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Modern Portfolio Theory

Modern Portfolio Theory


There are two explanations which preserve the integrity of earlier and more theoretical discussions of risk and return. First, as was explained in the last article, according to modern portfolio theory, the risk premium of an individual asset is not measured by its own variability considered in isolation but rather by the contribution which it makes to the variability or riskiness of a diversified portfolio to which it is added. An individual stock with very great variability would be expected to have a rate of return not much greater than that of bonds of high quality if the returns on the stock were not highly correlated with returns on the market as a whole and it therefore did not add much to the riskiness of a diversified portfolio. In fact, a common stock whose returns were not correlated at all with returns on the market would be expected to have returns equal to those on a riskless asset.

It is plausible to assert that stocks of the lowest quality or with the greatest historic variability have returns which are less highly correlated with the market than stocks of higher quality and less historic variability. The stocks of the highest quality are often stocks of very large and widely diversified corporations—stocks such as American Telephone, General Electric, General Foods, Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) and so on. These great corporations are often deemed to be “blue chips” or of “investment grade,” the implication being that they are of high quality and have rates of return which can be predicted with greater confidence than can those of stocks of lesser quality. Since each of these corporations is very large, and since the profitability of each depends upon levels of demand in almost all parts of the country and in many different industries, it is not surprising that rates of return on these stocks are highly correlated with movements in the general economy and in the market as a whole.

By contrast, stocks of the lowest quality or with the greatest variability are often stocks of relatively small and immature companies whose profitability depends to a greater degree upon things other than the great tides in the movement of the general economy and the general market. It is easy to think of exceptions, but the generalization seems valid. If that is so, the stocks of lowest quality and with greatest historic variability may well have returns that are not highly correlated with the market and which consequently do not contribute as much to the riskiness of diversified portfolios as might be surmised on the basis of their total variability. This explanation amounts to saying that historic variability does not determine the risk premium of an individual asset, and that the deficiency in the measure has important consequences for the stocks with the greatest variability.


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PPC Theory

PPC Advertising for greatest Web Promotion

Engaging in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has its own payback and drawbacks. You can view extra details here But what right is PPC advertising and what it can do to your custom?

Business today is liability different kinds of graveness trial when it comes to advertising their goods and amenities. This is because of high tariff of insertion ads on lettering and on television. But there is a busily upward accost that businessmen can develop to produce their amenities quicker to the people and that is through Internet Marketing.

One tool that is causing internet marketing popularity is PPC advertising. This is a practice worn in hunt engine marketing that requires one to pay a fee every time superstar clicks an ad on your website. regularly this position is done through a command treat. If you are a top bidder for your keywords/phrases, you are constant to be on the number one recognize on all hunt engines. Just be constant of the effectiveness of your ad item to get the most number of clicks you basic for your custom.

Here are the payback of PPC advertising are:

1.?You basic not be a genius in mainframe and technology to be able to run this ad crusade.
2.?Immediate fallout are seen after a few being.
3.?No basic to make a website conform to the SEO policy.
4.?Nothing to drop even if you do not top the pages of different hunt engines. You can still forever elect PPC advertising.
5.?You can make use any hunt engine existing.
6.?You can letters in any keyword you like.

Cons of PPC advertising includes:

1.?Fixed payments every month to the hunt engine you elect.
2.?Pay for apiece click normal by your website. At epoch, visitors are just competitors or people singing mischief on hunt engines. This hassle wastes money you put in to this advertising.
3.?Inability to pay for the fees following month would mean ejection of your website on the rewarded listings.
4.?This advertising can solely be worn temporarily because it is hard to market in the long run.
5.?Pay-per-click pricing can be costly for long periods of time, hence, this should be crashed after an ad crusade.

But how right PPC advertising can spread transfer, leads and sales?

PRE-QUALIFIED transfer. All visitors of your website are already considered as a practiced consumer or buyer of your invention. PPC advertising leads your customers to you for a slighter charge.

INSTANT EXPOSURE, close PROFITS. PPC hunt engines allow you to get your beloved fallout busily. They will have your website live inside just a few hours which means close spread in mart.

