How To Make Show Guitar NotesPosted by Mike Schuck
Learning how to play guitar can feel like an uphill battle at times!
Thinking about what notes go with which chords is very confusing, and there are many ways to do it. Some people may learn one way and be totally stuck on that forever because they cannot apply their knowledge elsewhere.
Many musicians have great tone sets or licks that they learned by looking into the positions of some notes in a chord and figuring out what note or notes make sense next to them. Others learn different styles, but never really focus on learning the individual notes for each style, and thusly lose out on parts of music that appeal to them.
The other thing that can trip up beginner players is knowing when to use a scale, a position, or a pattern as a primer before playing a song. There are certain songs where this makes sense, but mostly it just looks funny.
All of these things contribute to why so few people actually understand how music works. It’s hard to pick up unless you know what you’re dealing with!
Luckily, we’ve got some helpful tips here today! These will cover all of the basics of showing off your guitar skills, and going beyond what others have already done. Hopefully you’ll find something new here that helps you level up your game.
Make a list of popular guitar notations
Most lead guitarist’s make use of some sort of note notation to indicate what notes should be played in various spots during a song. These notations are called guitar riffs or guitar patterns.
A really common one is the opening riff to Metallica’s classic metal anthem “Enter Sandman.” This short pattern consists of five steps. Each step is an individual chord with no other chords attached, but it always returns back to the tonic (or root) for its transition.
The first step goes like this: E-G#-D-F - Cmaj9 -> G Major = tonic
This band uses many musical devices, including using familiar melodies and licks as guitar rifts. The most well known device used in music today is probably something called harmonic modulation. That means creating a new key, or changing the pitch we are playing on. A very famous example of this is when the bass drops from D to B natural at the 1 minute and 43 second mark in Katy Perry’s song “Firework.
Learn how to read chord progressions
Now that you can read notes, you can do something very cool! You can learn what songs are by looking at the song lyrics or using an app that does it for you.
Many people start learning guitar by practicing playing simple chords, but few move onto more complicated music beyond those first milestones.
That’s okay though! There are many ways to get past this. One of them is to learn how to read basslines, barre chords, harmonic structure, and chord progressions.
Chord progressions are one of the most important concepts in music theory. They occur when your root (or tonic) chord changes position while the remaining chords stay the same. For example, if the root is A-Minor, then the progression would be A–Bm–Amaj7–G#–A.
This article will go into detail about some easy ways to recognize chord progressions so you can play them back easily.
Practice reading guitar notes
Now that you can see all of the notes in a song, your next step is to practice being able to read them!
Practice reading guitar notes takes some time to get good at, but don’t worry – it's totally doable!
By now, you've probably picked up on the basics of music notation. You've learned how to recognize major, minor, and harmonic scales as well as natural and half-natural rhythms.
Reading chord names is also pretty easy once you have those basic concepts down.
But what about when there are more than two chords in a phrase or verse? Or when the rhythm changes?
That’s where things get tricky for beginners.
Luckily, we're going to take a look at one of the most important tools for reading guitar notes -- the scale.
The term “scale” may sound complicated, but don't be scared! A lot of musicians use the tool every day.
A scale is simply a pattern of numbers that go either up or down. The numbers will typically repeat themselves after a set amount of times (the scale length).
In this article, we'll learn how to identify the familiar major, lydian, and blues scales and apply them to reading guitar notes.
Once you've got that down, practicing using the different types of scales will be a breeze! So, let's dive in.
Practice reading chord progressions
Now that you can read notes, check out some of your favorite songs! Read through and analyze every part of a song, from chords to bass lines to melodies.
Songs with very complex music patterns are great examples to study. For example, look at the way each note in a guitar solo is written down!
Some musicians only write the position of the string and the number of frets it touches, but not which finger they use to play it. If there is more than one option, the musician will include that information here so you know what hand to assume the note was played as.
There may also be different symbols used for voicings or alternate techniques if there is more than one way to play a certain note. All these things contribute to how the guitarist can make their music come together.
Reading notes isn’t just about knowing what sounds good either; understanding all the little nuances behind them is an integral part of playing guitar.
Read music notations in context
When reading notes, you should do so within a framework or context. This framework includes what mode your piece is in, who the song is for, what instrument it features, whether there are lyrics, and more!
When you read out of context, you lose track of all of that information. You also may confuse the note as to its value because it could be an accidential trill instead of a natural flatted second.
Reading music too quickly can sometimes look good, but this does not apply here. If you notice someone doing this, try to see if they have included any of the mentioned contexts before commenting on their notes.
Practice recognizing keys and note values
It is very important to be able to recognize which notes are in a song, what their value is, and how many there are. This is something that most beginners often struggle with!
It can get confusing when there’s more than one key being used for writing music. Some songs use both the natural and harmonic (or pure) modes as their keys.
There are also some songs where no clear key is established. In these cases, it does not matter too much if you cannot identify the main chord or melody because another part of the song takes place in different keys!
However, even though it is not clearly identified, we can usually tell what tone(s) make up each part of the song. For example, any time the chords go down by half a step, then the next line will have an A-flat at the top. Or, anything with a rising third will have a G sharp at the top. These are called leading tones and they always change the root letter of the succeeding word or phrase.
Learn to read music
Now that you are able to recognize notes, it is time to move onto another important part of playing guitar- reading music!
Reading music is how we connect the notes together into songs or pieces. You will learn how to do this by practicing with some basic rules.
The first rule for reading music is to know what key your song is in. This changes which note gets assigned to each letter of the alphabet. For example, if your song is in A major then the note F would be called an A natural.
Another way to remember this is that when there’s a word that starts with the same letter as the chord, like “Ace” for instance, that note becomes one half of the pair. In this case, the A natural becomes just the Ace of A, or sometimes referred to as the root note.
From here, you can use the harmonic scale to figure out the rest of the chords in the song. By using the intervals between the notes, you can determine what other notes correspond to each chord.
Intervals are spaces between two adjacent tones (or sounds). The most common ones are whole steps (also known as perfect fourths), half steps (imperfect fifths) and thirds. Knowing these will help you match up the correct notes with the right chords.
Learn to sing
In fact, one of the most fundamental things you can learn as a guitarist is how to read guitar music! As mentioned before, notes in music are usually grouped into sequences called a scale or harmonic pattern.
By learning your scales, and understanding how these relate to each other, you will soon be reading music like a pro!
There are many ways to approach this, but my favorite way is by using something called fretboard position numbers. These numbers map out specific positions on the guitar neck where a note can easily be played.
For example, the major third (or “third degree”) scale begins with the open string at position 1 on the first finger board space (the index finger side). Then move up the second finger board space (middle finger), and play the next highest note, which is the second position of the major third - A.
This process keeps repeating until it gets too difficult to play any more notes, then you go back down the instrument and start over. When doing so, remember your old position and use that as your new starting place for the scale. This helps you quickly find the right tone and position of the strings!
Scales always begin with the root note, so let’s try our hands at the natural minor scale. The natural minor scale has a raised fifth above its root, making the root a b3 and the whole thing a bb5.
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