Chapter 1: What is Covered
This lesson covers many key aspects of the guitar that new musicians sometimes neglect. This lesson does not necessarily deal with playing, but supplementary skills that you absolutely need to know. Here is a rundown of lesson topics:
- Review of string names
Chapter 2: Review of String Names
- Tab explanation and its uses
- Chord charts - different variations
- The basics of reading musical notation
Without learning the string names, a true understanding of the guitar is nearly impossible to achieve. This information may not seem useful to you now, but learning this information will build the foundation for movable chord shapes, scales, and many other skills you will learn in the future.
The string names in order from low to high are as follows - E, A, D, G, B, e. In terms of numbers, the strings are labeled (in the same order) 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Every fret has a number attached to it. A string played open is labeled with a "0." A note played at the first fret of the 6th string is labeled with a "1." Now that you know the string names, can you figure out which note is produced at this location?
Chapter 3: Tab Explanation
- The tablature system uses six lines that represent the six strings on the guitar.
- The lowest line represents the lowest (or E string) on the guitar.
- The highest line represents the highest (or e string) on the guitar.
- Refer to the included chart included below.
- A number on one of the lines represents the fret and the string that you are to produce a certain note.
- A "0" indicates that the string is to be played "open."
- The black dots directly above the numbers and strings represent the musical notation version of what is being played. (Musical notation is be covered later in this lesson.)
- Tablature is read from left to right just like a book.
- When notes are stacked on top of each other, they are strummed or played together. When notes are spread out one-by-one, they are played left to right.
- When there is an unfamiliar symbol or drawing in the tab you receive from this lesson set, look for notes on the page itself explaining those markings. As we explore more techniques, more ways of communicating those techniques will be discussed.
- Let's play through the tab in Diagram 1 within the Supplemental Content:
Tab is generally used to communicate musical events over time such as a song, part of a song, or a progression of notes.
Chapter 4: Reading Chord Charts
Chord charts are used to communicate how and where a certain chord is fingered. They do not communicate an order or time line that the notes or chords are to be played in. This can be seen in Diagram 2 within the Supplemental Content
- Chord charts are written as though the guitar is hanging on a wall as though it were in a guitar store.
- The vertical lines are the strings.
- The far left line is the low E string.
- The far right line is the hi e string.
- The horizontal lines are the frets.
- The dots represent where you place your fingers.
- The numbers below the chart indicate which finger you use to fret a note.
- The "0"s above the chart indicate that there is no note fretted, but the string is still played.
- The "X" indicates that the string is not played.
- A number to the left of the chart indicates what the starting fret position is. Ex: A "5" would indicate that the the starting fret in the diagram is the fifth fret.
Chapter 5: The Basics of Musical Notation
- The horizontal lines are called a "staff."
- Guitarists read notes in what is called the "treble clef."
- Note names go from A to G in the musical alphabet.
- Each one of these notes has either a line or a space on the staff associated with it.
- Here are the notes that are based on the staff with the corresponding TAB positions.
- Lines: (Please see Diagram 3 within the Supplemental Content)
- Spaces: (Please see Diagram 4 within the Supplemental Content)
- A handy acronym for remembering the Line Notes is: E
- The spaces are easy to remember. When read from low to high, they spell the word "FACE."
- Many of the notes on the guitar are written above or below the standard five lines on the staff. To figure out what the name of the note is above or below the staff, simply count up alphabetically (ranging from A to G) from the top line or down alphabetically below the bottom line.
- If you were to count down from the first line (or an "E" note) to the next line below you would first count the space below the line which would be "D." Then the line below that "D" space would be "C."
Chapter 6: Musical Notation Continued
- Here's an example with note names: ((Please see Diagram 5 within the Supplemental Content)
- Musical notation not only displays note names, but also time and rhythm.
- The treble clef symbol appears at the far left of a musical score.
- The numbers to the right of the clef sign indicate the time signature.