CONSISTENT TOP LISTINGS. This is to get your website on top of the sponsored hunt fallout for open. You just have to elect the keywords connected to your spot and custom and place them inside your web pages. After this, you are done.

PPC advertising enables advertisers to restrain their advertising campaigns. Advertisers have effectively embattled their listeners and set their own assess per click. PPC advertising networks offer the platform to isolate the beloved listeners by geographic locale, issue and pushiness.? These networks have a tilt of websites of the publishers wherein the ads will be located.

Tools are provided by the networks to stop how the pay per click reduce is operating for a certain advertiser. If its still competitive, would it be even planned amid the rewarded hunt lists or does it breed sales? Of course, if the advertiser made the chief bid, the better odds the ad will be seen in the hunt engine. These networks too offer protection for the advertisers onto click fraud. This advertising set-up allows advertisers to set a daily resources for his ads, thereby, fewer payments for unnecessary clicks. Advertiser will never go over his resources.?

In PPC advertising, what are important are the keywords and phrases. You have to choose at slightest ten “very specific” keywords that would give you the best transfer in the hunt. Then, write the ad creatively but straightforward. Tell the candor regarding your invention or overhaul and do not lie. Good thing if your invention or overhaul will not disappoint those that are relying on your ad’s insinuate – but what if it did otherwise? Important too is the clarity of the ad. Do not use very nebulous languages. contain important minutiae like the assess.

You should also recall to resources your bids. Do not go overbidding because you will solely drop your money and do not go so low that your ads will never get the gamble to show up. stop your profit onto your payments. If you see no increase then most probable you have to slump your ad crusade.
More and more advertisers have been with PPC advertising and it will prolong to grow closer than any online advertising techniques. From revenues of $ 2.6 billion in 2004 to $ 5.5 billion in 2009, charge per click will dramatically go up as well from $ 0.29 to $ 0.36.

PPC advertising is new in online marketing and it is departing to prolong in the being to come. For advertisers, this means spread revenues using less advertising expenses, savings, more sales, good restore of investment (ROI) and valuable ad campaigns in the being to come.????????












Ayesha Hamilton contributes articles for Pay Per Click Advertising Services. You can discover more details here

Chord Theory

So maybe you think “Chord Theory” is a waste of time? Well let me tell you, chord theory is worth your time! Have you ever noticed when you’re trying to figure out a certain chord in a particular song that all of a sudden you arrive at the right chord, but for some reason it just doesn’t sound exactly like the one being played? Something about it just seems to sound different. Well it’s a good chance that the reason for this is because a different “voicing” is being used. The term voicing is just another way to describe all the different fingerings and places that chord can be played on the fretboard.

So as you become familiar with the different chord voicings that are used by today’s rock guitarists it will become alot easier to figure out songs, and also your composition skills will greatly improve when you have some chord theory skills under your belt.

Before we get to those “rock chords”, let’s get into some basic chord theory.

For starters, those of you who are not sure of the difference between sharps and flats, let’s clear that up right now. A sharp (#) raises a note’s pitch one half step. A half step is equal to one fret on the guitar. The note A# is one fret higher than an A note on the guitar. A flat lowers (b) lowers a note by a half step. The note Ab is one fret lower than the A note on the guitar. A note is natural when it is neither sharp or flat.

All natural notes are separated by a sharp note and a flat note, except for B and C, and E and F.

A# and Bb are actually the same note with two different names. The same is true for C# and Db, D# and Eb. The key is what determines whether a note is considered sharp or flat.

Since most rock and metal progressions mostly center around major and minor chords, most of this lesson is based on those chord types.

So what is a major chord? The first thing you need to know about any chord is that it is constructed from the major scale of the same letter name. Any type of C chord, whether it is C major, C minor, C7 etc., will be constructed from the C major scale.

The next thing to realize is that every chord has it’s own formula. The formula for a major chord is 1, 3, 5. This means that the major chord consists of the first degree (or root), third degree, and fifth degree of it’s major scale. Below is a C major scale. All the scale degrees have been numbered.

