Music Theory - The Fundamentals

There are 12 tones used in western music.  Some cultures differ.

7 are named from the alphabet:


The white keys on the piano are the 7 letters repeating over and over.

The piano is such a visual instrument that we will use it occasionally when talking about music theory.

The remaining (black keys on the piano) each have 2 names.

Sometimes whether we call a note a sharp or flat will depend on the key we are playing in.  More on this later 🙂

Terms to Know

Before we apply the above knowledge to the guitar there are a couple terms we need to know.

Let's Apply this Knowledge to Guitar!

Take a look at the piano to the right and notice there are no black keys between:

  • B and C
  • E and F


This information is important because it means on the guitar E and F will be right beside each other as will B and C.  For the other alphabet letters we will have to skip a fret.

We can think of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street to help us remember this.

Any time we land on B (Bert), C will be right beside, when we land on E (Ernie), F will be right beside.  Any other note we land on we will have to skip a fret to get to the next alphabet letter.

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