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Musical Notation (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Musical Notation

Steve explains the basics of standard musical notation. This Western system of writing music primarily details two parameters - pitch and time. Discover the visual world of music in this lesson!

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Music Theory 101 with Steve Eulberg seriesLength: 5:32Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
Musical notation was developed by church musicians in the early centuries of its history. Originally, choir directors composed or learned all the parts for the choir to sing and taught them to the singers by rote. Gradually the desire to be able to provide code or system of describing pitch over time that could be written down and preserved provided the stimulus to create the notation system.

Simply put, the location of a note on the lines or spaces of the staff indicates what pitch should be sounded and whether the note is open or filled in, has a stem and/or flags or beams determines when (how long or short) it should be played.

This system is independent of instruments so it can be used for all instruments, including the voice.

The Treble Clef and the Bass Clef each contain 5 lines and 4 spaces which indicate what the note name of each note will be. (We'll explore this in more depth in Lesson 7 on The Staff.)

Whole notes, open with no stem, are counted for 4 counts or beats (e.g. play and then hold it while counting: "1-2-3-4")

Half Notes, open with a stem, are counted for 2 counts or beats (e.g. play and then hold the note while counting: "1-2")

Quarter notes, solid centers with a stem, are counted for 1 count or beats (e.g. play and count "1").

As you can see, each type of note is half of the length of the one before it. (We'll explore this in more depth in Lesson 8).

The benefit of this system of musical notation is that, once a musician learns the names of the notes on the lines and spaces of the staff and the note values of the types of notes, with one glance he or she can tell what pitch is to be played and how long to play it. On instruments (like keyboards) where each key is the one, unique place that the note can be sounded on the instrument, musical notation is all that is needed to inform the musician how to play the piece of music.

The limitation of this system is that when playing an instrument (like a guitar) which has several different locations to sound the exact same pitch, musical notation will not prescribe where on the instrument to finger the frets to play the note that is described on the staff. This is the case with all fretted stringed instruments (as well as fretless instruments in the string orchestra family). For these instruments tablature was developed. (More about this in Lesson 9).

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


kelkerkelker replied on May 1st, 2014

this is excellent - I never had formal music training and your lessons help tremendously!

parkcath11parkcath11 replied on February 3rd, 2013

steve- thanks, i have a dim memory of this from 7th grade, but never wanted to put it to use with an instrument. i'll need to go over it again, especially the part about the "C" below the treble cleff.cp

wv_wilsonwv_wilson replied on January 18th, 2013

On the treble: Lined - Every Good Boy Does Fine; Spaces - Face . . .

pcdoc59pcdoc59 replied on October 22nd, 2012

Like the fingers, but a visual on this lesson would have been better. Thnx...

mkettlermkettler replied on August 15th, 2015

The visuals are in the supplemental area though. I'll have to remember to refer to those.

mkettlermkettler replied on August 15th, 2015

I agree, add a few images into the video to help visualize.

snakeeyes53snakeeyes53 replied on June 1st, 2012

i agree -i wish,you can show us -blackboard,is a good idea -

mhjkpjmhjkpj replied on May 30th, 2012

This is good stuff. And you teach it in a way I am able to follow. I'm not always able to watch the video portion with the supplemental contents open and viewable. I wish you had a white "dry erase" board with a few colored markers avaiable to you while teaching. It would help us newbies follow better.

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on April 4th, 2010

thanks Mitch! I love all the variety here, and what I learn from the other instructors myself!

mitchxrmitchxr replied on April 3rd, 2010

I originally joined this site only for kris norris's lessons. But your lessons i find are Extremely helpful as well. Im looking forward to your next lesson.

Music Theory 101 with Steve Eulberg

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Steve presents an information packed lesson series that will break down the basics of music theory. From the language to notation, all things music will be taught right here.



Lesson 1

Introduction to Series

Welcome to the introduction video to Steve's music theory lesson series! This is an information packed series that will cover the fundamental elements of music including notation, language, rhythm, harmony...

