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Fretboard Rosette:

A key to mastering the guitar

Antony Nispel

Paidia Academic Press (408) 971-0810 895 N. 7th St. San Jose CA 95112

This work is dedicated to two exceptional music teachers and friends who inspired me: Edward Rodriguez and Arta Rollins

Copyright 2003 by Paidia Academic Press

All Rights Reserved This volume may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without written permission from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America

The title, Fingerboard Rosette, is a play on words that captures the essence of this book. The guitar ngerboard supports enumerable scales, arpeggios, and chord patterns that evokes the image of the beautifully woven pattern that encompasses the guitar sound hole, called a rosette. Also, the word rosette reminds me of the historically important Rosette Stone, which served as a decoding document for reading ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The goal of this book is to provide the aspiring guitarist with a key to understanding and mastering what appears to be a bewildering guitar fretboard. These concepts should begin to crystallize with diligent practice, serving as a foundation for making sense of the million and one variations the guitar is capable. The idea for writing this book came about from a nagging discontent I had with my conventional guitar knowledge: although I could play by ear and sight read, I did not feel I had a good command of the guitar neck. The popular method book, The Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method taught me that there were 12 positions on the guitar neck without discussing where these came from and why these and not others were important. The Carcassi Method taught me how to play beautiful etudes in each key but it did not explain how these keys are interrelated. So when I began to teach students of my own, it was natural to think critically about how the guitar neck worked in order to help my students learn quickly. My ndings are signicantly different from most other guitar books, for I show that the guitar lends itself to side-to-side analysis, rather than the traditional bottom to top analysis of the fretboard. This approach drastically conserves both the amount of ngering patterns the student must learn and the amount of hand movement involved in order to master the guitar neck. There are three parts to this book. The rst part is practical: I introduce the beginning student to the concept of lateral translation and apply it to the simple major, minor chords and pentatonic scales. Next, the student advances by applying lateral translation to major and minor diatonic scales, arpeggios and advanced chords. I limit the scope of the chord demonstrations to only those in root position. I think these other items are best mastered 5

once you know how to sight read (see my companion book: Reading Rosette: A key to mastering essential scales and arpeggios). Nevertheless, the essential concepts presented here will apply to those other chords and the diligent student should be able to anticipate them without too much trouble. The second part will help a student to systematically develop their nger-picking coordination. Part three deals with the rst principles of harmony. It covers the origin of the pentatonic and diatonic scales along with their intervals. It also explores the properties of musical cadence so the student can better understand and predict the chords of a song.

Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar


Foreword 5 The Major and Minor Chords 9 Introduction: Pentatonic Scale Tones 15 Scale practice 16 Blues Improvisation Using the Minor Pentatonic Tones 20 Vertical Transposition 23 Lateral Translation for Scale Forms 27 Minor and Major Diatonic Scale Patterns 34 Triad Patterns 42 The Moveable Key Patterns 47 Complex Chords 53 Arpeggios 62 Developing Dexterity in the Picking Hand 69 Origins of the Pentatonic Scale 75 Origins of the Diatonic Scale Tones 78 Derivation of the Just Major Scale 86 Steps 88 Temperament 89 The Harmonic Scale: the Key to Music 91 The Cycle of Fifths 92 Dynamic Harmonic Elements 94 History of the Guitar 101

Fretboard Rosette Table of Contents


Fretboard Rosette Table of Contents

The Major and Minor Chords


Practical Section

The Major and Minor Chords

First there is the E chord The guitar seems to be built with the E-major chord in mind, since the rst and last "open" strings are both E-notes. The open-position E-chord is illustrated as follows:

Figure 1: Open E chord

This chord also spells 6 tones of the harmonic series (See page 99) along the E string: E-E1-B-E2-B1G#-D-E3. If you produce harmonics by laying your left-hand nger lightly above the E string as you pluck the note with your right hand at positions 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/1, you will hear the harmonic series tones that make up the E chord. This is a remarkable fact about the guitar and serves as a corner stone for your deep understanding of how it works. You only need to consider one other fundamental property of the guitar to gain a comprehensive understanding of how all major and minor chords relate to the E chord and its harmonic series of tones. The Logic of the Guitar Neck If you already know how to perform relative tuning on your guitar, you may be familiar with the concept I present here. The open string tones of the guitar (playing each string without any fretting) are organized so that as you jump from one to the next, the tone advances a sub-dominant interval. This simply means that the subsequent tone sounds 4/3 the frequency of your previous tone. For example, from the

Fingerboard Hand Development

low E string to the adjacent A string is a subdominant interval. Again, from the A string to the adjacent G string lies yet another subdominant interval, and so on until the B string (2nd string from the bottom). Here, whoever designed the guitar, tweaked the formula in order to provide for the last string of the guitar being able to end up on an E tone (which is why I said that the guitar was built with the E chord in mind). Instead of a subdominant interval, you will jump a submediant interval between the G and B strings. Finally, between the last two tones, the original formula resumes so that you jump a subdominant interval again, between the B to E strings. Take a look at the illustration in gure below, that shows the guitar property of lateral translation:

Figure 2: Tonal relationship between guitar strings

So what, you say. Well, the practical benet of lateral translation is that you can pretty easily deduce the shape and ngerings of many unknown guitar forms by translating the ngering shapes of known forms laterally across the guitar neck. Not only will the new pattern feel familiar, it will be important from the standpoint of harmony. The most important tones of a scalethe dominant and subdominant tones are located one string apart on the fretboard. Therefore, the primary chord change of most songs will require a simple lateral translation. While the design of keyboards, such as the piano, is advantageous for providing musicians a way to play separate bass and melody lines together, one of most underrated advantages of the guitar is the fretboard property of lateral translation that allows you to conserve your hand movement to achieve the essential harmonic changes in a song. The following section will demonstrate how the important major chords in open position translate across the guitar neck from the fundamental E chord. By studying and practicing the translation of musical patterns contained in this book, you will develop a quick and easy capacity to play just about anything on the guitar.


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

The Major and Minor Chords

Translating the major open chord patterns A key is made up of tones according to a strict mathematical formula. Two of the most important intervals within harmony are the root and subdominant intervals (see page 94), whose tones vibrate 4 / 3 frequency apart. But you know from the principle of lateral translation that the subdominant tone is located at the string next door. This is very convenient because we can translate our root chord to its subdominant by mapping each ngering one string over as shown below (See gure 3):

Figure 3: Lateral translation example of open position chord, E to A major.

This will maintain the 4/3 frequency difference necessary to create the subdominant chord tones. Recall, however, that between the B and C string, there is a smaller interval, a major third, so that to maintain a subdominant difference, you must compensate by moving up one fret when translating this ngering. Take a look at the complete set of major chords in the open position and see

Like, I've never had guitar lessons, bass lessons, piano lessons, music-writing lessons, song writing lessons, or horse-riding lessons, for that matter, or painting--I do some of that. I always jump into things, and so by the time I'm ready for my first lesson, I'm beyond it. I always did try to have music lessons. I always tried to have someone teach me to notate music, because I still don't know to this day. Paul McCartney GP May "90

Fingerboard Hand Development


how they follow the principal of lateral translation:

Figure 4: Lateral translation of open position major chords

You might also be wondering what happens to the tone at the end right edge of the guitar neck (on the 1st string)? The guitar neck simply repeats itself, because this is an E notethe same E note you began withbut two octaves higher. Therefore when you translate the ngering from this string, it becomes the ngering of the A string (5th-string), once again. Also, you will notice that some of the ngerings are optional. I do not recommend most of these because they change the normal order of the standard 3-note chord where the root note should come rst. When you can visualize subdominant chords by lateral translation, you have a nice way of remembering your chordsparticularly the important ones in the key of songs that you learn. Of course you do not want to sit there thinking about each chord as you play your song. Therefore I recommend that you practice the lateral sequence daily as a drill until you become skilled at it.

Practice is the best of all instructors

Publilius Syrus


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

The Major and Minor Chords

Translating the minor open chord patterns Just as the major chords of the guitar correspond to the overtone-series, so does the minor chords, select tones of the undertone series (see page 100): E4-Fb4-B3-A-E3-G3-B2-E2Like the major chord

Figure 5: Open Em-chord

scheme for demonstrating all major chord forms by the method of lateral translation, we can do the same for the minor chords:

Figure 6: Lateral translation of open minor chords

The open minor series of chords should be easy to learn if you think of the principal of lateral translationespecially if you already know the major chord series well. Just work your way across the guitar

Fingerboard Hand Development


neck as you did for the open-major chord forms. You may nd the chord form translation from Dm to Gm less intuitive than the others because the guitar neck seems to run out of room. What happens is that we reduce all the notes by 2 octaves so that the translated form begins to appear at the other side of the guitar neck. You may study the gure above to see how the translation works.

Do you have an overall philosophy you try to impress on students? No. In fact, my philosophy in terms of teaching has been to make people aware of what their weaknesses are. But that is not really true, either, because with each person it is different. Some people really need to be encouraged that it is possible for them to become good players, and other people need to be made aware that there are things that they should work on other than what they have already got together. Players get to that interesting level where they can already play pretty good, and that is kind of a dangerous period because they tend to start playing only things they can play well instead of things they can not play well. This is especially true of people who are interested in improvisation. It is very difcult to masteror even get together at allbeing able to play on chord changes. It is one thing if one is a very good modal player, but to actually be able to play on changes is a difcult thing that sometimes gets ignored. Learning that can help your modal playing too. Pat Metheny GP Dec. 1981


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Introduction: Pentatonic Scale Tones

Introduction: Pentatonic Scale Tones

There is no scale as ancient, simple, and beautifully expressive as the pentatonic. Its harmonic integrity makes the playing of unpleasant melodies almost impossible (see page 75). Perhaps this is why most popular musiccountry and blues, jazz and folk uses the pentatonic. Also, from the student point of view, the pentatonic is useful because it serves as stepping stones to the more complex diatonic (7-tone) scales (see page 86). There are two sides to mastering the pentatonic scale tones: by practicing scales and by improvisation. These two ways of practicing the scale-tones are not interchangeable, for scales are used to achieve uency, while improvising helps you to achieve melodic excellence. First, I will explain how to execute scales, then I present an improvisational approach to mastering the pentatonic tones. Let us begin the important pentatonic scales in the open position.

What are the limitations of the guitarist? Your own ability, your own incapacity, your own lack of inspirationas Paco says, you work, you ght against these limitations in the hope that you have one night where you y like an eagle. And when that happens, it makes everything worthwhile. That moment of freedom is the happiest thing in the world, the most satisfying, the most of everything you can think of. John McLaughlin GP March 1981

Chords underlying the open position pentatonic scale patterns One of the important characteristics of the pentatonic scale patterns is that they can be thought of as extensions to underlying chords (this is true for most other scales as well). For example, within the Em minor pentatonic scale pattern, you will nd the Em chord. This is a helpful feature for learning the various scales because you will be building on your chord knowledge to conquer the unknown scales. Moreover, when performing, you will often want to play the scale patterns between strumming the whole chord that belongs to it. To learn a new scale, assume the chord ngering as a general nger position reference and begin from root noteusually the lowest note of the chord pattern. Study the Examples of the important open position

Fingerboard Hand Development


pentatonic scales and their underlying open chord patterns below:

Figure 7: Open position major and minor pentatonic scale patterns

Scale practice
Scales are the most efcient preparation for developing your hand strength and coordination over the entire set of notes in order to improve your technical skill and tactile knowledge of the fretboard. We will begin with a simple minor pentatonic scale in the key of E, played in the open position:

Figure 8: Open minor pentatonic scale pattern

Your rst scale is simply ascending and descending two octaves from the root or rst tone, as written


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Scale practice

out in tablature below: For the sake of symmetry, play the simple country pentatonic scale too.

