Sheet music is based on the Major Scale!
Thousands of years later we ended up with the major scale and it is from here that sheet music enters.
Sheet music itself is based on these 7 notes, it would be impossible to read without knowing it.
The 7 notes we today call Ionian, or “the major scale”, ended up having these intervals:
1 = Root
2 = a tone a way from Root
3 = a major third away from Root
4 = a fourth away from Root
5 = a 5th away form Root
6 = a natural 6th away from Root
7 = a maj7th away from Root, or seen from octave, a semi tone below Root.
The major scale in Sheet Music
This means that the five lines of the stave, without any sharps or flats have a semitone between the first gap (E-F), the middle line and the gap above (B-C) as well as the top gap and the top line (E-F again)
All other lines and gaps on the stave have a tone between them.
Can you see how without this fundamental knowledge of E-F, B-C being only a semitone apart, sheet music wouldn’t make any sense?
Without that piece of information, it would be easy to assume that the distance should be the same from a line to a gap throughout!
Why 5 lines?
You may now be asking yourselves; why 5 lines, that’s why there’s the strange difference, couldn’t this all have been done in a better way, with a different amount of lines on the stave?
Perhaps, but the reason there are only 5 lines on the stave is because of how notation started out, the choir leader would use his hand and 5 fingers to point out what note he wanted his choir members to sing!
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Dan (your guitar guru)