Grade 5 Theory: Section 3

Section 3: Question 4

You can find the practice paper I am going through here. We are looking at paper A.

Grade 5 Music Theory Practice Papers.pdf

I'll be referring to the keyboard a lot, so here is one!

Question 4


  • Performance directions
  • Enharmonics
  • Key signatures
  • The notes of a minor scale
  • Tenor clef
  • Triplets
  • Instrument families
  • definite vs indefinite pitch


To answer a question like this you will need to know all (or as many as possible) of the performance directions listed in the Grades 1-5 syllabus. You can find a list of them on Quizlet here. Often you have to find a word which means the same in another language.


An enharmonic is a note which would played on the same key but has a different name, e.g. F# =Gb, C= B#, E=Fb.

Write the note out carefully, being sure to follow the instructions as to what note length is required, and your accidental is drawn beautifully in the correct place.

What is the enharmonic of D?

C double sharp or E double flat

Q 4bii


First, you need to know what the key signature is for the key in question. You can work out key signatures for minor keys in one of two ways:

Option 1: learn them off by heart (not my favourite option)

Option 2: relate them back to the relative major

    • You can work out the relative major by remembering the relationship between major and minor keys
    • If you are in a MAJOR key, the relative minor will be chord vi therefore take the Tonic/chord I and count 6 including the tonic to get you to the name of the relative minor.
      • E.g. Take C...count 6 including C, you get A, so A minor is the relative minor of C major.
        • G major, count 6 = E minor
        • F major, count 6 = D minor
    • If you are in a MINOR key, the relative major will be chord III therefore take the Tonic/chord i and count 3 including the tonic to get you to the name of the relative major.
      • E.g. Take A, count 6 including A and you get C, so C major is the relative major or A minor
        • Eb minor, count 3 = Gb minor
        • C minor, count 3 = Eb major


What is the relative major of F minor?

Ab major


Now we know the key signature we can work out if the notes are in that scale. We need to be mindful of the extra notes a minor scale can include.

    • natural minor - no accidentals
    • harmonic minor - #7th
    • melodic minor - #6th and #7th ascending, no accidentals descending

Check the bar carefully that all the notes belong.


Tenor Clef is sometimes known as the D clef, because Middle C is placed on what we know as the D line from the Treble Clef. For this question you will need to work out where the notes of bar 3 are in relation to middle C and then plot them on the stave using the Tenor clef.

You need to do the same with the key signature and include the time signature.

In this picture you can see how the same key signature is written on 4 different clefs due to placing of middle C.

Why are there 4 clefs and why is middle C in a different place each time?

The idea is to keep as many of the most common notes of an instrument on the stave as possible - avoiding ledger lines. These clefs are used by different instruments depending on their range or tessitura.

For example in the string family:

  • Violins - high pitched. They can only play down to G below middle C, so they use treble clef
  • Violas - these are lower pitched that the violin and do not play as high. To keep more of their notes on the centre of the stave they use Alto clef
  • Cello - the cello has a wide range of pitches it can play, though mostly in the lower range. CEllo players have to swap between using treble and bass clef!
  • Double Bass - These huge instuments use the Bass clef but their instrument sounds a whole octave lower than the note written! They use bass clef.


Triplets last for the same amount of time as TWO conventional notes so:

  • Minim triplet = two minims
  • crotchet triplet = two crotchet
  • quaver triplet = two quavers


Look carefully at the key signature...what major key uses that key signature?



There is usually a question about instruments and which family they belong to. Hopefully you know these, but in case not, you can find it here under the Instrument header.

The second part is a performance direction.


Definite pitch - Tuned percussion - a specific pitch can be played. Instruments with definite pitch would use a five line stave for their notation.

Indefinite pitch - Untuned percussion - a specific pitch cannot be played. Instruments with indefinite pitch use a single line stave.

Finished? Want the answers? Want more explanation?

Watch this video.