0 3 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 3 0 3 3 0 3 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 3 0

Figure 9: Simple Em pentatonic scale drill

Below is the open position country pattern for the key of G. Notice that it uses the same scale box as the open-E blues pattern, but begins and ends on different notes:

Figure 10: Open G major pentatonic scale pattern

Ascend entire scale in open position, and return as written in tablature form below:

3 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 3 0 3 3 0 3 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 3

Figure 11: Simple major pentatonic scale drill

While scales are primarily played in sequence from the root to the octave note, there are many variations that will enhance your ngering technique. Not only will these scale variations strengthen your fretboard ngers to play nimbly, they will also coordinate them to play in sync with your string-plucking ngers to achieve a smooth, condent sound.

Fingerboard Hand Development


Try the following patterns: -- Ascend 2 notes and descend 1; when you arrive at the nal octave, return.

Open Pentatonic Scale

(2 up; 1 back)

5 0





Figure 12: Up 2, back 1 major and minor pentatonic scale drill


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Scale practice

-- Ascend 3 notes, then descend 2, then when you get to the top, return:

Open Pentatonic Scale

(3up and 2 back)


0 3 0 3 0 3 0 2 0 3 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2

0 2 0 2 0 3 0 2 0 3 0 3 0 3 0 3 0 3 0 3 0 3 0 2 0 3 0 2 0 2 0 2


0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 3 0 2 0 3 0

Figure 13: Up 3, back 2 major and minor pentatonic scale drill

-- In general, ascend X notes and return X1 notes, up to X=7; then return. If you master these ordered scale patterns, you will really make the pentatonic second nature. Hang in there: while learning these patterns is tough going at rst, if you are persistent, you will be surprised how easy they become in a relatively short time. You will also nd that you are able to transfer these ordered patterns to other types of scales you know almost immediately. The table below shows you the general scheme for playing these pentatonic scales, and any other type of scale, systematically. -- Ascend one note at-a-time until you reach the 2nd octave, then return. -- Ascend 2 notes and descend 1, then return. -- Ascend 3 notes, then descend 2, then return.

Fingerboard Hand Development


-- In general, ascend X notes and return X1 notes, up to X=7; then return.

Blues Improvisation Using the Minor Pentatonic Tones

While scale practice is the most direct technique for developing your competence in playing musical passages in any given key, the technique of improvising with the scale tones is the most fun. Instead of playing the tones in sequence, you seek to play tasteful selections of tones as they spontaneously ow from the nger tips. In the beginning, it is best to limit the scope of notes you play. Try concentrating on three to four notes, playing these is a variety of ways as a painter might experiment with their pallet of colors. As in painting, there are stylistic techniques; those here listed will make playing the pentatonic tones really come alive: 1) SlidingExperiment sliding into the fretted note to get a sizzling glissando effect. 2) BendingDrive the string up or downwards behind the fret to create sharpened notes, characteristic of both the country and blues music. 3) Pull-offBend the notes until your nger lets the string roll freely to create a sort of one-handed plectrum sound. 4) Hammering-onHammer down upon the string with the nger-tip prior to fretting to get a pick-up note effect, opposite to the pull-off. 5) Two-note chordsFret two adjacent strings at the same time to achieve a micro-chord effect. It is easy to over-use some of these techniques, so use them sparingly! Of course, there are many other techniques which you will develop as you listen, watch and copy the guitar masters. The combination of tones and technical attack provide an extremely rich range of musical sounds. In my experience, I nd improvisation with the pentatonic so entrancing, I do not consciously concern myself with copying the guitar greats. Nevertheless, you are likely to perk your ears up more and more to hear how others get their wonderful sounds. You will nd yourself developing an appetite to learn some of the licks from your favorite guitarist. Copy all you can (not necessarily note for note), since this will become a rich vocabulary of riffs upon which to evolve your own technique. 12-bar blues cadence In order to improvise using the blues tones, you will need to play the minor pentatonic tones along with a background of rhythm chords. In blues, there is the essential 12-bar blues chord progression which you nd in many-a-rock n roll and blues songs. Consider, for example the following blues strumming


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Blues Improvisation Using the Minor Pentatonic

Am Am Am Am

5 D m6




9 E7




Figure 14: 12 bar blues cadence example in G

Notice how the Am-chord, which is the principal chord of the key, signied by the chord function I, gets four measures before the Dm6-chord (chord function IV6) gets two measures, etc. Altogether, this adds up to 12-bars or measures. The general chord function formula for these 12-bar blues is: 12-bar blues cadence by chord functions I IV6 V7 I IV6 IV6 I I I I I V7

Of course the formulation above will describe 12-bar blues in any key. Have a friend perform these rhythm chords or tape them yourself so that you can practice playing the lead or melody parts to the progression. Soon you will be able to improvise over the minor pentatonic scale notes while getting a wonderful feel for this music. Helpful tips The following are some helpful tips to improvise by: 1) As a beginner, it is easy to over-do the lead guitar playing. Remember that often times less is more, so try sticking to two or three notes played slowly, soulfully, and evenly over this simple rhythm.

Fingerboard Hand Development


2) Try to hum melodies just as you play them upon the guitar. Often we are more creative when we hum than when mechanically running through scale tones. 3) Experiment with different degrees of loudness. Typically one increases volume when the higher pitched tones are quickly executed in order to create tension. The opposite is for relaxed passages. Listen to the guitar greats. Country Cadence Just as the blues has a standard 12-bar cadence, so does country music have its standard 16-bar cadence, which you will readily recognize. Songs such as Blue Moon of Kentucky, I have Forgot to Remember to Forget; the folk song, Crawdad, Honky Tonk Woman, and Rocky Raccoon, are good examples.

Men are born the same but made different by practice Confucious

An example of the 16-bar chord progression is as follows:

5 G

9 G

13 G

Figure 15: 16 bar country cadence example in C


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Vertical Transposition

The country cadence chord-function form is generally as follows: 16-bar country cadence by chord function I I I I I I I V IV V IV I IV V IV I

As with the blues, improvising with the major pentatonic tones will cultivate your melodic ability. Try playing country lead guitar using the major pentatonic scale patterns in different keys over the 16-bar country cadence. Employ some of the blues techniques and tips as well.

Vertical Transposition
While the lateral position shift is similar to transposition from one harmonic key to the next on the piano, the guitar has the unique virtue of allowing the player to make a vertical transposition where the hand position shifts along the length of the guitar neck, when shifting keys. Unlike lateral transposition, vertical transposition of chord patterns does not alter their shape in any way. The concept of vertical translation can best be demonstrated though an understanding closed chord and scale forms that follow.

Shoobey Doobey Doo Frank Sinatra

Closed Chord Forms The next logical step in mastering the guitar neck is to build on your knowledge of open chord forms to learn the closed chord forms. Closed chord forms are those based on open forms, except that you play them further up the neck where open strings seldom sound good. These chord forms look easier than they actually are despite the fact that their shapes are similar to the open forms because you will need to fret additional strings and use completely different ngerings than you are used to in the open forms. In the following diagram on next page, see how the open major chord forms are changed to create the closed ones. Fingerboard Hand Development 23

Figure 16: Closed major chords derived from open chords


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Vertical Transposition

Again, see how the minor open chord forms are changed to create closed ones:

Figure 17: Closed minor chords derived from moveable open chords

I practice every daysometimes even longer than five minutes! You can practice subconsciously, you know, and if you're watching TV, it's better to have something strapped around your neck than not. But you're not gonna get in there if you don't practice. You have to sit there until you get it right. Jeff Beck GP May 2000

Fingerboard Hand Development


Modal Playing: Following the Chord As you improvise with the pentatonic scale tones, you will soon nd that certain tones sound better than others, relative to the particular chord that is being played. For example the C-note will sound good when the C-chord is being strummed. The reason for this is that the pentatonic scale is built around the chord which gives it its nameas you learned for the open position pentatonic scale patterns (See page 77). An extension of this principle is to play the pentatonic scale modallythat is, playing the scale tones such that you shift to the scale pattern for each chord played in the cadence. For example, when the rhythm chord is G, play the G-major pentatonic scale. When the chord switches to, say, C, play the Cmajor pentatonic scale. This modal playing also works well for the blues, however, beware: while providing greater renement in your lead guitar work, it is a bit more tricky to handle. Remember that you can always fall back on the single scale pattern of the key. You will not be able to do much modal guitar work unless you know how to play a variety of closed scale forms, particularly with the pentatonic scale.

Basically, I learned through dividing the neck into positions, where the chords were in their various forms. It's a good way to practice. Take E, for example, and find the chord in each of its forms all the way up the neck. Then learn the scale in each position to go with it. I see everything in visual patterns in my mind. But it was always the chord that came first. For example, when I practice I'll play major, minor, diminished, and augmented scales. I really don't know the technical names for them, and I don't know what half the chords I use are. But I know for every chord there has to be a scale that fits it. And I find those notes on every position on the neck. You do this enough, you'll get the whole neck programmed into your mind. Playing by ear really is a feeling. But it only comes with the knowledge of the neck. It has to be ingrained in your mind ahead of time. Roy Buchanan Guitar Player Magazine April 1983

Closed form pentatonic scales Corresponding to the closed form chords are the closed pentatonic scale patterns that you would play away from the guitar nut (the thick white fret at the beginning of the fretboard). For example, the Empentatonic pattern at fret zero (the "open position") played at the rst fret becomes the Fm-pentatonic scales, just as the Em- becomes the Fm-bar chord. (Note that the tones which were stopped at the nut have to be fretted when moving horizontally. In effect, you learn to play the open positions as variations of the moveable scale patterns). Finally, it is good to practice a scale pattern by progressing and regress26 Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Lateral Translation for Scale Forms

ing one fret at-a-time on the neck: the fret spaces become increasingly small or large, forcing your ngers to adapt to these fretboard differences.

Figure 18: Vertical translation of a pentatonic scale

Simple High and Low-nger Pentatonic Scale Patterns The next set of charts (See gure 20) give you the complete set of closed pentatonic scale patterns in one position. You can think of the guitar as having two basic kinds of scale patterns since either the low or high pattern is translated laterally to generate the pentatonic scales of all keys. I recommend that you study and practice the high and low major scale patterns that follow (See gure 20). One of the biggest benets of displaying all these scales on one page is that you can see their relationshipsboth likenesses and differences. You should pay attention to the principal of lateral translation (see page 9).

Lateral Translation for Scale Forms

Once a scale has become second nature, you should get an idea of how the same scale pattern can be shifted across the guitar to produce a similar tone pattern but at a higher pitchin other words, change keys while maintaining most of the same scale pattern. You recall from lateral translation of chords (see page 11) that shifting laterally across the guitar neck raises the scale a subdominant or dominant interval, depending on which side you move. With lateral translation, you will maintain the scale pattern for all notes, with the exception of the second or B-string. For example, the moveable Em-pentatonic scale shown in the illustration below, has the same shapealmostto the Am-pentatonic scale, although it

Fingerboard Hand Development


begins on the next string overthe A string. The shape of the scale, which I will refer to as its pattern, differs only on the B-string. For example, in the fretted notes along the G-string, G and A, shift upward one fret to notes C and D, during the lateral translation.

Figure 19: Lateral translation of a pentatonic scale

Once you can visualize this relationship and generalize it for other scale patterns, you will possess a rich organizing principle of the guitar that will allow you to quickly acquire scale patterns and arpeggios with little trouble. Of course, merely visualizing these patterns is not enough. You should also practice the patterns you learned from lateral translation by playing adjacent scale patterns, one after another (i.e. Emto Am- to Dm- to Gm- to Cm- to Fm-pentatonic, etc.), in order to make these transitions second nature. The following chart is the complete set of closed scale patterns for the minor pentatonic scale in a single position. Just as in the case when you learned the open position pentatonic patterns, you should imag-

I like to play rhythm guitar and then think about what the solo is going to be if I want a really spontaneous, bluesy, rocky soulI will make an attempt. I can do that sometimes... Do you think playing Indian music and the Sitar has inuenced your slide-guitar playing? Absolutely. George Harrison GP Feb. 1987


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Lateral Translation for Scale Forms

ine the underlying chord of each scale as a general reference.

