Notes – Theory

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Android app on Google Play

Introduction

The purpose of this app is for you to learn the names of the notes on the guitar fretboard.

This article provides the guitar theory you need to know in order to
use – “FriendlySanj Notes” – my app for Android mobiles and tablets.

Read the full instructions for the app here.

Learning the Notes

If you don’t yet know any of the notes on the guitar fretboard, you’re gonna
need to start by learning at least one note on each string to use as a starting point.

Let’s start with the learning the open (unfretted) strings on a standard tuned
guitar.

String No. Fret No. Note Name String Name String Pitch
1 0 E Top Highest
2 0 B
3 0 G
4 0 D
5 0 A
6 0 E Bottom Lowest

Looking down at a guitar when you’ve got it strapped on you, the bottom string is the string which is closest to you – bottom indicating that the string is lowest in pitch, not physically at the bottom of the guitar.

The top string is the one furthest from you – the highest in pitch.

The bottom string is the 6th string, the top string is the 1st string.

Going from bottom to top, the open string notes are E, A, D, G, B, E.

Say this many times, think of an acronym, or just remember it.. Whichever way works best for you, get the names of the open strings firmly fixed in your head.

The table above summarises this information.

Note Names

There are 12 notes in western music. These are named as follows:

1 A
2 A# / Bb
3 B
4 C
5 C# / Db
6 D
7 D# / Eb
8 E
9 F
10 F# / Gb
11 G
12 G# / Ab

The symbol – ‘#’ – is called a sharp.

The symbol – ‘b’ – is called a flat.

Notice that:

  • Every note has a sharp except B and E
  • Every note has a flat except C and F

These 12 notes comprise what is called an octave.

Once you get up to G# / Ab, the next note is A again. However, this A is higher in pitch than the previous A – it is one octave (12 notes) above the previous A.

If you’re going downwards, when you get down to A, the note below is G# / Ab. This A is lower in pitch and is one octave (12 notes) below the previous A.

Each note is one semi-tone above/below the previous note.

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard

On a guitar fretboard, one fret corresponds to one semi-tone.

As there are only 12 notes, when you get up to the 12th fret on the fretboard, the notes are repeated again.

ie. The notes on frets 13 – 24 are the same as the notes from frets 0 – 12.

Working out the Notes

Armed with the above information, you now have enough information to work out
any note on the fretboard.

Let’s look at some examples to give you the idea.

The table below shows the names of the notes on the first 6 frets of a standard
tuned 6 string guitar:

Open String
Fret Fret Fret Fret Fret Fret
0
1 2 3 4 5 6
E
F F# / Gb G G# / Ab A A# / Bb
B
C C# D D# E F
G
G# / Ab A A# / Bb B C C# / Db
D
D# / Eb E F F# / Gb G G# / Ab
A
A# / Bb B C C# / Db D D# / Eb
E
F F# / Gb G G# / Ab A A# / Bb

Example 1: If asked what the note of the 2nd fret on the 2nd string is:

  1. Look at the first table above which tells us that the open string name of the 2nd string is B
  2. We want the 2nd fret = 2 semi-tones above B and we know that each semi-tone accounts for 1 fret
  3. Look at the note names above and go 2 notes up from B. There’s no sharp / flat between B and C so we see that the note we’re after is a C#

Easy – right?

Example 2: If asked what the note of the 5th fret on the bottom E string is:

  1. The first table above which tells us that the 6th string is the bottom E string
  2. We want the 5th fret = 5 semi-tones above E and we know that each semi-tone accounts for 1 fret
  3. Look at the note names above and go 5 notes up from B. There’s no sharp / flat between E and F so we see that the note we’re after is an A

Example 3: Thinking outside the diagram, if asked what the
note of the 10th fret on the G string, it’s gonna be quicker to start at the
12th fret (which you know is also a G) and work downwards to D

Which Note Name

When naming notes, it is acceptable to use either of the note names given above – eg. in example 1, C# could have been referred to as Db.

When to use each name goes beyond the scope of this article but if you’d like
to know more, please check out my book here.

Outro

You now have enough information to start using the first app in my series – Notes.

FriendlySanj – Find Out More

Download the App


Android app on Google Play
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Notes – Instructions

FriendlySanj – Find Out More

Download the App


Android app on Google Play

The Purpose

The purpose of this app is to teach you the notes on the guitar fretboard.

This is the the first step in my series of guitar apps which aim to teach you how to apply music theory to the guitar fretboard.

Learn about more apps in this series on my website:

I don’t know any notes – where do I start?

If you:

  • don’t yet know any notes on the fretboard
  • want to know how to go about learning the notes on the fretboard

then please read this blog post

My Experience

At the time of writing this app, I had not played electric guitar for a number of years and had been focusing on the acoustic guitar.

For this reason, my knowledge of frets 12 – 24 was quite shaky as opposed to frets 0 – 12 where, using this app, I could name the note within 3 seconds.

