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Alright! These beginner lessons are coming to an end and I hope you have learned a lot because there`s a lot to learn. Learning to play the guitar is not a sprint, it`s a journey. This is something you can enjoy and work on for the rest of your life.
My goal with this tutorial is to teach you how you can use basic music theory and skills to get a better understanding of the guitar and how music and notes are related and how you can learn to make your own songs.
Now, let`s use everything we have learned and put it together and make our own song!
How To Make A Guitar Song With Basic Music Theory & A Dice
In a scale, there are 8 notes where the 1st and 8th note is the same and are an octave apart. The intervals (the distance between two notes/pitch) or order of the notes are always the same in a Major scale. Below you can see that the distance between the 1st and the 2nd note is always a whole step (W). On the guitar, this is the same as for example fretting the first fret on the thickest E string which is an F note. A whole step down the neck would be to move to fret 3 which is a G note. Since to jump from one fret to the other is a half step (chromatic scale). Two half steps equal one whole step. This is just how pitch in music is. The distance between the notes is always the same, just accept it. From the 2nd note to the 3rd there`s always a whole step.
From the 3rd to the 4th note there`s always a half step (H).
From 4th to the 5th, from 5th to the 6th and from the 6th to the 7th note there`s always a whole step.
Lastly, we can see that from the 7th to the 8th note there`s always a half step.
What Is The Easiest Key For Guitar?
The easiest key to play on a guitar or piano is in the key of C Major. The word key and the word scale mean the same thing. Below are all the different Major scale notes.
In a C Major scale, there`s no sharps (#) or flats (♭). This is the same as only playing the white keys on the piano. The sharps and the flats are the black keys on the piano.
What Guitar Chords And Scales Are In The Key Of C?
To make a chord we use the 1st note or the root note, the 3rd note, and the 5th note for any scale. So for example, if we look at the C as our root note, then the 3rd is an E note and the 5th is a G note. This goes back to previous lessons about chords where we discovered that the notes in a C chord are C E and G.
Can you pick out the root, 3rd, and 5th for a D chord using the scale sheet above? The root is the D, the 3rd is the F# and the 5th is the A note.
However, we are playing in the key of C and as we can see above there`s no sharps or flats in the key of C, so if we want to use the D scale in the key of C we only use the notes in the key of C:
C D E F G A B and C
So the 2nd note in the C scale is D, the 3rd is therefor F and the 5th is still A. The reason we start with the C scale is that we don`t have to think about the sharps and flats, we just remove them. You can compare this to playing on the piano. The sharps and flats are the black keys on the piano, so we only play the white keys!
Below you can see the relationship between the chords and if the notes in the chord should be played in Major or minor. When we have the root notes in the C Major scale we need to find the 3rd and 5th note to make chords. To make it easier for you to find them I have listed them below. (M = Major, m = minor)
Now if I ask you what the Major chords are in the key of C? Tip: Look for the big M in the root which are the 1st, 4th and 5th notes (C, F, and G). Note that it`s also a big M (Major chord) at the 8th note, but this is the same as the 1st note which is C.
Now, give me a 1, 4, 5 in the key of D!
Cut out the C and mentally place D as the first note and move the whole row to the left and add a D at the end (D E F G A B C D)
D is the root and number 1, the 4th would then be G and the 5th A. Got it?
The Circle Of 5th – What Is Circle Of Fifth In Guitar?
I want to show you a tool you can use to make music and chords if you don`t know all the keys, chords, notes, scales and if everything doesn`t seem clear to you. Ladies and gentlemen this is the circle of 5th. With this tool, you can map out and make some sweet melodies and make them sound good!
So, how do you use it, looks like a mess right? Remember that flats and sharps are like playing the black keys on the piano.
We have chosen C as the root or the 1st note. To find the Major Chords in a C scale we just pick the notes to the right (G) and left (F) of the circle where F is the 4th and G is the 5th. We remember that to play the Major of any scale we play the 1st, 4th and 5th notes. Always go to the right first because the 5ths are the dominant chords. The 4th on the left are sub-dominant and should come after the 5th. This is, of course, music theory, do whatever you think sounds the best!
If you want to play in a different key just turn the circle so that for example G is the root. This is the same as taking the circle above and move every note one step to the left. If we play a G then the other Major chords would be the ones on the right and left side of G, which is D and C. This goes for all the notes you choose to put as the root or 12 o`clock.