Figure 20: Closed patterns minor pentatonic scale patterns with their underlying chords

You do not want to play like B.B. King, you do not want to play like Jas Obrecht or somebody else. You want to be you. So what you do is listen to Jas, listen to B.B., listen to anybody else you like. I do not use the word steal, but try to borrow a little bit from each guy, if you can. You apply that to yourself, like learning to read or write. You hear words that you like, and you add that to your vocab, but you do not try to always sound exactly like the other one. And like that you become you. B.B. King Guitar Player Magazine Jan. 1998

You will also want to learn the closed major pentatonic scale patterns as follows: Fretboard System of

Fingerboard Hand Development


Closed Chord Patterns:

Figure 21:

With lateral and vertical translation, you realize that similar ngering patterns occur throughout the fretboard, where the tonal value changes. However, the fretboard also has the opposite characteristic where the same notes can be played in a different ngering pattern.1 For example, an E major chord in the open position sound similar to an E major chord played at the 3rd fret, having an entirely different ngering patterna closed D form. Keep in mind that the fretboard system of closed patterns is relative to where you start on the fretboard: the name of the closed chord patterns depends on the xed value of the root note of the closed chordsin other words, the actual note on the fretboard over which you begin the closed chord pattern. Furthermore, the system applies equally well for the scale patterns based on the underlying major and minor chords, so that, for example, an open Em pentatonic scale pattern can be played as a Dm

1.These patterns are sometimes referred to as the CAGED pattern because the vertical sequence of chords spells -C-AG-E-D-


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Lateral Translation for Scale Forms

pentatonic pattern at the beginning of the 3rd fret.

Figure 22: The Fretboard system of closed chord patterns

Fingerboard Hand Development


Extended Pentatonic Scale Patterns I have provided two sets of extended patterns of the pentatonic scales. The rst set spans across 2 playing positions. The second set is longer, spanning across 3 or more playing positions. I present these extended patterns in order to expose you to that feeling of freedom you get when gliding up the neck of the guitar as you play. When playing hot licks in country or blues, you will feel an inclination to move higher on the guitar neck as the melodic tension increases.

Figure 23: Short extended pentatonic scale patterns


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Lateral Translation for Scale Forms

Figure 24: Fully extended pentatonic scale patterns

Fingerboard Hand Development


Experimentation By mixing both country and blues togetherplaying licks over country cadences and vice-versayou will achieve a Rock-a-Billy sound. For example, play the A-minor blues tones over a country-C progression, just as a country-G scale sounds good over an Em-blues cadence. Be sure to allow yourself to experiment beyond the simple norms recommended in this book. While the fundamentals are an important spring board, the outstanding things you do are likely to be just a little beyond the safety of the norms suggested here.

Minor and Major Diatonic Scale Patterns

The major and minor diatonic scales are built from the three principal chords belonging to its key (See page 86). These are the chords which stand side by side in lateral translation. For example, the A major scale consists of the notes from chords, E, A and D, as shown in the chart below:

Figure 25: The major scale patterns and their underlying chords


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Minor and Major Diatonic Scale Patterns

Extending the pentatonic scale patterns to learn the diatonic scale tones If you already know the major pentatonic scale patterns, you can readily learn the diatonic patterns by simply adding a 4th and 7th tones. For example, to a C major pentatonic scale, C-D-E-G-A-C, you would add the F and B notes to create the 7-note diatonic major: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. This fact should make it easy to learn the various diatonic major scales. Below are the open pentatonic scale patterns with the diatonic notes added:

Figure 26: Open position major pentatonic scale patterns with diatonic notes added

Many people have asked me how to become an excellent guitarist. I answer, Be a hard-working perfectionist, which personally makes up for my lack of talent in a lot of areas. Our goal should be to overcome what we lack in talent or ability by what we have in dedication and commitment. This takes self-disciplinethe ability to regulate your conduct by principles and sound judgment, rather that by impulse, desire, high pressure, or social custom. It is the ability to subordinate the body to what is right and what is best. Self-discipline means nothing more than to order the priorities of your life. It is the bridge between thought and accomplishment, the glue that binds inspiration to achievement. Chris Parkening The Chris Parkening Guitar Method, Vol. 2

Fingerboard Hand Development


Below are the closed pentatonic scale patterns with the diatonic notes added:

Figure 27: Closed major pentatonic scale patterns with diatonic notes

The characteristic of extending the pentatonic to create the diatonic scale patterns is also generally true of the melodic minor scale patterns, however the resemblance is not striking: the 2nd, and 6th note are added and the 7th note is raised the last note of the pentatonic scale. It is better to learn the minor diatonic scale patterns as altered major scales.

leave us that musical mode that would fittingly imitate the utterances and the accents of a brave man who is engaged in warfare or in any enforced businessAnd another for such a man engaged in works of peace, not enforced but voluntary Plato


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Minor and Major Diatonic Scale Patterns

Diatonic Scale Patterns The complete set of major scale patterns are posted below:

Figure 28: Low and high major scale patterns

The Melodic Minor The melodic minor scales follow the same logic as the major scales, however they are complicated by the property that you run up the scale differently than you run down. The ascending step pattern has half steps (see page 88) between the 2nd and 3rd, as well as the 7th and 8th tones. Yet when you descend, there are half-steps between the 2nd and 3rd, 5th and 6th tonesnot the 7th and 8th tones. The ascending section of the scale is a compound of the natural minor scale for the rst four notes, and the major scale for the last four notes. The reason for the inclusion of the major scale pattern in the last four tones of the ascending scale is an open question. Some musicologist argue that the imported half step between the 7th and 8th tones of the major scale provides a leading tone push towards the nal note of the scale. The descending portion of this minor scale is the natural minor scale tones. The practical result of this asymmetric property is that you must learn two patterns for each keyone for ascending and another for descending. Think of the minor scale pattern as a major scale where the 3rd tone is lowered a half step (one fret), while traversing upward and lowered a whole step (2 fret) descending from tones #8 to 7 and 7

Fingerboard Hand Development


to 6. The following chart shows the minor scale patterns starting at the low nger position:

Figure 29: Minor scale patterns starting at low starting point

People have heroes, and they copy themI mean, we copied things very carefully when we started. But you do not get this picture and then do everything to fit it. You do what you do. The musicians are there to contribute to the band sound. The band isn't there for showing off solos or egos. A lick on a recordit does not matter who played it. All that matters is how it fits. The chemistry to work together like that has to be there. You have to work on it, alwaysfigure out what to do with it. But basically it is not an intellectual thing you can think up and just put there. It has to be there. You have to find it. Keith Richards GP Oct. 1976


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Minor and Major Diatonic Scale Patterns

The following chart shows the minor scale patterns starting at the high nger position:

Figure 30: Closed minor scale patterns

How important do you think chops areexecution, facility on the neck, dexterity? I think it depends on what kind of music you want to play. If what really moves you is music that has a lot of notes in it, then you have got a lot of hard work ahead of you. On the other hand, if the music that really gets you is accompanying yourself on folk guitar, then there is not as much asor, actually, I suppose you could put as much effort into that and become the greatest fold guitarist in the world. To me, everybody nds their own path in terms of technique. It gets me when the technique becomes the featured item. It is almost like somebody who spends hours polishing the water faucet thinking that is going to make the water pure or tastier. It does not really work like that. Just from my own experience, I have found that I have never really sat down and worked on techniqueit just kind of takes care of itself as you become a better musician. Pat Metheny GP Dec. 1981

Fingerboard Hand Development


Extended Diatonic Scales It is helpful to learn scales that incorporate two adjacent patterns of the same key. These compounded patterns I will call extended scales. For example, to play an extended E-major scale pattern, you could play the low E-pattern and low D-pattern (with the root at E) in sequence. The diagrams that follow illustrates the practical extended major and minor scale patterns. Notice that the nal tone of the rst pattern is replaced with the index ngering of the second pattern. This feature makes the ngering transition between scale boxes smooth.

Figure 31: Extended major scale patterns


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Minor and Major Diatonic Scale Patterns

The practical extended minor scale patterns are the following:

Figure 32: Extended minor scale patterns

A Scheme for Practicing Major and Minor Scales and Chords A comprehensive practice of the scale and chord forms is a wonderful way to improve your guitar technique. A natural way to master these is to practice the various patterns according to the principal of lateral translation. Also, since major and minor patterns are essentially mirror images of one another (see page 94), you might want to alternate between major and minor patterns as you go. For example, the E major triad is a mirror image of A minor. You could begin with the E major chord, then play the A minor

Fingerboard Hand Development


chord, then next, on to the D major, and so on. If you continue in this way, you will cover half of all the major and minor chords as you advance across the fretboard. To perform the other half of the chords, you would begin with the E minor chord and advance to the A major, and so on. Yes, this method also works for scale patterns.

Triad Patterns
Galaxies within galaxies! Upon each note in a scale, a 3-note triad (see page 91) can be built. Your knowledge of a key would not be complete without knowing how to play these because they will make it easy for you to construct all kinds of complex chords and arpeggios. The following charts display the major and minor triads, based on the closed scale patterns Major Triad Charts

Figure 33: E/F-triad forms

Figure 34: A-major triad forms


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Triad Patterns

Figure 35: D-major triad forms

Figure 36: G-major triad forms

Figure 37: C-major triad forms

Fingerboard Hand Development


Minor Triad Charts

Figure 38: E/F-form triads. Play the notes within the triangles only when they point in the direction you are advancing.

Figure 39: A-minor triad form

Figure 40: D-minor triad forms


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Triad Patterns

Figure 41: G-minor triad forms

Figure 42: C-minor triad forms

Above all, strive for personal excellence. True success is not measured by worldly accomplishments or by comparison with others. Rather, it is working with diligence, to the best of your ability, toward achieving excellence in whatever task you have set before you. Chris Parkening Vertical triad forms Another set of useful triad pattern are those built on the rst three strings, advancing vertically up the guitar neck. In the following diagram I have outlined the major and minor triad ngerings that can be played in sequence or as short chords. Notice that these forms are limited to the feasible E- through Dforms (see page 46).

Fingerboard Hand Development


Figure 43: Vertical triad forms


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

The Moveable Key Patterns

I have never practiced scales in my life, so I could not do some of these heavy metal runs. I gure a lot of that is just because the guys are properly trained, and that is what they have learned -- scales. Some of it, I think, is, well, boring. Some of it is just endless scales. Paul McCartney GP May 1990

The Moveable Key Patterns

The moveable key system is a practical way to comprehend the guitar fretboard when playing actual songs. The basis for this system are the principal closed major chords: E, A, D, G, and C. Each moveable key based on one of these chord patterns contains the fundamental chord and scale patterns belonging to the key. However, the actual key name is relative to where you play these patterns on the guitar neck. For example, the moveable C patterns could show the key of C where the root note of the C pattern begins on a C note of the guitar neck. The moveable C key could also show the key of D, if you were to translate the patterns so that the root note of the C form covers a D note. You will always nd the root note of the moveable patterns as the rst note of the namesake chord pattern (see next page).

