The Note Circle
Impress your mates with enharmonic equivalents!
At this point we're going to start learning just a tiny bit of music theory. A little theory goes a long way, and you will find your playing improves a lot with a little understanding of what you're doing. It's not too hard to grasp the basic principles, and you will using the information that we learn in this lesson forever!
The Note Circle
Here you can see here the ‘Note Circle' which shows all 12 notes that we use in western music. Each step around the circle is the same as moving one fret, and this is called a semitone. Two steps around the circle is called a tone.
If you look at the ‘white' notes (notes with no # or b, like the white keys on a piano) you can see that they are all a tone apart, except for B and C and E and F, which are only a semitone apart.
A sharp (#) raises the pitch of a note by one semitone (one fret). An easy way to remember this is: if you sat on something sharp, you would jump up!
A flat (b) lowers the pitch of a note by one semitone (one fret). The easy way to remember this one is that if your tyre is flat, it goes down.
One term that I really liked when I was learning this stuff in high school was the term ‘enharmonic equivalent' which means two notes that sound the same but have different names, like A# and Bb. These two notes sound exactly the same (in our western "equally tempered" music system).
You should get into counting your semitones, if you have a friend to help you, ask them to name how many semitones there are between any two notes, and then count around the circle to check. To start with you will probably have to look at the chart above, but try and get it into your memory as quickly as you can.
Remember that everything you learn should be memorized, not left on a page!
Fun for Germans and some other Europeans
For some reason I still do not really understand, German people call the note B as H. And if I remember correctly the note Bb is what they call B. This throws up all kinda of horrible music theory problems and though I have read about how the change of name came about, it still makes very little sense. Many teachers in Germany now teach with the regular B and no H, but many still uphold the tradition. I would recommend to German people that study music theory to get used to using the B, if only because all the rest of the world uses it and it makes a whole lot more sense in a logical music system.
Now we are going to look at how to make your chord changes in the air.