Everything You Need To Know To Write Music

This is, in notebook format, all of the straight up no jibber-jabber facts that you will need to know in order to write most music. This is for very beginners.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
1
12 notes in all. C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B Distances between notes are measured in semi-tones. One semi-tone equals one note. A to A# is one semi-tone. A to B is two semi-tones. Two semi-tones equals one whole tone. # stands for Sharp, meaning up one semi-tone. b stands for Flat, meaning down one semi-tone. A chord is three or more notes being played at once. A, C#, and E make up the A Major chord. Any 3 or more notes played together is a chord, no matter how it sounds. A scale is a sequence of notes. C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C make up the C Major scale. Any sequence of notes can be called a scale. Chords can be classified into types, such as Major, or Minor. Scales can also be classified into types, such as Major, or Minor. There are many different types of scales and chords. Chords are usually constructed from certain notes from a scale. Scales usually follow formulas that describe the distance between each note. The Major scale is constructed by RWWHWWWH. R stands for Root Note; W stands for Whole step; H stands for Half step. A Whole Step is 2 semi-tones; A Half Step is one semi-tone. C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C follow this formula, therfore creating the C Major Scale. C being the root note. Scales are usually named by their root note, followed by the type of scale it is. Such as C Major Scale, or D Minor Scale. Chords also usually follow formulas, most often pertaining to the Major Scale. The Major Chord is constructed from the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note from a Major Scale. C, E, and G make up the C Major Chord. The Minor Chord is constructed from the 1st, flatted 3rd, and 5th note from a Major Scale. C, Eb, and G make up the C Minor Chord. The Minor Scale is taken from the Major Scale, but with changes. The Natural Minor Scale follows the formula RWHWwHwW. Minor scales are mutations of the Major scale, often flatting certain notes. The Natural Minor Scale is the Major Scale, with the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes flatted. You can think of them either way. When a piece of music only contains notes from a certain scale, it is in that key. If a song only contains notes from the C Major scale, it is in the key of C Major. If you want things to "sound good together" you will tend to write in a certain key. If you play a C Major Chord, you have a few choices of where to go next. A C Major chord contains the notes C, E, and G. If you wanted to play a chord after C Major that "sounds good", then you would want to play a chord taken from a scale that contains the notes of the C Major Chord. Examples of scales that contain C, E, and G are the A Minor, or the C Major. We will pick C Major. In order to stay in the key of C Major, we will play the D Minor chord, which contains the notes D, A, and F. An easy way of knowing which chords will work in certain keys is memorizing this formula. If you want to stay in a Major key, you first have to figure out the Major Scale of that key. Once you know the Major Scale of the key you want to write in, follow this formula. Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor, Diminished. In the key of C Major, we can play the C Major, D Minor, E Minor, F Major, G Major, A Minor, and B Diminished Chords. All of those chords only contain the notes from the C Major scale. For every Major Scale, there is a corresponding Minor Scale. These are called Relative Minors. A Relative Minor is the same scale as it's Relative Major, only the root note has changed. This changes the overall mood and centerpoint of the scale/key. In order to figure out a Major Scale's Natural Minor, just go down 3 semi-tones from the root note of your Major Scale, and play a Minor Scale from the note. C Major's Relative Minor is A Minor. Both of these scales only contain the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C.

Trending lessons

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    guitar/bass95
    Pretty good, but beginners usually want fretboard examples. And at some points, like when talking of B diminished chord, you could explain what is a diminished chord, or at least hint that the reader should know basic chord theory, because if you say "play B diminished chord" to a beginner, he/she will probaply have no idea what you are talking about. Information is correct and clear, but you could have written about something else than just major and minor scales and chords. But, its a fine lesson.
    Lolcohol
    Eh. Some of this is badly explained. Eg. "A Relative Minor is the same scale as it's Relative Major, only the root note has changed. This changes the overall mood and centerpoint of the scale/key." Rather a relative minor has the same key signature as its relative major. And: "When a piece of music only contains notes from a certain scale, it is in that key. If a song only contains notes from the C Major scale, it is in the key of C Major." A minor has the same notes as C major. I think you should extend on this point and let people know how to tell if a song is in a major or its relative minor key (brief explanation of resolution and cadences perhaps?)
    dreamerthinker5
    I took piano lessons for like five years and got almost nothing from it because I hated playing that instrument. I was taught the difference between chords and scales and diminished chords and all of that stuff, but like I said, I didn't really pay attention. I really like the guitar though, and would like to learn how to write songs and stuff with it. I need a refresher on the basics, like what G7 means and what a diminished chord is. Can somebody help me out?