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Glossary

Guitar Lesson Glossary

This is a collection of relevant music terms that appear on the website. The real point of this section is to allow the database to call them when you mouse over them and provide a tool-tip. But I am leaving them open so you can browse through them if you like.

Different Names From Different Music and Guitar Styles.

Keep in mind there is often more than one term for any one particular thing. In many cases there is a classical music term and an American slang term for the same idea. American music first became appreciated worldwide in the 20th century with Swing and Big Band Jazz. It was adopted and expanded worldwide with Rock 'n' Roll. But it also achieved academic legitimacy with Bebop Jazz, and the American slang terms are now considered correct.

For example, I've never heard anyone say Play a 12 Measure Blues. A bar and a measure are the same thing, but in this context bar is correct, measure is technically correct, but you should really call it a 12 Bar Blues

♭5: Flatted Fifth Scale Degree

1. Flatted Fifth Scale Degree or Flat Five indicates a note in a scale or chord that is one fret (or half step) lower in pitch than the fifth scale degree of the Major scale built on the same root.

2. Can also refer to the interval or musical distance of 6 frets or half-steps. Often called a Tritone (6 frets = 3 whole steps), or a Diminished Fifth, as this interval is found in the Diminished Scale (w/h) and Diminished chord.

3. Can also be called the Blue Note when used in the Blues Scale.

♭7: Flatted Seventh Scale Degree

7: Flatted Seventh Scale Degree

1. Flatted Seventh Scale Degree or Flat Seven indicates a note in a scale or chord that is one fret (or half step) lower in pitch than the seventh scale degree of the Major scale built on the same root.

2. Can also refer to the interval or musical distance of 10 frets or half-steps. Often called a Minor seventh, as this interval is found in the Natural Minor scale.

American/Blues Guitar Technique

The American/Blues Guitar Technique is the one used by all the blues masters and almost all the rock masters (Hendrix, Page, Gilmour, Beck, Clapton, SRV, etc.) The thumb comes over the top of the neck, and leverages bends and vibrato which are powered by rotating the wrist. It is ideal for steel string acoustics and electrics. This technique gives you the natural feel and soulful bends and vibrato. Standing, the guitar is properly slung near waist level.

Barre Chord or Bar Chord

A Barre Chord or Bar Chord refers to a chord where the index finger holds down 5 or 6 strings at once to sound a moveable(i.e. one with no open strings in it) chord typically with a 5th or 6th string root. This is the correct method for playing movable chords on a Nylon String Classical guitar.

On electrics and steel string acoustics, they are a really bad idea as they require breaking your wrist at a 90 degree angle. Whine all you like, that's why they hurt. Use the thumb to fret the 6t string and/or leave off the note on the high E string to avoid breaking the wrist. Refer to any of the moveable chord diagrams on this site. Unless you play in a Ramones cover band these forms will sound better.

Partial Barres, also called double or triple stops, are fine any type of guitar.

CAGED Fretboard Visualization System for Guitar

The CAGED Fretboard Visualization System for Guitar or simply the CAGED System is based on the shapes of the basic open chords C, A, G, E, D, which repeat themselves 5 times every 12 frets. Consequently, this system breaks the guitar down into five different hand positions, none of which force us to play a note more than 1 fret above or below the four 'home frets' our fingers center on. So for every 12 frets there are 5 overlapping patterns, none of them spanning more than 5 frets.

All diagrams on this site are compatible with the CAGED system.

Classical Guitar Technique

The Classical Guitar Technique aka Classic Guitar Techniqueis the preferred method for playing nylon string acoustic guitars (i.e. the Spanish or Classical guitar) which have wider, flatter necks and wider string spacing than a steel string electric or acoustic. It is the accepted technique for classical music. The thumb remains behind the neck with a consistent relationship to the second (middle) finger. Strings are sounded with the fingernails of the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers of the right hand.

