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Old 02-12-2004, 01:07 AM   #1
Pipsqueak
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Guitar Theory

Well...a discussion in the "blues riff" thread kind of sparked some theory discussion. Several people seemed interested in going over some theory, so I thought I would just make a new thread of it. I'll post pieces over time. I'm going to treat this as a review for myself....because I am learning too. Keep in mind, a LOT of this information is stuff I've posted before, in other forums, and a lot of it is stuff other people have posted.
I feel it's always good to share the wealth.
We'll start VERY basic (because that's what people asked for) and work our way up. Please feel free to add your $.02, ask questions, and build on the thread. Like I said, I'm learning too!
here goes nuthin'!

Part I:

Once you have the fundamentals of chord construction under your belt, you shouldn't have any trouble from that point on gaining info from other sources.

Here we go....we start simply...master and move on....
We use 12 notes in western music.

# = sharp
b = flat

They're named A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#. G, G#. (by the way, the notes without sharps represent the white keys of a piano - the sharps represent the black keys)

Any note named with a sharp can also be named as a flat. For example A# is also called Bb. C# is also called Db , D# = Eb, F# = Gb, and G# = Ab

Obviously it seems like they could have come up with a simpler naming system - you'll see it all works out nicely, complete with patterns.

Onward.

We call the thin string on your guitar the 1st string and the thickest one the 6th string.

The open strings on a standard tuned guitar represent the notes (from 1st string to 6th string) E B G D A E

Also remember that "up the neck" means "up in pitch"...."down the neck" means "down in pitch"

The notes up the first string would be open = E
1st fret = F
2nd fret = F# (or Gb)
3rd fret = G
4th fret = G# (or Ab)
5th fret = A
6th fret = A# (or Bb)
7th fret = B
8th fret = C
9th fret = C# (Db)
10th fret = D
11th fret = D# (Eb)
12th fret = E again
13th fret = F again, etc....you could keep going

You should name the notes up the other strings making sure the open string matches the 12th fret as a self check. The common error is that people forget that B and C don't have a note between them. Neither do E and F. Again, don't worry, it all works out.

Simple Quiz....I'll put the answers in a different post. Remember...we start slowly and master things as we go along. Nothing you ever learn should be difficult.....nothing. Just one little step more involved than something you've already mastered.




Just name the following notes:

1. 1st string at 15th fret

2. 3rd string at 12th fret

3. 2nd string at 8th fret

4. 5th string at 10th fret

5. 4th string at 5th fret

6. 4th string at 4th fret

7. 6th string at 2nd fret

8. 3rd string at 11th fret

9. 3rd string at 5th fret

10. 4th string at 10th fret



you should work toward learning ALL of the notes on your fretboard.....it is really very easy, and I'll post some tips with the answers in the next post.
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  • Old 02-12-2004, 01:11 AM   #2
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pipsqueak

    Nothing you ever learn should be difficult.....nothing. Just one little step more involved than something you've already mastered.

    my math class is SO hard. oh well. keep the lessons coming
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    Old 02-12-2004, 01:16 AM   #3
    Pipsqueak
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Answers to Part I:

    Hopefully you got all G's for questions 1-5.

    You should have F# (or Gb) for questions 6,7, and 8.

    You should have C for questions 9 and 10.


    Tips for memorizing notes on the fretboard:

    1. download this free "Fretboard Warrior" program if you want a great source for learning your fretboard http://www.francoisbrisson.com/fretboardwarrior/

    2. Memorize the E(6th) and A(5th) strings first.

    3. At first, only concern yourself with the NATURAL notes.(no sharps or flats) To find a sharp go one fret higher. To find a flat go one fret lower.

    4. Once you have the above done, take any spot on the 5th or 6th string and play the note that is 2 STRINGS AND 2 FRETS HIGHER. This will be the SAME note, only pitched an octave higher. By doing this, it will give you all the notes for all the strings EXCEPT the B (2nd) string. The best way to learn the notes on the B string is to memorize them. (I know a more involved way if you're interested.)

    5. If you (for some reason) don't want to bother or concern yourself with guitar neck minutae, then I HIGHLY suggest that AT A MINIMUM you learn the notes for the E and A strings. If you don't, let's just say that you'll be sorry.....maybe not today or tomorrow....but someday you'll regret it.
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    Old 02-12-2004, 01:23 AM   #4
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    (still keeping in basic....I'm trying to get most of the fundamentals down quickly tonight because I have the info readily available..)


