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Simply Natural
"Simply Natural" is an exercise that is played on the white keys on a musical
keyboard or piano. Notice how there are two different sounds. That is because,
the sometimes we are using a tonal center of C. Other times we are using a
tonal center of A. When the tonal center is C, we are playing in the key of C
major. When the tonal center is A, we are playing in the key of A minor. The
amazing thing is that the same notes give you an entirely different sound
depending on where the focus is. Can you hear the difference? Study this
lesson to learn why. I will also show you how to play this exercise on your piano
or keyboard. This example will play once. Click on the player below to activate it
and then click on the play button of the player below to hear it again.
Using The Lessons
Natural Notes
A melody is a series of musical tones or notes. How many musical notes or tones do we
have to construct melodies. There are just seven natural notes or tones. They are
named after the first seven letters of the alphabet (a, b, c, d, e, f, g). They are the white
keys on a musical keyboard or piano. You probably noticed there are a lot more than
seven white keys on a musical keyboard or  piano. This is where the term
octave comes
in. That is because after g you start all over again with a. It will sound higher in pitch but
it is the same note. When you count up or down from any natural note to the same note
of either a higher or a lower pitch, it is called an octave.. Octave is Latin for eight. The
keyboard picture below spans four octaves of c.
keyboard labled with natural notes, four octaves of the C scale
Major Scales
Let's put our focus on the note c. It's easy to find a c anywhere on a musical key board.
On our keyboard picture see how the black keys form a pattern of two and three. Any
white key just to the left of two black keys is a c. The c in the middle of our keyboard as
we end the second octave and start the third octave is middle c. On most electronic
keyboards, you usually have one more octave on the high end. On a five octave
keyboard, middle c would be a few notes to the left of center. Since it's middle c it will
always be near the middle of the keyboard but it's the  pitch of the note that makes it
middle c not it's physical location. Why are we focusing on c. If you play from c to c any
where on the keyboard, using only white keys, will hear the familiar do,re, me , fa, so, la,
ti, do melody of a major scale. You are playing a major scale in the key of C. The major
scale is not the only scale used in music, but it is the most important as more songs are
based on it than on any other type of scale. The other major scales, which we will look at
later, use from one to five black keys. They will all have the melody of the major scale
even though they all have different notes. This is because of one of the most important
things you will ever learn about music.
Sounds in music depend on the spaces
between tones not the tones themselves.
This is Musics Great Secret. You will
understand this better as we explain more in future lessons.  But the key of C major is
the only major scale that is all white keys and so all natural  tones.
Minor Scales
Now, What if we shift our focus to a play from a to a instead of c to c. The sound is
different and not as familiar. It's kind of a sadder sound. We are now playing one form of
the A minor scale, A minor natural. The two other forms use black keys. We will study
them later. The minor scale is not used as much today as the major scale but many
musicians down through the ages have composed using it. We will need one form of it
when we get to blues and rock. A minor is the relative minor of C major. All relative
minors of major scales start on sixth note of the major scale. As you can see a is the sixth
note of the C major scale. This scale exercise uses the same fingering that we used for
the C major scale exercise so I won't give you fingering details. The keyboard pictures
below should be all that you need. Just start with your thumb on an a keyboard key
instead of a c keyboard key and play with the same fingering. In this case to sound
exactly like the sound sample start on the a below middle c. Looking at the keyboard
picture below, you can see that the keyboard key a is between the last two of the three
black keys. After a few transition notes this exercise is the same as the second part of
our "Simply Natural" exercise at the top of the page. Listen to the sound sample and
practice until you sound exactly like it.
Other Scales And Modes
You can play a series of natural notes using any of the natural tones as a tonal center.
You have already played two. When you do this you are playing in different modes.
When you use c as the tonal center, you are playing in the Ionian mode. When you use a
as the tonal center you are playing in the Aeolian mode. The other all natural note scales
based on the other natural notes give you examples of the other modes. C major and A
minor are the only modes that also have the official status of keys.  Modes are very
useful in creating and improvising music. The mode with a tonal center of f is Lydian and
the mode with a tonal center of g is Mixolydian. These are with the ionian considered
major modes. The minor modes are the Dorian based on d, the Phrygian based on e, the
Aeolian based on a and the Locrian based on b. I won't give you sound samples but you
can play them all. Just start with your thumb on the keyboard key that matches the letter
name of the key that is the tonal center of the mode and play with the same fingering that
you have been using in this lesson so far.
