MUSIC THEORY 101 Don't Be Afraid :)

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by jonesy, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    I have been Teaching for over 25 years and do not use a book to teach out of. A new student gets an empty folder with their name on it and every lesson they get new stuff added as they go along. No matter what kind of Music they think they want to learn, there are certain basics we all must master. After they get going I focus on their interests and work on the things that they like and can use in their style of playing, plus a mix.

    First Lesson...

    The 7 White keys on the piano are A B C D E F G

    The 5 Black keys on the piano are A# C# D# F# G# (flats later)

    Combine them getting a 12 note chromatic scale, ever wonder why there are usually 2 dots at the 12th fret on most guitars????

    A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A etc...

    notice no B# or E#???

    I also refer to this as the Musical Alphabet or the answer key for solving any music theory problems

    INTERVAL is the distance between 2 notes, the intervals in the chromatic scale are all 1/2 step or one fret intervals. It takes two 1/2 steps to make a whole step interval. A to B is a whole step, B to C is a 1/2 step, C to E is two whole steps, E to G is 1 1/2 steps and so on...

    Next is the Major scale, IMO the Mother of all scales and what all basic chord theory in evolved from. Here is the Major Scale Formula, it is a series of half step and whole step intervals, 1/2 steps noted...

    1........2.........3...(1/2 step)..4.........5.........6.........7...(1/2 step)...8

    Root---------------------------------------------------------- Octave

    C.......D.........E..................F..........G.........A...........B................C

    A Major chord is made up of the 1 3 5 notes of it's root scale and a minor chord is 1 b3 5 basically taking the major chord and flatting the 3rd

    1 4 5 in chords are simple blues, rock and country progressions, the 6th is the relative minor, flat the Major 7th and you will have the Blues or Dominant 7th, all good useful stuff if you plan on playing in a rock band or in church or are just trying to change the key of a song to make it easier to sing...learn and understand the basics and you will be able to go on and solve the most difficult music theory problems.
    If you re new at this...Start slow and as you go along more and more should start to click for you...:naughty:

    Peace, jonesy
     
  2. notoperational

    notoperational MLP Sponsor

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    Interesting stuff.

    As a current music major, I am supremely interested to see where this thread goes.
     
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  3. 05jrock

    05jrock Senior Member

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    I had my first lesson in febuary this year.I just wanted to learn songs and that was it,the theory stuff did put me off a bit.Now I know A minor pentatonic,E minor pentatonic, A lonian major scale,A aeolian natural scale,a couple of blues scales and a bunch of chords.Done a lesson on open D tuning the other day.I'm loving it,learning all these scales has helped me out so much,and they are so good for warm up aswel.
     
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  4. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Knowledge is Power....:naughty:
     
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  5. armann

    armann Senior Member

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    Great post Jonesy.

    Good for theory beginners.
     
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  6. Stowburst

    Stowburst V.I.P. Member

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    Thats me.. been playing for about 16yrs and I dont understand anything..I'm just starting to learn the theory side of things.
     
  7. armann

    armann Senior Member

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    Just ask away if your stuck on something :)

    I sure know I was sometimes lost when I went to music school...
     
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  8. deepkick

    deepkick Junior Member

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    i have never had any lessons, but this is awesome, please keep posting! i want to learn more.

    So if i was to make up a song, out of the D, E and G chords, what would major scale would i solo in, can it only be of the D, E and G major scales? im going to learn that now, i found the minor pentatonic scales so i learned them but i think i learned the wrong scales.

    is minor pentatonic scales for a song that has Dm Em and Gm chords?
     
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  9. armann

    armann Senior Member

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    Let's say the song is in the key of D.
    That key has two sharps, F# and C#.
    The formula for the major scale is: W - W - H - W - W - W - H.
    W = Whole step, H = half step.

    So the chord progression for D major would be:

    D major, E minor, F# minor, G major, A major, and then the relative minor B minor
    and then C#diminished.

    A good way to learn how to harmonize scales is playing the triad on the g,b and low e strings. The triad is the root, third, fifth.

    So about soloing, the first rule is to follow the chords tone.
    That always sounds good and is just a good practise, helps you memorize
    the key notes for chords on the fretboard.