The next section is only for you if you would like to know specifically how many and which flats and sharps are in each scale.
C is our root and starting point which is at 12 o`clock and has zero sharps and flats. If we move to the left to the F, we can see that it has 1 flat which is B♭. If we again move to the left we get B♭ that has 2 flats which are B♭ and E♭. One more step and we get E♭ that have 3 flats which are B♭, E♭ , and A♭.
A♭ has 4 flats which are B♭, E♭ , A♭ , and D♭.
D♭ has 5 flats which are B♭, E♭ , A♭ , D♭ and G♭.
G♭ has 6 flats which are B♭, E♭ , A♭ , D♭, G♭ , and C♭.
If we go back to the root C and take a look at the 5th`s on the right side we can see that the G has 1 sharp which is F#. The key of D has 2 sharps which are F# and C#. A has 3 sharps which are F#, C#, and G#.
E has 4 sharps which are F#, C#, G#, and D#.
B got 5 sharps which are F#, C#, G#, D#, and A#.
F# has 6 sharps which are F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, and E#.
B and C♭ are the exact same notes. G♭ and F# are exactly the same notes. D♭ and C# are exactly the same notes.
How To Determine Chord Progressions In A Song – Diatonic Harmony
Whatever chord you put at 12 0`clock in the circle of 5th are the root note which is also called the tonic. That`s the key you are in!
If you go to the left of the circle it`s called the circle of 4ths. If you go to the right it`s called the circle of 5ths.
What are you talking about 4th and 5ths? Let`s have a look at some Major scales again. Look at the 4th note in the C Major Scale. This is an F note. Now, if you scroll up and look at the circle of 4ths you`ll see that next to the C on top there`s an F. So when you go left on the circle, every note is 4 whole notes apart. The same if you go to the right where we have all the 5ths. All the notes are 5 whole steps apart.
How Do You Write A Song For Beginners?
So let`s roll the dice! Start with a chord you want from the circle. If you don`t have one choose a random note. In the example below, we use the C as the root note. Now, the 2nd note is the hardest to find. This goes to the 5th7 chord (the seventh chord is composed of a root, major third, perfect fifth, and minor seventh.
Chord 1 – C Major. This is the 1st note or root we have chosen. To find the 2nd note we can choose whichever we want. Note that we have left out the diminished chord which would be chord 7 to make it easier. So you have to choose a number between 1 and 6.
I choose 4 – This is an F Major chord. 4 goes to 1 or 5 so I choose 5
Chord 5 – G. Okay so this is the seventh chord since it`s number 5 or G7. As I write this I don`t have my guitar so I will play the chords once I get home to hear how it sounds. So this is to teach you how you can make a song without even having an instrument present. As we can see from the picture above it tells u to go to chord 5 which is the G seventh chord G7.
Then we can see that chord 5 goes back to 1 which is the root C which is also a Major.
Now we have chords for a song, let`s look at another example.
Once again our first note is C, this is the root note and if you look at the Major chord chart above we can see that this is a Major chord.
I choose the second note to be number 3 which is the E minor. In case you wonder how you can determine if the note is Major or minor, the Major has a big M or capital letter in front of it and the minor has a small m in front of it (Major scale chord chart above). We can see that chord 3 goes to chord 6.
Chord 6 is an A minor chord. Chord 6 goes to chord 2 which is a D minor. Now chord 2 goes to chord 5 which is a G7. Finally, chord 5 goes back to chord 1.
So our song is C Em Am Dm G7.
How Do You Play A Major 7th Chord On Guitar?
To make a major chord into a major 7th chord, all you need to do is add another major third on top of the chord. The 5th of a G major chord is a D note. A major third away from D is an F#. This F# is the note we need to build our G major 7th chord. You would spell a G major 7th chord G, B, D, F#. The formula for a major 7th chord is major third, minor third, and another major third.
You can move these chords anywhere on the fretboard but for our example, we are playing G major 7th chords.
Put your 1st finger on the 3rd fret of the 6th string, 3rd finger on the 4th fret of the 4th string, 4th finger on the 4th fret of the 3rd string, and your 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string. Play just those four notes. You can mute the 5th string by letting your 1st finger just lay over it a bit.
The second shape starts out by playing the 5th fret of the 4th string with your 1st finger. Now grab the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings on the 7th fret with your 3rd finger. You will have to use a small bar to play all three strings with one finger.