...I can say...that when I am on form and at ease with the instrument, which is not always, I feel that the instrument is totally a part of me. And when it is a part of me, I can express what I feel about life, about philosophy, about many things, through the abstract quality of musical sound. Because I do not think I am a great artist, but I know I am a good onethat I have got something to say, however modest. And I am happy to be alive and to be able to say it with some degree of eloquence to people, people I do not know, strangersthis seems to be a most wonderful gift and the most worthwhile thing to do in life. For me at least. Julian Bream Guitar Review Spring, Aug. 1982

Fingerboard Hand Development


Figure 44: Moveable E-key form


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

The Moveable Key Patterns

Figure 45: Moveable A-key form

Fingerboard Hand Development


Figure 46: Moveable D-key form


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

The Moveable Key Patterns

Figure 47: Moveable G-key form

Fingerboard Hand Development


Figure 48: Moveable C-key form


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Complex Chords

Complex Chords
Now that you know allOK, most allthe basic fretboard patterns, lets take a look at how you begin (and continue beginning) to learn such fancy chords as: -- Diminished -- Augmented -- Sustained -- Major and minor sixth -- Dominant and minor seventh -- Major seventh -- Seventh augmented and diminished fth -- Ninth, with or without augmented or diminished fth (not shown) -- Eleventh, with or without augmented or diminished fth (not shown) -- Thirteenths of all sorts -- And so on...(see page 99) I believe the way to learn complex chords is to construct them and reconstruct them until they become part of you. There are two methods that are helpful for constructing complex chords. The rst is to use the closed major patterns as a starting point. The second is to use the moveable major and minor triad patterns as a starting point. Building complex chords from closed major chords If you start with closed major chord patterns, you can add the higher overtones to create complex chords. The hard part is knowing which nger positions to adjust in order to produce the proper upper interval tones. The secret is to learn the interval value of each ngering within the closed chord patterns for the simple closed chords so you can extend or retract the necessary tones needed. Suppose, for example, you wish to play an C7 chord. You would begin with a closed C major chord and extend the dominant-interval (the note on the 5th degree of the scale), represented with the roman numeral, V, 1-1/2-steps

Fingerboard Hand Development


(3 frets) as follows:

Figure 49: Example of complex chord construction

Once you know the interval size of the complex chord interval and you know the interval nger position of the closed chord forms, you can easily visualize where to place your ngers. Moreover, learning the intervals of the closed forms is not so difcult once you know one form well. Simply use the principle of lateral translation to learn the other closed chords. For example, take the E7 form: you learn to translate it across the fretboard to create the A7 form. Not only is this method a fast way to learn your chords, it also is an ideal formula for keeping the root note in the bass stringswhere it belongs. You see, when you build chords, you always want to consider the ideal orchestration of a chord (see page 99). Chords that most closely follow the distribution of tones found in the overtone and undertone series sound best in most cases. The limitations of the guitar fretboard, with only six strings, makes the design of good sounding chords sometimes challenging. Many times, you will have to compromise between practical ngering and good chord orchestration. Nevertheless, I have found that through ingenuity and the use of lateral translation, most of these chord ngerings work. For those occasional forms that do not follow the regular patterns, you will simply have to memorize these items separately. Oh, the way to calculate the interval size on the fretboard is easy. Treat each string as a chromatic scale where every fret equals a half-step (see page 88). 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th dom7 maj7 octave

Figure 50: Fretboard intervals

In the example above, you know (or can quickly nd out) that the dominant 7th interval is 1-1/2 steps above the dominant interval (V). So you move the ngering upward 3 fretsone fret for each half step. What about intervals beyond the octavethe 9th, 11th, and 13th? For these you subtract the number 8 from them, to nd the equivalent interval within the octave. A 9th interval is one more than 8the octave note. You locate this note a whole-tone beyond the tonic. However, in keeping with good harmonic form, it is best to place this note at least an octave above the tonic note. One of the nice things about complex 54 Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Complex Chords

chords is that you can forego the root note and sometimes even the dominant note and still create a nice complex chord (see page 99). For example you can play a C9 chord while eliminating the C note, but keeping the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th notes. Nevertheless, not all complex chords are easily built from the closed-form major and minor chords. Sometimes the complex interval cannot be conveniently reached in one closed-form at all. You will have to try it in another.

Chord forms and their intervals: Below are the possible intervals (see page 100) of laterally translated chord forms E/F to C. The roman numerals indicate the interval degree within the scale. For example, to nd a E-major chord within the E/F-form, you would select the ngerings that constitute a major triad: I, III, and V. The actual chord results are exhibited after the following interval chart: Forms: E A D G C

blank space

Figure 51: Intervals of chord form

The major and minor chord forms Here are the essential major chord forms. You need to learn these forms and their intervals by heart in order to systematically learn the more complex forms that follow. Also, do not forget to imagine how the forms translate laterally across the guitar neck. This too will make your learning easier for the more com-

Fingerboard Hand Development


plex forms that follow: Forms: E A D G C

Figure 52: Major chord forms

In order to build a minor from a major form, lower the ngering for the third interval a half step to a minor third. Where there is an X symbol, do not include the string when sounding the chord. Forms: E A D G C

Figure 53: Minor chord forms


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Complex Chords

At first, he taught me a couple of things, and then he taught me how to teach myself --and that's the right way.

Stevie Ray Vaughan GP Oct. "84

The Sustained Four chord (a favorite of Who guitarist Peter Townsend) is created by raising the 3rd interval a half step to the 4th. I prefer to raise the highest 3rd rather than the one closest to the root note to get a better soundexcept where it makes the ngering awkward: There are a host of other less used susForms: E A D G C

Figure 54: Sustained 4 chord forms

tained chords: 7Sus4, 13Sus11, etc. Also, although the charts show the chord ngerings for the closed position, most of these chords sound best in the open position.

The Seventh chord forms To build the dominant seventh forms, lower the tonic (I) interval a whole step; you may also advance the fth degree 1-1/2 steps to reach the seventh degree. Notice that the E7th form shows an optional 7th

Fingerboard Hand Development


note under the pinky ngering that is not translated to the other forms. Forms: E A D G C

Figure 55: Dominant 7 chord forms

To build the Minor 7th, you will need to drop the third back a half-step. Forms: E A D G C

Figure 56: Minor 7 chord forms

To build the Major 7th chord, advance the 7th degree by a half-step, or lower the tonic one whole step. For the sake of uniformity, I include here a GM7 form that is a little unwieldy. You may wish to substitute an easier form that I do not show. Also be aware of the difference between the Dominant 7th and Major 7th chords. The Dominant 7th has a strident quality due to the lowered 7th tone, while the Major


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Complex Chords

7th has a rich harmonious quality with its raised 7th tone. Forms: E A D G C

Figure 57: Major 7 chord forms

Diminished and augmented chord forms: Diminished chords require a lowered third and fth degree. Notice that the rule of lateral translation is broken between the D and G-forms. I did this in order to maximize the diversity of chord forms. Otherwise, the C-form would look exactly the same as the E-form. Note that you can avoid sounding the X-marked strings by mufing them with the eshy part of your ngers, used for other ngerings. Note that the diminished G* and C*-forms are lowered one fret so that it would t in my restricted page space. Forms: E A D G* C*

Figure 58: 7 diminished 5 chord forms

Fingerboard Hand Development


The Augmented chord is built by raising the 5th degree a half-step and leaving the 3rd alone (unlike in the Diminished chord). Forms: E A D G C

Figure 59: 7 augmented 5 chord forms

Sixth Chord forms: The Major 6th chord is created by raising the 5th degree one whole step, or lowering the 7th degree one half step. Some of the following chord forms could have been made orchestral chords by baring all the way across the fretboard to produce a fuller sound. Notice that the rule of lateral translation is broken between the D and G-forms by including the tonic in the later. A well orchestrated chord tends to place the tonic and 5th degree at the bottom end. Forms: E A D G C

Figure 60: 6 chord forms


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Complex Chords

The Minor 6th chord is exactly like the Major 6th, but with a lowered 3rd degree: Forms: E A D G C

Figure 61: Minor 6 chord forms

How to learn the chord forms To learn complex chords well, you should go through the three stages that you did when you learned the scales: -- Understand the chord interval formula (see page 99) -- Learn how to derive a chord form by adding appropriate intervals to the E/F-Major form (see page 53). -- Imagine how the rule of lateral translation produces the A, D, G and C-forms (see page 11). -- Practice the forms regularlyrst with the diagrams, and then by rote until they become second nature.

Have you ever taken a shot at singing? I do not have the voice for it. I would love to be a singer, but I think my frustration of not being able to sing comes out in my playingwhich I think is what causes me to communicate with other people. That is the only explanation I can think of for why I had about 20 hit singles. It is communication. Duane Eddy GP Feb. 1979

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I am a little uneasy about this section of the manual because I do not use arpeggios all that much in my style of playing. Nevertheless, I believe whole-heartedly in the power of lateral translation approach to make any fretboard object relatively easy to learn. So lets look at arpeggios. Arpeggios, in case you did not already know, are small scales made of the notes within a chord. The C-Major arpeggio, for example, is played by sounding all the C, E and Gs comprising a major triad in a given position along the fretboard in sequence. Each chord type denes a unique arpeggio pattern. You have already dealt with Major and Minor triad sequences built on each note of the diatonic scale (see page 42). Build or alter these basic patterns in order to begin your arpeggios. To play an E-Major arpeggio, use the E-Major triad you have learned and add the E Major chord ngerings beginning at the root note:

Figure 62: Example 1 showing how arpeggios are built on the fretboard

Do you play any three-octave scales? If you put a gun to my head and asked me to play a three-octave scale, I could not do it. Now I am not recommending this to young players; they should learn all kinds of scales. But I tell you this, if I am playing and I have to play a three-octave scale in order to get out something that I am thinking of, I will get it out. Herb Ellis GP April 1979

The A-Major arpeggio is likewise made by adding the A Major triad to the A Major chord. Notice that


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar


you will also want to reach for a nal A-note along the 1st string to complete the arpeggio:

Figure 63: Example 2 of how arpeggios are built on the fretboard

You get the idea. Although most do, not all Major and Minor arpeggio forms come together so tidy as the examples given above. Here are the rest of the major arpeggios in their entirety:

Figure 64: Major triad arpeggios. Note that some diagrams are truncated to reduce the size of the graphic.

Fingerboard Hand Development


To what do you attribute your success? I have been lucky. And I am a stubborn Dutchman. We were all stubborn kidsthe whole damn family was stubborn. All the back generations were stubborn, too. Whatever we undertook was never done half-heartedly. I wrote something down recently that I think in a way, is the Van Eps credo. It goes something like this: A target in life must be very carefully chosen, and then pursued with every ounce of human effort. And right or wrong we liked what we were doing. Now here is the luck part: It is just lucky that someone else did, too. And for that I am grateful. Van Eps GP Aug.1981

The Minor arpeggios:

Figure 65: Minor arpeggio forms


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The Dominant 7 arpeggios:

Figure 66: Dominant 7 arpeggio forms

The Min7 arpeggios:

Figure 67: Minor 7 arpeggio forms

Fingerboard Hand Development


The Major 7 arpeggios:

Figure 68: Major 7 arpeggio forms

The Diminished arpeggios:

Figure 69: Diminished arpeggio forms


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar


The Augmented arpeggios:

Figure 70: Augmented arpeggio forms

The major and minor 6th arpeggios The major and minor 6th arpeggios are the same as the major and minor pentatonic scales. If you know these, you already can do the major and minor 6th arpeggios. Pat yourself on the back. This will conclude the arpeggios that the beginner should know.

Fingerboard Hand Development



Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar


Fingerboard Hand Development

Developing Dexterity in the Picking Hand

The previous section is about developing your fretboard sense. In this section, you will see how to systematically develop your punteado (nger picking) skill. Note that I do not discuss plectrum picking here because it is relatively straight forward and it does not concern classical-style guitars. I would suggest that you spend 10% of your practice time devoted to the exercises presented here to increase the strength, dexterity and speed of your picking hand. It is the effective way to acquire a Developing Dexterity in the Picking Hand professionally polished tone. The idea behind the exercises in this section is to maximize the natural strengths of your playing hand.

Do you ever play in modes, or are you conscious of playing certain scales over chords? No, not particularly. I used to practice scales, but I think mainly in positions. I do runs that go from position to position, basically around chord shapes. I can get around pretty easily going from one position to another, and on a good night it sounds pretty hot. Ill take chances. I seem to be able to end up on the wrong foot and somehow get back again. Sometimes Ill trip over myself, but most times Im lucky. Albert Lee GP May 81

The Architecture of the Hand Your hand is functionally organized. The essential function of the hand is that of a pincer. The thumb compliments the remaining ngers to grasp objects. The guitar player exploits this by using the thumb on the top 2 or 3 bass strings in counterpoint with the other ngers working the bottom 3 or 4 treble strings. You have 4 ngers which may work in tandem with the thumb, but the most important will be the index nger since it is the most powerful and coordinated of the four. Therefore, the rst drill will be to play a scale up and down while alternating the thumb and index nger of the picking hand. You will achieve a surprising level of speed and accuracy using this combination. Unfortunately your Fingerboard Hand Development 69

thumb will need to move into the treble strings, loosing it strategic placement. Nevertheless, the following nger picking sequences, using the thumb are worth practicing. Try them here on an open string to see how they feel. Then use the Tarrenga exercise ( see page 73) or any of the scale patterns you have learned as an excellent drills for both hands.

