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!
The eBook Music Theory is now available.
-Dan (your guitar guru)