- If you look at the note illustration just above the clef and time signature you will see a bar divider between the two sets of notes.
This bar divides two measures.
Types of Notes:
- Whole note
- Half note
- Quarter note
- Eighth note
- Sixteenth note
- The bottom number on the time signature tells you which note takes up one beat. The top number tells you how many beats there are in the measure.
- Since the number in the example is a 4, the quarter note would receive one beat, and it would be counted as "1,2,3,4... 1,2,3,4... etc."
- If the bottom number were a 2, the half note would receive one beat and it would be counted "1,2... 1,2... etc."
- In our 4/4 time signature, you would count quarter notes as "1,2,3,4." You would count eighth notes as "1&, 2&, 3&, 4&." You would count sixteenth notes as "1e&a, 2e&a, 3e&a, 4e&a."
- Whole notes take up a whole measure.
Video Subtitles / Captions
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Hey guys this is Chris Liepe with JamPlay.com.
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This is lesson number four in the beginner lesson series.
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Today we are going to be learning how to read tablature, chord charts and the basics of reading musical notation.
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Since this is the way that we will be communicating in this lesson series
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as well as a lot of the other teachers here this is beneficial stuff to know.
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Before we do that let's go ahead and do a quick review of strings, string names and frets etcetera.
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Then we will dive into learning tablature.
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Ok. So string name review.
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On the guitar you've got your sixth string, fifth string, fourth string, third string, second string and first string.
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The sixth string is the lowest string on the guitar.
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The first string is the highest.
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The names of these string are E, A, D, G, B and E.
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All of these are notated as capital letters except for the highest E string which is notated as a lower case e.
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Frets begin right after the nut.
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They start with one, two, three, four and they go this way.
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When you are asked to play first fret for example you are really playing in between the nut and the first fret.
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So you are playing right before the first fret if you are asked to play something on the first fret.
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There is the review of the strings.
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Let's get into the tablature.
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In this lesson it is really important that you follow along with the supplemental materials there is a lot of charts
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that we are going to be referring to and there is a lot of notes that if you are reading along as we're talking about this stuff
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it's going to help it sink in a little bit.
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There are six lines that represent the six strings of the guitar.
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The lowest line represents your low E string or your sixth string.
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The highest line represents the first string.
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So if you look from the bottom of the tablature to the top of the tablature that is the way the guitar neck is laid out.
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Almost as if you were looking at the guitar neck flipped the other way.
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When you look at tablature you will see that there are numbers that are written on these lines.
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Those numbers represent which fret you are going to play on.
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So if you see a two on the lowest line in tablature you are going to be playing second fret on your E string.
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If you see a three on the third line from the top you are going to be playing third fret on your G string.
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If you see a zero you are going to be playing the string open.
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The reason tablature is so cool is because
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with the help of musical notation you get a sense for how music is played in time.
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So tablature communicates music played over time as opposed to
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chord charts which are just telling you where to place your hands.
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Whenever you are learning a song, whenever you are learning a drill from a lesson or a lick from a guitar magazine etcetera.
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This is going to be communicated in tablature.
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There are a lot of symbols and a lot of squiggly lines and things that happen to communicate other techniques on the guitar.
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We are not going to be worried about going through the whole glossary of that right now.
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It is more important the you understand the string order and the numbering system that gets you to play
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the frets that they are communicating to you to play.
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As we get into more advanced techniques in this lesson series I will be explaining the symbols that
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goes along with those things so that you can effectively read the tablature.
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If there is a new symbol in the tablature be sure to look in both the supplemental material as well as
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look on the tablature itself.
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There will likely be notes explaining if you see a little squiggly line what that squiggly line means over that note.
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Ok. So if you will refer to your supplemental content in the tablature section there is a little example piece of tab.
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Let's play through that slowly together so we can get an ideal of what the tab is communicating.
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So in the little section you've got your musical notation on top
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those are the black dots and you've got the numbers on the bottom.