C  D  E F G  A B C

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

By using the major chord formula with the C major scale, we get the notes C,E,G. This type of three note chord is called a triad, a major triad. There are four types of triads: Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished. The notes in this triad can be arranged in any order: C,E,G – E,G,C – G,C,E – etc. Remember that term voicing? Well it refers to the actual order of the notes.

When writing or referring to chord voicings, the notes are named in order from lowest to highest in pitch. If a chord is “voiced” with it’s root note as the bass note (lowest pitch note), this would be what is considered root position. If the chord’s third degree is the bass note, then it would be what is called a first inversion. If the fifth degree is in the bass, then we call it a second inversion.

Any of the notes in a given triad may be repeated. If there are more than three notes present (ex: C,E,G,C), then we call it a chord instead of a triad. In this case however, the example i just gave you would still be considered a triad because it contains the first, third, and fifth degrees only. So you are probably starting to see that there are alot of options you have when it comes to variations, or voicings for the same chord.

The formula for a minor chord is 1,b3,5. The only difference between a major chord and a minor chord is the third. The major chord contains a natural (unaltered) third of it’s major scale, and a minor chord contains a flatted (lowered) third. By using the minor chord formula with the C major scale, we get the notes C,Eb,G. This is a C minor triad.

Although major and minor chords contain the root, third (or flatted third), and fifth degrees, it is very common in Rock and Metal for these chords to be played using the root and fifth only. This is what is known as a “Power Chord”. This chord gives you a very strong and powerful sound, hence the name power chord.

The power chord is neither major or minor because it contains no third. So when put into a progression it can function as either a major or minor chord. This is why the power chord is so popular. So maybe now you can see that chord theory is something that is really worth your time. I know most of you probably get turned off by the term chord theory, but i hope you got alot from this lesson.

So I suppose i should tell you a bit about myself. Well i am from Canada and have been playing the guitar for 20 years now, and have been teaching for 10. Over the years i have taken a lot of guitar lessons myself. My main guitar teacher was a GIT graduate. For those of you that don’t know about GIT, it stands for Guitar Institute Of Technology. It is a music school based in Los Angeles. Anyway i hope you find what you’re looking for within my site.

General Equilibrium Theory

The general equilibrium theory is a part of the theoretical economics which explains the act of demand, supply and the prices in the whole economy with many or several interacting markets, by exploring to prove that the bundle of prices exists which would result in the total equilibrium. Thus, the general equilibrium in contradiction to the partial equilibrium, that only evaluates the single markets. Like as with the all models, it is the consideration from any real economy, this is proposed as an useful model, both by acknowledging the actual prices as the deviations from the equilibrium and by acknowledging the equilibrium prices as the long-term prices.

The general equilibrium theory studies both the economics by using the model of the equilibrium pricing and follows to decide in what circumstances the assuming of the general equilibrium would hold.

Overview of the general equilibrium theory:

The general equilibrium tries to provide the understanding of the complete economy by using some bottom up approach, which starts with the agents and individual markets. Microeconomics basically focus on the top down approach, where an analysis starts with some larger aggregates. Thus, the theory of general equilibrium has been traditionally classified as an important part of the microeconomics. The difference is not so clear, as majority of the modern economics has influenced the foundations of microeconomics. The general equilibrium models in the tradition of microeconomics has involve typically a large group of the various good markets. These models commonly complex and need computers to assist with the numerical solutions.

The modern concept of the general equilibrium in microeconomics

The modern concept of the general equilibrium is offered by a model which was developed jointly by Gerard Debreu, Lionel W. McKenzie and Kenneth Arrow in 1950s. Often three essential interpretations of the game theory is described.

Firstly, suppose the commodities are analyzed by that location where the commodities are delivered.

Secondly, suppose the commodities are analyzed by the time when those are delivered. It is, assume all the markets equilibrate at any primary instant of the time. The assistants in this model sell and purchase contracts.

Thirdly, suppose the contracts designate the states of the nature that influence whether any commodity is to be delivered or not.

