Composition & Improvisation: A Case Study: Part 2 of 24: What Does the Lead Sheet Tell Us?

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There’s a lot more to understanding and interpreting a Lead Sheet than just reading the notes in the melody. Let’s take a closer look…

Key Signature

Based on the key signature (no sharps or flats), the fact that we start and end on a C chord, that the melody notes emphasize the notes C, E, and G, that the melody ends on the note C, it is a pretty safe bet that we are in the key of C major.

piano-ology-composition-and-improvisation-case-study-02-lead-sheet-what-key-signature

Of course, we should play and sing out loud to see if our ears agree! It should sound and feel like the note C is resolved and stable.


Time Signature

The time signature is 4/4, indicating that an underlying feeling of four-ness should accompany each measure.

piano-ology-composition-and-improvisation-case-study-02-lead-sheet-what-time-signature


Form & Melody

The form is eight bars long, and the melody is broken into two almost identical 4-bar Phrases. The only difference between the two phrases is the last three notes (more on this in the next lesson)…

piano-ology-composition-and-improvisation-case-study-02-lead-sheet-what-form-melody


Form & Harmony

The C(I) chord establishes the home key and major-ness of the piece and the G7 (V7) chord provides harmonic tension that craves resolution back to the C chord.

piano-ology-composition-and-improvisation-case-study-02-lead-sheet-what-form-harmony

This pattern of tension and resolution is an essential element of most musics.

LEARN MORE… Composition & Improvisation: A Case Study: Part 3 of 24: Deep Melodic Analysis

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