How To Determine The Relative Minor
Every Major key has a relative minor key. If you again look at the circle of 5th the root is at 12 o`clock which in our example is C. To the right of C we have the 5th chord G and to the left of C we find the 4th chord F. C G and F are all Major chords.
The relative minor key is always at 3 o`clock relative to the root note which is C. So the relative minor to the C Major is Am. The notes to the right and left of Am are the other two minor chords. So at 4 o`clock, we find Em and at 2 o`clock we have Dm. This makes sense if you look at the song we just made with these exact same chords and exact same Major and minors.
Now, take a look at the circle once again. Start from the root C and move down to 4 o`clock or the Em. If you follow the notes step by step counter-clockwise you will see that these are the exact same notes we are playing
C E A D G C
So if you follow the notes step by step back towards the root, you know which chord to play next, pretty cool!
The Easiest Way To Learn Scales
Scales are a series of whole and half steps that come in a specific order. To solo over a chord progression you have to play the same notes that are in the chords you are playing. You can play other notes as well but the key is to hit the same keys especially when a chord changes from one chord to another. If for instance, you play a C chord and change to an E minor chord you should play an E note at the same time the chord switches from C to E, then play other notes in the E scale. So if the next chord is an A minor you should play an A note.
Why Do Some Scales Have Sharps And Others Have Flats?
C D E F G A B C is one octave which means 8. You start and finish on the same note. There are 8 notes in an octave and they have to move in alphabetical order. Sharp means to play a note higher (play down the neck of the guitar) while the flat is to lower the note (play up the neck of the guitar).
How To Remember Circle Of Fifths
If you ever wonder how many sharps or flats are on different scales you can use Karen Ramirez rule of thumb. Below are all the flats listed with the numbers representing the number of flats. To remember the order of the flats you can use: Bead (on car tier) goes completely flat.
B♭ E♭ A♭ D♭ G♭ C♭ F♭
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
To name the key or the scale for the number of flats you want to play just name the last notes to the left of the flat you are looking at. For example, if you wonder which key has 3 flats just find the flat to the left of number 3 which is E♭. If you ever wonder if you understand it correctly, go up and have a look at the circle of 5th where all the flats and sharps are listed next to each key.
If you want to find the sharps just read the order of the keys in the flats above backward.
F# C# G# D# A# E# B#
Remember this: Fat Cats Go Down Alley`s Eating Birds. Let`s say there`s a scale with 3 sharps in it. What is the key?
Say the first 3 words: Fat Cats Go, then add the next letter in the alphabet which is A. Key of A# has 3 sharps. Go to the circle of 5th to verify. This is correct if we take a look at the circle of 5th. This is a way to remember the sharps and flats.
Let`s try one more. Which key has 5 sharps? Count and say the first 5 letters: Fat cats go down alleys. Then what is the next letter in the alphabet? It`s B. So a B# scale has 5 sharps.
If you should play a sharp or a flat depends on the previous notes. Let`s look at some examples to clarify.
Below you can see the scale structure for Major scales again where W = whole steps and H = half steps.
What Are All The Flats And Sharps?
Here are all the notes you can ever play on any instrument, there`s 12 of them in total (not counting C two times as they are the same). So to play any scales we have to find the 8 notes out of these 12 in a defined scale pattern.
C C#/D♭ D D#/E♭ E F F#/G♭ G G#/A♭ A A#/B♭ B C
If you move one step to the side this is a half step. If you move two steps to the side this is a whole step. So from C to C#/D♭ is a half step while moving from C to D is a whole step. On the guitar neck, a half step is moving to the next step either up or down while a whole step is to skip one fret or move two frets in either direction.
Why Are Sharps And Flats The Same?
As you can see some are sharps and flats, for example, C#/D♭ which are the same note it only depends on which note you were coming from, from the upside or downside?
Below you can see the scale structure for Major scales again where W = whole steps and H = half steps.
If we start on C and move a whole step we get to D. As you can see above we move from note 1 to note 2. Next, we move from notes 2 to 3 which is a whole step. A whole step from D (jump two steps to the right if you look at all the notes) is E. Now, from note 3 to 4 there`s a half step which gives us an F. If you do this for all the notes in the C Major scale you will find out that there`s no sharps or flats in this scale.
What About The D Scale? Let`s Find D Major Scale Sharps.