©2004 - 2008
Natural Music Tones
People that come to these pages through search engines enter on different pages. I
would recommend that to get the full benefit of these free music lessons, you visit every
page at least once. This is a totally new approach to learning music. The focus is on
"
How Music Works". That page that you miss could be the one that contains the key
information, that you need. These pages are full of music tips and music info that you
probably won't find anywhere else.
Guitar Natural Tones
I've shown you how to find natural tones on a piano or keyboard. It's easy. Just play the
white keys. On the guitar you have to learn where the natural tones are. The guitar
picture below shows the guitar turned to face you. The fret diagram below gives you the
location of the natural notes in first position in standard tuning. The white horizontal
rectangle represents the nut, the horizontal lines the frets and the vertical lines the
strings. The notes above the nut are the tuning of the open strings for standard tuning.
The fretted natural notes are shown in first position for standard tuning. The note on the
fifth fret of each string, except for the g string , is the same as the next open string. For
the g string it's the fourth fret. After that the notes on each string are duplicates of the
notes on the higher strings. If you use a non standard tuning the location of all the notes
changes. On every string instrument, fretted or not fretted the location of the notes
depends on the tuning. You will learn how to figure this out in, free music lesson 4,  the
lesson on Sharps And Flats  . Remember,
Sounds in music depend on the spaces
between tones not the tones themselves.
Go to Musics Great Secret for more detail
about this important music fact. Understanding how notes are spaced helps you to play
any fretted instrument in any tuning. For more on playing the guitar and how it works, go
to the free guitar lesson 1 , "
Guitar Basics". Click on the link here or in the navigation
bar. To return here click on "Natural Music tones" in the navigation bar on the "Guitar
Basics" page. "Guitar Basics" will teach you how to hold a pick and tune your guitar. It will
also show you how to where all the natural notes are on the guitar in standard tuning and
give you exercises to learn to play these notes in first position.
guitar fret diagram with natural notes labled
classical guitar with parts labled in fret diagram orientation
All the notes
In the next free music lesson "Sharps And Flats. We will learn about the rest of the notes
or tones that we have to work with in music. There are only five more. You will find that
the same tone can have two names. It can be called a sharp or a flat depending on how
it is used. You will find out where to find these notes on piano, keyboard or guitar. You
will find out about other major keys and more.
keyboard notes and fingering for one octave of the C scale
fingering for playing the beginning of the C scale
Playing C Major
Now we are going to learn how to play C major like the sound sample below. This is also
the same as the first part of the "Simply Natural" exercise at the top of the page. You will
be using the fingering that you learn here to play many scales and modes. You can start
on any c but to be in the same pitch as the sound sample you need to start on middle c.
First we are going to play one octave up and down our C major scale from c to c. The
keyboard below shows you the fingering. Starting with the thumb of the right hand on c,
play 1, 2, 3. As you play 3, you can start crossing your thumb under the fingers to play f.
Then play from f, with the thumb and fingers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. That completes the first two
measures as you play all the notes on the quarter beat or one tap of your foot up the C
scale. Then you play back down the C scale, fingers 5, 4, 3, 2 and your thumb 1on f.
Now you cross finger 3 over your thumb to e and finish 3, 2, 1. You can see the fingering
on the first keyboard below. Next we are going to play the first five notes of the C major
scale up and down. Since we are not going any higher, we don't have to cross over. We
can play these notes with fingers 1 through 5. We do however use a crossover at the
end. We want to play the note b below c to give a good ending sound to our run. In this
case we play b by crossing the 2nd finger over the thumb. In this case we use the cross
over to avoid changing position. We finish with our thumb still in position playing c. We let
the c ring out for six beats at the end. The second keyboard shows this fingering. Listen
to the sound sample and practice until you sound exactly like it.
keyboard notes and fingering for beginning of the Am scale
How Music Works
fingers of the left and right hand numbered for keyboard playing
On the right, we have the fingers of
the left and right hand numbered for
keyboard playing  The thumb is
considered finger 1. From there we
number 1 through 5, thumb to pinkie.
