Notes Have Names So Respect Them

author: daniel.kPL date: 11/04/2011 category: for beginners
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Every musician has to know something about music theory. If you play guitar for more than a year and still don't know anything about how the music is organized it's great time to start learning it. It doesnt mean that you have to play Bach's toccatas and any other classical stuff. Music theory will help you to understand what are you playing. It is not something that is mandatory to play , but it's very, very helpful. There is a simple example: you live in a foreign country ( Romania, let's say ) for a year and you can communicate with every person there without any problems. But when it comes to write a letter in romanian or read a newspaper, you have a lot of problems to know what's it all about. This is why you have to learn that language. And i'm here to help. NOTES HAVE NAMES, SO RESPECT IT First, I predict that you're a complete dummy and don't know anything about music theory, or your knowledge is very little, so I'll start from basics. You have to look at the piano keyboard to follow my lesson. As you see there are white and black keys. The white ones are the C,D,E,F,G,A,B notes which are happy because they have their own names, and the black ones are the ones with no own names, so they're not so happy as the white ones, but there is a way to make them smile. Firstly ,we will talk about the white ones. They go from A to G. Look at them in a particular way: there are organised in groups of 11 keys, and that pattern goes from left to right and doesent change. Notice that between B and C, and between E and F there is no black key. Don't worry that you don't know where are the B,C,E,F notes on keyboard, we're playing guitar. Just remember that B likes C and E likes F very much. They stick to each other close. Now look at my diagram. diagram #1
|   A   |   -   |   B   |   C   |   -   |   D   |   -   |   E   |   F   |   -   
|   G   |   -   |   A   |
This is some kind of pattern you have to remember, and understand. Now, think about notes as frets. Every fret gets one note. B note is on the 7th fret of 6th string. Play it now. Then, play the next note - C ( same string, one fret higher). Diagram #2
     B   C
( you know how to read tabulature, don't you ? ) You have played B and C notes that are next to one another on the fretboard, so they are is only one semitone between them. Oooops. But what is a semitone ? It's the smallest distance between two notes that you can play on guitar, without bending strings. After C is D note, but, look at the diagram #1, between C and D is a mysterious "-". It means that there is an additional semitone between them (the black no- name key), so the're 2 frets apart. Try it now. If you have piano to use, try playing it on the piano, and compare - where are and where is no black keys. Diagram #3
     B   C   D
We played the B,C,D notes, but we have a little distress. There was B, C and D. What about the no name fret ? The fret no 9 can be named by the name of it's neighbour. Either C or D. As you wish. It can be C# or Db. If we raise the note one half step we add # to it's name, so C raised half step is C#. The name of the note between C and D is C#, but... If we add the b to the note name, we lower it for a half step. So D lowered by a half step is Db. You propably figured out, that it's the same note. There we go. We have now 2 names for the note that's between C and D. You can use them as you wish, later on when you will learn about scales, intervals, modes and chords, ponytails and unicorns and it will be an important thing to use either # or b, but now you can name it as you want to. Diagram #4
     B   C   C#/Db   D
So now you know how it works. It's time for a little revision. * Distance between notes is measured in semitones. Between one note after another it can be either a half step or a full step only. * the "no name notes" are named by their neighbour notes. Raised, or lowered. * Between every note is a full step. Excepting B-C and E-F lovebirds. After you remembered the rules, it's time to use it. Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a 6x13 table.
|E|F| |G| |A| |B|C| |D| |E|
|B|C| |D| |E|F| |G| |A| |B|
|G| |A| |B|C| |D| |E|F| |G|
|D| |E|F| |G| |A| |B|C| |D|
|A| |B|C| |D| |E|F| |G| |A|
|E|F| |G| |A| |B|C| |D| |E|
 0 1   3   5   7   9     12 <---- fret numbers
This is a representation of your fretboard. You have to learn how to make it by yourself, and it's easy if you know the names of the empty strings and how to find distances between the notes. As you know 12th fret is a 0 fret note, but one octave higher, so first thing after drawing your fretboard with the notes is to chceck if the 12th fret notes are EADGBE. Then, just check if B,c and E,F are next to each other, and viola! After 3 to 5 tries you will be able to know how it works. It's time to use it more practically, but that's not the lesson about it. Knowing your fretboard better you can start trying to understand scales, intervals and chords. I prefer to learn music theory and know what I'm doing and i really reccomend you that way of learining how to play the guitar. No more problems with writing letters in Romanian. :) Post comments about my article and let me know your opinion. If that lesson helped anyone, and was kinda "good", I will write next ones. Take also a look at my language. If I messed up something in making the sentences, it's also a valuable comment for me. Peace, Love and Rock&Roll. Daniel Kaczmarczyk
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