Dominant 7th Chord, Scale, or Arpeggio

All Dominant scales and chords will have a natural third (3 but we can simply write 3) scale degree and, a flatted seventh scale degree ( 7).

We've all seen 7th chords (A7 G7 etc.) Their full name is Dominant Seventh Chords. Rarely do you hear them called Dominant 7th chords, though. Because a Dominant 7th chord is the most common form of seventh chord, we shorten the name to seventh chord.

Read more: Dominant 7th Chord, Scale, or Arpeggio

Dominant Ninth Chord or Arpeggio

Scale Degrees:1 3 5 7 9
Pronunciation example: For E9 you say E Nine which is short for E Dominant Ninth Chord
A ninth chord is simply a fancy seventh chord, and is therefore also in the Dominant 7th Family of chord and Scale Qualities. It has one extra note, the ninth scale degree. The ninth is the same as the second scale degree, an octave higher.
Example: Add an F# note to an E7 Chord and it become E9.

Dorian Mode or Dorian Minor Scale

Dorian Mode or Dorian Minor Scale

Scale Degrees: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The Dorian Minor scale is in the minor family of chord and scale qualities and is one of the seven Diatonic Modes.

Dorian is usually used on guitar to extend the blues scale, giving us a natural second and natural sixth. It is widely used against dominant blues progressions, songs in Major, songs in minor with a four chord (IV-)that has been made Dominant 7 or Major (IV or IV7), and is present in most funk music. A good way to remember it is to think of it as Natural Minor with a 6.

Flatted Third Scale Degree- ♭3

3 or Flat Three

1. Flatted Third Scale Degree or The Flat Three indicates a note in a scale or chord that is one fret (or half step) lower in pitch than the third note in a Major scale built on the same root.

2. Can also refer to the interval or musical distance of 3 frets or half-steps. Often called a Minor Third, as this interval is found in the Natural Minor scale.

Functional Mode

For every note in a scale we have, theoretically, a mode. However in reality not all of these modes sound good and some are simply not ever used. Ones that get used in at least some contexts are known as functional modes, ones that aren't are non-functional modes. The Diatonic scale, for example, has seven functional modes, the Blues scale only two.

Harmonized Scale / Chord Scale

A Harmonized Scale is a scale that is played with chords (or arpeggios) built on each note of the scale. Unless otherwise specified, we assume that only notes in the scale are used to form the chords. Chord Scale is a somewhat confusing slang term for Harmonized Scale.

Heptatonic Scale

A scale on guitar or any other instrument comprised of seven, and only seven, different notes.

The Major scale, Minor scale, Harmonic Minor and Jazz Minor are all examples of Heptatonic scales.

Hexatonic Scale

Hexatonic Scale

Hex = Six and Tonic= Comprised of Tones or Notes. When we say a scale is Hexatonic, on guitar or any other instrument, we are simply saying the scale has six, and only six different notes.

Jazz (Ascending Melodic) Minor Scale

Along with Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor has a natural 7th (7) scale degree. It is also different ascending (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) than descending (1 2 3 4 5 6 7). Jazz players looked at the ascending form and saw it generated modes that were extremely useful over jazz chords. Playing the ascending form as its own scale (no switch to natural minor when going down) is playing Jazz Minor, which is historically derived from the ascending form of Melodic Minor but YOU PLAY THE CHART UP AND DOWN THE SAME LIKE ANY OTHER SCALE. If you play Jazz guitar, Jamey Aebersold's Scale Syllabus lists it as the most common choice to play over a minor seventh chord after Dorian Minor, and the Bebop Minor scales.

Musical Sharp Sign ♯

The Musical Sharp Sign indicates a note becomes 1 fret or 1 half step higher in pitch.

