Notes and Fingering - Guitar Lesson 6
Written by Philip du Toit   
Thursday, 26 November 2009 12:26

 

You might wonder why we haven’t introduced any notes yet.  Well, the reason for that is that a lot of people get discouraged to play guitar if they see all the notes they need to study.  To us, learning the notes is not the right starting point.  We would rather encourage the learner to develop a passion for music.  That is why we also focus on the development of your ear and why we start so early with scales, chords and even songs.  Eventually, we would like guitar students to work out and play their own chords and melody for a song.  In this way, they can develop the skill to play by ear and also to improvise.  We would like to help develop musicians, not robots that play dots on sheets.  There are many computer programs that can do that (e.g. Cakewalk, Sibelius, Q-Base).

 

But that doesn’t mean we are “against notes.”  To be able to read notes can be handy even for people who mostly play from chords or by ear, especially when a new melody for a song needs to be learned.  Then it helps if you can read the melody in notes together with the chords.  We reckon it will be handy to at least be able to read a single note line.

 

So let's introduce some note theory then.

 

 

 

Download this notes.tif file (you can print it out).  It has two pages.  This shows you where the notes lie on a piano relative to the right hand and left hand clefs.  The right hand clef (top clef) is indicated by a special sign: it is called the G-clef.  The left hand clef is indicated by another special sign: it is called the F-clef.  See which notes lie where in the left and right hand clefs.  The sharps and flats indicate the key of a music piece.

 

 

This is the C major scale (up and down):

 

 

 

In the G-clef, the notes from bottom to top on the lines are E  G  B  D  F.
In the G-clef, the notes from bottom to top between the lines are F  A  C  E.
In the F-clef, the notes from bottom to top on the lines are G  B  D  F  A.
In the F-clef, the notes from bottom to top between the lines are A  C  E  G.

 

 

 

Study where the notes lie relative to the guitar and the piano in the following picture.  Follow the red lines:

 

 

The sharps and flats indicate the key of a music piece. 

 

1 Sharp (F#) indicates G major or its related minor: E Minor.
2 Sharps (F# and C#) indicates D major or its related minor: B Minor.
etc. (see how the different keys are indicated in the notes.tif document).

 

The accumulating sharps can be memorized by: " Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle."

 

1 Flat (Bb) indicates F major or its related minor: D minor.
2 Flats (Bb and Eb) indicates Bb major or its related minor: G minor.

 

The accumulating flats can be memorized by: "Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father." (the reverse of the above).

 

See where these lie in both the G-clef and the F-clef.  Download this table (pdf) to see how the sharps and flats lie for which keys.

 

 

Try to memorize them.

 

 

The basic notes are indicated as follows:

 


The first note is a whole note (semibreve): four beats / counts (in 4/4 time [four counts in a measure / bar] it would take up a whole measure)
The second note is a half note (minim): two counts in 4/4 time
The third note is a quarter note (crotchet): one count in 4/4 time
The fourth note is a eighth note (quaver): an half-count in 4/4 time
The fifth note is a sixteenth note (semiquaver): a quarter-count in 4/4 time

 

When a dot is next to the note, the note is extended by half of the value of the note.

E.g.


This a dotted half note and indicates a half note plus half of that = a three quarter note (3 counts in 4/4 time).  The same principle applies to all dotted notes.

 

Together with the notes, if no note is played, it is indicated with a rest.  Here are the basic rest signs:

 

 

This is about all we want to teach you about notes within the scope of this course.  If you understand these notes and rests, you would come quite far in helping yourself to read music.

 

 

 

Fingering

 

 

Now lets talk about fingering.

 

When you play a scale or a melody, it makes logical sense to use your fingers in the most effective and sensible way.  In the end you must work out what is most comfortable for you without compromising on the harmonic lines in the music.  If you play melodies or lead guitar, use the most logical fingering for the job. It makes more sense to play a melody higher up on the neck and use all the strings, than to start with the bottom sting (E) and work your melody on that string only.  Revert back to lesson 2 to practice your scale formations.  Your scale formations will form the foundation for melody playing.

 

 


  Advance to:

 

  Lesson 7 - Strumming and other Techniques

 

 

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