Let’s take a look at the musical alphabet and how to fit sharps and flats into our Anchor Tones that we memorized!
The musical alphabet uses the first 7 letters of the American English alphabet, and they can be looped infinitely. Once you reach the letter G (the 7th letter) you would repeat. Musician’s don’t use an “H” chord or anything like that, nothing past G.
Now, in Western music there are 12 different pitches. How is this so, if there are only 7 letter names? Well, this is where sharps and flats come in to play.
Before we dig in to sharps and flats, let’s discuss some terms.
A half step is the shortest distance from one note to another. On guitar, this distance is from 1 fret to another fret right next to it.
Example: 6th string, 1st fret going to 6th string 2nd fret is 1 fret up, or a half step. The opposite is also a half step, just down.
A whole step is two frets up. Playing a note on the 1st fret, and then playing a note on the 3rd fret (both on the same string) would be a whole step.
Half step=1 fret
Whole step=2 frets
Now, on to sharps and flats:
If you are just beginning to play guitar and music, chances are you have seen these symbols:
Learning what they do and how to find them on the neck can open up entire worlds of music to you!
A sharp is designated by a “#” symbol. No, it is not a hashtag. It isn’t really a pound sign either, but a sharp sign). A sharp will be written after a letter or chord symbol, for example:
Reading this out loud would be literally “C Sharp”.
A sharp raises a note by a half step (or 1 fret UP)
A flat is written with what looks like a lower case “b”, but in real music it is written slightly differently.
Read out loud this would be “B flat”
A flat lowers a note by a half step (1 fret DOWN)
2 pairs of notes do NOT have a sharp or a flat that is found in between them. The two pairs of notes are:
This means that if you played the note B (found on anchor tone sheet) and raised it by 1 fret, that next note would be the note C, not B#. This is why there are only 12, and not 14 different possible pitches.
Try to find the following notes, using your anchor tone sheet as a guide:
- 6th string, Bb (B flat)
- 5th string, C#
- 5th string Db
- 6th string C
- 5th string Eb
- 6th string Ab
- 6th string A#
- 5th string B
- 5th string Bb
- 5th String F
- 6th String Gb
- 6th String F
Next we will discuss finding power chords using these anchor tones, and how to play some awesome chord progressions with them!