Natural Minor Scale

Natural Minor Scale

Quality / Family:
Minor
Also Classified As:
Diatonic / Church / Major Scale Mode
Heptatonic
Notes in Key of A Minor:
A B C D E F G
Scale Degrees:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Alternative Names:
A Pure Minor
A Aeolian Mode
A Minor

Read more: Natural Minor Scale

Natural Notes and Scale Degrees

  • The natural sign is used when we expect a note to be sharped or flatted but isn't. If we expect it to be natural (like in the Major scale) we can just write the scale degree number or note name.
  • Read more: Natural Notes and Scale Degrees

    NOS Vacuum Tubes / ANOS Vacuum Tubes

    NOS or New-old stock vacuum tubes are tubes produced long ago that have been sitting in a warehouse for years unused. ANOS Almost-New-old stock vacuum tubes are vacuum tubes that have been used but still test the same as NOS tubes on a vacuum tube tester.

    Octatonic Scale

    Octatonic Scale:

    Octa= 8 and Tonic= Comprised of Tones or Notes. When we say a scale is an octatonic scale, on guitar or any other instrument, we are simply saying the scale has eight, and only eight different notes.

    Examples of octatonic scales are Bebop Major, Bebop Minor (type 1 & 2) , Bebop Dominant, Bebop Half Diminished, Eight-Tone Spanish, Diminished Half/Whole, and Diminished Whole/Half.

    Pentatonic Scale

    Pentatonic Scale

    Penta= 5 and Tonic= Comprised of Tones or Notes. When we say a scale is a pentatonic scale, on guitar or any other instrument, we are simply saying the scale has five, and only five different notes.

    Scale Based Guitar Arpeggios:

    Arpeggios are chords that are broken up into single notes. Scale Based Guitar Arpeggios have the same notes as the chords they are derived from; but they are played like scale patterns, as they are laid out in the numerical or alphabetical sequence of the notes that make them up (e.g. R, 3, 5, 7, or A, C#, E, G# etc.) rather than in the voicings of the various chord grips like the chord based arpeggios. They may start on any scale degree depending on which hand position you are in. The whole neck can be covered in 5 forms just like the scales. When these are played picking only once per string (using hammers and pulls for strings with multiple notes on them) they are often referred to as sweeps.

    Steel String Acoustic (Guitar)

    Steel string refers to an acoustic or electric guitar where the plain strings and the cores of the wound strings are made of metal (as opposed to nylon). The outer wrapping of the wound strings is typically nickel, a nickel steel alloy, or stainless steel for electrics and a brass or bronze alloy for acoustics. All electric guitars are steel strings. If an acoustic guitar has a pickguard, its a steel string.

    String 6: Notes on the Guitar Neck Fretboard Chart

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    The Blues Scale / Minor Blues Scale

    The Blues Scale is a hexatonic, or six note, scale with the scale degrees 1 3 4 5 5 7. Since it contains a flatted third and a natural fifth, it's by definition a Minor scale and can also be called the Minor Blues Scale. Call it the Blues Scale or call it the Minor Blues Scale, it doesn't matter, they mean the same thing.

    Read more: The Blues Scale / Minor Blues Scale

    The Major Scale / Ionian Mode

    Major Scale / Ionian Mode

    The Major Scale is seven note (or heptatonic) scale with the scale degrees: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. It is the dominant scale in Western European Classical Music, and as such forms the baseline by which we number chords and scale degrees. It is one of the seven Diatonic Modes, and as such was assigned a greek city state name by the Catholic Church (Ionian), although its technically only correct to call it Ionian in certain specific compositional contexts.

    The Pentatonic Minor Scale

    The Pentatonic Minor Scalehas the scale degrees 1 3 4 5 7 . Jazz players often use the construction 1 2 3 5 6, known as the Coltrane Minor Pentatonic.

    It can be used as a simplified version of the Blues Scale, or can be superimposed (i.e. used like a scale based arpeggio).

    Triad

    Triad

    A chord containing only 3 notes, specifically the 1st, 3rd, and fifth scale degrees. Triads can be Major, Minor, Diminished, or Augmented. Since they have no 7th scale degree they can not be Dominant or Half-Diminished.

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