Figure 1: Finger marking for picking hand

1. The standard pattern: p 2. For speed, accuracy & volume: p 3. For better balance: p 4. Quickest: p a m i p a m i... i m a p i m a... m i p m i i m p i m...

Now, let us suppose that the thumb is excluded from the analysis of the nger picking hand. What remain are the four ngers: the index, middle, ring and pinkie ngers. While the ring and fourth ngers are almost equivalent in length (measured from the wrist), a quick test of their coordination will demonstrate that they do not easily work together. Set your curved hand upon a at surface as if to play a piano and try moving the ring nger up and down while anchoring the others down. You should nd that independent movement of your ring nger is difcult. However, this movement goes much easier when you allow the pinkie nger to move freely along with the ring nger. You can perform this test with each of the other 3 ngers, anchoring one and moving the others. These tests should demonstrate that you really only have four usable ngers because the pinkie is hard to control. Therefore, in the following exercises, you may decide to anchor the pinkie on the guitar, below the sound hole to serve as a hand guide.


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

Try some of the following sequences without the thumb. 5. i 6. m 7. i 8. i m a m i m a... m a i m a... a m a... m i m...

These nger sequences should feel natural without much practice. With practice, they can be downright mesmerizing as amenco guitarist can prove. For real progress, practice these nger sequences deliberately and consistently. Developing Dexterity in the Picking Hand

My fingerpicking is a sort of cross between Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, and total incompetence. Jimmy Page Guitar Player Magazine July 1977

The Free and Rest-Strokes There are essentially two ways to pluck the guitar string: they are the free stroke and rest stroke. The free-stroke is what you are probably already using if you follow through, without hitting or resting your picking nger on the next string. It produces a brilliant twang-like sound.

Figure 2: Free stroke: before and after

In contrast, the rest-stroke usually takes some learning and it makes a softer and deeper tone. You Fingerboard Hand Development 71

create it by picking upward on a treble string and follow through until coming to rest on the next string. In this technique, the string you come to rest upon, acts like a aircraft carrier restraining chord, bringing the moving nger to an elastic halt. The rest-stroke is played with a straight forenger, bending at the knuckle. If you have noticed how bass players nger pick, you have a pretty good picture of the reststroke. See pictures below:

Figure 3: Rest stroke: before and after

You can also perform a rest stroke with your thumb at the bass strings by striking downward and away towards the next string where it comes to rest or rebounds for the next strike.

This is the best attitude for a writer to have: Look, Ive got something to contribute to the instrument. Id like a book put out on itnot for me so much, but for what it is going to do for people who play the instrument. If they get the enjoyment and the approach I have, then maybe this will be a lot of help to teachers and players. People who put out a book with this attitude are the most successful....Write it, teach it, and try it out. If it works out, then you have a successful idea. Mel Bay GP Nov 82

The Basic Drill Pattern The Tarrega Triplet Exercise, on the following page, is an excellent drill pattern for developing the picking hand. The tablature notation may seem complicated, however the formula for fretting hand is


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

really simple. Its a 2 up, 1 down sequence, with an occasional switching of strings.

Tarrega Exercise # n # & c # n # # # # # n # #

8 0 1 0 1 2 1 2 3 2 3 0 3 0 1 0 1 2 1 2 3 2 3 4 3 4 0 4 0


3 2 3 4 Fingering: 2 1 2 3 2 3 4 3 4 2 1 2 # n # # # # # n # # #

Developing Dexterity in the Picking Hand

4 5

9 10


3 4 4 3 2 1 3 3 2 3 3 # # 2 n 1 # 2 2 #4 n b n 3 b 1 2 b n 4 b 2 b 3 1 b 2 2 1 3 4

9 10 11 10 11 12 11 12 13 13 12 11 12 11 10 11 10 9 10 9 8 9 8 7 8 7 6 7

2 3 2 2 1 b3 b 1 n b 1 b b n 3 b 2 1 0 b b 2 3 4 3 2 b n b &
22 6 5 6 5 4 5 4 3 4 3 2 3 2 1 2 1 0 1 0 0

& b b n b b n b b .
1 2 1 0 1 0 3 0 3 2 3 2 1 2 1 0 1


Figure 4: Tarrega Exercise for coordination ngerboard hand

Fingerboard Hand Development


Putting Scales and Sequences Together for a Powerful Warm-up A good warm-up really makes a difference. You could simply play the guitar for a half-hour or so; but a quicker and more complete technique to warm-up is to practice the a variety of scales systematically. An interesting way to play your scales systematically is to alternate major and minor chords and major and minor scales as you play laterally translated patterns. For example, play a C major, then G minor, then D major scale, and so on. By running through the scale patternsboth major and minorwhile varying the picking sequences, both your hands are exercised in just about every ngering possibility. You can also use your scales to practice techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and so on. You might have some good ideas; try them. Hard and Soft Hand Control One of my favorite scale techniques, designed to enhance tone and volume, is to play a scale all the way through with the picking hand applying a feather-light touch. With the fretting hand, press very rmly so that the slightest tone is produced. Next, switch roles so that the picking hand briskly twangs the strings, while the fretting hand hovers gently upon them, just enough to cancel out most of the vibration. This arduous exercise will help you cultivate a remarkably clear tone as it teaches your brain to relax and strengthen each hand independent of each othersomething they do not seem to want to do automatically. Nail Care A well kept set of nger nails adds hundreds of dollars to the sound quality of your guitar. I spend about 10 minutes every Sunday morning cutting and sanding my nails. Shape the nail to a gently rounded prole, about 1/8 above the esh of your ngertip, so that the nail edge is rounded and smooth. To achieve this, I use clippers to get the general length about right. Next, I use a conventional nail-ling board to smooth out the sheared edges left by the clippers. You may want to use 600-grade sandpaper instead. Some guitarists even buff the nail edge. The Fretting-hand Nails Cut the nails so that tips of your fretting ngers are free from any nail protrusion. A long nail makes it hard to fret a string. I would advise you to smooth these nails just as you do the playing hand ngers to prevent them from chipping or splitting. Strings You can't win by buying cheap strings. A good set of strings (like nail care) adds hundreds of dollars to your sound. I use the Savarez Aliance (about $15.00/set) for my classical guitar. 74 Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar


Theory Section

Origins of the Pentatonic Scale

Perhaps you will get some pleasure in understanding how a single guitar string implies the logical musical system of chords, scales, and cadences. The guitar is particularly suited for demonstrating the elegant principles of music. I know I would not have written this book if I had not rediscovered the ideas in this section and found them useful to learning the guitar. In order to demonstrate some of this material, I will use arithmetic. Do not panic, for even if you nd math unpleasant, you can prot from the conclusions that come from these results. The mathematical genesis of the pentatonic notes To suppose that a scale has a mathematical genesis probably goes against the analytic spirit of our age. Nevertheless, if you were to go back in time to ancient Greece, you would nd this sort of speculation very fashionable. What follows is a demonstrationin the Greek spiritof how the pentatonic scale logically evolves from a single note. First, there is an originating notelet us say the D note (another note could be used, but it would require the use of accidentals later in this demonstration). See diagram below: Origins of the Pentatonic

Figure 1: Generating tone: D

You can imagine that this D produces two subordinate notes, A and Ga dominant and subdominant interval apart from itself (see page 76).

Theory Section


Figure 2: First generation: the dominant and subdominant notes

These notes produce supremely harmonious tones, relative to the generating tone because of their simple mathematical ratios. By reapplying the note generating scheme described above to the dominant and subdominant notes themselves, you extend the note series to 5 notesthe notes that comprise the pentatonic scale. The dominant G note generates its dominant, C above. Below, the subdominant A note generates its subdominant, E below. See the diagram below:

Figure 3: The second generation dominant and subdominant notes

To complete the order of the actual pentatonic scale there are two more steps: rst, you need to transpose all of these ve notes into one octave space, as shown below:

Figure 4: Transposing notes into one octave space

The second step is to choose your root notethe starting and ending note of the note series. Since


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there are ve notes in the pentatonic scale, there are ve possible starting places for our note series to begin. Each starting point would dene a different mode of the pentatonic note series. The modes we are interested in (at least in this book) are the ones that dene the popular styles of country and blues music.

The major pentatonic scale In the case of country music, the pentatonic scale will begin and end on the second dominant notethe C note in our example. The interesting thing about this mode of pentatonic scale is that it features a major triad in the root position. Perhaps this explains the bright quality of country music (See gureFigure 5:)

Figure 5: The major triad underlying the major pentatonic scale

The minor pentatonic scale In contrast to the optimistic sound of country music, you get a moody sound in the pentatonic mode that begins at the rst subdominant notethe A note in our example. You can also see that this Origins of the Pentatonic pentatonic mode, features the minor triad in the root position. Therefore, from now on, I will refer to this mode as the minor pentatonic scale. See the diagram below (See gureFigure 6:)

Figure 6: The minor triad underlying the minor pentatonic scale

Theory Section


Perhaps you will agree that the genesis of the pentatonic scale is mathematically speaking, elegant. From the dominant and its inversethe subdominant interval, you can logically create a small group of harmonious notes. These notes account for a wide variety of musical styles of which country and blues are discussed in this book (see page 20).

Origins of the Diatonic Scale Tones

Derivation of the Triad The physical essence of a tone is vibrating material and the slower the vibration, the lower the tone. It was the ancient wise man, Pythagoras, who discovered that the lengths of strings constituting a major chord upon a harp reduced to whole number ratios: 2, 3, and 5. This discovery reverberated throughout the ages because it shows that musical elements like chords can be analyzed in terms of pure number. The Octave One of Pythagoras next discoveries after studying every conceivable tone relationship was that if you take a string, divide it in half and pluck it, it produces the same note but at a higher pitch than the original. Why is this important? Well, there are all kinds of tones whose relationships form very nice numeric ratiossuch as those of a major chord ratios: 2, 3, and 5, discussed above; however, these do not produce the same notes. Only tones whose proportions are 1:2, do! Of course there were many more things that Pythagoras found out about tone. Yet he always said that the octave interval was the mother of all tones. And here is why: If you begin with a notelet us say middle Cand then include the upper octave C note, C1, and you calculate the frequency exactly in between these octave intervals, you generate a new and important intervals. What he did was to add the frequency of middle C, which is 1, to the fredominant subdominant


Figure 7: Dominant and subdominant interval graph


1. The octave multiple of the note will be indicated by an exponential number. For example, the note, C above middle C will be shown as: C1.


