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Music Theory
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tiger_spot
chinders borrowed a guitar from miyasato to see if open mic night at Red Rock would be more fun with a bit of accompaniment to her singing.

I have been intending to fuss with it a bit on the grounds that heck, there's an instrument in the house, I may as well learn to play it! Today I actually managed to find a website that explained theoretically basic guitar-related topics in a way that actually made sense to me, then piffled around translating some of the more standard notations (tablature and chord diagrams and the like) into actual sounds.

E minor is kind of an awesome chord.

Anyway, I now understand the logic of the fretboard, in a sort of rudimentary way, which is a great help. I played a nice regular proper scale. Now it is not all random "Do THIS ridiculously complicated thing with your fingers! Now shift to THIS one! No, don't pick that string, augh!" and instead is only combinations of nice sensible notes. Whew.

The interesting thing about the guitar, as distinct from piano or voice, is that it is ALL ABOUT the chords. My typical approach to a bit of music is to figure out the melody, one note after another, and then maybe once I've got that down try adding in a bit of accompaniment with some additional notes, at the same time. Whereas the basic guitar approach seems to be to make sure that your fingers are in a position such that every string is playing a note in the same chord, then play some subset of those notes, whichever ones you happen to feel like at the time, maybe all together, maybe one at a time, maybe an interestingly rhythmic combination over the course of the measure. This is a very different approach. It's one that I had sort of started to fuss with a bit on piano, given simple chords in the left hand as accompaniment to right-hand melody, but I feel like coming at it through the guitar mindset will be terrifically useful. I've been kind of working it out from first principles based on logic, but here's this lovely big pile of natural examples to explore.

It'll be fun. (Once my fingers stop hurting.)
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Oh, nifty! Now I want to ask you to show me when I get back home.

(My brother briefly had a guitar, when he was young. It was, I think, a very cheap guitar. Neither of us had any luck playing it -- what I remember is that I could pluck the string and it made a nice loud clear note, or I could put my finger in between two frets to make a different note and it made sort of dull muffled notes, and so it wasn't very satisfying at all. It is possible that we simply weren't pushing on the string hard enough, or it is possible that it was a cheap and poor guitar.)

Huh, yeah, sounds like something was wrong with it, if it was muffled. You shouldn't have to press hard at all. Hm. Maybe you were pressing too hard, and the string was sliding off to the side? I think maybe that could do it?

I don't know. Ask a guitarist!

I suppose that scenario is possible, although I would think it unlikely. I can't really think of another situation where it's terribly *possible* to press the string too hard (scalloped fretboards being the exception, but that's a *very* advanced setup), so most likely it was just that the strings were set too high above the fretboard (common on cheap guitars), which makes it difficult/impossible to fret the note properly. I had this problem on my dad's old second-hand guitar, and it was from this experience that I thought my guitar would be nice for Cathy, in that I prefer low action on my strings and I knew it would be easier to learn with that sort of setup.

How's that for a run-on sentence?

BTW, glad to see that you're making use of said guitar as well. :-) Sorry I didn't get to see you when I dropped it off!

I think what I meant by "too hard" was really "sloppily, such that another finger or something was also contacting the string". That seems to be my leading cause of dull & muffled so far.

I think it is funny that people are asking me things, because I know NOTHING! ... It is also funny that I try to answer them.

Yes, inadvertent string contact is definitely something that takes practice! :-) Also, finger positioning between the frets is somewhat important -- you want to aim just behind the fret closer to the sound hole to get the clearest sound. If your finger tends to lag closer to the fret toward the tuning pegs, you can also get that muffled or buzzing sound.

My schedule is rather busy for the next couple of weeks, but at some point I'd be happy to come over to give a little demo. Or have a jam session. Or whatever. I have another guitar I can bring over for that purpose...

Yeah, a quick review by someone who knows what they're doing would be super! Let me know when you've got time and we can work something out.

I can aim just behind the frets and not touch anything else if I'm using one finger at a time. You want a chord out of me and at least one of those things is probably going to give....

ooo, what website did you find? I have my grandfather's guitar now...

Well, the one I needed to make notes-on-the-staff (which I understand) relate to fingers-on-the-fretboard was http://www.guitarlessonworld.com/lessons/reading-notation-and-tablature.htm, but that site didn't have much else I found useful. Guitar Noise seems like it's going to be much more useful overall.

Thank you! I will check those out!
I don't know tablature at all and need some basic theory too so I don't sound the total dunce when laviolinista comes over to start my lessons.
Would you like to meet her? She plays violin, viola, cello, guitar, and flute, gives lessons in all of those, and is one of the most all-round cheerful and awesome people I know.

E minor is the best chord ever. Two fingers, baby! I can play this chord with two fingers!

It'll be fun. (Once my fingers stop hurting.)

Ahhh, the development of the callouses from playing an instrument. How I do NOT miss those days, you hear that my violin? :P

(Feels weird in that she can now field some sort of a folk band from assorted random acquaintances. . . )

Well, right now I would do much better using the guitar as some sort of percussion instrument, so I wouldn't go hunting recording contracts just yet.

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