All the three analysis can be associated. Some recent work of the general equilibrium has also explored the implications of the incorporate market, which is to say an intertemporal economy with the uncertainty, where the sufficiently detailed contracts do not exist which let the agents to allocate fully the resources and consumption through time. When it is shown that these kind of economics would still have the equilibrium, whose outcome may not any longer be Pareto optimal.

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There are a number of investment theories.  Except for MacDougall hypothesis, investment theories are primarily based on imperfect market conditions. A few of them are based on imperfect capital market.

MacDougall-Kemp Hypothesis:    Assuming a two-country model- one being the investing and other being the host country and the price of capital being equal, the investment flows from abundant economy to a capital scare economy until the marginal productivity of capital in both the countries are equal or till the returns from investment is greater than the loss of output in home country.


Industrial Organisation Theory : The theory is based on oligopolistic or imperfect market in which the investing firm operates. Market imperfection arises in many cases, such as product differentiation, market skills, proprietary technology, managerial skills, better access to capital, economies of scales, government imposed market distortion and so on.  Such advantages confer MNCs an edge over their competitors in foreign locations and thus helps in compensate the additional cost of operating in an unfamiliar environment.  It refers to technological and similar other advantages possessed by a firm that enable it to produce new and differentiated products.

Location Specific Theory : This theory is compounded by hood and Young.  It refers to advantages like cheap labour, abundantly available raw material, and so on for the production of a commodity to be established in a particular location or country.  Since real wage cost varies among countries, firms with low cost technology move to low wage country.

Product Cycle Theory : Raymond Vernon feels that most product follow a life cycle that is divided into three stages :

(a)   Innovation  Stage:  It is a stage in the product cycle when the product is in demand because of its new and improved quality, irrespective of its price.  The product is manufactured in the home country primarily to meet the domestic demand but a portion of the output is exported to the other developed countries.

(b)   Maturing Product Stage :   At this stage, the demand for the new product grows and it turns price elastic.  Rival firms in the host country begin to supply similar product at a lower price owing to lower distribution cost, whereas the product of innovator is costlier as it involves transportation cost and tariff that is imposed by the importing government.  Thus to compete with the rival firms, innovator decides to set up a production unit in host country itself which would lead to internationalization of product.

(c)   Standardised Product ; It is the stage in the product cycle when technology does not remain the exclusive possession of innovator and competition turns stiffer.  At this stage price competitiveness becomes even more important and the innovator shifts the production to a low cost location, preferably a developing country where labour is cheap.

(d) Denaturing Stage : It is the stage when development in technology or in consumer’s preference breaks down product standradisation.  Cheap labour does not matter at this stage as sophisticated model involves a capital intensive mode of production.


Internalization Approach :  Buckley and Casson too assumes market imperfection, but imperfection in their view, is related to transaction cost that is involved in intra-firm transfer of intermediate product such as knowledge or expertise.  It is internalization benefit is cost free intra-firm flow of technology development by the parent unit.

Currency Based Approaches :  It is compounded by Aliber. Such theories are normally based on imperfect foreign exchange and capital market.  The theory postulates that internationalization of firms can best be explained in terms of the relative strength of different currencies.  Firms from strong currency country moves to a weak currency country.  In a weak currency country, income stream is fraught with greater exchange risk.  As a result the income of strong currency country firm is capitalized at a higher rate.

Politico-Economic Theories :  These theories concentrate on political risk.  Political stability in the host country leads to foreign investments.  Similarly, political instability in the home country encourages investment in foreign countries.

Modified theories for Third World Firms : Developing country MNCs posses firm specific advantages in form of modified technology.  They move abroad also to reap advantages of cheap labour and abundance of natural resources.  These firms have long been importing technology from industrialized countries.  But since imported technology is mainly designed to cope with a large market, firm export a part of their   output after meeting their domestic demand.

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Critical Theory

Critical theory belongs to both philosophical and empirical definitions. Critical theory outlooks media as weapons in struggling over political, social, economic and symbolic power, it also struggles over themselves in a part of media. This theory finds a way to depict faults and problems coated in a media and to relate it to social issues by few guided values. The variation relating to social and media can be distinguished as media-centric and society-centric approaches. Media-centric thrives to move forward by the development in communication technology.

