A Little Music Theory

author: ironwolg date: 10/02/2008 category: the basics
rating: 9.6 / votes: 40 
I continuously read in guitar magazines where an artist talks about how he plays around a scale and adds a 5th or 7th or something like that. Just what is a 5th or 7th? They never explain. Well, I finally learned what it is and I'm here to share this information with you. If any of you more advance guitarists notice any mistakes that I have made please let me know and I will be more than happy to correct them. I don't want to be sending the wrong information to anyone. Ok, first things first, it's time to learn your musical alphabet. A B C D E F G. After G it starts over at A. As you have probably guessed these are all notes, but they are also intervals. An interval is the difference in pitch between two notes. But those are not the only notes. There are also sharps and flats. We'll use A as an example. Let's say we're playing an A on the guitar and we want to go to A sharp. All you have to do is move up the fretboard(toward your picking hand). If you're still confused about this I'll tab it out on the A string.
-------0----1-------
Congratulations! You just went from A to A sharp(remember that that is not the only A on the fretboard! ). Give yourself a pat on the back. Also, something you might not have realized, you just moved up one half step. You might have seen something like this somewhere WWHWWWH. W=whole step and H=half step. Moving up one half step means that you move up one fret and moving up one whole step means that you move up two frets. So one whole step = two half steps. Now that you have that much down, it's time to go on to something very important in music theory. You must learn the major scale. Once again, we'll use A.
E------------------------------------------4--5------------------------
B------------------------------------5--7------------------------------
G---------------------------4--6--7------------------------------------
D------------------4--6--7---------------------------------------------
A---------4--5--7------------------------------------------------------
E---5--7---------------------------------------------------------------
That was the A Major(Ionian) scale. As far as I know Major and Ionian are the same things, if I am wrong I hope that a more advanced player will tell me so I can correct this. Either way that's the A Major scale. All Major scales have the exact same pattern(with a few exceptions), just different notes.
G Major(Ionian)
E------------------------------------------2--3------------------------
B------------------------------------3--5------------------------------
G---------------------------2--4--5------------------------------------
D------------------2--4--5---------------------------------------------
A---------2--3--5------------------------------------------------------
E---3--5---------------------------------------------------------------
If you compare them you'll notice their similarities. Now you're probably wondering why I'm bothering to show you another boring scale and why it's so important to Music Theory. Well, I'm about to show you. Have you ever looked at an E5 power chord and wondered, "What's the E and What's the 5th? What makes it an E5?" It's really quite simple. E is the root note and 5 is the fifth note of the E Major scale. In case you don't know what the E5 is I'll tab it out for you.
E5 
E------ 
B------ 
G------ 
D------
A--2---
E--0---
Since there are open notes involved we'll have to change the major scale up a bit so we hit the right notes. If I'm correct, the only time you will have to change the scale is when you are dealing with open notes. I'll tab out the E Major scale that you will have to use here.
E---------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------
D--------------------1--2---------------
A-----------0--2--4---------------------
E--0--2--4------------------------------
And that carries it through a whole octave.(An octave the largest interval. to make an octave you go through 8 notes, which, in this case, will carry you from E to E again, E F G A B C D E). Now to put the scale to use. E is the root note of the scale and the root note of the chord. Now, count the notes of the scale until you come to the 5th note. You will notice that it is on the second fret. If you play the root and the 5th together you get the E5 chord. Ok, so what if you want to add a 7th to that? Well that's a stupid idea because it sounds horrible but we'll do it anyway! Count the notes on the scale up to 7. When you get it figured out it should look like this:
E----------
B----------
G----------
D--1-------
A--2-------
E--0-------
And it is probably the most hideous chord you have ever played. Ok, hopefully your parents are done beating you in the head with a brick for making such an ugly sound. This has probably brought up just as many questions as it has answered but remember that these are just the basics, if you have any questions or corrections please send me a message or email me. Oh, I almost forgot, don't send me any hate mail unless you're ready for it to come back at you twice as bad.
More ironwolg lessons:
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+ How To Practice Correct Practice 05/14/2009
+ A Little More Advanced Music Theory For Beginners 04/23/2009
+ A Little Music Theory. Part 2 For Beginners 04/09/2009
+ More Advanced Music Theory For Beginners 03/31/2009
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