    Part II:

    Chords are made from major scales, major scales are made from half and whole steps. So, let's make sure you understand half and whole steps.

    To move from one note to an adjacent note (whether up or down in pitch) is called a half step.

    For example, if you play the 1st string 5th fret and then the 1st string 6th fret (A then A#) you've moved up a half step. If you played the 1st string 5th fret and then the 1st string 4th fret (A then Ab), you've moved a half step down.

    Now, if you move two half steps in one direction, we call it a whole step. So on the guitar, a half step just means move one fret and a whole step means move 2 frets.

    For example, if you play 1st string 5th fret and then 1st string 7th fret (A then B) you've moved a whole step up. If you play 1st string 5th fret and then 1st string 3rd fret (A to G), you've moved a whole step down.

    Remember - There's no note between B and C, and there's no note between E and F.

    QUIZTIME

    Just name the note that is:

    1. a half step up from G

    2. a half step up from B

    3. a half step down from E

    4. a half step down from F

    5. a half step up from C#

    6. a whole step up from D

    7. a whole step down from F#

    8. a whole step up from D#

    9. a whole step down from C

    10. a whole step above B


    got that fretboard memorized yet???
    like I said....I highly recommend the Fretboard Warrior.
    Do it for 10 minutes a day until you get it down. It WORKS!

    (answers to quiz in next post)
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    Old 02-12-2004, 01:23 AM   #5
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Answers to Part II:





    1. G# (or Ab)
    2. C
    3. Eb (or D#)
    4. E
    5. D
    6. E
    7. E
    8. F
    9. Bb
    10. C# or Db



    ok, that put an end to my boredom for a while...
    now I gotta hit the sack....MORE TOMORROW!
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    Last edited by Pipsqueak; 02-12-2004 at 01:24 AM.
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    Old 02-12-2004, 06:17 AM   #6
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    I've gotten pretty good at Dave stuff, but beyond that I don't know too much. I want to start writing my own material so music theory would help immensily. Thanks for the lessons! Truly appreciated here.
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    Old 02-12-2004, 01:13 PM   #7
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    Re: Guitar Theory - More on the Fretboard

    ok.
    Another useful little tool for memorizing the fretboard:

    http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/f/...n4_figure1.jpg

    print it out, put it in your wallet and whip it out when you're waiting on a bus, train, drivers license renewal or whatever...
    or tape it to the mirror in your bathroom or wherever else you might use it...
    EDIT: forgot to say that if you're left-handed, I'm sorry!

    sidebar--> There is a company that actually makes "stick-ons" to put on your fretboard that look similar to this. I don't recommend them because you don't really look at the top of your fretboard when you're playing. (I actually look at the side markers) I think it's better to just know the notes.

    ONE MORE THING on the Fretboard Warrior program that I forgot to mention that is VERY important. This program has an added benefit. When taking the tests, it will sound-out/play the note that you're trying to guess. This is an awesome thing, because it allows your EARS to work with your brain and your eyes. Before long, you will be able to close your eyes and ONLY listen to the sound the program makes......and yes, you will be able to guess it correctly.
    I was shocked that I could do it myself. At first, I could get really close....say, guessing an C instead of a C#. Eventually you will pick up on the subtle differences. After you memorize the fretboard notes, try to do it only by sound.
    It's a pretty cool thing. Download it!


    I will post more lessons later this evening!
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    Last edited by Pipsqueak; 02-12-2004 at 01:13 PM.
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    Old 02-12-2004, 03:00 PM   #8
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Pipsqueak, Thank man I Downloaded this program last night(only 1.8mb)....goodstuff at first I didnt have a clue what the hell I was doing but I caught on! figured it out.
    Thanks!
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    Old 02-12-2004, 03:14 PM   #9
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Another good trainer (and great website for that matter)...

    MusicTheory.net: http://www.musictheory.net/
    Guitar Trainer: http://www.musictheory.net/load.php?id=81
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    Old 02-12-2004, 03:21 PM   #10
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    THANK YOU.
    I've recently been getting into theory, and even though most of this is stuff i have already learned, it is still very helpful. im sure your lessons will come in handy. once again, thank you so much.
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    Old 02-12-2004, 04:04 PM   #11
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Sticky This
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    if anyone would like to see a video of me and my buddy playing 3 little birds > two step, just PM me and i'll get it to ya
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    Old 02-12-2004, 04:07 PM   #12
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by acmorgan
    Sticky This
    I second this
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    Old 02-12-2004, 04:36 PM   #13
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    If you find yourself having trouble remembering major scales there is an easy way to figure them out. They always are in the form...WWHWWWH W's being whole steps and H's being half steps.

