Guitar from Zero to Hero: Music Theory

Guitar from Zero to Hero: Music Theory

Most people are too repulsive to have enrolled in guitar lessons once they have bought a guitar. Unfortunately, one class later, the guitar learner vanished while the guitar was placed somewhere at the corner.

At the early stage, the instructor would not teach something really difficult. The key to making progress at that time is to keep on practicing, for instance, chord fingering. Playing chords can be learnt from online resources as well as mobile apps. No matter taught by whom, the chords are fixed and still the same. If you resist to memorize them, or suffer the pain of pressing them hard enough, until a clean sound can be made, then you will never succeed to acquire those skills. It takes very little time for you to get to know the chord fingering. What really matter is how much time you are willing to spend practicing it.

Indeed, people born with good sense of pitch and rhythm can learn musical instruments faster. Still, these two skills can be acquired through training. Let’s look at a musical score, which is filled up by many different notes. In fact, each note brings out two pieces of information, its pitch as well as its duration.

Apart from chord fingering, knowledge of music theory is also fundamental. In the following, we will look into C Major scale, together with rhythms and notes.

1. An Introduction to C Major Scale

To begin with, if you have been using Google Chrome, you may first download “Chord Finder”. Then choose the following options—“Scale”, “Select Key” and “C Major Scale”. Then you will be able to view the picture at below:

Let’s get to know how to read the fretboard. To begin with, place the guitar on your right thigh. The string closest to you is the sixth string, i.e. the lowest thickest string shown in the picture. On the left hand side, where there is no grid at all, written from letters written from top to bottom “E,B,G,D,A,E” are the note names of the open strings. When no string on any grid is pressed, simply pluck the string and those pitches can be heard. They are very useful for tuning your guitar, so take your time to remember them all!

When we were young, we learnt about Solfège, i.e. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti and Do. Their letter names are C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C respectively. So, the picture above demonstrates every pitch of C Major Scale. The difference between each pitch is called “Interval”. And here’s their relationship:

“C — tone — D — tone — E — semitone — F — tone — G — tone — A — tone — B — semitone — C”

Inside the fingerboard, the pitch of the notes on the right hand side are higher than that in the left hand side. Moreover, the thinner the string, the higher the pitch produced. Let’s draw reference to the interval table above. We soon know that the distance between C and D on the second string represents the distance of one single tone. On the other hand, E and F on the fourth, first and sixth string are next to each other, which reveals that they form an interval made up of one semitone.

Exercise: Given the notes within the left 3 rows, would you be able to mark down the notes of C Major Scale in the fourth and fifth row?

2. An Introduction to Rhythms and Notes

To start with, you may try to count the beat of certain songs that you like. Does this sound difficult to you? If this is the case, I suppose rhythmic games like Taiko Drum Master have also scared you off, right?

Luckily, a good sense of rhythm can be developed by training. First, download a metronome App. Listen to it carefully and you will find that the strong beat falls into the first beat for the time signature of 4/4 (four quarter note beats in each measure). After some time, pause and see if you can go on with counting the beat. You may do it by heart or with the help of stomping your feet if you like. Then resume the metronome and you will know whether you are still in the same pace with it.

Now, we will move on to learn more about notes. A whole note (or semibreve)’s length is equal to four beats in 4/4 time, that is the whole 4/4 measure (or bar). In this way, a half note (or minim) is equal to two beats. A quarter note (or crotchet) is equal to 1 beat while a eighth note (or quaver) is equal to half beat.

Here’s a summary of the above: 1 whole note equals to 2 half notes, 4 quarter notes and 8 eighth notes.

3. An Introduction to Guitar Gesture and Chord Fingering

A correct gesture can avoid discomfort in your muscles, which allows you to practice for a longer time. On the contrary, poor posture not only affects your performance, but also make you too tired to carry on with the workout for guitarists.

Again, get to know how to press the C(maj), F(maj) and G (maj) chords with the help of Chord Finder. The number inside each circle tells you which finger to use: 1 for the index finger, 2 for the middle finger, 3 for the little finger while 4 for the little finger.
(Please also note that the sixth string doesn’t need to be plucked.)

Always bear this in mind: practice makes permanent. Before you approach a tutor, develop the fundamental skills above so that the classes will be more effective and worthwhile. Cheer you up!