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quency of C, 2, and then divide this sum in half. C + C1 = 1 + 2 = 3 ---------------------------2 2 2

Figure 8: Derivation of the dominant interval

This new interval is called dominant. In the example we are using, the primary interval is middle C, the dominant note created is G. Keep in mind that the middle C tone we chose for our unison interval in this illustration is arbitrary. We could have begun with, say a D, for example, and derived a different dominant tone. Nevertheless, the interval name is more important than the particular note we use as an example. Any interval whose tone is 3/2 the frequency of another is always called the dominant interval. The particular G tone that we derived in this example simply represents the dominant interval in the key of C. Recall how we derived the new intervalthe dominant. Between the middle C and its octave above, you get a G tone, having a dominant relation to the middle C. Is this the only interval we derived? Look again. While its true that G has a dominant relation to C, it has quite another relation to C1 above! Are you confused yet? The confusion depends entirely on which tone you play rst and which subsequent tone you compare it to. You see, when we derived the dominant interval, I assumed that we sounded the lower C before the G tone. If, instead, we had sounded the G rstin other words, played G as the root tone, we would have produced the subdominant interval. To calculate the frequency of this interval ratio we begin with the dominant ratio, 3/2, as the root and look for a ratio that multiplies1 with this to produce the octave ratio, 2/1: Interval Name: Note example: Interval ratio: dominant G 3/2 X subdominant F 4/3 = octave C1 2/1 Origins of the Diatonic Scale

Figure 9: Dominant and subdominant interval chart

Now, if we wish to hear the subdominant interval with C in the root position, we would have to play an F tone, because F has a frequency 4/3 of middle C. For the guitarist, this concept of dominant and subdominant intervals are important because the open guitar strings are tuned a dominant interval between each pair, going from the high E string up to the low E string (see page 9). When you tune

1.When you add tones together as two lengths of vibrating strings, you multiply the ratios of their frequency. For example, a G-tone(3/2) added to an F- tone(4/3) equals 3/2 x 4/3 = the octave (2/1).

Theory Section


your guitar using the relative tuning method you are using this fact about the guitar tuning already. Each time you fret the guitar string at the 5th fret and use this as a reference for tuning the next string over, all you are really doing is increasing the string frequency by 3/2, using this as a reference so that you can tune the next string a dominant interval higher (except between the G and B strings). There is one thing I forgot to mention, however, that may be confusing (or interesting, depending on your taste). The relations between the guitar strings going from the high E, up to low the E, are mostly dominant intervals. However, if you were to tune your guitar from the low, down to the high E string across your fretboard, the open strings would generally have the subdominantnot a dominant interval between them. In other words the string above has a different relation to the string below, than the string below has to the one above. Relativity dude! Einstein would have loved this. To answer the question: Why do you generally tune the guitar by dominant intervals going up, and subdominant intervals, going down? The answer is that when you relate two tones, the interval depends on which note is sounded rst. This is a subtle, but important distinction. The Major and Minor Third Intervals The major and minor third interval (also called mediant and submediant intervals) are those that lie between the tonic and dominant intervals we have already derived: Therefore, we produce these new mediant submediant





Figure 10: Mediant and submediant interval graph

intervals by rst nding the tone that lies mid-way between middle C and the dominant G. As before, we determine the new intervals by adding their frequencies and dividing by 2.

1+ 3 2 5 = 2 4
Figure 11: Derivation of mediant interval

The major third interval is 5/4 the frequency of middle C, in our example. In the key of C, this interval is E. In order to derive the minor third interval, we must begin with the major third ratio, 5/4, as the root tone and nd the interval ratio that multiplies with 5/4 to produce the dominant interval ratio, 3/2. As 80 Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

you can see in the following chart, the ratio we are looking for is 6/5: Interval Name: Note example: Interval ratio: mediant E 5/4 X submediant Eb 6/5 = dominant G 3/2

Figure 12: Mediant and submediant interval chart

To hear the minor-third interval in the key of C, we must nd out what note is produced at 6/5 the frequency of C. In fact this note is E-minor. Therefore, in the key of C, there are the major and minor third intervals indicated by the ratios: 5/4 and 6/5, producing the notes: E and Eb respectively. So far, all the intervals of both the major and minor triads have been derived from rst principles. We now have all the elements we need to derive the diatonic major and minor scales, however, for the sake of completeness, I will continue to demonstrate the orgin of the remaining incidental intervals. The 6th and 7th Intervals At this point, I wish to discuss the major and minor 6th intervals. First, lets see how the major 6th interval is logically constructed. When we constructed the major third interval, represented by the E note, over middle C, we did so by splitting the dominant interval in half. To nd the E minor interval, however, we reasoned that we could think of the E note as the root and G being the upper interval note. In other words, the act of splitting the dominant interval leads to two possible intervals within: the mediant and its complement submediant interval. I am reviewing the process of generating the major third in order that you can learn the process and understand it as I apply it in a slightly modied way to generate the major and minor 6th intervals. The modication is that we consider the major and minor thirds as root notes of intervals that spannot to the dominantbut the octave. To see what I mean, lets begin with the E note, representing the major third in the key of C. When we designate E as the root note and then play the higher C note, we hear the minor 6th interval, whose frequency is 8/5 higher than the E note as demonstrated in the gure below: major 3rd minor 6th Origins of the Diatonic Scale


Figure 13: Minor 6th interval graph


Theory Section


How did I gure 8/5? I am looking for a ratio that when multiplied by the major third ratio, 5/4, equals 2/1the octave ratio. As you can see in the chart below, 8/5 is the answer: Interval Name: Note example: Interval ratio: third E 5/4 X minor 6th Ab 8/5 = octave C1 2/1

Figure 14: Minor 6th interval graph

It turns out that the minor 6th interval denes the Ab note in the minor C scale. The accidental b means that it lies 1/2-step (1 fret) below the A note. With the construction of the minor 6th accomplished, we can now build the major 6th using the method employed above. For the sake of symmetry, since we have already used the major 3rd to construct the minor 6th, we will naturally use the minor 3rd to construct the major 6th: minor 3rd major 6th


Figure 15: Major 6th interval graph


We are now looking for the interval ratio which, when multiplied by 6/5, the minor 3rd, equals 2/ 1, the octave. The answer is 5/3: Interval Name: Note example: Interval ratio: minor 3rd Em 6/5 X major 6th A 5/3 = octave C1 2/1

Figure 16: Major 6th interval chart

This completes the construction of the major and minor 6th intervalscousins of the major and minor 3rd intervals because they compliment each otherthat is, when added together, they span the entire octave. Next we will consider the major and minor 2nd, as well as the major and minor 7th intervals. The method should be clear to you by now and so the presentation will be abbreviated.


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The story is that in the region of Naucratis in Egypt there dwelt one of the old gods of the country, the god to whom the bird called Ibis is sacred, his own name being Theuth. He it was that invented number an calculation, geometry and astronomy, not to speak of draughts and dice, and above all writing. Now the king of the whole country at that time was Thamus, who dwelt in the great city of Upper Egypt which the Greeks call Egyptian Thebes, while Thamus they call Ammon. To him came Theuth, and revealed his arts, saying that they ought to be passed on to the Egyptians in general. Thamus asked what was the use of them all, and when Theuth explained, he condemned what he thought the bad points and praised what he thought the good. On each art, we are told, thamus had plenty of views both for and against; it would take too long to give them in detail. But when it came to writing Theuth said, Here, O king, is a branch of learning that will make the people of Egypt wiser and improve their memories; my discovery provides a recipe for memory and wisdom. But the king answered and said, Oh man full of arts, to one it is given to create the things of art, and to anther to judge what measure of harm and prot they have for those that shall employ them. And so it is that you, by reason of your tender regard for the writing that is your offspring, have declared the very opposite of its true effect. If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men lled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows. Plato

Origins of the Diatonic Scale

The major and minor 2nd intervals The 2nd intervals are the children of the major 3rd. If we take the average of the tonic ratio,1/1, and major 3rd ratio, 5/4, we generate the major 2nd, 9/8: 1+ 5 4 9 = 2 8
Figure 17: Major 2nd interval derivation

Theory Section


The interval diagram looks like this: major 3rd major 2nd



Figure 18: Major 2nd interval graph


In the diatonic scale, we do not use a minor 2nd interval. However, it is clear how we would proceed. To determine the ratio of the minor 2nd, we treat the major 2nd tone as the root, and the major 3rd as the upper bound ratio. Our result is 10/9, as shown below: Interval Name: Note example: Interval ratio: major 2nd D^ 9/8 X minor 2nd D 10/9 = major 3rd E 5/4

Figure 19: Minor 2nd interval chart

The Dominant 7th The dominant 7th is an important unit of harmony because it introduces a dynamic quality into a chord, as we shall see (see page 94). Yet there is nothing special about its construction. We simply derive the interval as the compliment of the major 2nd, as shown below:

major 2nd

dominant 7th


Figure 20: Dominant 7th interval graph


Next, we calculate the frequency ratio, which proves to be 16/9:: Interval Name: Note example: Interval ratio: major 2nd D 9/8 X dominant 7th Bb 16/9 = octave C1 2/1

Figure 21: Dominant 7th interval chart


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And since there is only one 2nd interval in the diatonic scale (no minor 2nd), there is only the one dominant 7th and no minor 7th here. Next we will nd the semi-tone and the so-called major 7th. to complete the set of intervals used in conventional western music. The Semi-tone As we build our system of intervals, there comes a point where the distinction of tones based on these small intervals becomes problematic. More important, the introduction of each interval renement, opens the door for doubling the quantity of notes. For these reasons, in western music, we recognize the semi-tone as the smallest interval. We derive the semitone using the same process as before: rst we derive the major semitone by taking the average of the tonic ratio, 1/1, and the major 2nd ratio, 9/8: 1 + 9 8 17 = 2 16
Figure 22: Semitone interval derivation

The minor semitone will be complimentary ratio that spans from the major semitone, 17/16, to the major 2nd, 9/8. However, as in the case with the minor 2nd, the minor semi tone is neglected. The Major Seventh The major seventh is the nal interval of our analysis. It bares the name, major seventh, because it denes the seventh note within the major scale, just a half step above the dominant seventh and half step below the octave. The major seventh, however, is unrelated to the dominant seventh in the sense that it is the complement of the semitone, and not the 2nd interval. To derive the major seventh, 32/ 17, we establish the major semi tone, 17/16, as the root ratio and the octave, 2/1, as the upper bounding ratio:: Origins of the Diatonic Scale


major 7th


Figure 23: Major 7th interval graph


Theory Section


Interval Name: Note example: Interval ratio:

major semitone C# 17/16 X

major 7th B 32/17 =

octave C1 2/1

Figure 24: Major 7th interval chart

With the derivation of the major seventh interval, we have covered all the essential intervals within the octave.

Derivation of the Just Major Scale

The diatonic major scale is the common 7 note scale you hear in most music. It contains all the tones of the major pentatonic scale, plus two more. Yet it is an elegant piece of architecture. Think of three pillarseach consisting of a set of triads. The rst pillar is set upon the unison interval, which, in the key of C, isyou guessed itC. The second pillar is set upon the dominant interval tone, G. The third pillar rests on the subdominant interval tone, F:

Figure 25: Triads that make up the Just major scale

Each of the triad stacks consist of a tonic, major third, and dominant interval. The diagram below shows you the relative frequency of each interval tone.

Figure 26: Frequency ratios of the major triad

When these three triads are combined according to interval size, and transposed to within the space of one octave, the major scale is produced (see next page):


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Figure 27: Triad notes that make up a major scale

The Minor Scale Earlier, I showed you how the minor 3rd interval is the tonal distance (ratio) between a major third and the major fth (see page 80). For the purpose of demonstration, let us transpose this interval to the tone in the key of C in order to eliminate the appearance of accidentals. We then have the minor triad A-C-E (with no accidental because there are 1-1/2 steps between A and C). Using the same architecture we used to construct the Just major scale, we will stack a minor triad on the dominant and subdominant intervals and we get the Just minor scale in the key of Am is shown below:

Figure 28: Minor triads that make up the Just minor scale

Derivation of the Just Major

In this chart, you can see the interesting property that the C major scale is virtually identical to the Am scale, except that it starts two note later. You can think of the two scales as different modes of the same scale patternin other words, a mode is just the same set of notes played from a different starting point. And since the minor scale is made of 3 minor triads and the major scale is made of 3 major triads, the same pattern of notes share 6 essential chords. More about this in the section on Keys (see page 91).

