Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine: Music Theory 101


Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine 

Music Theory 101

Lets Roll up Our Sleeves and Get Down on Some Theory!

Georgia Luthier Supply
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Music Theory

This Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine is all about Music Theory, and learn how scales are constructed. We will start with the very basics and you find that this will open the door for you to learn more about theory.

Basics First
  • The entire scale of notes is built on only 7 notes. A B C D E F G. Easy enough. Now the tricky part. Between most of the notes or tones are what we call half-tones. In other words the distance between an "A" and a "B" is one full tone - we call that a full step. So there is one step between each of the notes between "A" and "G", right? Wrong? There are two instances where this is not true. The distance from B-C and from E-F. Those two tones are only 1/2 tone apart.
  • To make all other notes 1/2 tone or 1/2 step apart we have to either flat the note or sharp the note. If we write the entire note scale (called one octave) with sharps it would read:
  • A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#
  • That brings our total number of notes possible in one octave to 12. These notes do not change. It is a rule in music. No matter what key you play, we have the same number of notes in one octave. Notice that there is not a B# or and E#? That is because there is already just a 1/2 tone or 1/2 step between each os these notes.
  • So the total distance in steps from an "A" to an "A" that is one octave higher is 12 one-half steps or 6 whole steps.

    What About a Flat?
  • A note that is flat or flatted, is basically the same as a sharp. The difference is that to make a note sharp you raise it one-half tone or one-half step. A flat lowers the note one-half tone or one-half step. So the same scale written above in flats would look like this:
  • A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab

    These are the exact same notes as the sharp scale, only written in flats. So

    A# and Bb are the same note - Exactly! C# and Db are the same note D# and Eb are the same note F# and Gb are the same note G# and Ab are the same note

    So there you have it, just 12 total notes to learn for one octave. The reason to know which notes have half-steps between them and whole steps will become apparent as we go on.

    Guitar Essentials:

    Because we have 12 total notes to work with we can only have 12 total keys to work with. In other words we will have:

    The key of A The key of Bb (B Flat) The key of B The key of C
    and so on until you get to Ab. Typically the keys that are altered to turn a full step or tone into (2) half tones, the key is called a flat and not a sharp. Let me clarify:

    First we have the key of A

    Next is the key of Bb (not A# - even though it really is that too)! So a listing of all the keys possible are as follows:

    Key of A Key of Bb Key of B Key of C Key of Db Key of D Key of Eb Key of E Key of F Key of Gb Key of G Key of Ab

    Now, each respective scale associated with each key, starts out with a note that is named after the "Key" name. So a scale for the Key of "C", starts with C and ends With C or one octave.

    Lets take the Key of "C" for instance. The key of "C" is built of all "naturals". A natural is a note that is neither sharp or flat. The key of "C" would look like this, completely written out:

    C D E F G A B C

    Notice that there are no sharps or flats? It is built-up of all naturals.

    In the next section of Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine we will give you examples of how to construction the scales from the individual notes.

    Click HERE to goto Next Lesson

    Recommended Publications


    Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory - Complete (Book/CDs)

    Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory - Complete (Book/CDs)

    Written by Andrew Surmani, Karen Farnum Surmani, Morton Manus. Instructional book (spiral bound) and 2 example CDs. 120 pages. Published by Alfred Publishing.


    Music Theory for Guitarists

    Music Theory for Guitarists

    Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask. By Tom Kolb. Guitar Method. Softcover with CD. Guitar tablature. 104 pages. Published by Hal Leonard.


    Music Theory Workbook For Guitar Vol. 1

    Music Theory Workbook For Guitar Vol. 1

    Intervals and Chord Construction. By Bruce Arnold. By Bruce Arnold. For Guitar (All). Theory & harmony. All Styles. Level: Beginning-Intermediate. Book. 208 pages. Published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc.



    Music Theory For Guitar

    Music Theory For Guitar

    By Various. Guitar Book. 32 pages. Published by Hal Leonard.


    Essentials of Music Theory: Complete Self-Study Course

    Essentials of Music Theory: Complete Self-Study Course

    By Andrew Surmani, Morton Manus, Karen Farnum Surmani. Textbook - General. Essentials of Music Theory. Book & 2 CDs. 152 pages. Published by Alfred Publishing.


    The Twelve Notes Of Music - Music Theory Simplified

    The Twelve Notes Of Music - Music Theory Simplified

    By Mark John Sternal. Edited by Jeanne Corlew. For Guitar, Piano, Bass Guitar. There are only 12 notes in the musical alphabet, when you have mastered them you have mastered music. Music theory. Level: beginner through intermediate. Workbook. 24 pages. Published by MJS Music Publications.