    C Major:
    C--D--E--F--G--A--B--C
    W W H W W W H

    Just think of playing them in that step pattern.
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    Old 02-12-2004, 04:47 PM   #14
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saxman1083
    If you find yourself having trouble remembering major scales there is an easy way to figure them out. They always are in the form...WWHWWWH W's being whole steps and H's being half steps.

    C Major:
    C--D--E--F--G--A--B--C
    W W H W W W H

    Just think of playing them in that step pattern.

    Yes!.....and thus we start Part III: (will post it when I get home this evening)
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    Old 02-12-2004, 04:59 PM   #15
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    pipsqueek your the man, i just started with my new jazz teacher last week and it being the first lesson he couldnt really give me anything to practice, and this is gonna be good to get away from those crappy pentatonic licks thanks a lot man
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    Old 02-12-2004, 06:39 PM   #16
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Part III:

    Major Scales

    Our whole musical system is pretty much derived from the major scale....so here we go. Ask if you've got questions.

    We can build a major scale from any one of the 12 notes, so we end up having 12 different possible major scales. To make a major scale, there's a simple formula to follow:

    Pick a starting note (we call it the root, or the tonic) and THEN make the following series of whole and half steps:

    W W H W W W H

    Take note of the fact that all 12 of the major scales will be constructed by the same formula so they're all going to have the same characteristic sound. They'll just sound lower or higher than one another depending on the starting note.


    We'll start with the C Major Scale:

    Find the note C on your guitar (say 5th string, 3rd fret)

    Now make the steps WWHWWWH right up the 5th string.

    As far as the frets go you should have:

    Start on 3rd fret, whole step to 5th fret, whole step to 7th fret, half step to 8th fret, whole to 10th fret, whole to 12th fret, whole to 14th fret, and finally a half step to the 15th fret which hopefully puts us on the note C again.

    The notes we got (confirm) are:

    C D E F G A B C

    Let's do it beginning on the note F (say, 6th string, first fret). Again, make the steps
    WWHWWWH right up the string.

    As far as the frets go:

    Start on first fret, whole to 3rd fret, whole to 5th fret, half to 6th fret, whole to 8th fret, whole to 10th fret, whole to 12th fret, and finally a half step to the 13th fret.

    The notes we got are:

    F G A Bb C D E F

    You'll see why we sometimes use flats as opposed to sharps soon enough.


    Short quiz....

    Try to make a G major scale and a D major scale on your own! (use sharps, not flats)
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    Old 02-12-2004, 06:39 PM   #17
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Answers:

    If we start on the note G, we then
    move a whole step to A then
    W to B then
    H to C then
    W to D then
    W to E then
    W to F# then
    H to G

    G major scale = G A B C D E F# G


    To make the D major scale start on the note D and then
    W to E then
    W to F# then
    H to G then
    W to A then
    W to B then
    W to C# then
    H to D.

    D major scale = D E F# G A B C# D

    Anyone out there noticing any patterns concerning the sharps??????
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    Old 02-12-2004, 06:56 PM   #18
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Continuing.....

    If you haven't done so, it's a good idea to write out all the notes for all the keys. REMEMBER....THESE ARE NOTES....NOT CHORDS! (can't stress that enough)

    Also, if you didn't figure it out by now....there are 7 notes in each key, the 8th note brings us back to the octave.

    Let's talk about Sharps and Flats for a minute...
    Did anybody figure out the pattern?

    Well, it turns out that they always fall in the SAME ORDER.

    The ORDER OF SHARPS can be remembered by the following:
    Funky Cows Get Drunk And Eat Breakfast Food

    The ORDER OF FLATS can be remembered by the following:
    BEAD G

    So, for example:
    the key of C has no sharps or flats.
    the key of G has one sharp------------>F#
    the key of D has two sharps----------->F# and C#
    the key of A has three sharps---------->F#, C#, and G#
    the key of E has four sharps----------->F#, C#, and G#, D#
    and so on...(similar for flats)

    So....some more info.
    The following keys: C G D A and E are the 5 major guitar keys in music. This is easy to remember because they make the word - CAGED. Some of you may have heard about the CAGED system. (I've even posted it before on this forum.) We will go over that later.
    So....
    Does anyone see anything in common with the CAGED keys?