Piano Keyboard Technique
A piano keyboard is linear. Often you have to play up and down the keyboard. This is
especially true in playing musical scales and runs. You could just jump your hand to the
new position and next note, but there is a better way. I call it the cross over. When you
are playing up the keyboard with your right hand or down the keyboard with your left
hand, you cross your thumb under your fingers, so that as a finger is playing one note
the thumb is already reaching for the next note. Conversely, as you are playing down the
keyboard with your right hand and up the keyboard with your left hand, you cross your
fingers over your thumb, so that as your thumb is playing one note a finger is reaching
for the next note. Which finger the thumb crosses under on, or which finger reaches for
the next note over the thumb depends on the what you are playing. You will see this as
we apply this technique to different pieces of music.
click on the player to activate
click on the player to activate
Playing Simply Natural
The first part of "Simply Natural is almost exactly like the playing C major part above. We
play all quarter notes, one to a beat, till the 7th bar or measure. In the 7th measure the
last c is held for a half note or two beats. The only difference comes in the eight bar or
measure. Instead of sustaining c in the eight measure, we use it to transition to A minor
natural. Our goal is to have our thumb end up on a. Playing all quarter notes, cross the
2nd finger over the thumb to play b below c. Then the thumb plays a below c. Finally the
2nd finger crosses over the thumb to play g below c, so that we can leave the thumb on
a. Now we are in our A minor position and we play as shown above for the A minor
exercise. The fingering is exactly the same as when we played C major. Now after holding
a for two beats in the 15th bar or measure, we need to transition back to C Major. Our
goal of course is to have our thumb back on c. For the transition bar or measure, play a
and b with the thumb and 2nd finger and then bring the thumb under to play c. Finally
swing the 2nd finger over the thumb to play b below c so the thumb can stay over c. Now
you are in position to play the C major exercise again. In the 24th bar or measure, you
use the C major to A minor transition again but this time you only play the last part of the
A minor exercise, the five finger part. In bar or measure 28 use the A minor to C major
transition to get back to C major. This time only play the last part of the C major exercise,
the five finger part. At the end hold out the c note for six counts. this is a half note in bar
or measure 31 tied to a four beat whole note in the final bar or measure 32 of the
exercise. I've placed the midi sample of "Simply Natural" below so that you can listen to it
and see if you can play it.
click on the player to activate
The first five free music lessons in this series of free music lessons teaches you how
music works. "
Natural Music Tones" is the third free music lessons in this series. It along
with "
Music Is Easy", "Schools Of Music", "Sharps and Flats" and "Musics Great Secret"
should be studied as a group. These first five free music lessons reveal musics great
secret that is the key to understanding music. I use the piano keyboard with many
exercises that you can play to help you learn these vital music principles. You will not
need to know how to read music for these lessons. You will learn scales and chords in
different keys. You learn to play songs in different keys. Once you understand how music
works , you will find that playing a song in different keys is not many things. It is basically
one thing. Understanding music greatly simplifies music. Use the links here or in the
navigation bars to the left to go to the other lessons. There will be links to get back here.
keyboard notes and fingering for one octave of the Am scale
On the keyboard below, I show the fingering  for playing four octaves of the C scale.
Actually you can play as many octaves as your keyboard has. You start the same as
when you are only playing one octave. As you go up the scale, when finger 4 reaches ti
or b you swing your finger 1, your thumb, under to do or c to start all over again. When
you don't want to go up any more octaves, play the final do or c with finger 5. Then start
descending, just like when you are playing one octave. When your thumb reaches the
next do down or c swing finger 4 over to ti or b to continue on down. When your thumb
gets to the lowest c you want to play just stop. You could even start back up again if you
wish. With this fingering you can play up and down the scale all day long. Listen to four
octaves of C on the player below. You can also play A minor natural or any other key of
C mode in the same way. Just start with your thumb on the note that starts the mode and
play the same fingering described above. Below the keyboard i have a midi for four
octaves of the C scale.
Playing Up And Down The Keyboard
keyboard notes and fingering for playing four octaves of the C scale
click on the player to activate
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