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April 4, 2013

Music Theory Basics

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Written by: Mike Abbott

Music Theory is not rocket science!
It is important to know
that before you start learning about it. It is simple
math – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and

You don’t need to know anything
about music theory to write songs or play music. Learning
music theory does, however, speed up the process and make
it a lot easier.

Music theory has a very specific
and logical set of rules. Learn these rules step by step
and theory will be as easy as learning how to Add 2+2!!

Here are some important music
theory definitions:

The distance between one note and another note

Sharp symbol (#)
– changes a note to one half step higher

Flat symbol(b)
– changes a note to one half step lower

Natural symbol
takes away a sharp or flat symbol that was on
a note written previously (see the symbol in href=”#hearitnotenames”>note names)

Music Alphabet
Letter A through G. When you get to G, you start over at
A again(assuming you are not playing any Sharps or

Key – There
are 12 of these in Western music. One for each of the 12
notes. Memorize this music theory concept!

Half step
the interval between one note and the note next to it. On
the guitar- the interval between one fret and the fret
next to it(either up the neck or down the neck)

Whole step
the interval between 2 notes with one note separating
them. On the guitar- the interval between 2 frets having
1 fret separating them

Western Music-music
which originated in the Western hemisphere. Western
Europe and North America mainly.

  1. In Western music theory, there
    are 12 notes: B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#,
    A, A# – these notes are all a 1/2 step apart.
  2. I Started at the B note
    because I wanted you to see that there is no #
    note between B and C or between E and F. B to C
    and E to F are called natural 1/2 steps.
  3. C is looked at as the
    "home" key because of the important
    location of middle C on the piano and because it
    is the key with no flats and sharps. This fact
    will help music theory make sense.
  4. Remember to keep the right
    hand pinky finger down, curl your left fingers,
    and press the string with the fingertip.

See all music notes, included in western music theory arranged in a scale/></p>
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About the Author

Mike Abbott
Mike is a pro guitarist and music educator.  He has performed with such diverse acts as the Rolling Stones Horns, Sammy Davis Jr., and Burt Bacharach.   After spending much of his music career in New York City, He now is a very busy guitarist in the Denver area, performing and teaching extensively. Mike's latest work is a book, The Guitar and Amp Sourcebook, published by Harper Collins and released in December 2012.



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