A Guide to Music Theory For Guitar

A Guide to Music Theory For Guitar

Here is your free complete guitar music theory lesson. Learn the foundation to make your own anniversary love song. Read and write your own songs and melodies, and learn composing and arranging techniques.

Getting Started ~ Pitches and Clefs

What is a tone? A tone is simply a sound that is played or sung at a certain pitch. If your humming to yourself or if your whistling then those are all tones. You can sound many different tones. For example, you can have higher pitched tones or lower pitched tones.

So the higher the tone the higher the pitch the lower the tone the lower the pitch. Now let’s talk about scales. (we will cover scales more later in this lesson) Each scale starts on a different note, and then ends up on the same note just higher pitched.

A normal scale is split up into 7 main notes. This will be easy to number because all you have to do is count to 7. If you were to play Mary Had a Little Lamb just by numbers it would look like this…

3212333 222 555

This is what it looks like in standard notation.

These are the 7 main notes and the 8th note is just the same note as the beginning note, just a higher pitch. Now that you know how to play by numbers, let’s try something different.

You may have heard this before, but this is called the Solfege Method. This is just naming the notes by a syllable instead of numbers.

Here is what each tone’s syllable will sound and look like.

  • Tone 1 – Do (Doh)
  • Tone 2 – Re (Ray)
  • Tone 3 – Mi (Mee)
  • Tone 4 – Fa (Fah)
  • Tone 5 – So (So)
  • Tone 6 – La (Lah)
  • Tone 7 – Ti (Tee)
  • Tone 8 – Do (Doh)

This is Mary Had a Little Lamb in the Solfege Method. Mi Re Do Re Mi Mi Mi Re Re Re Mi So So. So with both the numbers and the solfege method on standard notation it looks like this.

It’s important to know that in whatever scale you’r playing in both the numbers and the solfege apply. Whatever the first note of the scale is it will always be number 1 and Do and the second note will always be number 2 and Re and so on.

The ABC’s

The usual way of naming a note is by naming them by the first 7 letters of the alphabet. A,B,C,D,E,F,G. It’s a lot easier to play this way because if someone tells you to play an A you know there is only one note that sounds like an A..the A note, but if someone tells you to play number 3 then that could mean play anything because you would have to know the key. It’s better to learn by the alphabet.

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