How to Make a Piano Sheet

A piano sheet provides shorthand for performers who need to improvise chords. You can take any melody and add chord symbols to the top of the staff to indicate which chords should be played. Piano sheets typically only have one staff written in the treble clef. If the melody needs to play in the bass, then the lead sheet may use the bass clef. The chord symbols are presented based on the composer's goal for the music. Most composers place chord symbols only on strong beats such as the first and third. Others may occasionally use weak beats.

Step 1 Place the treble clef at the beginning of the staff to indicate pitch. Write a treble clef on the first line of the staff paper. To do this, start a spot on the G-line, then trace a circle moving up toward the B-line and curving to the right before touching the B-line. Continue in an arch through the G-line and then curve upward again on the E-line. Draw a diagonal line up through the B- and D-lines. Turn around and loop over the line you just drew, extending the line straight down and creating a loop leaning to the left under the staff.

Step 2 Write out the melody on the staff. Remember that the notes are E through F, moving from line to space and starting with the lowest line. When you reach G in the alphabet, you start over at A.

Step 3 Determine the key by looking at the flats or sharps in the melody. Write the flats or sharps in the key signature. Remember that sharps move from top to bottom and follow the pitches: F, C, G, D, A, E and B. Flats are B, D, E, A, G, C and F. Use the circle of fifths to determine what key you are in by matching the accidentals with the chart.

Step 4 Look at the notes in the melody to determine what chords will fit in the piece. If the first note of the melody fits a chord built on the first scale degree, write a capital letter to indicate that a major chord will be played. For instance, in C major, if the first note of the melody has a C, E or G, then write a capital C above the staff to indicate that a C major chord will be played.

Step 5 Jump to the next measure and see if the first note of the melody will fit a chord built on the fourth or fifth scale degree. If so, write the first letter of the chord above the staff. If these chords do not fit, use the second, third or sixth scale degree. When using the second, third of sixth scale degree, you must use a lower-case pitch to indicate that the chord is minor. You could also write out "min" to indicate minor. For instance, with the second scale degree in C, write dmin, since the second scale degree of a C major scale starts on D.

Step 6 Continue to write in chords for the rest of the piece. A chord starting on the fourth or fifth scale degree should always appear in the penultimate measure before a melody ends. The final chord should always be the first scale degree.

You will need a basic understanding of music theory to create and understand chord symbols. Study a music theory text to learn what all of the chord symbols mean and how to apply them in your music.


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