Theory Section


I validated my existence before I got out of high school. People would ask, What are you going to do when you leave school? I'd say, I'm going to play with Michael Bloomfield and B.B. King. They thought I was crazy! I'd say, Why are you laughing? They'd say, Man, you're tripping. No, you're tripping because you don't know what you want to do. I know what I want to do, and I know who I'm going to be doing it with. And I'm going to play with those people. Carlos Santana GP Oct. 1999

We have taken a look at intervals as they relate to middle C, but we have yet to consider the intervals between successive notes in a scale, called steps. The staff notation misleads you into thinking that adjacent notes have equal tonal distances or intervals. For example, lets take a look at the C major scale again:

Figure 29: Frequency ratios of the Just scale

you might think that the intervals from C to D should be the same as that between notes E and F. But they actually differ. The D exceeds the frequency of C by a factor of 9/8; the E exceeds D by 10/9 (9/8 and 10/ 9 are virtually the same ratios in this case (see page 89)); but F exceeds E by only 16/15, as demonstrated in the chart below:

Figure 30: Interval sizes of whole and half steps

In fact, interval E-F (16/15) is nearly the square root of C-D (9/8). If C to D is declared a whole-step, then E to F is a half step; for when you add steps, you are really multiplying interval ratios (see


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footnote 2). So two half steps equals a whole step. Major scales always have a half step between the 3rd and 4th, as well as the 7th and 8th tones as a result of how we constructed the major scale. Thanks to mathematics, you can understand how the whole and half steps differ, yet music teachers rarely use mathematics to explain music theory (perhaps their students wouldnt keep coming back it they did). Although mathematics is helpful to understand the principles underlying music, it is easier to show musical element as steps. The following chart shows you the step-wise formula for the musical elements we are analyzing:

Step Formulas for Elementary Scales and Chords

Major Scale Steps Major Triad Steps Minor Scale Steps Minor Triad Steps C 1 C 2 C 1 C 1-1/2 D 1/2 D 1 E 1/2 E 1-1/2 Eb 1 Eb 2 F 1 G 1/2 G Ab 1 Bb 1 C F 1 G 1 G A 1 B 1/2 C -

Figure 31: The formula for elementary chords and scales by steps using the C scale

The guitarist can apply the step formulas to the fretboard by observing the rule that a half step is one fret. For example, you play a major scale by beginning at an open string, advancing two frets (1 whole step), advancing two more frets, then one fret (1/2 steps), and so on as shown in the formula chart above. What might puzzle you is why there are two sizes for the whole steps: 9/8 and 10/9 in the Just scale (See gureFigure 29:). Read on. Temperament

Dont you think it is kind of neat how we built the scale from a system of triads; how the triads are built from a system of intervals; and nally, how intervalsthe fundamental building blocks of harmony are themselves derived systematically from one tone. At this point, I am tempted to leave off the topic and give you the impression that although the world is a tangled mess, here in the realm of music, there is order, simplicity, and beauty unmitigated. Unfortunately, it would not be honest of me if I did not disclose all. Perhaps you were wondering why I refer to our derived scale as the Just

Theory Section


scales. Just what does Just mean anyway? When you think of the word temperament, you probably think of the disposition of a good dog. I suppose this sense of the word and the way musicians use the concept has some overlap. For what musicians mean by temperament is how a set of scale intervals behave when played under different circumstances: backwards, forwards, from the middle and so on. A good dog and a good scale dont bite no matter how tough the going gets. The Just major scale we derived is close to, but not exactly the one we use in modern music. The modern major scale is ofcially called the equal tempered diatonic major scale. I showed you how to derive the Just major scale because it was easy to demonstrate and it was better for showing you the way the major scale works than the equal tempered scale. The reason we use the equal tempered diatonic major scale today is that its intervals are..., well, equally tempered. This means that you can begin a scale on any fret of your nger board of the guitar and the scale will sound good because the mathematical ratio between any subsequent fret is constant. You see, with the Just scale, the subsequent whole note steps are not constant. For example between tones C and D is a 9/8 interval step. Yet between D and E is a 10/9 interval step. See the Just major scale chart (again) with its different whole tone ratios below:

Figure 32: Just major scale showing different whole tone ratios, 9/8 and 10/9

Although 9/8 is only a slightly bigger ratio than 10/9, a series of such disparate steps can produce some chords whose temperament is so bad it will bite your leg off. In order to balance the scale so that all whole steps are equivalent, certain intervals have to be stretched at the expense of others. The modern solution is to force all whole steps intervals into the same size:


so that when you add this internal to

itself (see page 79) six times, you reach the octave. Although this scheme distorts some of the pure harmonies among tones within our modern scale, it is hardly noticeable and you gain an advantage by being able to play in any key without producing some vicious sounding chords. Besides, can you imagine how much a guitar would cost if each string had to have a separate fret system to accommodate slightly different sized steps? Wed all be playing the accordion instead.


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The Harmonic Scale: the Key to Music

Music really has two dimensions: one is the single note sequence that forms its melody, the other is the chords which forms its harmony. While the major and minor scales consist of tones of three triads, the triads themselves work as a chord. It should come as no surprise to nd that the fundamental triads of a keythose built upon the tonic (the principal triad), subdominant and dominant tonesare the principal harmonic elements in a key. Yet a key consists of 7 chords. The fundamental chord can be thought of as home base, while the subdominant and dominant chords act as 1st and 3rd bag (sorrythe analogy does not accommodate 2nd base). The subdominant and dominant chords help to create the musical motion in a tune, with the tonic chord serving as the goal. For convenience, musicians symbolize the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords with the upper-case Roman letters: I IV - V; the minor chords are symbolized with the lower-case Roman letters: i, ii, and iv. While the I, IV, and V-chords constitute the principle chords of a key, there are also the latent ii, iii and iv-minor chords which also harmonize within the key. These minor chords are built on the weaker tones in the major scale that share the same set of scale tones. Below, the 3 major and 3 minor chords are grouped together to show how they constitute the chords of the C major key.

Figure 33: Chords of the C-key

The Harmonic Scale: the Key

A step-wise ordering of these chords along the C major scale yields the following harmonic scale:

Figure 34: The harmonic scale in C

Note that the exceptional triad is B-diminished, which is a relative of no other chord, but is

Theory Section


uniquely composed of two intervals of 1-1/2-step length and is based on the seventh tone.

There is always something in the guitar which never ceases to amaze me, some sick sound that I never heard before. That's what my job is, really. It is not playing fantastic runs and trying to dazzle everybody, it is coming up with some little cheesy trick. This is rock and roll. Jeff Beck GP May 2000

The Cycle of Fifths

The sequence of chords represented in the chords of the C-key diagram (See page 91) implies a very useful tool for the musician and the guitarist in particular. The tonic tones Bb, F, C, G...etc. have a dominant relation going from left to right. This is the way your guitar fretboard is set up: each subsequent open string, going from the high E string up to the low E string increases by a dominant interval! The Bb tone is a dominant higher tone than F; F is a subdominant higher tone than C, and so on. The practical result is that when you change chords in a particular key, you simply apply the rule of lateral translation (see page 9). Your guitar fretboard is designed so that the chords within a given key are situated right next door to one another, eliminating the need for large position changes. Do you think jazz improvisation can be taught? Well, the crafts and the tools, the intellectual part of it, can certainly be taught. Methods to improve yourself to increase your harmonic sense can be taught, and your technical ability can be improved. Even things such as starting at a certain point, not permitting yourself too much, and then working up to a high point of enthusiasm can be taught. But after you take all that stuff away, if you dont have that thing to move people, that feeling, then all that other stuff doesnt count. Herb Ellis GP April 79 The following chart is called the cycle of fths because it presents a complete circuit of chords related by the dominant interval (sometimes called the fth) in the clockwise direction. Conversely, it shows chords related by the subdominant interval (sometimes referred to as the fourth) in the counter-clockwise direction. Although the chord numbers are assigned to the key of C, the relations hold as you dial to a new key. For example, in the key of G, G becomes the tonic, consisting of the chords: G(I), D (V), C (IV),


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(vi), Am (ii), Bm (iii). (see page 93) Em

The Cycle of Fifths

Figure 35: The cycle of fths

Theory Section


Dynamic Harmonic Elements

Ships have sails, cars run on gas, and sex makes the world go round, but how does a song move? If you listen closely to a melody, you notice how it rises and falls. You might also notice that certain notes anticipate others. There is a magnetic force in tones that draws or repels them together or apart. In this section of the book I will demonstrate how the mathematical symmetry of the intervals determines their behavior. The subdominant and the Dominant Generation When we constructed the dominant and subdominant interval, we found that they compliment each otherthat is, the addition of the two intervals equals one octave. We could have represented complimentary intervals as the upward and downward generation of middle C. The interval generated upward is G at 3/2, while downward complimentary interval tone is F at 2/3 the frequency of C (C is the blackened note in the chart below).

Figure 36: The generation of dominant and subdominant intervals

The Minor and Major Third Generation When the major and minor third intervals are generated, the interval generated upward is the major third, E at 5/4, while the downward complimentary interval tone is the minor sixth, Ab at 4/5 the frequency of C.

Figure 37: The generation of major and minor third intervals

The Push of the Minor Triad; The Pull of the Major Triad When we combine the results of the dominants and thirds shown above, you get a 5-note column. The


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

lower chord, spelled F-Ab-C looks like the mirror image of the upper major triad, spelled C-E-G:

Figure 38: The generation of the major and minor triads

Playing the two chords in sequence will conrm their complementary relationship. The theory is that the dominant interval gets resolved by playing the subdominant interval, and visa-versa; likewise, the major third resolves to the minor third, and visa-versa. See for your self that this is true by playing a

Figure 39: The generation and separation of the major and minor triad

minor dominant triad, like Fm, before a major dominant chord the G major triad. Next, reverse the order of the chords you play. You should sense the push and pull of these chord forms. The Push of the Major Second; The Pull of the Dominant Seventh The development of harmony by composers through history has generally been a record of including more and more dynamic (some say dissonant) intervals in song writing. About the time of the Renaissance, composers began to include the dominant seventh and major second intervals regularly. These intervals represent the next logical stage in our interval generation scheme. The dominant seventh is represented by Bb; the major second, D: Dynamic Harmonic Elements

Figure 40: The generation of the dominant and major second intervals

The major second and dominant seventh along with the major and minor triad represent a com-

Theory Section


plete set of harmonic intervals that we cover in this text:

Figure 41: The generation of the dominant 7th and minor 6th chords

The upper four intervals, beginning at C and extending to Bb, constitute the dominant seventh chord. The lower four intervals, beginning at F (sic), constitute a minor sixth chord. The importance of the subdominant asserts itself as the root tone so that the seeming major second interval is heard as a major sixth above the minor triad built on F.

Figure 42: The generation and separation of the dominant 7th and minor 6th chords

Try playing a subdominant Fm6 and then a C7b. These chords should anticipate one another with vigor. The magnetic character of the chord elements suggested in each of the examples above underlie most of the harmonic dynamic of music heard today. In the next section, I will show how these elements work in two actual musical examples. Happily, nothing is perfect. And though obviously one has got to retain very high ideals in terms of technical nish and production in one is performance, nally, these are only tools towards a greater signicance. And it is that greater signicance in music which Im after. But I am always and forever honing my chisels and sharpening my plane-blades. Julian Bream Guitar Review Spring, Aug. 1982

Analysis of Chords within Song Examples It may come as a surprise to some that you can not only enjoy a song, but understand how it works. There are a few benets to this: you can learn songs quicker and even write tunes yourself that sound half


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

decent. To study a song, the trick is to nd out what key the song is in and then write down the chords as you play them. Take, for example, the song that dominated the pop charts in San Francisco in the fall of 1964, All my Lovin, by the Beatles:

All My Lovin (abridged)

F(IV) G(V) C(I) Am(VI) Close your eyes and Ill kiss you, Tomorrow Ill miss you, F(IV) Dm(ii) Bb(IVIV) G7(V7) F(IV) G7(V7) Remember Ill always be true, And then while Im away, C(I) Am(VI) Ill write home every day, chorus: Am(VI) C(I) Am(VI) G7(V7) C(I) All my lovin, I will send you, All my lovin darlin Ill be true.
Figure 43: Song cadence analysis example 1

F(IV) G7(V7) C(I) And Ill send all my lovin to you...