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The very first set of numbers are stacked on top of each other there are two twelves so what that is saying is
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that we're going to play twelfth fret on our high E string as well as twelfth fret on our B string.
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We are going to play them at the same time since they are stacked on top of each other.
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Now you will see there that over the next couple notes it's all the same thing.
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So we are going to play the twelve, twelve, twelve thing and we're going to play that a total of four times.
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After that first section you see that you will only then play the twelfth fret on your B string.
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Then immediately following that you play your fifteenth fret on your B string.
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Then you play your twelfth fret on your high E string.
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As you can tell by how I'm playing through this tab is read from left to right just like a sentence is.
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The numbers alone don't really give you a sense of timing so if you were just looking at the numbers
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you would just be playing these things arbitrarily and that is where the musical notation comes in.
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We are going to get into the very basics of rhythm during this lesson also later on.
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It's very important when you are reading tablature since it isn't always covered with musical notation that you listen to
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whatever source material you are trying to play as you're reading along with the tablature.
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That way you can get the precise timing.
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In lessons that we do here there are always going to be musical notation covering the tablature so you
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can get a little ideal of the time and a little bit better of an ideal of the phrasing.
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That's the basics on tablature.
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Next we are going to cover how to read a chord chart.
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Chord charts are a convenient quick way to communicate a position on the guitar
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but you need chord charts, tablature and musical notation all together
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to communicate a whole song idea or a whole phrase idea.
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In the next session we will be doing chord charts.
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Ok. Chord Charts.
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These are easiest to read if you think of a guitar hanging on a wall and facing you.
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The vertical lines in the chord chart represent the strings.
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The horizontal lines in the chord chart represent the frets.
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If you look at one of them and again refer to the supplemental materials for this you can see kind of a grid.
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The far left vertical line in the chord chart refers to your low E string.
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The far right vertical line refers to your high E string.
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As you read from left to right you cover all of the strings.
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The frets. Starting with fret one go from top to bottom when you are looking at the chart.
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If there is a number out to the side directly to the left.
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Normally what we would call the first fret if there is a number that says five or six etcetera.
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That means that the chord chart starts at fret six.
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So whatever you would think of as normally fret one when you're looking at the chart
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you would actually begin up here at fret six and begin fretting those notes.
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The dots that you see and if you refer to the supplemental materials
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you will see that I have chords E and A already charted out.
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You have already worked on these chords if you are following my lesson series.
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This will be a really good opportunity to get familiar with how the chord chart works.
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The little black dots on the chart refer to where you place your fingers.
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According to this chart we've got a note here on the second fret on your A string,
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we've got a note on your second fret on your D string and a note on the first fret on your G string.
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Those are where the dots are placed on the chart.
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If you notice right above the chart directly below the name of the chord are little zero's above some of the strings.
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What that means is that you are going to play that string even though you are not fretting a note on the string.
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If you look at the A chart you've got a little x directly over your low E string.
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That means when you play this chord you are not going to play the low E string.
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Finally, below the chart you see little numbers.
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Those numbers are which fingers you are going to use to play the notes that are fretted.
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In this particular example I have the fingering of the E chord set up like this.
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Your second finger is going to be playing on the A string second fret.
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Your third finger is going to be playing on the D string second fret.
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Your first finger is going to be playing on the G string on the first fret.
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Then because of the zero's up above the chart you are going to be strumming all of the strings.
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This is slightly different than the fingering I had in the other lessons I was recommending people do it this way.
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Either way works.
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The A chord I have set up on this chord chart to play like this.
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You are not playing your low E string.
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Then you've got an open A string.
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Then with your first finger you are playing second fret on the D string.
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Second finger second fret G string.
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Third finger second fret B string and then your E string is open.
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When we get into bar chords in a later lesson if you have a line
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drawn across one of the frets so it would be a horizontal line in the chart.
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That is saying you are going to take your first finger, usually, and you are going to play across the entire neck.
