Reading Music in the key of C



(So, I'm going to assume that you've just finished going over my last lesson on reading the open strings or that you already knew that information. If you need a quick refresher, you can visit that lesson here).

Ok. So you can read the notes of the open strings and you can name them just by looking at the musical staff in Bass Clef. The next step in this series of lessons is learning how to read all of the notes in the key of C in the first five frets.

Wait! I know that it sounds like a lot, but you only really need to learn to read two more notes per string. That's it!

Lets begin by looking at the E string:

So, if you'll notice, the first note on the E string is the open E. You already know that, so you can use the notes that you already know to give yourself some sort of base or anchor to compare the other new notes to.

The next note in the key of C is the first real "New" note: "F". This is played on the first fret of the E string. The distance (also known as an Interval) between the two notes is what is known as a Semitone or a Minor Second. A Semitone is always a one fret difference between two notes.

The next note, "G", is played on the third fret of the E string. This note is a Minor Third (Three Semitones) from the Open E and a Major Second (Two Semitones) away from the F. These notes are ALWAYS this distance from each other, no matter where you play them on the neck.

The last note on this string is one that you should already know, the A. This note is played on the Fifth fret of the E string and as the next open string above. This is the same note that is played on the open string and you can play in either place to get the same note, although, they will eventually serve slightly different purposes and they do have a different tone quality from each other.

Lets add the next string to our lesson, shall we? :)

Besides the open A that you already know on this string, The next note that you'll be reading is the "B", played on the second fret. Again, the distance from A to B is a Major Second.

Adding one more note, the next one is a "C", the note and key around which this entire exercise and lesson is built around. The key of C is very useful from a "Theory" point-of-view, due to the fact that there are no Flats or Sharps to worry about. This keeps everything on a "level playing field" (as far as Theory goes).

The last new note to learn to read on this string is the "D", and like the E string, it is the same note as the above open string. The same reasoning and theory apply to this note as do the 5th fret/open A string on the E string.

Lets move on up, ya'll............

The next string is one that you already have info on, the "D" string. The first note that you'll learn to read here is on the second fret and it is the "E". This E is the octave of the open string E below.

The next note is "F" and, much like the E, it too is an octave apart from "Low F".

The last note on this string is (as you've probably already guessed) "G".

Lets add one more, final string to learn (The G String). You're almost done!

The next new note to add to your growing repertoire is "A". This note, like the other ones that have been covered so far, is an octave above "Low A".

Two more notes are the last ones to be learned in the key of C. They are "B" and "C". B is played on the fourth fret of the G string and the "C" is played on the 5th fret of that same string.

So, to recap, here is an overview of all of the notes that you've learned today in the key of C:

Wow. That's a lot! It really wasn't all that hard now, was it?

You should visit my Exercises page now to get some more practice in reading these new notes.

As well, you should move on to my Next Lesson once you're ready!



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