Length: 2:23 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Sound and String Physics

Steve Eulberg delves into a few scientific properties that explain why the guitar produces its unique sound.

Length: 9:51 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

The Musical Alphabet

Steve provides a brief explanation of the musical alphabet. From A to G, Steve demonstrates his "finger" method as a great remembrance tool. This tool will help you understand the topics that Steve will...

Length: 2:46 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Scales & Modes

Steve explains how scales and modes are constructed.

Length: 2:28 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 5

Whole & Half Steps

In this lesson, Steve explains what whole and half steps are. In conjunction with the musical alphabet, Steve provides in depth instruction on how certain notes and intervals work together.

Length: 6:16 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Musical Notation

Steve explains the basics of standard musical notation. This Western system of writing music primarily details two parameters - pitch and time. Discover the visual world of music in this lesson!

Length: 5:32 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Musical Notation Continued: Musical Staff

Steve continues his music theory series as he dives more in depth into musical notation. Here he breaks down the staff and explains how it is used in reading music.

Length: 5:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Understanding Tablature

Steve breaks down Tablature. This is a very simple concept and when applied in the correct way, can be used to teach any determined guitarist any kind of arrangement.

Length: 4:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Comparing Notes on Piano & Guitar

Welcome to lesson 9 in Steve's music theory series! In this lesson, Steve explains how the notes of the guitar compare to the notes on a piano when written in standard notation.

Length: 16:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Music Vocabulary

Steve presents a lesson on the vocabulary used within music. This lesson covers many descriptive terms and symbols that help communicate what is intended to be played in a piece of music.

Length: 16:02 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Key Signatures

Steve breaks down and explains what key signatures are as well as how sharps and flats are used within each key.

Length: 22:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Scales and Modes

The title says it all. Simply put, Steve explains what scales and modes are and utilizes two different key signatures to help demonstrate the differences.

Length: 22:17 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Time Signatures

In this quick lesson, Steve will explain time signatures and what those numbers mean at the beginning of a notated piece of music.

Length: 8:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

Tempo

Tempo is the subject of understanding how fast or slow to play a piece of music. Steve will utilize more Italian words to help demonstrate the various ranges in tempo there can be.

Length: 9:08 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Fundamentals & Overtones (Harmonics)

Steve will dive into the topic of harmonics. When playing a single note on a guitar, other notes can be herd. Steve will explain why that is as well as demonstrate where other harmonics on a guitar can...

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Chord Quality

Chord quality refers to whether or not the chord is Major or Minor. Steve will take an in depth look at how this is applied and all the various terms that are associated with this subject.

Length: 10:19 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Chord Quality Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of chord quality theory! Steve now dives into 4 note chords and common additions that are made.

Length: 16:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Chord Voicing

Steve tackles the subject of chord voicing. This term simply refers to the order in which we hear the notes that form a particular chord. Let Steve break this subject down in a very hands on sort of way.

Length: 10:38 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Circle of 5ths

Welcome to a lesson in one of the most widely known topics in Music Theory, Circle of 5ths. This handy tool can easily bring light to how notes relate to each other, and Steve will explain how this is...

Length: 11:17 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Relative Minor

The relative minor key or chord is built from the sixth step of any major scale. For example, A minor is the relative minor key and chord in relation to C major.

Length: 7:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Chord Substitution

It's time to get creative with your music theory knowledge! In this lesson, Steve demonstrates how to utilize chord substitutions in order to add your own personal touch to the harmony of a song.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Power Chords

Steve presents a very insightful lesson on what power chords are on the theory side of things, but also how best they can be used.

Length: 6:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Arpeggios

Arpeggio is an Italian word meaning "broken chord". Steve demonstrates how this applies to the guitar and some common picking patterns used with familiar chord shapes.

Length: 6:37 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

Pentatonic Scale Theory

Steve delves into the topic of pentatonic scale theory. Steve discusses why both the major and minor pentatonic scales are two of the most common scales used in music.

Length: 11:45 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Diminished Chords

Steve discusses diminished chords and how they relate to dominant chords.

Length: 7:59 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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