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Theory 01: Introduction To Music Theory

Carlos Eduardo Seo (900) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5



In this lesson, I'll briefly introduce the basic concepts of music theory. These are necessary for a better understanding of most lessons. Each page of this lesson is to be faced as a mini-lesson and they should be studied one at a time. So, don't think you are a too slow learner if you take too much time in each page. Take your time, go slowly and enjoy!
First of all, some basic concepts:

Sound properties
- Frequency: define the different notes. Each note has its frequency.
- Duration: time interval you can hear the sound.
- Intensity: the well known volume.

Basic elements of Music
- Melody: successive sound, forming a music line (e.g. a guitar solo).
- Harmony: succesive simultaneous sounds (e.g. a chord progression).
- Rhythm: movement of sounds according to their duration.

The Notes

To represent the sounds, the music notes were created. There are 7 fundamental notes plus 5 'accidentals', forming a 12 note chromatic scale:

- Fundamentals: C D E F G A B
* Note: in latin languages (Portuguese, Spanish, etc) you will usually see these names for the notes: C = Do, D = Re, E = Mi, F = Fa, G = Sol, A = La, B = Si

- Chromatic Scale: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B or C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B

The accidentals can are represented by two symbols: '#', which means 'sharp' and 'b', which means 'flat'. A sharp symbol raises the note a half-step and the flat symbol lowers the note a half-step. Note: two half-steps make a whole step.

Applying these concepts to the guitar makes things easier to understand. Each adjacent fret on the fretboard means a half-step move. For instance, if you play an A on the low E 5th fret, the note you'll play on the 6th fret is a A# (or a Bb). Note also that we have what I call 'note overlapping' on the guitar: the same note can be played in many different neck positions (e.g. the A on the 5th fret of low E string is the same one as the A played on open 5th string).

Memorize the notes locations on the fretboard for now. It'll be important for the next parts.