    They all have sharps and no flats.

    Quick quiz:
    What key is missing from the CAGED system that also has sharps and no flats?
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    Old 02-12-2004, 07:06 PM   #19
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Answer to the question above:

    the key of B

    the key of B has 5 sharps-----> F#, C#, G#, D# and A#

    am I losing anybody yet?

    coming up, after I eat my dinner.....THE DREADED CIRCLE OF FIFTHS!

    (it will be a cakewalk for you....IF you understand everything posted thus far)

    stay tuned.....
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    Old 02-12-2004, 07:32 PM   #20
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    The Circle of Fifths:

    (can I not plant an image in here anymore?)
    http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/f/...res/circle.gif

    from a xerox I have:
    The circle of fifths is a handy tool for finding the sharps and flats in any given major scale. The ability to findthe sharps or flats in a given key quickly is a very important musical skill, so you will find it helpful to memorize the circle of fifths and to learn how to use it.

    The left side of the circle lists keys containing flats. The right side lists keys containing sharps. At the top of the circle is the key of C Major which has no sharps or flats. At the bottom of the circle is the key of F# Major and Gb Major which contain 6 sharps or 6 flats respectively.

    The numbers inside the circle tell you how many sharps or flats (depending on which side of the circle you are on) a given key contains. For example, on the right side of the circle, the key of G Major has 1 sharp, the key of D Major has 2 sharps, etc. On the left side, the key of F Major has 1 flat, the key of Bb Major has 2 flats, etc.

    The circle of fifths will also tell you which notes are sharped or flatted in each key.

    For sharp keys, start with the number 1 sharp (F#) and count the required number CLOCKWISE. Thus, the key of E Major has 4 sharps: F#, C#, G#, and D# (funky cows get drunk!)

    For flat keys, start with the number 1 flat (Bb) and count the required number COUNTER-CLOCKWISE. The key of Ab, for example, has four flats: Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db (bead!)

    now here is a lesson on the circle of fifths a friend of mine did:

    The Cycle of Fifths (Circle of Fifths) - more than just a memory device - useful in progressions.....

    Recall the C major scale had no sharps. It's notes were C D E F G A B C

    What's the 5th note of the C major scale?

    I get the note G....hopefully you do.

    When we made the G major scale, how many sharps did we get?

    G major scale = G A B C D E F# G.

    Aha...We got one sharp (take note of where the F# occurs - next to last note of the scale)

    Now, what's the 5th note of the G major scale? I get the note D.

    How many sharps did we get when we made the D major scale last chapter?

    D major scale = D E F# G A B C# D.

    Aha...two sharps that time. Note that the D major scale retains the F# of the G major scale, and now we again have a sharp on the next to last note (C#)

    Quiz:

    What is the root note of the major scale containing three sharps?

    Answer: A

    Ok...

    Well, the fifth note of the D major scale is in fact A. Make an A major scale. Get 3 sharps? You should have

    A major scale = A B C# D E F# G# A.

    Note we again retained the sharps from the previous scale (the F# and C# of the D major scale). Also, again, the new sharp (G#) came on the next to last note.

    The pattern keeps going. Do you remember how odd it seemed when we first named the 12 notes of music back in Part 1? Didn't seem like a very simple way of naming the notes. It hopefully doesn't seem as disorganized now.

    The fifth note now would be the note E.
    I'll leave that up to you. You could keep going and make the E major scale, then the B major scale. You would continue to use sharps. Instead of doing that though, let's go the other way and follow the.....

    Cycle of Fourths.

    Go back to the C major scale....no sharps...just C D E F G A B C.

    Patterns here if we go by fourths?????

    The fourth note is F. When we make a major scale on F (we did it last section...use flats) we get

    F major scale = F G A Bb C D E F

    Note that we got one flat. Where did it occur? We got the new flat on the 4th note.

    Make sure you get that for the F major scale. Recall that there is no note between B and C, nor is there a note between E and F.

    Now if we go to the 4th note of the F major scale we have the note Bb. Let's make the Bb major scale. Remember, we still just follow the formula WWHWWWH - that doesn't change.

    I get Bb C D Eb F G A Bb. Now, of course you see three flats written there but there are only two DIFFERENT flats, the Bb and the Eb. Notice that in relation to the prior scale, we retained the old flat and the new flat pops up on the 4th note.

