the notes on the a string

As was the case in our previous reading lessons, familiarity with the previous related lessons is necessary. If you haven't already, please refer back to the information presented in Lessons Five, Seven, Ten, and Fourteen. If you've already done this, and are comfortable with this material, you are ready to tackle this lesson. Today we'll be learning three new notes: A, B, and C, all of which will be found on your 5th string. Here's the skinny:

Notes On The A String

As you can see above, A is played by hitting the open fifth string, while B is on the second fret, and C is on the third. Remember that the finger you will use corresponds to the fret you're on. As always, I've provided a little tune for you to practice which incorporates the new notes you just learned, as well as some of the older ones. The chords are written out above the staff as well, so you can practice playing the accompaniment. Before you dig in to the example, I want to elaborate a bit on the chord theory we briefly discussed back in Lesson Eight.

Above you see a C Major Scale written out in two octaves. We remember from Lesson Eight that that the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of any given scale will give us a triad. The real fun begins when you apply this same math to each note in the scale. For example if you begin from D and treat it as though it were the 1st you will end up with D, F, and A. Treat F as though it were the 1st and you wind up with F, A, and C. Try rolling your mouse over the letters in the scale above. When you roll over a letter, the letters of it's triad will turn either blue, red, or green.

You’re most likely asking yourself why some are blue, some are red and one is green. We’re representing three different varieties of triad, those being major, minor, and diminished. In the above diagram blue represents major, while red represents minor and green represents diminished. The difference between these lies in the distance between the 1st and the 3rd. If the distance from the 1st to the 3rd is two whole steps, the triad is major from now on referred to as a “major third”. If it is only one-and-a-half steps the triad is minor, and we refer to the interval as a “minor third”. When you go through the scale you’ll see that C-E, F-A, and G-B are all major thirds, while D-F, E-G, A-C and B-D are all minor thirds. What sets B apart is the fact that it not only has a minor third, but it also has a flatted 5th, since the
total span is only three steps, while all of the others encompass three-and-a-half. This is why it is referred to as diminished.

What’s great is that the order the triads occur in is the same for every key! If we assign numbers to each tone of the scale we get C as 1, D as 2, E as 3, F as 4, G as 5, A as 6, and B as 7. C (1), F (4) and G (5) are all Major Triads. This is true for every major key, because every major scale is built from the same formula (W-W-H-W-W-W-H). Remember that in any key the 1, 4, and 5 chords will be major, while 2, 3, and 6 will be minor and 7 is the lonely diminished chord. From now on we will refer to chord progressions using Roman numerals, I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII. At this point all you need to do is look at the notes in any major scale, and you can identify the chords in the key. In G you get G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, and F# dim. In E you get E, F#m, G#mi, A, B, C#m, and D#dim. I-IV and V are major. II, III and VI are minor, and VII is diminished.

If you’re ambitious, and if you’ve come this far you must be, record yourself playing the chord progression, and then play the melody along with the recording. Better yet, get a friend to play the chords for you, then trade off. You’ll notice two new chords, D Minor and G7, for which you will find the fingerings below.

Dmi & G7

Here’s the tune. Have a blast.

Jumpy Waltz