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Easy Guitar Theory - Notes & Octaves

Aug 30, 2008
Some of the primary concepts of guitar playing have been introduced in this piece of writing. It describes lot of words and concepts that the beginner guitarist requires to find out, and this is an perfect place to start if you are a beginner. Furthermore, it will give you an insight into some of the languages and concepts needed to move onto some of the more complex lessons.

Octaves and Note Naming

Lets start the process of giving names to notes. Total number of whole notes in the scales is 7. Most of them are rip into half notes. We name the whole notes after letters of the alphabet, starting at A and moving through to G. At G we circle back around to A again. The notes sound the same but higher as we have moved through 8 whole notes and got back to where we initiated from. The notes having the identical name are an Octave apart. Notes that are an octave apart are equivalent in musical function. In fact, if two notes are an octave apart, the higher note will have twice the frequency of the lower note. There are 8 notes in total, including the equivalent notes called as an octave. The doubling in frequency between Octave apart notes hits something in our nervous system and we find this relationship sensible and enjoyable to hear. And So, we commonly organize our musical scales around this concept.

Tones and Semi-tones, Flats and Sharps

It is said that there are 8 whole notes - it turns out that we also require half notes to play any possible tune. The formula of playing western music includes to place half notes between all of the whole notes except for 2 specific pairs - E,F and B,C. The question is that why do we do this? It all comes from the way that Higher-ranking scales are constructed, which you can read about in later in this lessons. Musical Scales are constructed from a mixture of half and whole notes depending on the scale and practice of 8 whole notes along with some half notes hand us the flexibility to do this. The noteworthy thing is that music notational system has formulated over many thousands of years, so to make perfect sense is not necessary, but it soon becomes second nature when you start working with it.

The whole notes are called tones while the half notes are called semi-tones. We can relate to the semitones through 2 ways. We can figure them by producing a semi-tone from a particular note, which we call a sharp, and we use the '#' sign to denote this. Or, we can figure the note by stepping down a semitone from a more high-pitched note - we call this a flat, and employ the 'b' to denote this. Thus, we can talk about the notes A and B, and the note in between them which we could name A# or Bb.

Observe that certain pairs of notes do not have a semitone between them! Another means to describe all this is that there is no such note as E#, or B#, or employing the flat notation, Fb and Cb do not exist.

(Side note: Actually there are some special conditions in which we talk about E#, B#, Fb and Cb, but these are really notational devices, and don't refer to additional notes. We will learn about this later).

Hence you should now see that an octave consists of actually 12 certain semi-tones (normally known as 13 because we count the octave note as well). These are: A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab and back to A again making 13. No other notes than these exist in Western music, and every song written uses a combination of these in several octaves, and so a tune or melody is just a sequence of semi-tones A-G# spaced apart. They are not equal to maintain some feeling of rhythm.
Why the number of semitones remains 12? The simple answer is convention. A long time ago, Western music established on the 8 note scale, and uses half notes as the fundamental basis for all musics. Some cultures employ quarter notes in their scales, but they sound to western ears. Occasionally, on guitar we employ quarter note bends to impart emphasis and phrasing, particularly in blues, but scales can not be built out of them.
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