A whole step from D gives us E. A whole step from E gives us F#. A half step from F# gives us G. Whole step from G gives us A, then B and C#. Finally, a half step from C# gives us D which is an octave apart from the root D. In a D Major scale there`s two sharps (F# and C#).
What About The Flats You Ask? F Major Flats
Let`s look at the F Major scale. From F to G is a whole step and from G to A is a whole step. We have already used the A. There`s a whole step between A and B and we only want to move a half step, so instead of having A A#, we use A B♭. We move from A to B but only got halfway there. Technically speaking A# and B♭ are the same note, and as stated before, it depends on which note you came from.
If we finish our thoughts then from the 3rd note to the 4th we have a whole-step from B♭ to C. Then a whole step from C to D. Then a whole step to E. Lastly there`s a half step again from E to F.
How To Determine The Key Of a Song
If you want to determine the key for any song you should start by looking at the first and last key in the song. They are usually the same and are most likely the key the song is in.
If you don`t know which chord the song is starting in you can do a Google search with the search term: “what chords are in the song + (song title)”. This should give you an answer.
Another way to find the chords are to play the first note of the song and at the same time play through all the notes on the guitar to try to figure out which key you are in. Of course, you would have to learn where all the notes are, and with time it will be easier for you to find the notes only by using your ear. This will take time but this is the most effective way to learn if you ever want to learn how to play lead guitar and soloing.
How Do You Start And End A Song?
When you write an intro or outro, do you want it to be slow and feel like you take a deep breath, or do you want it to be fast and feel like you breathe out all the air? First, you should determine what kind of song and tempo you want the song to have. What mood are you in? Sad or happy?
Is your song going to be very mellow and very slow like a love song? Just slow? Middle of the road like Beatles? Good tempo, fast rock or exploding fast metal music?
A good intro can be made by using the chords from the end of a song, so if you have 6 chords at the end you play them all except the last chord which is the key of the song. This chord before the last chord is often the 7th chord. In the intro we don`t want to end the intro with the keynote as this is usually the first note of the first chord of the song, we want to keep the song going not play the same note twice in a row. This also creates anticipation for what`s to come next. Keep in mind that this is just in general, you can play what you want as long as it sounds good.
When we play the chords and want to go into the bridge of the song we want to end the chords on the root note or in the key of the song.
A good outro can be made by using the chords at the beginning of a song. So when you come to the note before the last note, go to the start of the song and start at the root note or key of the song and play the notes until you get to the next note of the key of the song. This is your outro of the song.
How To Structure A Song – The Basic Chord Structure Of A Song
Intro – Verse – (Pre) – Chorus – Verse – (Pre) – Chorus – Bridge – Chorus
Intro (4 bars), 1st Verse (16 bars), Pre-chorus (4 bars), 1st Chorus (8 bars) 2nd Verse (8 bars), Pre-chorus (4 bars), 2nd Chorus (8 bars), Bridge (8 bars), 3rd Chorus (8 bars), Outro (4 bars).
Make your chorus big and verses small. If you want to make a chorus sound bigger, don`t make it BIGGER, make what comes before it smaller. It is better to take something out of the verse than to add a lot to the chorus to make it sound bigger.
- Dynamics and arrangement – Add or remove instruments or layers
- Pitch – Make vocal sing higher notes in the chorus and lower in the verse.
- Lyrics – In the verses, it is okay to have more text. In the chorus limit yourself to very few words. Try to use between five or six words that summarize what your song is about.
When starting out making music try to write parts for guitar, bass, drum, and vocals. Try to limit yourself to these instruments. It is easy to hide behind overwhelm. Focus on the opposite. It is harder to make a few parts sound good.
Don`t make all the instruments play at the same time all the time, add one element at the time.
Intro – Begin with just a guitar or keyboard.
1st Verse – When the vocal start adds a little bass (long notes) and (kick) drums.
1st Chorus – At the chorus distort the guitar or use a bigger sound on the keyboard and play 8th notes on the bass and add snare/crash to drums. You can make the vocal and melody stand out more by making two vocals one octave apart.
2nd verse – Let the drums play on the hi-hat and snare. Same riff and vocals as 1st verse. Play quarter notes on the bass.
2nd chorus – Like the 1st chorus.
Bridge – Let drum play on the ride and change up the chord progression. No vocal and the bass follow the harmony.
3rd chorus – Just like chorus 1 and 2.