Studying this example, you will discover that although the song begins in F, the song is key is C. Why? For one thing, a song usually ends on the chord of the key (the I-chord). For another thing, most of the chords of the song are found within the C-key. It wouldnt have been a bad assessment if you concluded the song is written in the key of F because there are many of those chords here too. But if you refer to that rosetta stone of music, the Cycle of Fifths (see page 93), you will see that Am, F, C and G7, pretty well point to the key of C. The way the song works is that the F and Dm act as the subdominant, pushing towards the dominant chord. The Dm is almost exactly the same as an Fm6 (which you can see for yourself on the guitar). Now the G7 pulls back again towards C and Am and so on. So basically, that is what this tune is about. Yet there is a surprise. In the 3rd line, just when we were ready to push up to a dominant chord after playing a Dm, they throw us a curve by handing out a Bb. It fools us into thinking that we are now in the key of F (where Bb, C, and Dm live). This clever modulation is what makes this tune catch your ear. Such techniques are common in popular music and are sometimes referred to as hooks. Do they work? Ask anyone around San Francisco in 1964! Dynamic Harmonic Elements

Theory Section


Let us look at another examplethis one, a classical guitar etude from the Carcassi Guitar Method:

Etude in C & c f
T A B C(I)
5 0 3 1 0 2 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 2 3 1 0 0 2 3 1 3 2 3 1 0 3 0 1 0 2 1 1


Am(V I)


Dm (II)


G7(V ) Mateo Carcassi

# &
0 3 1 0 2 0 2 3 0 2 3 1 3 2 3 1 0 3 1 0 0 3 0 1




G(V )

G7(V )


0 1 0 3

Figure 44: Song cadence analysis example 2

As you can see, the etude includes most of the chords from the key of C. Moreover, it begins and ends with a C. So you can pretty well conclude that the piece is written in the key of C. You will also notice on line 2, that the piece modulates to the key of Dm briey. It does this by altering the Am chord to an A7, which strongly implies Dm as the new tonic. But not for long: although F is within the Dm key, it also belongs to the C key. By altering F to F6, the push of the sixth interval strongly implies the key of C again.1 The point of this section is to show you the main lines of how song cadences behave. There are other more subtle mechanisms that are used (like how diminished chords behave as multi-purpose dominant seventh chords), but you will discover these easily, once you get the big picture. You should nd the principles of the sixth and seventh chord push and pull in all sorts of musical examples of your own. Knowing how a song works will not only help you to memorize it more quickly, you will improve your ability

1. By the way, if you desire to read music for the guitar, you might try my Reading Rosette: a key to mastering essential scales and arpeggios which is partially based on the Carcassi Methodparticularly the scales and etudes that cover each of the 24 keys. I personally use these for my daily guitar study.


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

to gure out the chords of new songs or write your own tunes. The overtone harmonic series One of the most striking qualities of stringed instruments is their ability to produce harmonic tones. These are very pure, clear, wringing tones, evoked by lightly touching the string at fundamental divisions of the string. These divisions correspond to the harmonic series: 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4,...1/n. The signicance of this series is that it shows us the proper distribution of tones in a chord without having to do any math. For example, although you already know that a C-chord contains the tone triad of C, E, and G, you may not know that the best distribution of the rst six tones is actually: C, C1,G, C2, E, G1. Take a look at the chart of the harmonic tones, based on C: frequency note 1 C 2 C1 3 G1 4 5 6 7 8

C2 E2 G2 Bb2 C3

Figure 45: Harmonic overtones of C

Dynamic Harmonic Elements

Figure 46: Harmonic overtones notes along the bass and treble staffs

Fortunately, many of the most often used guitar chords follow this distribution very well. For example the open E chord contains: E, A, E1, G#, B, and E2. This follows the harmonic series, based on E (see page 9), note for note, starting at the 2nd harmonic of the series until the 7th harmonic. That is why so much of flamenco guitar music is based on the key of E. If you play the E chord on the guitar, you will hear the fullest possible sound your instrument produces. The practical result of this demonstration is to establish a measure of how good a chord can sound. Chords that follow the distribution of harmonic tones sound healthy to the degree that they follow the pattern. Most of the time, you will Theory Section 99

need to use chords that compromise between the limitations of your fingering possibilities and the natural harmonic distribution of tones. For example, even the open E chord does not cover the fundamental E tone of the distribution; it begins on the higher, E1. The undertone harmonic series As the father of soul, James Brown, once put it: you cant go over until you go under. Just the same for harmonics. The list of harmonic tones would not be complete without the undertone harmonic series, for when you combine them with the overtone series, all the tones of the scales are accounted for. The only catch is that there really is no such thing as an undertone harmonic series because it is impossible to generate harmonics with a frequency less than a whole tone. For example, you can not induce an undertone harmonic on your guitar, since it implies a position greater than one whole guitar string. Nevertheless, the series does exists in abstract, and you can even articially create such tones on your guitar string if you imagine that one of the higher harmonic tonesthe 16th, for exampleis the fundamental whole tone. See chart below: frequency note
1/16 2/16 3/16 4/16 5/16 6/16 7/16 8/16



C2 Ab2 F2



Figure 47: Harmonic undertones of C

Figure 48: Harmonic overtones notes along the bass and treble staffs

The undertone series provides the other half of the interval spectrum that serves as an arch-type for building chords and scales. For every overtone, you have a complimentary undertone as illustrated in the fol-


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

lowing chart: overtones C C1 G1 C2 E2 G2 Bb2 C3 D2 C3

undertones C C1 F1 C2 Ab2 F2

Figure 49: Overtone and contrasting undertones

You basic chords are based on these tones (See Practical Section:The Major and Minor Chords).

History of the Guitar

Mythological and Archeological Explanations The guitar, perhaps because of its simple form, has a rich historical and mythological origin. Among the Greek myths it was held that Mercury, the god of manual dexterity contrived an eightstringed lyre by stripping a tortoise of its shell and dedicating each of the applied strings to one of the eight muses. Proud of his ne new instrument, Mercury presented it to Apollo in exchange for the caduceus (a rod intertwined with two serpents). Perhaps Mercury, the god of manual crafts, signies the dexterous aspect of virtuosity, which when combined with the harmony or artistic sensibility attributed to Apollo, describes the essential qualities entailed in mastering the instrument. As for the empirical account of the guitar's origin, archeologist speculate that primitive huntsmen twanging their bow strings for its pleasurable sound, initiated the evolution of modern multitude of stringed instruments. A hapless, slow-moving tortoise may indeed have supplied the original sounding chamber of the rst guitar. Early History History of the Guitar Many guitar-like instruments arose among the early civilizations. For example, the Assyrians played the catarrh; the Hebrews, the kinnura,; the Chaldeans, the guitra; the Persians, the sitar, and the Greeks, the kithara. While most of the ancient musical devices were forgotten with the collapse of the Roman Empire, gypsies and traders from Persia are thought to have re-introduced various stringed instruments to Western Europe during the early medieval era. At this time (700 A.D.) the Moors invaded Spain and there introduced the rebeca bow stringed instrument with a remote likeness to the modern guitar. Moreover, in the twelfth-century, the Crusaders had acquired many lute and vihuela instruments from their sojourns in the near east.

Theory Section


The Renaissance By the sixteenth century, 4- and 5- stringed instruments distinct form the lute were being played throughout Europe. In Spain, the four-stringed guitarra is alleged to have been invented by the Catalans, while the more sophisticated 5-stringed version was said to have been invented by the Spaniards. These instruments had their counterparts throughout Europe, however, it was only in Spain that the simpler guitarra succeeded when the popularity of the lute began to wane throughout Europe. Compared to the lute, the guitarra was regarded as somewhat vulgar. Only when the tonal complexity of lute compositions exceed its technical capacity did it subside as the favored plucked instrument. Meanwhile, the addition of the fth set of strings and the renement of the plucking style (the Punteado as distinct from the 4-stringed Rasgueado strumming) enabled the Spanish guitar to succeed the lute's concert hall niche. Modern Guitar By the late eighteenth century a sixth string was added to the bass somewhere in Italy or France. This innovation led to the enlargement of the sound chamber. Other features occurring about this time include the mechanical tuning pegs, gut strings, xed frets, the single hollow sound hole, the at back and the 44-4-3-4 tuning sequence. Despite the obvious appeal that the guitar has enjoyed among both amateur and the performing artist, it has been a difcult instrument to compose for by non-players. Indeed, the great nineteenth-century composer, Berlioz made the critical remark that non-playing composers give it things to play...of small effect. Perhaps this explains why it took accomplished virtuosos of the instrument like Fernando Sor, Dioysio Aguando and later, Fernando Tarrega (all Spaniards incidentally) to write technically advanced music that enhanced the reputation of the concert guitarist. By the early 19th-century, Spanish guitar maker, Antonio de Torres Jurado had made signicant improvements on the classical guitar through careful experimentation and modication. He introduced among other things, the rectangular saddle, the modern bridge and most important, he perfected the fanlike conguration of struts which support the lower face of the classical guitar, contributing to the size and tonal enrichment of the instrument. Except for the use of nylon strings introduced in 1946, this form of the guitar has remained the standard up to our day. Capitalizing on the potential of the classical guitar innovations, Francisco Tarrega developed a innovative apoyando or rest stroke technique which won admiration throughout Europe. Following in his foot-steps, Tarrega's disciple, Andre Segovia has made great gainssome say the greatestfor the stature of the guitar. Besides being the pre-eminent virtuoso of the instrument, he has adapted many great works


Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

into the ne weave of the classical guitar technique, improving the relatively conned repertoire of the concert guitarist. His transcriptions include works by such diverse composers as Manuel Ponce, Hector Villa-Lobos, Alexander Tansman, Mario Castelnuvo-Tedesco, Joaquin Rodrigo, Federico Moreno-Torroba and Joaqun Turina to name only a few. In addition, Segovia has inspired many guitarist around the world including, Germany's Siegfried Berend, Italy's Oscar Ghiglia, Venezuela's Alirio Diaz and USA's Christopher Parkening. Popular Guitar Much has been said about the evolution of the classical guitar, however, it would be odd to ignore the tremendous wide-spread popularity of the modern steel-stringed guitar and its amplied brethren, the bass and electric guitars. These forms compensate for the relatively delicate sound of the classical guitar. Indeed, it seems as though the early distinction between the popular rasgueado and the more sophisticated punteado playing techniques which gave rise to the 4- and 5-string guitarra persists today through the dual genres embodied in both the classical and steel string guitar forms. The instrument has naturally developed according to the demands of these two modes of music making. The steel string guitar's sturdy construction yields a brilliant ring that enlivens the familiar sounds of the country, folk, bluegrass, blues and rock forms of music, while the delicate nylon-string guitar lends itself well to the studious medium of classical music.

History of the Guitar

Theory Section



Fretboard Rosette: A key to mastering the guitar

If ever there were a silver bullet to mastering the guitar, this is it. Fretboard Rosette: The key to mastering the guitar fretboard is an essential frame of reference for learning the many basic chord, arpeggio and scale patterns that you need to know to play all musical styles on the guitar. While the octave interval dictates the shape of the guitar neck, the sub dominant dictates the tuning of the guitar. Therefore, in order to master the instrument, you need to develop a working knowledge of how scales, chords, and arpeggios are inter-related according this side-to-side tuning pattern of the fretboard. Good guitarists learn these relationships through years of playing without necessarily being able to explain what they do. This book demonstrates and explains these important relationships explicitly by providing you with: Numerous ngerboard charts Clear explanations and examples A thorough treatment of rst principles
Antony Nispel has been teaching recreation guitar in the Santa Clara valley since 1992, carrying on the work of his acclaimed teacher, Edward Rodriguez. Antonys two other guitar manuals include: Beginning Guitar for the New Millenniumco-written with Mr. Rodriguez, and Reading Rosette: A key to mastering essential scales and arpeggios the sister volume to this text.