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A beginner’s introduction to Frets, Notes, Tones, Intervals and Steps

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Phip  
30 Sep 2009 20:18 | Quote
Joined: 23 Dec 2007
United States
Lessons: 1
Karma: 45
Moderator
A beginner’s introduction to Frets, Notes, Tones, Intervals and Steps

So you are a beginner and you’ve been hearing terms like “tone”, whole step, half step, intervals and scales and modes and you are confused. You don’t know where to begin. I understand how confusing it can be. I had some problems relating to these terms myself even though I researched them individually. So I’m going to try and help you understand from a very basic level. And it won’t hurt a bit!
First I should mention that these terms are all interrelated and in some cases a bit redundant. But don’t worry. It will all be clear very soon. In order to communicate with other musicians and in order to understand more advanced lessons you will need to understand these terms.

Ok, put your finger on the 3rd fret of the sixth string (The “low E string” it’s the fattest string). Your finger is on the G note. Ok? That fat string is the E string and if you pluck it with no fingers on it you will hear the E note. If you put a finger on the 1st fret you will hear the F note. If you put your finger on the 2nd fret that is the F# note. If you put your finger on the 3rd fret you will hear the G note and that is where you are right now.
This is where it will all become clear for you I hope.
Ok, put a finger on the 3rd fret of that fat string (the G note). Pluck it. Now slide your finger up to the 4th fret and pluck it.
Here is what just happened as you went from the 3rd fret to the 4th fret.
1) You went from the G note to the G# note
2) You just moved up one fret
3) You just moved up 1 interval
4) You just moved up 1 note
5) You just moved up 1 tone
6) You just moved up ˝ step
I know what you are thinking….”why didn’t they just call it 1 step?” I don’t know, I wasn’t there when “they” made that decision! But you must understand that moving forward 1 fret is the same as moving forward 1 half step. Keep reading.
Now put your finger back on the 3rd fret (the G note). Pluck it. Now slide your finger up to the 5th fret and pluck it.
Here is what just happened.
1) You went from the G note to the A note
2) You just moved up 2 frets
3) You just moved up 2 intervals
4) You just moved up 2 notes
5) You just moved up 2 tones
6) You just moved up 1 whole step (2 half steps = 1 whole step)
So as you can see moving forward 2 frets is the same as moving forward 1 whole step! That’s just the way it is.
Put your finger back on that 3rd fret (the G note). Pluck it. Now slide your finger up to the 6th fret and pluck it.
Here is what just happened.
1) You went from the G note to the A# note
2) You just moved up 3 frets
3) You just moved up 3 intervals
4) You just moved up 3 notes
5) You just moved up 3 tones
6) You just moved up 3 half steps (3 half steps = 1 whole step and 1 half step)

Put your finger on the 3rd fret and pluck it. Now slide your finger up to the 7th fret and pluck it.
Here is what just happened
1) You went from the G note to the B note
2) You just moved up 4 frets
3) You just moved up 4 intervals
4) You just moved up 4 notes
5) You just moved up 4 tones
6) You just moved up 2 whole steps
Ok, keep your mind open for this next and final one
Put your finger back on the 3rd fret (the G note) and pluck it. now slide up to the 8th fret and pluck it.
Here is what just happened
7) You went from the G note to the C note
8) You just moved up 5 frets
9) You just moved up 5 intervals
10) You just moved up 5 notes
11) You just moved up 5 tones
12) You just moved up 2 1/2 whole steps (that’s 5 half steps)


And so now you are starting to see the relationship here.
A note is a tone or a tone is a note. It’s the same thing. Call it which ever you like, at least you will know what other people are talking about when they use these words.
Moving forward one fret at a time = moving forward one interval at a time, and one note at a time and one tone at a time. AND moving forward one fret at a time = moving forward one HALF step at a time. When you have moved forward 2 frets you have moved forward 1 whole step.

Ok, so now put your index finger on that 3rd fret (G note) of the sixth string and pluck it. Then put your ring finger on the 5th fret (A note) and pluck it. Put your pinky finger on the 7th fret (B note) and pluck it.
Put your index finger on the 8th fret (C note) and pluck it. Put your ring finger on the 10th fret (D note) and pluck it. Now put your pinky finger on the 12th fret (E note) and pluck that.
Put your index finger on the 14th fret (F# note) and pluck it. Then put your middle finger on the 15th fret (G note) and pluck it.
Congratulations, you just played the G major scale!
You played one octave of that scale from a G note to a higher pitched G note.
You played these notes; G, A, B, C, D, E, F# and finished on the G note (which would be the beginning of your next octave.
You advanced one whole step, one whole step, one half step, one whole step, one whole step, one whole step and one half step.
When you went from the G to the A you moved 2 Frets (one whole step). Then you went from the A to the B (one whole step) then from the B to the C was one fret (one half step). From the C to the D was 2 frets (one whole step) and then another whole step from the D to the E and one more whole step from the E to the F#. You finished with a half step up to the G note and if you had more room on that neck you could keep right on going in that same order of whole and half steps.
You could have started on any note you wanted and as long as you used the same formula of whole and half steps you would be playing the major scale of the note that you started on. Do you understand? If you started on the F note you would have played the F major scale. If you started on the A note you would have played the A major scale as long as you played in that original formula of steps. 1st note to the 2nd note is a whole step. 2nd note to the 3rd note is a whole step. 3rd note to the 4th note is a HALF step. 4th note to the 5th note is a whole step. 5th note to the 6th note is a whole step. 6th note to the 7th note is a whole step and finally the 7th note back to the 1st note is a half step. Other scales use different formulas of steps (intervals).
Naturally you will be playing this scale using all of the strings on your guitar. Try the G major scale using all the strings. Start on the sixth string and play 3 notes on that string (G, A, B). Then move to the fifth string and play the next 3 notes. Can you find them (C, D, and E)? Those are the notes that you must play if you are going to stay in the G major scale, so you have to find them. They are there I promise you. Can you prove that you are staying true to the formula? Move to the fourth string and play the next three notes (F#, G, and A). Keep going (three notes per string). On the third string are the next three notes (B, C, and D). On the second string are the next notes (E, F#, and G). When you get to the first string you will play the A, B, and C notes, and if you did it right you should finish with your pinky finger on the 8th fret. How did you do? I could have told you which frets to pluck on each string but you will learn so much more if you find the notes and contemplate how many steps you are advancing and why if you find them for yourself.

This is the most basic and simple explanation I can give you to help you understand more advanced lessons that you will soon be studying. When you get to the scale lessons you will be reading things like this;
“The major scale consists of a whole step, a whole step, a half step, a whole step, a whole step, a whole step and a half step. They may write it like this W,W,H,W,W,W,H. You are now prepared to understand what is happening in this “major scale”. You’re gonna do GREAT!

Phip  
30 Sep 2009 20:35 | Quote
Joined: 23 Dec 2007
United States
Lessons: 1
Karma: 45
Moderator
Sorry,
I wanted to submit this as a lesson and I finally did do that, so could one of you mods please delete this topic and consider my lesson submission?
Thanks,
Phip


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