A glossary of music theory terms
scale - A group of notes that work well together
chromatics - These are basically all twelve (12) notes in an octave. The naturals (7) and non-naturals (5) together make up the chromatics. (7+5=12).
naturals - The notes that do not have sharp or flat names (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). There are seven (7) of them.
non-naturals - The notes that do have the sharps or flats in their names (A#, C#, D#, F#, G#). There are five (5) of them. These notes are also often called the "accidentals".
octave - In traditional music there are only 12 different notes, then they repeat themselves. When you move up or down 12 notes, you will find a higher or lower version of the note you started on. This is an octave. Same note, but one octave higher or lower.
sharps - Sharp generally just means higher. Sharp of the note you are on would be one note higher. To tune sharp you would tune "up".
flats - Flat generally just means lower. Flat of the note you are on would be one note lower. To tune flat you would tune "down".
major - This is a type of scale or chord that sounds bright, happier, and more upbeat. It has no flats in it. This is kind of subjective, and will be explained much more in-depth in the lessons.
minor - This is a type of scale or chord that sounds darker, maybe more sad, kinda gloomy. Minor scales or chords do use flats. This is kind of subjective, and will be explained much more in-depth in the lessons.
root-note - This is basically the same thing as "key". The root note is the note that the music is centered on or built from. You could say its the "main note" in a song.
transpose - Transposing to another key or root simply means to move our scale, etc to another key or root note. It will be the same scale, etc. but now centered on a different key.
position - This would be the four frets that your hand is over at any given time. You have four fingers, one for each fret. Position also refers to the pattern of notes you would play at any four frets for your chosen scale, etc.
fret - Technically, the frets are the small metal bars across the neck of your guitar or bass. When you press your fingertip down between two "frets" you will fret the string and make the appropriate corresponding note. (you do not actually press your fingertip down "on" the frets, but between them)
interval - This is the space between notes. (see whole-step and half-step)
half-step - This is the shortest interval. It is the next note up or down from where you are. For guitar and bass players, this would simply be moving up or down one fret.
whole-step - This is a longer interval than the half-step. With a whole-step you would skip a note and play the second one. For guitar and bass players you would simply "skip a fret" up or down.
pentatonic - This is a type of scale using five different notes. Penta means five and tonic means tone. So a pentatonic scale is a "five tone scale".
mode - If theory is learned properly, the meaning of this would be different, but this term generally applies to a group of seven note scales.
melodic-interval - A single note.
harmonic-interval - Two notes at a time.
chordal-interval - Three or more notes at a time.
barre - The use of your index finger to hold down more than one string at one fret in a single chord, in order to build chords with that fret as the "nut".
barre chord - A guitar chord in which your index finger barres all strings at one fret, and the rest of the chord is built using that fret as the nut. For example, in an F# chord, the index finger barres the second fret, and the other three fingers make an E chord using the second fret as the nut.
bass note - The lowest note played in a chord, shown either by the chord name (e.g. E in E) or the note listed after a slash (e.g. F# in G/F#).
chord - Three or more pitches played simultaneously, usually a root, third, and fifth, though sometimes a seventh is added.
circle of fifths - A musical tool showing the relatedness of keys.
closely related keys - The fifth up and fifth down (fourth up) from any key. For example, the keys closely related to G are C (fifth down) and D (fifth up).
diminished fifth - An interval made up of two whole steps and two half steps. For example, the distance between D and Ab is a diminished fifth.
diminished chord - A chord consisting of a minor third and a diminished fifth. For example, a D diminished chord (D?) contains D, F, and Ab.
dominant - The fifth note of the major scale. The major chord built on the dominant, designated V, leads strongly toward the tonic.
fifth - In a scale, the distance between a certain note and another note four notes above it. The certain note is counted as I, the note four notes above that is V.
half step - The smallest recognized interval in Western music. The distance represented by one fret on a guitar is a half step.
interval - The musical distance between two notes, measured by the number of whole and half steps between the two notes.
inversion - The use of notes in the chord other than the root as the bass note (e.g. F# bass in a D chord).
key - The basis of musical sounds in a piece. Each key uses the notes and chords of the corresponding major scale. The key is named after the tonic (e.g. the tonic in the key of A is A).
leading - The tendency that certain notes and chords have to resolve to other specific notes or chords.
leading tone - The seventh note of the major scale, one half step below the tonic. This note leads strongly toward the tonic.
major chord - A chord consisting of a major third and a perfect fifth. For example, a D major chord (D) contains D, F#, and A.
major scale - A group of eight notes with the following whole step/half step pattern between them: W-W-H-W-W-W-H. For example, the A major scale consists of A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, and A.
major seventh - An interval made up of five whole steps and one half step. For example, the distance between D and C# is a major seventh.
major third - An interval made up of two whole steps. For example, the distance between D and F# is a major third.
minor chord - A chord consisting of a minor third and a perfect fifth. For example, a D minor chord (Dm) contains D, F, and A.
minor seventh - An interval made up of four whole steps and two half steps. For example, the distance between D and C is a minor seventh.
minor third - An interval made up of one whole step and one half step. For example, the distance between D and F is a minor third.
modulate - To change keys.
muting - Pressing your finger against a string while playing a chord to avoid playing that string. Muting is represented by an x in my chord diagrams (as in E/G#: 4x2400).
perfect fifth - An interval made up of three whole steps and one half step. For example, the distance between D and A is a perfect fifth.
resolve - A musical progression which brings finality to part of a piece.
root - The note a chord is built on.
seventh - In a scale, the distance between a certain note and another note six notes above it. The certain note is counted as I, the note six notes above that is vii.
seventh chord - A chord consisting of a major third, a perfect fifth, and a minor seventh. For example, a D seventh chord (D7) contains D, F#, A, and C. Major seventh chords (notated maj7) contain a major seventh instead of a minor seventh.
suspended chord - A chord containing either the root, second, and fifth (sus2), or the root, fourth, and fifth (sus4).
third - In a scale, the distance between a certain note and another note two notes above it. The certain note is counted as I, the note two notes above that is iii.
tonic - The note on which the major scale is based. The major chord built on the tonic, designated I, is the eventual goal of any song.
transpose - Moving the musical position of a piece, keeping all intervals as they were in the original piece. For example, if you have C, F, and G (I, IV, and V), and you want to transpose to the key of G, then use the I, IV, and V of G, which are G, C, and D.