Based on the tradition, Critical theory can be defined in two ways- Criticism and Critique. Both the words are derived from the Greek term Kritos and personify the meaning judgment. The theory of criticism is applied in Social theory, Literary and Language.

Critiquing and changing the society as a whole in accordance to change in the tradition is called Social theory. The Critical theory was first characterized by Max Horkheimer, a German-Jewish philosopher and sociologist. The theory aims at the totality of society, as to how it was arranged at a specific point of time. It also should instill all major social sciences such as geography, economics, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and psychology, in order to make them understand the principles and structure of a society.

 Jurgen Habermas, a German sociologist and philosopher, discussed about knowledge and the study of knowledge i.e. Epistemology in his epitome, Knowledge and Human Interests. Hedefines critical knowledge to beprinciples that distinguished it either from the natural sciences or the humanities, through its orientation to self-reflection and liberation.

Later, the critical social theory was referred as a theory of communication.  Communicative competence and communicative rationality on the one hand, distorted communication on the other, blend together and developed gradually.  This version of “critical” theory derives from the notion of literary criticism as establishing and enhancing the understanding and evaluation of literature in the search for truth. Some consider literary theory merely an aesthetic concern, as articulated, for example, in Joseph Addison’s notion of a critic as one who helps understand and interpret literary works: “A true critic ought to dwell rather upon Excellencies than imperfections, to discover the concealed beauties of a writer, and communicate to the world such things as are worth their observation.” This notion of criticism ultimately goes back to Aristotle’s Poetics as a theory of literature.

Critical theory in literature and the humanities in general does not necessarily involve a normative dimension, whereas critical social theory does, either through criticizing society from some general theory of values, norms, or “oughts,” or through criticizing it in terms of its own espoused values. The critical theory in terms of media, sociology, and philosophy has a common motto and principles. These theories, as they gradually change, enhance development to all varied categories of subjects.

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Cognitive Theory

Cognitive theory can be defined as a learning theory of psychology that attempts to explain the behavior of human beings by understanding their thought processes. Humans are logical beings who make choices that make the most sense to them is the assumption in cognitive theory. Information processing is a commonly used description of the mental process, comparing the human mind to a computer.

Behavioral learning theories suggest that the process of learning ensues from pleasant or unpleasant experiences of one’s life and cognitive theories of learning suggest that learning is based upon the mental processes. Cognitive theory as it relates to epistemological processes within the individual is based upon the notion that learning happens as a result of processes that is related to one’s experience, perception, memory, and sometimes verbal thinking. Cognitive theory is much concerned with the development of a person’s thought processes. Cognitive theory also looks at how such thought processes influence how one understands and interacts with the world around. Children think differently than adults.

The reason why the pure cognitive theory rejects behaviorism is that, behaviorism reduces a complex human behavior to a simple cause and effect. However, in past decades the trend was towards merging the two into a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral theory. This makes the therapists to use techniques from both schools of thought to enable clients achieve their goals.

Cognitive-behavioral theories are conceptualized as a general category of theories, or sometimes a set of related theories, which have evolved from the theoretical writings, clinical experiences, and empirical studies of behavioral and cognitively oriented psychologists. The fact here is there is no single definition of cognitive-behavioral theory. Hence, Using common assumptions, techniques and research strategies , individual theories are tied together. But a diversity of views about the role cognitions play in behavior change is maintained. One more thing noted here is the hyphenated term “cognitive-behavioral” reflects the importance of both behavioral and cognitive approaches to understanding and helping of human beings. And the hyphen brings behavioral and cognitive theoretical views together. Each with their own theoretical assumptions and intervention strategies.

There exists Cognitive-behavioral interventions that target both cognitive and behavioral problems using a full integration of cognitive and behavioral strategies. Cognitive-behavioral theories and counseling interventions are really highly influential. The cognitive-behavioral research is purely based on the observed changes in one’s behavior and cognition with methodological rigor. Cognitive-behavioral theories also provides great flexibility in the targets and interventions of a treatment, by sharing a basic emphasis on the importance of cognitive workings and private events..A conceptual model of the functional relationships between thoughts, behaviors, and feelings is provided to us by the behavioral assessments that are operating in the “triple response mode”. It also provides the necessary background for clinicians and researchers for the implementation and evaluation of intervention strategies. There exists many variety of cognitive-behavioral intervention techniques. This count is likely to increase as the theories continue to be developed for effectiveness with a variety of psychological problems.