    So for a I-IV-V progression in D, that's D-G-A.
    I would play D major scale for the D then G major scale for the G and A major scale for the A.
    I also depends on the song, is it fast then maybe you just have time for a note or two in the G major
    then a good idea is to pick any note from the triad, it's just trial and error but the more you practise this
    the better your solos are going to sound.

    I could also just play D major pentatonic for the whole progression but
    that kind of implies you really don't know theory or what your doing.
    So following the chord tones and mixing it up with major/minor pentatonic scale
    makes you sound like you know the fretboard.

    I would learn the CAGE system and apply it for major/natural minor major pentatonic/minor pentatonic scales.

    It's only five shapes and you have the whole neck covered.

    Hope this helps a little. ;)
     
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  10. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    I am so glad this thread has generated some interest...
    BACK TO MY ORIGINAL POST: Now after I taught a student what I showed as "first lesson" post I would tell them the following....

    HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT AS YOU ARE LEARNING THEORY
    1. Don't worry about it if you don't understand it, I just wanted to show it to you and we can work on it as you go along.

    2. You don't have to know how it all works at first, because it is very much like going to kindergarten and learning your abc's. You have no idea who wrote them or why you just sing the silly little song and you MEMORIZE them. Try not to question it, rather accept it like you would 2 + 2 = 4 always right?

    3. Write out the chromatic scale as many times as you need to so you will have it MEMORIZED correctly and can write it out properly on a piece of paper with out looking.

    4. No Music Theory is of any good if we cannot relate it to our instrument and use it to be a better Player/Musician.

    5. This is Practical theory and I am not trying to impress you with useless information or waste your time with any nonsense. This is something you can use to give yourself an edge...

    Chromatic scale A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A etc.

    Lets go back and make sure we understand the whole step half step concept.
    Every Fret is 1/2 step. So if you went to the 5th string on your guitar, it would be an A in standard tuning. So open not fretted it rings out an A, 1st fret is A#, 2nd fret is B, 3rd fret is C, 4th fret is C# all the way to the 12th fret and then it starts on A again.

    TWO WORDS: ROOT & OCTAVE....
    These are as important for power chords as it is for scales and solo/improvisation. Where are the roots at on a tree? At the bottom or base, same for chords and scales the root note is usually the lowest note or bass note as well. The Octave is the same note but one register higher
    C D E F G A B C C is the root and C is the Octave

    Let's look a little bit at the major scale again...

    C........D........E.........F.........G........A.........B............C
    1........2........3.........4.........5.........6.........7............8

    ----------------1/2 ---------------------------1/2 ---

    The half steps are between the 3 & 4 and the 7 & 8 the rest of the INTERVALS are whole steps. With this Formula and the chromatic scale you should be able to write out all 12 Major scales even if you know nothing about Music theory. See I told you not to be afraid it is not that hard. Most people tend to really over think and makes this complicated, it is not that hard.

    It is a FORMULA just like in math, if we plug in the right information we will get the right answers. If we put in the wrong info then we will get the wrong answer, it is that simple.

    Normally I teach music theory at the Piano because it is much easier to see than on the strings of a guitar. If we are talking about an A or a G or C they are Major chords even if we don't call it a G major etc. it just goes with out saying. If a chord is Minor it will have a little m by it like Am or Bm etc.
    Major chords sound rather Happy and Minor chords are a little moody or darker sounding.

    Now if we have Major and Minor chords we can also have Major and Minor Scales. The Pentatonic scales come in Major and Minor forms, major pentatonic scales are used a lot in country and the minor pentatonic scales are used for Bluesy riffs, even though I use both for rock and country and cross them over all the time for Blues stuff...

    Thats all for now I have a 62' Tele reissue to put together...

    Peace, jonesy
     
  11. El_Greco

    El_Greco Senior Member

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    Amazing thread Jonesy, for beginners like me this is worth quite much, can't wait to read more! :)
     
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  12. armann

    armann Senior Member

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    I hope you don't feel like I was trying to "steal" your thread Jonesy.

    I was just trying to help out. :)

    Good job Jonesy and a much needed thread.
     