    The fourth note was Eb. Make the Eb major scale. I get Eb major scale =

    Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb

    Again, we retained the two old flats and our new flat popped up on the 4th note giving us a total of three DIFFERENT flats.


    QUIZ:
    You should just confirm you get the following notes for the major scales....if you don't get something ask...

    Remember, the formula for making a major scale is...

    You pick a root note and then make the following steps

    W W H W W W H

    Going by 5ths.....

    C Major = C D E F G A B C

    G Major = G A B C D E F# G

    D Major = D E F# G A C# D

    A Major = A B C# D E F# G# A

    E Major = E F# G# A B C# D# E

    B Major = B C# D# E F# G# A# B

    F# Major = F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#
    (clearly F# major looks awfully messy...it's just as messy if you think of it as Gb major. Note the E#...that's really just the note F...it's customary to not use the same letter name in a scale twice, so, since we already had an F#, we refer to the F as E#)

    Remember, no matter how complicated a scale looks,,, ALL major scales have the same exact structure.... WWHWWWH...they all sound exactly alike.
    play them on your guitar to help train your ear.

    going by 4ths we get....

    C Major = C D E F G A B C

    F Major = F G A Bb C D E F

    Bb Major = Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

    Eb Major = Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb

    Ab Major = Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab

    Db Major = Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db

    Gb Major (which is the same as F# Major)

    Gb Major = Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb
    (note that Cb is just the note B - we avoid using the letter B twice in the scale)

    Don't freak out about trying to memorize things.....just make sure you can MAKE the scales properly....

    In general, the vast majority of guitar music "happens" in the keys of C,G,D,A, E and their relative minors (don't concern yourself with relative minors yet). There really isn't as much to remember as you might think.....remember...metal heads learn this stuff....doped up metal heads learn this stuff....it can't be that tough....just make sure you can make the scales on paper and up a single string on your guitar.


    light bulbs going off yet?
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    Old 02-12-2004, 07:45 PM   #21
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    so.
    I think I'll leave that until tomorrow.
    I've got some great stuff to post for tomorrow evening....

    whatever you do DON'T GET FRUSTRATED.

    use your guitar as a tool when you're reading through this information.

    make it FUN. (and practice with that Fretboard Warrior!)
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    Old 02-12-2004, 10:26 PM   #22
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Very cool thread, I sure many appreciate this. Awesome job on the lessons man.
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    Old 02-13-2004, 03:33 AM   #23
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Wow...I felt like I was really in class that time!!! back to my "Fretwarrior"
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    Old 02-16-2004, 05:50 PM   #24
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    i hope this never ends haha
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    Old 02-16-2004, 06:05 PM   #25
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    i'm cleaning this up into a nice word file as we go, with separate pages for answers, so as this all finishes up one day and pipsqueak gets bored with us "music idiots" i'll send it over the internet to people who want it....
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    Old 02-16-2004, 10:24 PM   #26
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by acmorgan
    i'm cleaning this up into a nice word file as we go, with separate pages for answers, so as this all finishes up one day and pipsqueak gets bored with us "music idiots" i'll send it over the internet to people who want it....

    I'm posting more tonight as we "speak".....
    and if you don't want to waste your time.....I have some/most of it in word files

    more coming in minutes...
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    Old 02-16-2004, 10:55 PM   #27
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    okie dokie....
    so we've got all of that Circle of Fifths stuff down?
    got all the notes on the fretboard memorized?
    yah? good.

    I'm going to kick off page 2 with a miniature essay that a friend of mine typed out on "Guitar Do's and Dont's".....This friend is a guitar instructor.
    Take what you want of it. It is pretty good and sound advice, just remember it is only one person's opinion. And please, let's not open it up to too much criticism online and in this open forum, since I didn't write it. I don't feel like I should answer to it. I can help you offline if you wish.

    Here we go:

    By the way, I'm not trying to pass myself off as God's Gift to Guitardom. I'm certainly not. I just hate to see people struggle senselessly with something that should be fun. I've seen first hand what does seem to work and what does not - both for myself and students who have come to me frustrated from other teachers.

    Several people mentioned how they got their greatest learning by the "sink or swim" method while playing with others. Undoubtedly, playing with others, or recording yourself and trying to play a second part, or trying to play along in time with a teacher, or practicing ever so objectively with your metronome - anything like that where you are forced to be aware of the beat and not lose it - is where you'll develop most of your ability.

    Back to the topic of lessons...