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Authoritarian Theory

The Authoritarian theory was developed by Siebert Peterson and Schuman during the 16th century. The freedom of thoughts was ruled by the ruling class. The ruling class did not want their thoughts and ideas to be printed on to the media and so, they adopted few rules to the press. If anyone tries to disobey the rules, the government would punish them severely.  The theory follows few rules such as 1. The government should take control over the mass media, 2. The media should not broadcast or print any issues related to the authority, 3. Media should avoid complete offence over political values.

This theory is not only integrated to society or government, but is also included in history and geography. Even the places that abandoned the progress of this theory continue to follow it. The press is controlled in its function and organization by an organized society through another organization called the government. The introduction of this theory brought many changes in the society and man. Some of the basic assumptions are 1.nature of the man, 2. The nature of society, 3. The relation of man to the state, and 4. The nature of knowledge and truth. Under this assumption, as an individual, man’s rights were restricted, but as a member of the society, he had full rights to fulfill his purpose. Later, the state took over and favored in the development of an individual. The nature of state became an important factor for the assumption.

Machiavelli, a politician gave no importance to the state; his aim of attaining political power was more concerned. He never gave importance to the public welfare and individual rights; all he did was to take it for granted to fulfill his purpose. His concern about the government was less.

Thomas Hobbes, a well known English philosopher, formed a system of philosophy under two bases, freedom from pain and will to power. His aim was to check the individual’s interest in all categories and to ensure power, and peace in sovereign. Nature of the state and man’s relation to the state was his theories. His theory created changes over the seventeenth century authoritarian policies.

Many philosophers have contributed to this theory of individual’s freedom and rights over their relation to the state. The philosophies have changed many principles of other theories and considered that every individual has a power over his state. Today, this theory is continued to practice all over the world in different forms. The expression of one’s ideas is controlled over any group of the society. In some countries, this theory is followed either by threatening by means of financial act or by “Official Secret Act” or “National Secret Act“.

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Translation Theory

The study of proper principle of translation is termed as translation theory. This theory, based on a solid foundation on understanding of how languages work, translation theory recognizes that different languages encode meaning in differing forms, yet guides translators to find appropriate ways of preserving meaning, while using the most appropriate forms of each language. Translation theory includes principles for translating figurative language, dealing with lexical mismatches, rhetorical questions, inclusion of cohesion markers, and many other topics crucial to good translation.
Basically there are two competing theories of translation. In one, the predominant purpose is to express as exactly as possible the full force and meaning of every word and turn of phrase in the original, and in the other the predominant purpose is to produce a result that does not read like a translation at all, but rather moves in its new dress with the same ease as in its native rendering. In the hands of a good translator neither of these two approaches can ever be entirely ignored.
Conventionally, it is suggested that in order to perform their job successfully, translators should meet three important requirements; they should be familiar with:
the source language
the target language
the subject matter
Based on this premise, the translator discovers the meaning behind the forms in the source language and does his best to produce the same meaning in the target language – using the forms and structures of the target language. Consequently, what is supposed to change is the form and the code and what should remain unchanged is the meaning and the message. (Larson, 1984)
One of the earliest attempts to establish a set of major rules or principles to be referred to in literary translation was made by French translator and humanist tienne Dolet, who in 1540 formulated the following fundamental principles of translation (“La Manire de Bien Traduire dune Langue en Aultre”), usually regarded as providing rules of thumb for the practicing translator:
The translator should understand perfectly the content and intention of the author whom he is translating. The principal way to reach it is reading all the sentences or the text completely so that you can give the idea that you want to say in the target language because the most important characteristic of this technique is translating the message as clearly and natural as possible. If the translation is for different countries, the translator should use the cultural words of that country. It is really important the cultural words because if the translator does not use them correctly the translation will be misunderstood.
The translator should have a perfect knowledge of the language from which he is translating and an equally excellent knowledge of the language into which he is translating. At this point the translator must have a wide knowledge in both languages for getting the equivalence in the target language, because the deficiency of the knowledge of both languages will result in a translation without logic and sense.
The translator should avoid the tendency to translate word by word, because doing so is to destroy the meaning of the original and to ruin the beauty of the expression. This point is very important and one of which if it is translated literally it can transmit another meaning or understanding in the translation.
The translator should employ the forms of speech in common usage. The translator should bear in mind the people to whom the translation will be addressed and use words that can be easily understood.
After reading this article, I think you can understand more about the translation. And you also known what to do when you have some files to translate.