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  13. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    :applause: No Bro, by all means chime in with what ever you feel is important, I was just trying to keep on track. Lol... I was kinda surprised that many people were even interested in theory. Was sorta planning on keeping this going for a little while, and making sure I don't go to fast or miss anything for those who are new at this Theory stuff :naughty:

    Peace, jonesy
     
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  14. armann

    armann Senior Member

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    Cool, thanks, I have never taught theory but it's a fun subject, specially when it's
    start making sense when your staring at the fretboard. :D
     
  15. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    The major scale and i iv v's made easy....
    Ok so if we know the Chromatic scale, we can figure out all 12 Major scales if we also know the Major scale formula..
    .


    If you see a mistake please do not get down on me to bad, I am only human and a poor typer...
    The Chromatic scale is all 1/2 steps just like each fret on your guitar is..
    AA#BCC#DD#EFF#GG#AA#BCC#DD#EFF#GG#A etc....

    Major Scale is a combination of whole steps and half steps....
    1...2....34...5....6....78
    C...D....EF...G....A....BC

    The C Major Scale is the only Major scale with NO flats or sharps in it...

    12345678 KEY
    CDEFGABC------C F G Am These are the 1 4 5 and minor (1=root) Key of C

    GABCDEF#G------G C D Em 1 4 5 and minor Key of G

    DEF#GABC#D------D G A Bm 1 4 5 and minor of the Key of D

    ABC#DEF#G#A------A D E F#m 1 4 5 and minor in key of A

    EF#G#ABC#D#E------E A B C#m 1 4 5 and minor in key of E

    As you see as we go along and build scales off of the 5th note of each scale we start to get more #'s in each Key(Root)...

    Ok so why is it important to know what the 1 4 5 chords are?? Because they are basically all that are used in Blues, Country and early roots Rock. We normally do not play in all 12 keys so learn the ones used most often instead of wasting time on keys you won't be using much. I play a lot of blues in E A and G, lot's of Rock in E and A and other keys. Country is right at home in the key of G...

    Here is one example of a 12 bar blues in the key of E... 4/4 time
    ...1.4.1.1..4.4.1.1...5..4..1..1..
    /:E/A/E/E/A/A/E/E/B7/A7/E/E:/ REPEATS

    This is actually the progression to "Rambling on my mind" by Robert Johnson, I lean more towards Clapton's rendition.

    Here is the 8 bar for Elmore James "It Hurts Me To"
    Key Of E 4/4
    ...I.I..IV.IV.I.V,IV.I.I..
    /:E/E/A/A/E/B7A/E/E :/ E Major Pentatonic Scale copies the vocal line

    Knowing the Groups of chords by Keys is a quick way to help learn songs faster, especially if you have to think quick and don't have much time to prepare??? So if you know what Key you are in then you can pick the correct chords, and the patterns will vary. If you know what Key your are in, you can also choose the correct scale for soloing or improvisation(more on that later) and it will help you with writing songs.
    Root note or 1 will be the same as they Key your are in. The 4th and 5th chords are the 4th and 5th notes of that Keys Major scale, simple as that.
    Hope that helps clear some things up for some of you...:fingersx:

    Peace, jonesy
     
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  16. Gigan

    Gigan Senior Member

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    Hmm this stuff is great but I need to brush up on my homework as far as my scales....
     
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  17. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    I used to use the Major scale as my warm up scale, even though I did not use it much for soloing. The Major and Minor Pentatonic's are what you most often hear in Rock, Blues and Country...
    Once you memorize a scale pattern, making Music with it is an entirely different thing. Adding in the bends and slides, and learning what not to play...

     
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  18. TheWellGoodShow

    TheWellGoodShow V.I.P. Member

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    cmon keep going =]
    Ive done alot of theory teaching for people they just tend to wanna know it or just pass it off and quit.
     
  19. TheWellGoodShow

    TheWellGoodShow V.I.P. Member

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    or i just suck at teaching theory
     
  20. mikemack

    mikemack Senior Member

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    Theory is really cool when you start getting into it. I do find it to be overwhelming at times though. Im just starting to wrap my mind around it.
     
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