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Mike's theory lesson #2

Pop Quiz: What is the key signature for E Major?


Minor Scales:
Along with the major scale there is also the minor scale which is related to the
major scale. As you probably
remember, CMajor is the major key without any accidentals. Well, a-minor is the
minor key without accidentals.
When referring to minor keys, scales, and chords, a lower-case letter is often u
sed to help differentiate between
them. Because C-Maj and a-min share the same key signature (No sharps & no flat
s), we can refer to a-min as the
Relative Minor to C-Maj. So if we look at the C Major scale - C D E F G A B C ,
we are simply starting at the
sixth note, A: A B C D E F G A
G| 0 2 0
D| 0 2 3 3 2 0
A| 0 2 3 3 2 0
Thus, to find the Relative Minor of any Major key, we just take the sixth note o
f the Major scale. Can you figure
out the relative minor to the following keys: GMaj, FMaj, AMaj?
More on the Major Scale:
Hopefully by now, you understand from the first lesson that for every Major key,
there is a key signature. Let's
take G Major for example. The key signature is F#. We can use this not only to
figure out the G Major scale in
one position on the neck, but to see every note on the guitar that fits in this
key. These same notes can also be
used for the Relative Minor of G, which is e-min.
E| |F#|G | |A | |B |C | |D | |E |
B|C | |D | |E | |F#|G | |A | |B |
G| |A | |B |C | |D | |E | |F#|G |
D| |E | |F#|G | |A | |B |C | |D |
A| |B |C | |D | |E | |F#|G | |A |
E| |F#|G | |A | |B |C | |D | |E |
Let's look at the key signature for E Major, which I hope you figured out earlie
r was F#C#G#D#
E| |F#| |G#|A | |B | |C#| |D#|E |
B| |C#| |D#|E | |F#| |G#|A | |B |
|G#|A | |B | |C#| |D#|E | |F#| |
|D#|E | |F#| |G#|A | |B | |C#| |
A| |B | |C#| |D#|E | |F#| |G#|A |
E| |F#| |G#|A | |B | |C#| |D#|E |
A helpful note: To play a major scale in any key on the guitar without having t
o see the key signature up and down
the neck like this, find your root note on the low E string with your second fin
ger, and play:
E: 2 4 A: 1 2 4 D: 1 3 4 G: 1 3 4 B: 2 4 E: 1 2

Intervals:
An interval is a word for a measurement of distance between two notes. They are
named for distances from the first
note of either a major or minor scale. It is easy to learn this by looking at th
e E Major and e minor Scales on the
Low E String.
Here's e minor: E| |F#|G | |A | |B |C | |D | |E | And E Major: E| |F
#| |G#|A | |B | |C#| |D#|E |
From E to F# is called a Major Second, or M2nd for short, because this is the di
stance between the root of a major
scale and the second note in it. We learned earlier that this interval can also
be called a whole step. It is 2
frets on the guitar.
From E to G is called a minor Third, or m3rd. This is the distance between the
root of a minor scale and the third
note in it. Think of a m3rd as a whole step and half step On the guitar a minor
third is three frets, or up one
string and down to frets, unless you start from the G string, in which case it i
s up one string and down one fret.
Try playing a few at different registers (low, middle, high) so you can hear dif
ferent m3rds.
From E to G# is called a Major Third, or M3rd. A M3rd can be thought of as two
whole steps. On the guitar a M3rd can
be up 4 frets, or up a string and down a fret, or just up a string if you are st
arting on the G string.
Play a few different M3rds at different places on your guitar to get an idea of
what they sound like.
From E to A is called a Perfect Fourth, or P4. This is because the fourth is th
e same in Major and Minor scales.
For this reason, a P4th may often just be called a 4th. Notice how it does not h
ave a Major sounding quality to it
like the M3rd. It is the distance from one string to the next higher, except wh
en you start from G, where you
have to go up a fret also.
From E to B is a Perfect Fifth or 5th. It is up a string and up 2 frets on the
guitar.
E to C is a m6th
E to C# is a M6th
E to D is a m7th
E to D# is a M7th
E to E is an Octave
See if you can figure out how to play these last few in different places on the
guitar. Remember that when you
cross the G-B string divide, you must adjust everything one string.
minor 2nds and tritones:
You may have noticed that there are two intervals that I didn't address. E-F an
d E-A# or Bb. These are the two
intervals which do not lie in either the minor or major scale. Still for some re
ason, the distance from E-F, which
is also a half-step, is called a minor 2nd. Sort of a confusing name in my opini
on, but that's what it is referred
to. The distance from E to the 6th fret (Either A# or Bb) which is between the
Perfect 4th and Perfect 5th, has
several names. It is the most dissonant of all the intervals, meaning it holds t
he most tension. It can be referr-
ed to as an Augmented 4th, (Aug4, +4th), or a Diminished 5th (Dim5, °5th). The m
ost common name is a Tritone, TT.
In time you will become more comfortable with these intervals, and be able to he
ar and play them easily. For now I
just wanted you to know the name of them all. The important ones for you to kno
w now are the 3rds, the 4th and
the 5th.