The Language of Music – How Music is Written (and read)

Learning how to read music can be daunting or limited without a solid understanding of how it is written. The first few videos in this section of instruction deal with providing that understanding. We’ll go through the symbols and letters that are used to construct a piece of written music, then study the mechanics of how those tools are used to represent the tones made when people interpret them. The first of these tools is the same as any written language, the alphabet. As with most things of value in life, acquiring a useful grasp of music theory requires practice. You will not benefit much from simply going over this material as though you were going to be tested, given a grade and you’re good to go for the rest of your life. It isn’t like that. Though some information is immediately useful and enlightening most of what learning the theory of music has to offer emerges slowly as you practice and use it. Write these concepts on manuscript and tab over and over, even if you know them. If you seriously want to reach for your musical potential, you should practice writing music the same way you practice playing it. The later videos should demonstrate the that learning theory overlaps with developing strength and technique. That is, mastery of the concepts comes with practice on the instrument.

The Musical Alphabet

The Major Scale

The Major Scale 2

The Major Scale 3

When we play the major scale with a root note “C” when we play or sing the  tone “C”  as “do” in do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do, we have the “natural” scale.  The “natrual” scale means that when we begin with the “C” and follow thereafter our sequence of steps, whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half, no note  in the sequence falls on a sharp or flat; every note represents the unaltered original note. So in the natural scale there are no sharps and no flats. The significance of this is that this gives us a reference for each of the tones in a scale and a starting point, a template, for all situations in which the root note of a major scale is not “C”  So, for example, if we want to begin our scale with “D” instead of “C” in other words, if we want the tone “D” to be our “do” in do, re, mi, and we proceed with our whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half sequence, we will find it necessary to make the tones “F” and “C” in our scale sharps, or “accidentals” — we will have to alter those notes to conform to our pattern.  The next three videos demonstrate this concept.

Natural Scale on the Guitar

Practice this scale until you can play it from memory naming the note as you play them. The videos that follow will help with this. 1st pos natural scale

Natural Scale in 1st Position

Natural Scale to 12th Fret

Once you understand how to express the natural scale by degrees, or steps, you can move on to apply this same concept starting from the other notes in it as I described above using “D” for my example.

Major Scales From Open Strings

The following videos concern various aspects of guitar theory.

The Major Triad and Dominant Seventh Chord



Comments on this entry are closed.