The Musical Alphabet

by Jay Ford, Director on April 16, 2021

In a previous blog I wrote about two basic chord forms for guitar. Moveable and open chords. Guitar players are usually playing chords or notes so let's talk about notes.

To truly understand what may be happening melodically a player has to be able to identify the notes they are playing.

The Musical Alphabet has seven letters: A B C D E F G.
A letter represents a note name.
The intervallic distance between these notes is measured in whole steps and half steps. (an interval is the distance between two notes)

A to B is a whole step
B to C is a half step
C to D is a whole step
D to E is a whole step
E to F is a half step
F to G is a whole step
G to A is a whole step
In addition to using letters, the Musical Alphabet uses Sharps (#) and Flats(b).

For the guitar, a whole step is the distance of two frets. (ex. first fret to the third fret) A half step is the distance of one fret. (ex. first fret to the second fret)

The Sharps and Flats are in between the notes that are a whole step apart. A Sharp raises a note one half step and a Flat lowers a note one half step.

If we include Sharps and Flats our Musical Alphabet is: A (A# or Bb) B C (C# or Db) D (D# or Eb) E F (F# or Gb) G (G# or Ab)

The musical term for Sharps and Flats is "Accidentals." An Accidental is the same note with two different letter names. (ex. A# and Bb is the same note with two different letter names.) The term for any note with two different letter names is an "Enharmonic Tone."

The Musical Alphabet applies to all instruments melodically (notes) and harmonically. (chords)

Study and Learn the Musical Alphabet!!

Maybe on the next blog we will put the alphabet on the fingerboard. You'll want to be ready.
Best,
Jay

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