Say your ABC's in order, that's all it takes

rnbacademy.comrnbacademy.com Posts: 169Member
edited August 2016 in Technical or Theoretical Advice
Hello friends.  Thank you all for your gracious comments and feedback both in the comments and in private.   The only things you need to be able to do, in order to follow what I'm going to explain here are, the ability to correctly spell the notes of the entire Musical Alphabet, and the ability to count.  If you lack these, see my earlier blog post, "Theory In Baby Steps - The Absolute Essentials" to be brought up to speed. Today I want to go over the importance of the Alphabet, in a slightly different way, and that is in regards to Major Scales.  This importance can be overlooked many times, and so I want to just highlight some important facts about the Major scale, and the letters used.   This will give us a fuller understanding, as we begin to explore the Major scale in future posts. Why Letters, Why not Notes? We come to understand and analyze theoretical concepts in letters, not notes.  For example if I know the major third of A is C#, that's a "Letter".  But, if I can go to the guitar neck and play that C#, that's applying that knowledge to "notes". Or, if I am notating it on a music staff, it starts with me "knowing" that note was a C#.  So, we first know the letter name of that note, and later we can apply it. Every Letter Used...Every Time When looking at the letter names of the notes of any Major Scale, every letter is used, in the musical alphabet one time.  The only exception, is that the beginning and end of that scale are always the same letter. D E F G A B C D    Notice that only D was used twice. So the "letters" of the A major scale, we are talking alphabet only, not the actual note names, here... A B C D E F G A Why is this important?   Look at this A Major scale Done WRONG...oh so terribly wrong: A B Db D E Gb G# A If you go PLAY these actual notes on the guitar as written here you will have gotten the exact SOUND of an A Major scale.  100 percent correct. But that's a mess as written, isn't it?  You have 2 D's 2 G's and 2 A's, right?  This is tailor-made for complete chaos. But if I write it the correct way: A B C# D E F# G# A Every letter of the alphabet is accounted for.  I don't have to wonder "should this next note be accounted as a # or a b?"  The letters staying in order tells me that if I'm on F#...that the NEXT letter HAS to be some sort of G...not A.   So, while G# and Ab have the same musical PITCH, they are not the same note.  Look at that mess again, if you need convincing! Letters Never Ever Change The accidentals (#'s and b's) can modify the pitch of a letter, but make sure you understand, that you're NEVER to change the letter itself.   Once that letter is G in whatever part of the Major scale you are in, it is ALWAYS and FOREVER until the end of TIME ITSELF...a G.  This means that it might be  G, Gb, G#, or even Gx...that part is fine. The point is, it will be G and NEVER any sort of A.  In theory, we never change the letter.  This is fantastic, because it eliminates confusion about what letter should come next, especially when the note could be called one of two things,  F# or Gb for example, for those of us that understand enharmonics. So, if I was in a scale, and I had to raise my 3rd note G a half step: E F# G A B C# D# E I could only make it into some sort of G E F# G# A B C# D# E I could not make that G# an Ab.  Do I make sense?  Its like accounting, once the math is off, everything's wrong.  Once the letter is wrong, everything is wrong. The good news is if you know how to say your ABC's in order, that's all it takes. Till next time, play well, my friends. rnbacademy.com

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