    Now, certain advanced players might seek out specialized instruction, of course. Golf pros seek out lessons to improve particular areas of their game. However, they are very very good golfers before they seek specialized help. They've already completely mastered the fundamental basics of being a good player.

    Most folks who are in that "Well, I know some chords and licks, I'm pretty good, I think, I'm not sure, my mom thinks I play Dust in the Wind and Stairway to Heaven well, but...I just don't know what I'm doin' man" phase of playing need a thorough drilling in fundamentals.

    A short list of things to with a general instructor. Anything else you might be better off doing with friends, from books and videos, or possibly with a well known and very advanced player who excels in some particular area of playing.

    Like I said, I'll follow up on these.

    1. Basic Ear Training - So important. I didn't realize it existed.

    2. Learn to read musical notation and rhythm notation. This is a no-brainer. I'm talking about a minimal amount of reading - not anything on the order of what a classical guitarist could do. I get 16 year old metal heads to do this and they enjoy it. There are good, basic, but modern music reading/CD packs available. If you thought I was correct about Mark Hanson's fingerpicking books, you'll probably think I'm correct about these. Much more to say about this.

    3. Learn basic music theory (major scale, intervals, triads, chord formulas, and keys) in conjunction with learning to read music. It essentially happens for free that way (for both your brain and wallet). My students do this with a minimum of their jotting a note or two here and there. I speak musically to them in complete sentences and they learn how to respond in complete sentences and complete thoughts. Easy. Not tough.


    Do not, Do Not, DO NOT, oh my goodness DO NOT try to learn the basics of chord theory and construction the following two ways.
    A) Go to an instructor with music (say, a magazine like Guitar World Acoustic) whip out your favorite tune and say "How does he know to use these chords together?" Most instructors will in return whip out a sheet of paper and start scrawling in disorganized chicken scratch the entire content of two semesters of a college music theory class. You probably aren't going to get much in the way of learning that way. If by any chance you do, it's going to take 19 lessons to learn what you could have learned in 19 minutes if you had gone about things in a proper way in the first place.

    B) Don't try to learn the basics of chord construction while learning to solo over the basic blues progression either. I see so many sad and confused people. The whole idea behind the blues is that dominant chords pop up where they're not "supposed to". Talk about confusion. Good grief.

    Both of these ways are a little like the following: You've never played football. You walk out onto an NFL field. As the defensive linemen and linebackers are growling and digging in, the center gets ready to snap you the ball. You then turn to your coach (instructor) and say "Oh, hey, quick, how do you play this game?" You, my friend, are in for a serious whoopin'. It's not sensible.


    4. Once you do understand the basics of chord theory you most definitely should look at popular tunes with an instructor to begin understanding harmony. For example - suppose you like such and such a tune. It's going to be filled with chord sequences and progression. Pick one sequence, say F to F/G (F triad with G in the bass) to C. Pick that sucker apart. Milk it for everything it's worth. What chord does F/G really represent? How else can you play it besides the way the tablature shows? If you understand chord construction you should find dozens of ways to play this out with partial chords - and understand them! Can we simply play some intervals? Detune your A string to G and we've got new things. Once you've got a whole new arsenal of ideas, how could 2 guitar parts combine to make it fuller? Intervals, intervals. Slide those intervals about. Last time I checked, there were twelve keys. Start playing this progression every way you can in other keys. But for crying out loud, know, and know well 'nuff to use, your basic theory first. Beware the chicken scratch monsters.

    5. Soloing and improvising

    Someone who scrawls out a scale and says play "what you feel" is not helping you. Those "learnt the blues from the Devil in a swamp one dark night" instructors might make for good friends, neighbors, jam session buddies - I've got a few of them. But the only way to learn something from them is give them a 12 pack and hang out with them for a few hours. Not once a week for a few minutes.

    For soloing practice with an instructor you should work on

    Tension and Release

    Targeting Notes (chord tones)

    Limiting Rhythm to help find chord tones

    Limiting Rhythm to "free up" your rhythm

    I would also suggest you pick apart Robben Ford's blues instructional stuff with an instructor. He is THE man for sophisticated blues played with feeling and exceptional phrasing.


    6. Fingerstyle

    For the mechanics of fingerpicking no doubt get Mark Hanson's books

    You should definitely seek out someone who actively arranges tunes for solo guitar if you're interested. Books can give you suggestions - but to see a true artist in the creative process is quite a different thing

    Some more do's and don'ts...

