like a click, I got some idea now. Thanks Tim. – user1285419 Sep 16 '19 at 15:45
  • Thanks, but give it some time. There may well be a better answer - there's good folk on this site! – Tim Sep 16 '19 at 15:50
  • Thanks a lot. I am just beginning, I don't have any background of music theory though I play guitar (I don't really try to understand the theory behind). I wonder if you would take a look on anohter of my question (just added to the thread). Thanks. – user1285419 Sep 16 '19 at 15:52
  • Read my 2nd para. I hinted at this there. 'The sharp on the top line at the beginning of the line) affects every F in the piece'. A bit strange, but otherwise there could be ####### everywhere! – Tim Sep 16 '19 at 16:05
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    Yes, it's sort of shorthand for 'we're in G/Em, so every F we play needs to be F#'. Although with piano music, there needs to be a # sign on the bass clef too. – Tim Sep 16 '19 at 16:24

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