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Bach's Minuet In G Major
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a number of pieces of music for his wife, Anna
Magdalene Bach. They were composed to be played on keyboards but make very nice
guitar pieces. The first part of this arrangement is played in easy first position guitar.
The second part is a little harder. I will eventually put the music for this on the site but
first I am going to put up some easier learning exercises. If you want to play it again or
stop it from playing click on the player to activate the controls.
The Classical Guitar
We will start learning how a guitar works by studying the most basic type of guitar the
classical guitar. We will learn about all the other types of guitars and guitar playing by seeing
how they differ from this pure type of guitar and guitar playing. In the picture below, the
guitar is tipped up from it's normal playing position 180 degrees to face you. This would put
the thicker strings on the bottom and the thinner strings on the top. This is the same view that
tablature, which we will learn later, uses. The open strings are suspended between the nut and
the bridge. The note that each string is tuned to is governed by the tension of the string. There
is a standard guitar tuning and the strings are sized in thickness or gauge to tune to those
notes. However each string can be tuned above or below it's standard tuning by a note or two.
In addition to the standard tuning we will look at some of these other tunings. When we press
a string down on a fret, that string is shortened to go between that fret and the bridge. The
shorter the string the higher the note. The top and back of the guitar, the top needing to be
braced against the tension of the strings, set in vibration by the vibrating string, produce the
tone of the guitar. The volume of air enclosed by the body of the guitar and the round sound
hole give the loudness of the sound.
Standard Guitar Tuning
The keyboard picture below shows how the open strings of the classical guitar are tuned in
standard tuning. I have shown this tuning in relation to middle c on the keyboard. You can see
how most of the guitar notes are in the bass left hand range of the keyboard. You can also see
how we are covering about two octaves. In this type of guitar the 12th fret is right where the
body begins, giving you easy access to one more octave. I've shown this note on the
keyboard picture. This gives you access to three octaves. Other types of guitars have body
cutaways to give access to the higher frets, more frets clear of the body and/or more frets to
increase the range.
The Guitar Finger Board
The picture below lays out the classical guitar finger board with the location of all the natural
notes. The white rectangular block on the left represents the nut. The horizontal lines are the
strings, with the thickest string on the bottom and the thinnest string on the top just like the
guitar picture above. The letters to the left of the nut are the notes that the open strings are
tuned to in standard tuning. The vertical lines are the frets. To the left of each fret, I've shown
the note that will sound if you press down the string against that fret. On a classical guitar you
get either a partial 19th fret as I've shown or the finger board might be extended just a bit over
the sound hole to give you a full 19th fret. The body of the guitar starts at the 12th fret
making notes beyond there hard to play on this type of guitar. The 12th fret is the midpoint
between the nut and the bridge. We don't need to include the bridge or any thing in this picture
past the last fret because there are no notes. Each fret as we go up the finger board raises the
note by a half step. Open string to 1st fret is a half step, 1st fret to 2nd fret is a half step, 2nd
fret to 3rd fret is a half step and so on. Knowing this and the spaces between the natural notes
you can find all the notes on the guitar
Guitar Notes
The notes are where they are on the finger board because of the way music works. In my
basic music pages starting with
Natural Music Tones, you can review this material. You will
need to go through a few pages to get it all. I will recap it a bit here as we see why the notes
are where they are on the guitar. You learned that there are only seven different natural notes
named after the first seven letters of the alphabet. They are a,b,c,d,e,f,g. When we get to g
we start all over again with a. The notes are repeated in each octave sounding higher or lower
but still the same note. We learned that some of the notes are a whole step apart and that there
is room for a note in between. This is the sharp of the note below it and the flat of the note
above it. We learned that b to c and e to f are a half step apart and there is no note in between.
To learn more go to the basic music pages as suggested above. If we tune a string to e then
the f has to be on the first fret as there is no note in between. Likewise if we tune a string to b
the c has to be on the first fret. For the open a the b is on the 2nd fret because it is a whole
step from a. Likewise on open d the e and for open g the a are on 2nd frets. As we go up the
finger  board we see that for notes that are a whole step apart we skip a fret to the next note.
If notes are a half step apart, the next note is on the very next fret.
Sharps And Flats
In my basic music pages starting with Natural Music Tones, I explain how music works using
keyboards. I've repeated a keyboard below to recap a bit as we go on to the guitar. We found
that the natural notes on a keyboard are the white keys. All the keys that are a whole step apart
have a black key in between them. That black key is the sharp of the note below it and the flat
of the note above it. As you can see e to f and   b to c have no black key or sharp/flat note in
between because they are a half step apart. Unlike a keyboard where the natural notes are the
white keys, on a guitar you have to learn where the natural notes are. Once you have done that
then you know that, when notes are a whole step apart, the sharp/flat note is the one in
between. So on the low e string the f sharp/g flat note is on the 2nd fret. On the a string the a
sharp/b flat note is on the 1st fret. On the  low e string the g sharp/a flat note is on the 4th
fret. We will discuss sharps and flats  a bit more as we look all the notes on the guitar next.
