Sunday, 20 March 2011

What is a dotted note?

 This is more relevant to piano players studying with sheet music but I thought it could be interesting to some people. The topic today is dotted notes so lets get into it.

A dotted note is simple in theory but harder to do in practice. First, you must understand the difference between a full note, half note, quarter note, eighth notes and 16th notes, etc... I might do a lesson more in detail about those but just know that they are lengths of time for a note to be played. A whole note is long, a full 4 beat lets say where as a half note is half that time, a quarter is 1/4th the full note time etc....

A Dotted note is when you take whatever note there is and add a half of that note to it. So let's say we have a dotted whole note. That means the amount of time that note will take up is a whole note and a half note. (Divide the whole note by 2, then add). You could see this as a whole and a half, or 3 half notes. Either way its the same amount of time. This works for all the notes as well; a dotted 8th is an 8th plus a 16th.

Equation would be:   (Original Note / 2) + Original Note = Dotted Note

This is useful when trying to understand more complex rhythms...however it is always easier and better to listen to whatever you are trying to play and figure it out that way. The ear will always be able to be a better judge of what you are trying to achieve. Using dotted notes can really give you a more complex sound so you should check it out, it will allow you to spice things up from time to time to keep things from sounding boring.

Here's a picture I got from google giving you a little table for reference:

Friday, 11 March 2011

What kind of Instrument do you prefer?

I'm busy with university essays lately everyone so I thought I would do a quick post and get peoples opinions. Which instrument do you all prefer? Are you a guitar type of person or piano? Many a keyboardist or synth player? Possibly drums and percussion?

Maybe you just like electronic produced songs or prefer classical violins, harpsichords or violas! So what is it everyone, what instrument do you play, have an interest in or just generally think is cool?

Monday, 7 March 2011

So you want to play some easy songs on guitar?

Hey everyone, I'm back for another lesson today and we will be covering a very simple but core aspect of modern music (especially punk rock) and that is the POWER CHORD. Shout with me YAY! lol

Anyways, Power chord's are vital no matter how much they might get characterized for being "simple". They allow for that signature punch and drive while often avoiding straying too far in mood. This will be easier to understand when looking at what it is made out of.

They are consisted of:
1) Root
2) 5th
3) Octave (Optional)

The octave note, which is the same as the root just higher, is optional. It will make the chord sound a bit fuller but not needed. The 5th is important if you know regular open chords, it is sort of in the middle of the scale and helps develop the root note, this is also the reason these types of chords are called "5th chords" because they involve only the root and the 5th. The G-Power chord would be labeled "G5" or something similar. The root is obviously the base for the entire chord.

Notice anything missing? If you said THIRD then you would be correct!. The Power-Chord contains neither a minor third or a major third. They are "neutral" and thus don't sway too heavily towards a happy or sad sounds. In modern song making, artists sometimes substitute a Power-chord instead of the major or minor to negate a strong moody sound that they don't really want.

So how do you make these types of chords? Start by getting the root note of your choice. Let's think of C for simplicity. The 5th of C is G, you can count the scale degree's and end up or you can follow some shortcuts!

C is third fret on A string right? Well the 5th is always below the root note (at least on the bottom strings), the G note you will notice is the 3rd fret on the E string! HOWEVER, Power chords are often not shaped that way because then the emphasis would be on the G. The G would be in the base you might say. Generally, you want your root note to be the lowest in pitch.

The other shortcut is to go 2 frets over, and 1 fret up. That will also land you on a G. You will notice it is 2 frets over and 2 frets up from the other G which is on the E string. The octave is directly above the 5th as before. So if you have Root note C on third fret. To make the power chord, you will put your index on C, and then ring finger and pinky on the 5th fret of both the D and G strings.

Here's an example of the chord shape with root of F from Google.

When you try it out, you will notice the shape is noticeable and easy to remember. This shape works for any power-chord with the root on the E or A string. If you start your power chord on the D string, the shape changes slightly.Your pinky finger which is doing the octave, will have to slide 1 fret up than usual because the B string is tuned differently.

Anyways I hope that is easy to understand, enjoy!

Friday, 4 March 2011

What type of music do you like?

So today I'm sort of busy but I was wondering about everyone's tastes in music. I'm personally more into rock and metal (but none of that growling stuff, I'm talking old-school maiden or modern power metal). Although I enjoy lots of styles from classic rock and roll to classical music (including baroque, romantic, etc...).

I'm not a huge rap fan myself but I know lots of people are and there is some that is very good. So how about you? What do you guys like or enjoy...or maybe even something you listen to all the time even though you generally don't like similar types of music? Any reasons?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Scales are critical to the understanding of music and no matter how much you hate practicing them, they are vital. We must first understand what a scale is though.

A Scale is best thought of as groups of notes that go together well in certain situations. Major Scales are often used for happy or majestic music whereas Minor Scales are more solemn and sad.

