Monday, March 28, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What's in a Chord?

Once you start to build a good working knowledge of the fretboard you can combine that with your understanding of chord shapes. This will help you to start unlocking the inner workings of chords.

Please complete the worksheet called "What's in a Chord?" found in our Google Classroom.
You are encouraged to collaborate and work through the questions together.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mapping the Fretboard

As guitarists, you have many ways to learn how to do nearly anything on the guitar. Many of those ways will give you short cuts (not that it's a bad thing) that certainly solve the problem of immediacy, but often those methods lack long-term understanding of the guitar.
It is easy enough to show you where to place your hand for chords, scale, etc. but as you advance, you are going to want to have the freedom to build your own chords, find new voicing, and expand your understanding of how to build and shape scales. In order to do this, it is important to have a solid working knowledge of the landscape of the guitar fretboard. While it can seem daunting ("Geez, there are a bunch of strings and a whole mess of frets...") there is a method to the madness if we take a moment and investigate...

Here is where you can find all the natural notes on the guitar. The natural notes consist of A, B, C, D, E, F and G (No #'s and b's)

First off, the distance or interval from one fret to the next is called a semitone or half step (that is the smallest interval in Western music) . The distance between two frets is called a whole tone or whole step (basically 2 semitones or half steps).

Important questions to consider...

  • Do you notice any patterns on the fretboard when you look at all the natural notes?

  • What happens in those frets that don't have a letters or notes shown in the diagram?

As you work through the map of the neck, your first priority should be the E strings and the A string. These strings are the starting points for most of your chords and scales.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Compare and Contrast: Minor Pentatonic and The Blues

Let's take a look at two scales that are closely related and used over and over again by guitarists of all kinds.

I'm talking about the Eminor Pentatonic scale (Fig. 1) and the E Blues Scale (Fig. 2)
(Fig. 1)
(Fig. 2)

Since guitar players love to play in the key of E, (big sounding open-string chords like E and A) the Eminor pentatonic and E Blues really fit the bill.

Pentatonic scales are useful when improvising and composing because they refine the sound of a scale by removing the notes that cause 1/2 step intervals. These notes are the ones that tend to cause clashes or dissonance. In the case of minor pentatonic, the 2nd and 6th note of the minor scale have been removed leaving the 5 note scale found above (Fig. 1).

The blues scale expands on the sound of the minor pentatonic by adding the "blue" note. The "blue" note is an approximation of the sounds made by early singers of field hollers and work songs. These notes where generally slid into or "bent"vocally and gave the vocalist a more plaintive or yearning sound. Guitarists will often bend into and out of these notes to simulate the sound of the human voice.

Try out each scale and compare the sound of the minor pentatonic and the Blues scale.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Seeking Primary Chords

For the guitarist (or any musician for that matter), Primary Chords (I, IV, V) are essential to the sound of most music. Being able to play them in any key will help when learning new music, composing new music and making you a better musician overall.

In a previous post entitled Finding Chords With the Circle of Fifths we looked at a way of finding any chords by using that big round graphic organizer. I wanted to break down that process and focus squarely on Primary Chords.

First we have to know the names of the lines and spaces on the staff:

Next we have to realize that the circle of fifths shows us what notes on the staff get changed by a b or a # in any given key.

Here is the key of Bb Major:

If I look at the names of the lines and spaces above, I can see that someone has put a flat on the B line and another on the space for E. This tells me that The key of Bb has 2 flats (Bb and Eb).
My Bb Major scale looks like this:
Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb
You'll notice that the only notes affected by the key signature are the ones mentioned earlier (Bb, Eb).

This means that my Primary Chords (I, IV, V) in Bb are: Bb, Eb, and F

Lets try another example...

What are the primary chords in the key of A Major?

If I look on the Circle of Fifths I can see that the Key of A Major looks like this:

There are #s on F, C, and (moving one space above F) G

My A Major Scale looks like this:
A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

This means my primary chords (I, IV, V) in the Key of A Major are:
A, D, E

We will try some examples in class to make sure you have a complete understanding of this concept.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Time to Teach!

Okay folks it's time to show me what you can do. Today you are going to teach something you can do on the guitar to an audience of non-guitarists.
The result will be a short (2-3 min.) video demonstrating a chord, technique, riff, part of song etc. Keep in mind, your video is aimed at an audience of inexperienced guitarists so you have to be clear with your explanation and your demonstration. The video does not need to include your face, just your hands, the guitar and your voice.

Your video lesson will be posted to Google Classroom by the end of the class period.

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