    First, one important thing to remember...If you're taking lessons and enjoying them, please don't get overly swayed by my opinions and go off and dump your instructor because he can't read music or anything else along those lines. That's not my intention at all. I'm trying to offer advice for those who are just starting out and also for those who are kind of stuck and frustrated.
    Being stuck at point A, wanting to get to point B, watching others happily and quickly get to point B, and not having a clue as to how to get yourself to point B can get a little maddening!

    Anyways, back to more do's and don'ts


    7. DO record the lessons on an audio tape and avoid having lesson time get gobbled up with a lot of writing. Do you like what you hear? From your instructor? From yourself?

    8. Working on popular tunes - make sure you understand what I wrote in #4 above. Ask if you don't. Other sensible things to work on within tunes might be:

    a) Separating the essential from the non-essential (helpful for simplifying if your in over your head)

    b) clapping out rhythms found in the tune so you can slow parts down enough to practice them PRODUCTIVELY. Learning to read music will make your life so much easier. The other day I was watching a "kid" (probably 20 yrs.) in a shop "play" Dave Matthews' Crash Into Me (I'm not sure if that's the title, it's Crash something) It's simple enough, just some strumming on some odd but cool and related voicings. However, bass notes come in funny and unexpected places and that's what makes the song happen. After he went through the thing about 25 times badly I went over to a bin of used magazines where I knew there was a transcription. When I got back to the acoustic room he spotted me and said "Uh oh, I've seen you before. I know what's coming." I opened the magazine and asked him if he could read the rhythm (there's a repeating, sort of hypnotic pattern). He didn't bother answering, just took off his hat. I bonked him with the magazine. I clapped out the rhythm, he clapped along, we slowed it down, he played the tune with only the bass notes first while I clapped, then he did the whole thing properly. Took him all of 3 minutes to work it up to full speed. It's not just that he can play that part properly now. He's a better player - by a liitle bit. He's not the same person anymore. Little by little you change into a whole different guitarist if you practice properly. Guaranteed! Now if he wants to add some Pete Townshend type strums in the middle of the tune, he won't fall flat on his face. He'll do it, quite easily, without much thought, and like a cat he'll somehow end up upright and on his feet ready for the next measure. Learn to read music. A little effort in, a big reward out.

    c) picking up and connecting parts(such as picking up the verse on the last measure and then connecting to the chorus) Your instructor can act as a drummer driving a band rehearsal. It's one thing to pick up some riffs and chords and THINK you can play a tune. It's quite another to be able to run everything together at full speed without losing the beat.
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    Old 02-16-2004, 10:57 PM   #28
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    so....
    I hope you enjoyed reading that.
    Like I said, it's good advice.......good food for thought at minimum.

    Plus, I like the Dave Matthews part of the story. (it's so true too!)

    Anyway.
    ready for more?
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    Old 02-16-2004, 11:19 PM   #29
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    This is a section more on playing rather than any new theory info really...

    If you have learned how to make a major scale (which we have definitely gone over) you should set out and find some practical fingerings (they're all over the place) on your guitar.

    For example....for the C major scale....

    C D E F G A B C ...you could play

    3rd string - 5th fret, 7th fret
    2nd string - 5th fret, 6th fret, 8th fret
    1st string - 5th fret, 7th fret, 8th fret

    Just keep in mind there are many other places to find these same notes.....and as an aside...folks who learn to read music learn the fretboard SO much more easily than those who don't....just an observation in general.....

    Note there are no open strings in our scale...just like barre chords....such scale fingerings are movable....move the C major scale up two frets and you'd have the D major scale. (whole step!) Move the C major scale down 3 frets and you'd have the A major scale....ask if you don't get it......

    Now, it is one thing to think you know something and it is another thing to know something well enough to use.

    Don't start getting sucked off into a black hole here.....that would be memorizing fingering after fingering without really taking the time to absorb what notes you're playing. You're just going to fool yourself into thinking that you're getting somewhere when you're not (probably not). You'd be much better off knowing one scale in a musical sense rather than 43 scales as just dots on paper or physical locations on the fretboard.

    In the next couple of posts I'll finally get to how we build the various chords out of major scales...

    ...what follows right here in this post is not in any way meant to be a complete explanation but rather just a hint as to why you might want to practice playing major scales a particular way....in writing this will probably seem hopelessly complicated....in person, through talking, conversing, and playing, it's very easily understood....