Note: There is more than just the major and minor scales, however, they are usually just alterations of the basic form. There is also many artists who will use notes in songs that are NOT in the scale to create what is called chromaticism to increase the "emotion" or "oddness". This is heavily used in modern jazz as well as the Romantic Period of music history (the 18th century basically).

Instead of writing all of this out, I decided to kind of cheat this time and just link you all too a fantastic site that describes all of this. It is called The Jazz Chameleon and although focused on Jazz, you can learn lots from it even if you are not interested in Jazz. for Major Scales for Minor Scales

To summarize them. The Major Scale is a Step, Step, Half-Step, Step, Step, Step, Half-Step (or called tones and semitones).

The Natural Minor is: Step, Half-Step, Step, Step, Half-Step, Step, Step.

NOTE: A Step (or tone) is 2 frets on a guitar, A Half-Step is just 1 fret (so the fret nextdoor).

The NATURAL Minor is the same structure as the MAJOR, except it starts from a different point. 

This means that there are certain minors that are the same notes as certain majors. C Major and A Minor have the same notes basically. They are called Relative Minors or Majors. In order to "differentiate" between them, look to what the song or piece is focused on. What note or chord is the ROOT or the ANCHOR POINT. Usually, whatever chord or note the song ends on (and begins with a lot of the time too) is the Root note and will lead you to the key and what Scale is being used.

To find the Relative Minor of a major scale, go 3 frets down from the Root. Or go 3 frets up from the root of a minor scale to find the Relative Major.

In things like modern jazz or heavily chromatic music, this is all useful as there is often times many different scales or very loose defining key. But most music you will be playing unless you are very advanced (and thus would not need me teaching  you lol) will not be like that. So learn the Major and Minor scales...and get out there!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Difference between Sharps & Flats

Some people may be confused when it comes to sharps and flats and what the difference is between them because you could refer to certain notes in either way although with a different root note.This will be a long lesson but let's first understand what those words mean...

SHARP is when the note is raised a semitone or half-step (One fret on a guitar, or the key directly to the right on the piano which are the black keys).

FLAT is when the note is lowered a semitone or half-step. So it's the same as the sharp except in the opposite direction.

If we take the note C and Sharp it, we get C# (C Sharp). This note is the same pitch (so it sounds the same) as the note Db (D Flat). On the guitar fretboard, this is the 4th fret on the A string (between the notes C which is 3rd fret and D which would be the 5th fret). On the piano this would be the black key in between C and D.

"REMEMBER: B and E do not have Sharps, if you sharp B, you just get C. If you sharp E, you just get F. And vice versa with the flats. C does not have an effective flat, neither does F!"

Practically they are the same thing, the main difference comes when it comes to key signatures and something called the cycle or circle of fifths which I will detail in a later blog. In traditional music sheets, they have their lines and each line represents certain notes all the time. So in order to get those sharps and flats, the composer would indicate on the lines to say "This note is not actually C, its C Sharp!". Key Signatures are also defined by how many sharps or flats they have.  F is defined by 1 flat, G is defined by 1 sharp and you know which note because they are in a certain order but those are details for another lesson!

Another difference is when you are trying to keep scales diatonic and clean. It is "proper" to never repeat a letter when writing out your scale so take the C Major Scale. It is C, D, E, F, G, A, B. Notice that NO LETTERS REPEAT, THEY ARE ALL UNIQUE. Now write out the E Major Scale (If you use only Flats for those middle notes) it is:

E, Gb, Ab, A, B, Db, Eb.    ---- UH OH!!! PROBLEM!. A and E are repeating! The proper way (which again is layed out in the circle of fifths) is to actually use 4 Sharps.

E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D# ---YAY! See, Nice and Clean.

This is kinda nit picky stuff and could be seen as music "grammar". Like when you correct someone for using "me" instead of "I". Nevertheless, its good to learn the proper way.

An odd trend to notice is that certain notes tend to be viewed in certain ways. C# is commonly called C Sharp instead of D flat although both are valid. Counter to that, almost all people seem to always refer to D# as E flat, such as guitarists who tune their guitars half-step down to "E Flat", See how we came full circle there lol. In any case, learn the notes and keep on rockin guys. That's all for today! Huge lesson!

Sunday, 27 February 2011


I was thinking of making another blog theory post but screw it, this is more important atm.In case you didn't know, Trent Reznor, the guy behind odd band nine inch nails, won best soundtrack (or original score) in the Oscars for social network. Now I have nothing against Trent, and actually enjoy nine inch nails but the fact that he won an Oscar is still shocking. To put this into perspective...Famous Composer Hans Zimmer was also nominated, and Trent Reznor beat him.

If you don't know who Nine Inch Nails are, then I will link a video for you to hear the oddness. He is either a genius or a psychopath...maybe the truth lies somewhere in between...