BRAND NEW to Music... What is that letter symbol above the notes?

by Mike

I am BRAND NEW to music so I have some questions on the very basics. On your beginner sheet of Canon in D, there are letters above the ledger. What are these for?

Thanks for the help in advance. This site has been amazing for my family so far!!


Hello, Mike,

That is a very good question. Those letter symbols stand for the appropriate chords to accompany the melody note below. They are what's called "harmony" - guitar players, for example, do a lot of chord backup for singers.

Here is a VERY BASIC way to make a chord: find the key that is named, for example a C, then hold it down and add the note a skip higher, E. Now you have C & E. Now, add one more key - another skip higher, G. Press them all together, and you have C, E, & G. That is a C chord.

This is a very rudimentary way to describe how to make a chord... they won't all be white keys. But in the version of Canon to which I believe you are referring, the chords are C, G, Am (that stands for "minor", a different-sounding kind of chord), Em, and F. All of these chords are made with white keys only, no black keys, so it is a fairly easy way to approach this piece of music.

Good luck!


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