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We will get into that technique in a little bit but as you start seeing chord charts show up like that, that is what that means.
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Next up is musical notation.
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In standard musical notation you have got five lines and you've got four spaces as opposed to six lines in tablature.
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Each one of these lines and spaces are assigned a note name.
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In the musical alphabet we refer to the notes as A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Then it starts over again.
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You have also got what are called accidentals which means you are taking for example an A and you are raising it or lowering it.
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An incremental amount that is not represented by jumping for example an A to B.
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When you add an accidental you see a little sharp sign which looks like a number sign
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or you see something that looks like a B which is called a flat.
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If you are raising the note a little bit it is a sharp.
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If you are lowering the note a little bit it is a flat.
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We will get into more precise definitions of that a little bit later.
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If you look at the supplemental materials here and follow along you will notice that I've got little examples of musical notation.
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I've outlined the names of the notes that happen on the lines of the staff.
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Those notes are E, G, B, D and F.
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The spaces are F, A, C and E.
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If you look down below those note names and those little black dots that correspond with the note names
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you see the tablature that is represented as those notes.
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My E in this particular case is going to be second fret on my D string.
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That is going to be the E that resides on the first line of the standard musical notation.
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My G is going to be my open G.
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That is going to be the second line of the musical notation.
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My B is going to be my open B.
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My D is going to be third fret on my B string.
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My F is going to be first fret on my E string.
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Playing those notes is really not musical at all but as you get familiar with these notes and reading the tablature
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it is going to be a way for you to check to make sure that you are playing the right notes.
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The spaces. The notes in between the lines are F, A, C and E.
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Those correspond to the guitar like this.
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Third fret D string is going to be the first space on the staff.
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Second fret G string is going to be the A so the second space.
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C is going to be the first fret on your B string.
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E is going to be your open E.
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A handy way to remember the order of lines and the order of spaces
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because in standard musical notation they don't write the name of the note above the note you have to know it.
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A handy acronym to remember the lines is…
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Every good boy deserves fudge or every good boy deserves fun or fireworks.
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Every good boy deserves fireworks is my favorite one.
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For spaces it is pretty easy to remember because the spaces just spell face.
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Now because so many of the notes on the guitar are played outside of those five lines and four spaces you have to be able
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to count above the staff and below the staff to find many of the notes.
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If my top line is going to be F, that is nowhere near the highest note of the guitar.
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There are a couple ways that things are notated in order to cover that.
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The first is if you see right before a phrase or a measure in the staff or in the notation if you see a little eight v a with some
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little dots after it that is going to communicate that you are playing things up twelve frets or down twelve frets.
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Usually you are communicating that you are playing it up.
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Twelve frets on the guitar is referred to as an octave.
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The other way that we do it is that we just simply add lines to the top of the staff and
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create notes that go well below and well above the standard five lines.
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That is probably the most frequent thing that you are going to see in most standard musical notation.
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If you refer to the supplemental content in the note section you will see that I have written out notes
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below the staff and above the staff.
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If you look at that below the staff we have got D, C, B, A and G.
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You notice I am counting backwards in the musical alphabet and then going back up to G or really you are going down
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but you are just starting over in that musical alphabet.
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You will also notice that once you get below the staff there are lines added to keep your place.
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If you are looking at the A there in that example you can see that you've added two lines and then you've put an A
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over that second line, you've put a note overt that second line that's an A.
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That A note would actually be this note.
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A really common note that you play on the guitar that just happens to be below the staff.
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That G would actually be this note.
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Again, another really common note.
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If you look at the second part of that example you see that I've outlined notes above the staff.
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G, A, B, C and D.
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I don't have tablature associated with this section but many times you will see tablature associated.
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This is just an example to give you an idea how most notes look above and below the staff.
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Beware of that when you are looking at tablature in this lesson set and in other lesson sets.
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Next we are going to go over the basics of rhythm in standard musical notation
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because the musical notation is the only way you are able to tell how things are played in time rhythmically.
