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Piano Diary (3) Theory


During summer, I was traveling extensively.  From HK to Chicago, San Diego, LA, to Singapore, to Beijing, to Shanghai, to Boston, Minneapolis.  There wasn’t time to practice.

I used the time to read some music theory.  Basically, I think the following points need to be understood

  1. chords, how they are formed
  2. how chord inversion works
  3. key signatures, scales
  4. music notations, especially rhythm

I used to play guitar, so chords are not difficult to me, I found the chords in piano is much easier than in guitar. :-)

Chord inversion helps to reduce the hand movement, it can be very useful when you have to change the chord frequently.

An understanding of key signatures is useful, it is not that urgent to practice everyone of them, when there is a need, I can quickly start

There are some software packages to help people with the rhythm, I tried EarMaster, the exercise asks you to hit the space key on your computer keyboard to produce rhythms shown in the software.  It is useful, especially when you want to try a new song that you never heard.

To learn key signatures, a map called “the Circle of Fifth” is extremely useful:


So starting from C, moving clockwise, each new key is the 5th of the old key, each adds a new sharp (#).  So when we reach F#, we have 6 sharps.  This happens to be the same as Gb, which has 6 flats.

The small a below C means that a-minor uses the same key signature as C-major.

This would have been so difficult for kids, but for adults, this is not that hard to understand.

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