Using the fret range settings in the app, I focused first on frets 12 – 15 for a few days, then on frets 17 – 19 for a few days.

After a week, this was enough to gain sufficient knowledge to be able to fill in the gaps and name all notes on frets 12 – 24 within 7 seconds using this app.

As I am writing these instructions, I am focusing on improving my speed at naming notes on frets 12 – 24 and am looking forward to moving onto ‘Intervals’ – the next app in the series.

Playing the Game

The Basics

When starting the game, you will be presented with the image of a fretboard upon which a single fret will be highlighted with a red circle.

Using the note quality buttons:

  • A, B, C, D, E, F, G

and the accidental buttons:

  • flat (b), natural (natural_small), sharp (#)

select the note you believe to be highlighted and hit the GO button.

NOTE: The note quality and accidental buttons default to ‘A Natural’ each time a new question is started.

Correct Answer

If you are correct, the:

  • “Answer is correct” message

will be displayed on screen.

Incorrect Answer

If you are incorrect:

  • the correct answer and
  • the “Answer Incorrect” message

will be displayed on screen.

The Timer

If the timer is enabled, then you have a limited time in which to answer the question.

The timer decrements in one second intervals and when only five seconds remain, is displayed in red.

The timer can be enabled/disabled and the interval altered using the game play options.

If you fail to provide an answer in the alotted time then:

  • the correct answer and
  • the “Time Up” message

will be displayed on screen.

If the timer is enabled, then the average time in which questions have been correctly answered is displayed on screen and is updated following each correct answer.

The Skip Button

A skip button is provided in case you wish to skip a question.

If a question is skipped then:

  • the correct answer and
  • the “Skipped” message

will be displayed on screen.

If scoring is enabled then the skipped question is treated as an incorrect answer.

After skipping a note, a new note will be highlighted on the fretboard.

No.Correct / Incorrect

The number of correct answers and the total number of questions so far posed is displayed in the format:

  • No Correct/Total No. Questions So Far

Set Size

The number of questions which constitutes a game is referred to as the:

  • “Set size”

and is displayed on screen.

This value can be altered in game play options.

Scoring

Scoring and Rating have been added to the game to give you a way to track your progress.

Scoring Algorithm

The scoring algorithm is as follows:

Timer Disabled

  • Incorrect answer : 0 points
  • Correct answer : 10 points

Timer Enabled

  • Incorrect answer : 0 points
  • Correct answer :The score depends on the time taken to answer the question
    • >=10 secs : 10 points
    • 9 secs : 20 points
    • 8 secs : 30 points
    • 7 secs : 40 points
    • 6 secs : 50 points
    • 5 secs : 60 points
    • 4 secs : 70 points
    • 3 secs : 80 points
    • 2 secs : 90 points
    • 1 secs : 100 points

As each game can consist of a different number of questions, the final score is divided by the total number of questions answered.

This results in a final score with a possible maximum of 100.

Ratings

A rating system is employed consisting of the following 5 ratings:

Score:

  • 80-100 : Dominant
  • 60-80 : Augmented
  • 40-60 : Major
  • 20-40 : Minor
  • 0-20 : Diminished

Your score and rating is displayed at the end of each game and all ratings/scores can be viewed on the high score screen.

Hi Score Screen

The hi-score screen displays the following information about each game:

  • Score
  • No. correct answers
  • No. questions asked
  • Average answer time
  • Rating
  • Fret range
  • String range
  • Date and time of game

Settings

Game Play Options

  • Question set size: Alters the number of questions which constitute a game
    • Range: 5 – 50
    • Default: 25
  • Enable Timer: Select whether a timer is to be used
  • Timer Interval : Timer interval in seconds
    • Range: 1 – 60
    • Default: 30
  • Enable Scoring: Select whether scoring is to be used
  • Enable Sound Effects: Select whether sound effects should play. Sounds are played for the following:
    • Correct Answer
    • Incorrect Answer
    • Question Skipped
    • Time Up
    • Game Over

Fretboard Range Options

  • Lowest (Pitch) String: Set the lowest pitch string which you should be questioned on
    • Range: 1 (Top E String) – 6 (Bottom E String)
    • Default: 6 (Bottom E)
  • Highest (Pitch) String: Set the highest pitch string which you should be questioned on
    • Range: 1 (Top E String) – 6 (Bottom E String)
    • Default: 1 (Top E)
  • Lowest Fret: Set the lowest fret which you should be questioned on
    • Range: 0 – 24
    • Default: 0
  • Highest Fret: Set the highest fret which you should be questioned on
    • Range: 0 – 24
    • Default: 24

Fretboard Settings Options

  • Fretboard Type: Select whether a right handed or left handed guitar fretboard should be displayed
    • Values: Right Handed Guitar | Left Handed Guitar
    • Default: Right Handed Guitar
  • Tunings: Alter the tunings of each of the strings
    • Range: A – G#
    • Default: Standard Tuning (E,A,D,G,B,E)

FriendlySanj – Find Out More

Download the App


Android app on Google Play