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Music Theory For Guitarists – How Key Signatures Work

All those mysterious little sharps and flats sitting in the key signature are way easier to understand than it looks like.  Let me give you the tricks to understand the system and make you a more informed guitar player.

First of all, remember that music notation in general is a just a set of instructions for playing the song.  Learning to read it is just like when you were learning to read books back in second grade.  It takes a little time, but quickly becomes very natural if you know a few tricks.

They key signature is there to tell us which notes in the scale are sharped for flatted.  From that you can tell what key the song is in, which gives you additional information before you even start playing.

The key signature can contain anywhere from 0 to 7 sharps or flats.  You’ll never see them mixed.  Just one or the other.  The sharps and flats are placed on the line or space of the note that they correspond with.  So if you see a sharp on the top line of the staff that tells you that you’re going to play F# every time you see an F in the music.  If you see a flat on the middle line of the staff, that tells you to play Bb wherever you see a B in the music.  

Why do they do this?  There’s two reasons.  First, some keys have a lot of sharps or flats in them.  Without a key signature we’d have to write that sharp or flat next to the note every time it comes up.  That would make the notation really messy and much more difficult to follow.  Second, when our current system of notation was invented (in the 17th century) ink and parchment were very expensive.  And the poor monks who were hand copying all this stuff looked for any shortcut they could to save time and ink.  Key signatures are a big help when your hand is cramping up from writing a zillion sharps.

The sharps and flats come in a particular order:
Sharps: F  C  G  D  A  E  B – sharps appear in an order of 5ths
Flat: B  E  A  D  G  C  F – flats appear in an order of 4ths.

If you have two sharps in the key signature they will be F# and C#.  Three flats will always be Bb, Eb, and Ab.  You’ll never see something like two sharps and they’re D and E.  Won’t happen.

Now you know how to read the individual sharps and flats in the key signature.  How do they tell you what key you’re playing in?  First let’s clarify the concept of “key”.  The “key” simply tells you what scale the composer used to write the piece of music with.  Think of a scale like an artist’s palate of colors.  He has blue, red, white, black, purple, etc.  And mixes those colors and throws them at a canvas to make a painting.  We take the seven notes in our scale and throw them at the page to make music.  

There’s a couple quick tricks to tell what key you’re in based on the key signature.  For sharp keys, take the last sharp and go up a half step (one fret) and that’s the name of your key.  So if you have four sharps (F#  C#  G#  D#), the you go a half step up from D# and find you’re in the key of E majaor.  Simple!

For flat keys you take the second to last flat and THAT is the name of your key.  If you have 3 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab) then you’re in the key of Eb.  The key of F major, which has just one flat – Bb – you unfortunately have to just memorize.

And the advantage of knowing what key you’re in?  You’ll be able to know some of the chords you’ll see before you start playing.  Primarily the I, IV, and V chords which you’ll see in nearly everything you play.  

Let’s say you have a key signature with 4 flats in in.  Look above to see what those are…. (Bb Eb  Ab  Db) – If we look at the 3rd flat you’ll find you’re in the key of Ab major.  In that key your I, IV, and V chords are Ab, Db, and Eb7.  Now you know you’ll be running across at least those chords.

So, the key signature gives you a lot of information right off the bat to help you get through the song.  And now you’ve got all the tricks to figure them out.  And you’re a better guitarist because of it!

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