All The Notes
So you won't have to scroll up to look at it I've repeated the finger board picture with notes
below. Remember that we said that the 4th fret of the low e string is g sharp/a flat. That a flat
is the flat of the next open string a. That is because the note a on the next fret , the 5th fret, is
the same as the next open string a. All the notes after that are the same notes as the notes on
the a string. In all except one case the open string notes are a 4th or four natural notes apart,
so the 5th fret is the same as the next open string. The exception is g to b which is only a 3rd
so the same note as the next open string is on the 4th fret. This means that unlike a keyboard
which has only one of each note, the guitar has the some of same notes in many places. For
instance, the open string note b is also found on the 4th fret of the g string, the 9th fret of the
d string, the 14th fret of the a string and the 19th fret of the low e string. While this may
sound very complicated, as you harmonize notes up the fingerboard, you will be glad you have
the same notes available in different places.  Of course if you change the tuning of the open
strings all the notes are in different places. But once you understand how music works and
how notes lay out on a fret board, you can not only play guitar in different tunings but you
can play different fretted instruments. Also you are often  not thinking about specific notes
when you play but patterns. As we learned in the basic music pages, it's not the notes but the
spaces between them that make a scale, tune or riff. Many guitar players couldn't name the
notes they're playing, they just know how to get the sound. We'll look at it from both
perspectives.
Guitar Music
We need to cover one more topic. Music for the
guitar, as the guitar is actually tuned, could be
written on the grand staff just like on a keyboard.
When you look at the guitar notes on the keyboard,
you see that many of them are in the bass clef. Yet
all guitar music is written an octave higher than it
sounds, in the treble clef. This means that many of
the low notes are on ledger lines below the staff. On
the treble clef picture, I've shown you the location
of guitar middle c as well as where the open strings
are noted. You can see that the tone middle c,
which for keyboard is one line below the treble
staff, for guitar is in the third space of the treble
staff. So if you play keyboard music on the guitar
as written, you will be playing an octave too low.
You need to play keyboard music an octave higher
than written on the guitar to be at the right pitch.
Tuning The Guitar
The midi players below will play classical guitar notes for standard guitar tuning. When you
first open a page, you have to click on the player once to activate the controls. Learning to
tune your own guitar is an important first step in learning to become a guitar player. You must
make sure you are tuning in the right octave. If you tune an octave higher than the pitch of
your tuning aid , your are going to break strings. I have given you a midi player for each string
below. There many guitar tuning aids available, from the low tech metal reed tuner that you
blow into, to a electronic tone generating tuner with a visual indicator to tell you when you are
in tune. Even if you use one of these you will finally need to learn to use your ear. Don't
depend on others to keep your guitar in tune. Learn to do it your self.
High E 1st String
B 2nd String
G 3rd String
D 4th String
A 5th String
Low E 6th String
Relative Tuning
You can tune a guitar so that the stings are in tune with each other but the guitar will not be at
standard pitch. You can tune a whole lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar combo with
drums off pitch and it will sound fine, as long as they are tuned to each other. But the minute
they try to play with a piano or keyboard or any other instrument that is tuned to standard
pitch there will be a problem. They won't be in tune with those instruments. This is called
relative tuning. Fret the low E string on the 5th fret. This is same A as the open 5th string so
tune the open 5th string to that. As the tuning gets close you will hear a beat between the two
strings getting slower and slower as the strings get closer and closer in tune. When they are in
tune the beat will be gone. Fret the A string on the 5th fret to tune the open D and then the D
string on the 5th fret to tune the open G. You have to fret the G string on the 4th fret to tune
the open B as they are only a 3rd apart instead of a 4th like the other strings. Finally you fret
the B string on the 5th fret string to tune the open high E string. The one caution is that if your
low E string is too far above standard pitch, you might break one of your higher strings.
There is no danger if it is below standard pitch. The picture below shows the fretted notes
that are used to tune the next higher open string for relative tuning.
Playing Classical Guitar
The next lesson will begin to explore playing the classical guitar. In addition, the next three
lessons will cover the three forms of A minor, the relative minor of C major. There will be
exercises for it's pure, harmonic and melodic forms and explanations of the forms and their
use. Of course I won't be able to cover everything and so I am recommending some good
method books. A teacher might help. I had one when I first started guitar but taught myself to
play classical. The main thing a good teacher can do is to make sure you are using proper
technique. But most good method books go into a lot of detail on technique with pictures. If
you are good at following written instructions and are patient and methodical, you can learn
without a teacher.
Playing Folk Guitar
Once I get you started on playing classical guitar, I am going to start introducing you to
playing folk guitar. Folk music can be played on a classical guitar with classical guitar
techniques. But there are many ways to play folk music and many different types of guitars
used. A lot of folk music is played on a steel string guitars, often with a pick. Even when
using the thumb and fingers, there are some different techniques.
©2006
The Classical Guitar
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