Monkey

Quiz Monkey
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Arts & Entertainment
Music
Theory

On this page:

Notes
Key Signatures
Voices
Terminology
Tempo Markings

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Theory of Music

Notes (etc.)

The five lines on which music is written Click to show or hide the answer
Semitones in an octave Click to show or hide the answer
Half a crotchet Click to show or hide the answer
Two crotchets Click to show or hide the answer
Four crotchets Click to show or hide the answer
Eight crotchets Click to show or hide the answer
Known in France as a double–croche Click to show or hide the answer
Semi–quavers in a breve Click to show or hide the answer
A dot beside a note Click to show or hide the answer
Notes with no flats Click to show or hide the answer
Notes with no sharps Click to show or hide the answer
Notes with both a sharp and a flat Click to show or hide the answer

If I'm interpreting Wikipedia correctly, there are three basic, historical forms of musical composition:

For voices with instrumental accompaniment: literally meaning 'sung' – the feminine singular past participle of the Italian verb meaning 'to sing' Click to show or hide the answer
Originally a piece for one or more solo instruments, often with continuo; later came to mean a piece performed by a solo instrument, most often a keyboard instrument, or by a solo instrument accompanied by a keyboard instrument; from the Latin and Italian words meaning 'to sound' Click to show or hide the answer
The alternative style to a sonata: built on a subject (theme) that is introduced at the beginning, repeated at different pitches, and recurs frequently Click to show or hide the answer

Movements in a sonata or concerto (typically) Click to show or hide the answer
Movements in a string quartet or symphony (typically) Click to show or hide the answer

Key Signatures

I like to think I'm quite musical, but I never studied music theory to any great depth. Consequently I have always been floored by questions such as "How many sharps are there in the key of D major?"

(You may be relieved to hear that this is very much a University Challenge or "league" standard question – I've never heard such a question asked in a normal pub quiz.)

I believe there are two alternative approaches to such questions. You can either learn the 32 different answers, or you can learn how to work out the answer in each case. (OK, there is a third alternative: you can just not bother. But that is of course not an option that this website would consider.)

The table below is designed to help you with the first approach. I have a method for the second; click here if you'd like to have a look at it. I warn you, it's a bit complicated ...

  Keys with sharps Keys with flats
Major key Minor keySharpsMajor key Minor keyFlats
0 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer (None) Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer (None)
1 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
2 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
3 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
4 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
5 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
6 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
7 Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

The final thing to say on this topic is that there's just a chance you might get asked (for example) what are the two flat notes in the key of B major.

In order to work out the answers to questions of this sort, I'm indebted to Wikipedia – which credits Schonbrun, Marc (2005): The Everything Music Theory Book, p.68. ISBN 1–59337–652–9 – for the following mnemonic:

Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle

You may notice, if you look at the table above, that this tells us the order in which the sharps appear; in other words, if a key has one sharp, that sharp is F; if it has two sharps, they're F and C, and so on.

We make further use of this mnemonic on the more specialised Key Signatures page.

For the scales that start on a flat note (such as B major, which is the one in our example above), we need to reverse the words in the acronym (and make one minor adjustment so that it makes sense):

Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles's Father

This tells us that the first flat to be used (in F major or D minor) is B; in the keys that have two flats, B is joined by E.

So the two flats in the key of B major are B and E.

Simples!

Voices

Female voices (in descending order):

Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

Male voices (immature – descending order):

Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

Male voices (mature – descending order):

Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

Terminology

Term for singing (by a soloist or group) without instrumental accompaniment – Italian for "in the style of the church (or chapel)" Click to show or hide the answer
Notes of a chord, played one after the other, not simultaneously; means "as if played on a harp" Click to show or hide the answer
Proportionate increase of the note values of a theme Click to show or hide the answer
Italian term, meaning "beautiful singing", used in opera for a style of singing characterised by beauty of tone rather than dramatic power Click to show or hide the answer
A passage that brings a movement or piece to a conclusion Click to show or hide the answer
4/4 time Click to show or hide the answer
International standard pitch – A above Middle C has 440 Hz Click to show or hide the answer
Getting louder Click to show or hide the answer
Getting softer (opposite of a crescendo) Click to show or hide the answer
Proportionate decrease of the note values of a theme Click to show or hide the answer
Sliding up and down a scale Click to show or hide the answer
Playing a stringed instrument by plucking rather than bowing Click to show or hide the answer
Played with notes detached from one another Click to show or hide the answer

Tempo Markings

Some of these terms are easily confused: specfically, there are at least four terms that basically mean "slowly" and at least three that mean "fast". For this reason, I think they're best asked this way round:

Adagio Click to show or hide the answer
Allegro Click to show or hide the answer
Andante Click to show or hide the answer
Con brio Click to show or hide the answer
Con sordina (plural con sordine) Click to show or hide the answer
Dolce Click to show or hide the answer
Forte (abbreviated to f), fortissimo (ff) Click to show or hide the answer
Largo Click to show or hide the answer
Legato Click to show or hide the answer
Lento Click to show or hide the answer
Piano (p), pianissimo (pp) Click to show or hide the answer
Presto Click to show or hide the answer
Rallentando Click to show or hide the answer
Scherzo (literal meaning, in Italian) Click to show or hide the answer
Tacet Click to show or hide the answer
Vivace Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017