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Tablature shows you an order to play the notes
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but they don't show you how to subdivide beats or make things sound musical at all.
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In the world of note reading it is important to understand note values and time signatures.
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The relationship of the note values to time signatures is going to give you the rhythm that you are going to be playing
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when you're strumming, soloing, etcetera.
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If you look in the notes you will see a little picture that has a four over a four
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and then directly to the left of it, it looks like you have a glorified and symbol.
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This is the symbol for the treble clef which is what the guitar plays out of.
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Go back to this four over four section on the picture.
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The top number represents how many beats there are in a measure.
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If there is four you are going to count to four before starting over.
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If there is five you are going to count to five before starting over.
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You will hear a lot of people if they are strumming the guitar the might vocalize one, two, three, four.
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One, two, three, four.
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Each grouping of four in that case is considered a measure.
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In a four over four time signature you are going to have four of those beats per measure.
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The bottom note refers to which note gets the beat.
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We are going to be going over the different types of note values in a second and that will make a little more sense to you.
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If you look at the notes you will see we have got a couple different types of notes.
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Actually more than a couple you've got quite a number of different types of notes.
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There are even more than what is listed here but these are the common ones that you will see.
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First we have got a whole note.
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A whole note is a circle without a stem.
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The whole note in a four, four time signature is going to take up the entire measure.
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So if I am counting to four and I've got a little pulse, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, ONE, two ,three, four.
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The whole note is taking up the entire measure it gets four counts.
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The whole note is taking up the entire measure it gets four counts.
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You've got the whole note.
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You've got the half note. Which is a circle with an open center with a stem.
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You've got a quarter note. Which is a black dot with a stem.
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You've got an eighth note. Which is a black dot with a stem and a tail that comes off of it.
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Then you have a sixteenth note. Which is a black dot with a stem and two tails that come off of it.
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In the four, four time signature, we are saying that the quarter note because of the four.
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The quarter note is going to get the count. The quarter note is going to get the beat.
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In a four, four time signature there are four quarter notes within a measure.
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So if I am playing quarter notes to this pulse, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.
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I would be doing one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.
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Half notes are twice the value of a quarter note.
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So if I am playing half notes to that same general pulse, it is going to sound like this.
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One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.
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When you go below the quarter note value in a four, four time signature
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because remember the quarter note is getting the beat.
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One, two, three, four.
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So if you're playing faster notes than that and you are dividing the quarter note up that is called subdividing the beat.
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Again, the quarter note gets one beat so you are going to subdivide so you will divide in half the quarter note
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and you are going to get an eighth note.
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Those are counted in a four, four time signature like this.
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One and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and.
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So you've got this one and thing that helps you keep pulse as you are counting.
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Sixteenth notes are going to divide the eighth note in half.
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Those are counted one e and uh so if you are going to play a whole measure of sixteenth notes it's going to sound like this.
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One E and Uh
Two E and Uh
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Three E and Uh
Four E and Uh
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One E and Uh
Two E and Uh
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Three E and Uh
Four E and Uh
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What makes music cool is that you are taking a pulse, you are taking a tempo
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and you are doing different combinations of note values to give you rhythms.
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If I randomly choose a couple different note values and play this note I could do something like.
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One, two, three, four.
One and uh two, three e and uh four.
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One and two and three e and uh four.
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What I am doing is I am choosing a combination of whole, half, sixteenths, eighth notes and I'm creating a rhythm.
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In one of the next lessons we are going to be specifically studying strum patterns
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and different variations you can get out of that.
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It's very important that you understand this idea of rhythm in musical notation to get that.
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There are the basics on reading tablature, chord charts and standard musical notation.
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Feel free to message me questions on the site. I'm happy to answer them.
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Feel free to bring any of this stuff up on our live Q. and A. sessions that we offer.
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Either with me or with any other instructor.
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We will see you for lesson five. Where we will be going over your first scales.