    In a nutshell, chords are constructed from scales by picking a root note and then selecting and adding on every other note (you'll see why we call this "stacking thirds" later). Just read the following until you get past the excalmation points...

    For example, given the C major scale,

    C D E F G A B C

    if we select C as a root note and start picking every other note, we would get E and G.

    The notes C, E, and G make up a C major chord. Every C major chord you know how to play is just some combination of C's, E's, and G's.

    If we took this process of picking every other note way out to the 7th note of the scale, which would be the note B, we'd get a C Maj7 chord. Every C Maj7 chord you know is just some combination of C's, E's, G,s, and B's.

    Still using the C major scale....

    if I took D as my root note and started adding every other note I'd get the notes

    D F and A. These notes together make a Dmin chord. Every Dmin chord you know is just a collection of D's, F's, and A's.

    If I took this picking every other note process out to the 7th note from D, that would be the note C, and we'd get

    D F A and C. These notes together make a Dmin7 chord. Every Dmin7 chord you know how to play is just a collection of D's, F's, A's, and C's.

    ****Of course you need to understand the rules that tell you if you've got a major chord as opposed to a minor chord, a Maj7 as opposed to a dominant 7th, etc.....we'll get to that****

    You should practice major scales with this "every other note" concept in your head....the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th, etc...notes are important...

    Look at the C major scale again...

    C D E F G A B C...we could very easily think of this as

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 or

    Root 2 3 4 5 6 7 Root or

    R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R...

    if we added the next highest note D to the scale we would get

    C D E F G A B C D...think of that as

    R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R 9

    Practice the C major scale (any major scale) the following ways.

    - R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R

    - R 7 6 5 4 3 2 R

    - R 2 3 3 2 R

    - 3 2 R

    - R 2 3 4 5 5 4 3 2 R

    - 5 4 3 2 R

    - R 2 3 4 5 6 7 7 6 5 4 3 2 R

    - 7 6 5 4 3 2 R

    also do the following...they should help you "hear" the scale better...

    R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R 9 R

    3 4 5 6 7 R 9 R

    5 6 7 R 9 R

    7 R 9 R or 7 R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R 9 R

    ask if you are confused.....

    again, this is demonstrated in less than 2 minutes in person....it just looks complicated in writing....it's not...
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    Old 02-16-2004, 11:36 PM   #30
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    Re: Guitar Theory

    ALRIGHTY!....
    now we're cookin'...
    this is where is starts to get fun and exciting...right!

    So...at this point, we should be comfortable with figuring out major scales and in the last post we started "stacking thirds" or building triads.

    Now, here are the "rules" that I alluded to in the previous post.
    (These are the fundamental rules for building chords....TRIADS!!!)

    a MAJOR triad is the Root, 3, and 5 notes of the key
    a MINOR triad is the Root, b3, and 5 notes of the key (all we do to make it minor is flat the 3rd)
    a DIMINISHED triad is the Root, b3, and b5 notes of the key (flat 3rd and 5th)
    an AUGMENTED triad is the Root, 3, and #5 notes of the key (sharp the 5th)

    now that's pretty easy, right?
    some more straight-up info and how-to:

    The Triads built on the steps of a major scale are called DIATONIC triads. These are all of the triads possible in a major key. Any other triad would be out of the key.

    To construct diatonic triads, begin with writing out a major scale. Then build triads on each note of the scale using only the notes in that scale.

    Taking the key of C:
    C D E F G A B C

    When we do that, we get the following triads:

    C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, and B diminished

    This sequence (major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished) is referred to as the DIATONIC TRIADS for a given major key, and, like the pattern of half steps and whole steps, holds true for ANY major key.

    yee-haw!

    DIATONIC TRIADS are commonly referred to by the scale degree of their roots. In Roman numerals this would be as follows:
    I----ii----iii----IV----V----vi----vii(dim)

    Numerals in upper case refer to major chords, numerals in lowercase refer to minor chords. The single oddity is the diminished chord built on the seventh degree of the scale. It is rarely used, and you may not encounter it. (probably not)

    So.....any light bulbs going off yet?
    So....just commit these rules to memory. I don't know how else to tell you to do it. That's just how it works.

    And, now....you should be able to list ALL of the DIATONIC TRIADS for ALL of the major keys!

    Quiz time!

    List all of the diatonic triads for all of the major keys: (don't do 7th chords...that's next)

    C
    G
    D
    A
    E
    B
    Gb
    Db
    Ab
    Eb
    Bb
    F
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