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Quiz answer: The B# is NOT a note.
“If you do not understand this most important concept then please review the previous lesson”.

Next let’s look at ALL of the musical notes found on the Guitar.

 The musical notes are:

Fig.1. (there are 12 musical notes IN TOTAL).


The musical notes are the most basic and also most Important thing you will learn in ALL music theory.

-These Seven letters of the alphabet were chosen to name and order the musical notes back in the 6th century.

-They might just as well have been numbers or Roman numerals or some other ordered system however the letters of the alphabet were chosen.  This is logical because these Musical Letters are used to spell musical words and phrases such as Chords and Scales.  These Chords and Scales tell musical Stories like Songs.  Music is a language which conveys feeling and emotion therefore it is appropriate to use letters to name its most basic building blocks.

-The 7 letters (A through G) are used to represent the 12 notes.
-5 of the 12 notes are modified versions of the letters A through G.  Each one is modified using either a Sharp OR Flat.
-With 2 exceptions.

The Exceptions:

-It is Very Important to Know that the “B” note and “E” note do not have Sharps.
Or, put another way, “C”s and “F”s do not have flats (since Cb and Fb is the same as saying B# and E#).
The B & E notes are the exception.  B# and E# do not exist in music. Anywhere, on any musical instrument.

 Again. There is no such thing as a B# or E#. Remember:“Bs and Es don’t have sharps”.

Small Hat Picture

Trick:  To remembering which notes do not have sharps.  They are also the notes of the first two strings.

Sharps and Flats Explained:

-A span of 2 frets is known as a whole tone & a span of 1 fret is known as a semitone.

-A  Sharp (denoted #) is one semitone (1 fret) higher in pitch than the:  a, c, d, f, or g note.

-Sharps vs Flats: a sharp (#) is a raise in pitch of 1 semitone from the note and a flat (b) is a lowering of pitch of one semitone.
For example:  F# is exactly the same as Gb.  F# is a raise in pitch of 1 semitone from the F note while Gb is a lowering of pitch of one semitone from the G note.
Here is a good analogy using math:  (“F#” is exactly the same as “Gb”) just as (“1+0.5” is exactly the same as “2-0.5”).
On the surface they do not appear to be the same but we know they amount to exactly the same thing.

The following diagram (from the previous lesson) simplifies the Sharp & Flat Concept.
It may seem repetitive but it is VERY IMPORTANT to understand the names of the notes. 

Fig.2. F# (sharp) and Gb (flat)  “THEY ARE THE SAME NOTE”.

Why there are two names for the same note?

It’s a matter of how they are used. 

-As an example:  A F# is exactly the same as a Gb however, F# is viewed from the perspective of the note below it (the F).

-As you move up or down the fretboard from fret to fret you are moving in 1/2 step increments. These are known as Semitones.

F# (sharp) is an increase in pitch of one semitone from the F and Gb (flat) is a lower pitch of one semitone from the G.
They are one in the same as far as their sound is concerned.
Note: A Semitone is known as a Half Step (one fret)  &  Two Semitones are a Full Step (two frets).

-Referring to Fig.1.  A more correct way of writing out the musical notes would be:

A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab

-An even more accurate way to write out the musical notes would be:

Fig.3. This shows the repetitive nature of the Musical Notes.
(You can go as many times around the circle as the fretboard will allow before you run out of frets)
It also shows how you can start anywhere & move in either direction.

Note:  A#/Bb are the same note.  C#/Db are the same note.   D#/Eb are the same note.
F#/Gb are the same note. G#/Ab  are the same note.

-As you press adjacent frets on the guitar you play these notes in order.  The lowest tone your guitar will play in standard tuning is the Low E (thickest open E string at the top).

-When you have played all notes in the circle of fig.3, they repeat. They repeat at the next higher pitch known as the Octave.

-Do you remember (Do-Ra-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do) from school or the “Song Do A Deer” from Mary Poppins?
It begins on “Do” and ends on “Do” (the same tone but 1 Octave higher in pitch).
The guitar spans almost 4 Octaves depending on the number of frets your guitar has.  More on this later.

-Basically, in practical use, the sharp is used when the passage being played leads to the note above and the Flats are used when it when it leads to the note below.  For example:

A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G# moving Up the notes (scale) AND
G, Gb, F, E, Eb, D, Db, C, B, Bb, A, Ab  moving Down the notes (scale).

-Sharps are much more commonly used than Flats.

Keyboard Notes JPEG

Fig.4. The Piano Keyboard clearly demonstrates the Sharps & Flats through one Octave beginning and ending on the “F” Note (The Key of F).

-The Key Signature of  “standard music notation” also defines all of the Sharps or Flats used throughout  the song:

Fig.5. Standard musical notation indicating Sharps and Flats
(Each line and each space represents a different note).
Note: A Classical Concert Guitarist may want to learn to read  Standard musical notation.

-Methods of playing the next higher note (semitone):

In practical use (when you play) you can increase any note one semitone by:

  1. Fingering the next fret up the fretboard (this is the main method).  This shortens the string length increasing pitch.
  2. Bending the string.  This increases the string tension and pitch.
  3. Lifting on a Whammy Bar. (increasing the string tension and pitch).
  4. Turning the tuning head to increase string tension.
  5. Moving a Slide up the fretboard (shortening the string length).

-Lowering a note a semitone is accomplished by fretting the next lower fret (toward the Nut), pushing down on the Whammy Bar, turning the tuning head to decrease string tension or using a Slide.

To Recap:
-5 of the 12 notes can be written as either a Sharp of a Flat.
-B notes and E notes do not have sharps (C and F do not have Flats)

Quiz: How many notes are there?


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