Why notes are important
Open String Notes
Natural and Accidental notes on the A string and E string
Tones and Semitones
Finding notes on other strings (exercise)
Why Notes Are Important
The adventurers wandered the plains looking to learn about the notes of music. From their brief encounter with the pig-beast, they realised there was much more to music than what they could hear; and so they sought a deeper understanding of how notes work together in order to become better musicians.
Rosalina turned to the group. “Ok gang! Machu said the first thing we need to learn is the notes of the open strings. We also know that Harmony is the Element of Water, so some river spirits should be able to teach us how notes work on the guitar. They are important for our journey.”
“We don’t need notes” Michaels said happily. “We’ll just play it by ear”
Rosalina frowned. “Maybe, but I think it’ll make things more difficult than they need to be. If we can’t talk about what we’re playing, how are we going to share ideas easily? We need to learn more”
They came to a wide river, which was polluted. There were no signs of life, and a dank smell hung in the air.
Rosalina was exasperated. “Are you kidding me?”
Fraymere, a tall regal elf, bent down and said “Look here:”
“It says there are 12 notes in music. 7 of them are named after our alphabet: A B C D E F G, called the natural notes.
“But what about the other 5?” asked Jeckles.
A voice whispered in his ear, “We will look at the other 5 in a moment. But first you need to enter the spirit world”
Jeckles jumped, looking around for the source of the voice. A song started to play in the air. Michaels swept his guitar out of thin air and played a melody that harmonised with it. The stone glowed green.
“What did you do?” JoJo asked curiously.
“I don’t know…” Michaels looked nervous.
“Well, we need to find these river spirits so we can get on with the lesson”. Rosalina started to look around.
A booming voice startled the adventurers and spoke the words:
With The Notes of Music, Theory Becomes Reality.
Then a tidal wave appeared and swept the adventurers in a flood. They landed in the spirit world, drenched in water.
“Wow!” Jeckles, Michaels brother, was thrilled at the ride. “What notes did you play?”
“I don’t know… but I think it got us in the spirit world”
Rosalina wrung out the folds of her dress. “If we identify those notes then maybe we can learn how they work together so we can harmonise with other music we hear next time”
“We don’t need notes” Michaels said happily. “We’ll just play it by ear again”
“It’ll just be frustrating if we’re always in the dark. I bet there is tonnes of music theory that uses note names to learn about.” Rosalina said.
“I don’t trust magic voices that hurl us into other dimensions” Michaels retorted, and was halfway down the path, marvelling at the world around him.
Rosalina shook her head and carried on.
The world was beautiful and strange, with plants the size of houses, floating mountains, and lights that flickered in and out on their own. They found another stone overlooking the edge of a dark ravine, where a broken bridge connected the two sides. Rosalina sighed at the sight. A small sprite hovered over the stone, which had the words:
Open String Notes
Each string of the guitar is tuned to a different natural note – E A D G B E. We can remember it with this rhyme:
“Interesting stuff.” Rosalina was fascinated. Michaels sighed.
“Look here!” Jeckles said. “It carries on:”
Each string also has a number:
6 5 4 3 2 1
The sprites form flowed like water and turned into a small child with shining hair, sitting on the rock. She said, “You can also come up with your own mnemonic if you like! Simply find words beginning with E A D G B E and make a story from it. For example: Every Ancient Dragon Grows Big Eyes. The way Nature intended.” With that she winked at them.
“You’re a water spirit, aren’t you?” Michaels smiled. “You got us into the spirit world”.
“Yes, and you’re a non-believer of the power of notes, aren’t you?” replied the spirit.
Michaels smile dissapeared. “I’m a believer of music, and I want to learn more. I’m just not convinced that knowing the notes is the best way forward.”
The water spirit jumped to her feet and walked away. “If you want to learn about music and cross this chasm, then it’s important to learn the language. Let me show you where to go from here.”
“And by the way, you shouldn’t trust magical booming voices. Who knows who they belong to?” She laughed and carried on to the bottom of the ravine.
The group followed her, leaving the stone behind.
Natural and Accidental Notes
The water spirit brushed her hand against some reeds as she continued, “Now you know the notes on the strings, let’s look for the rest of the notes on the guitar.”
“Like you found out earlier, there are 12 notes in music. There are also 12 frets on each string of the guitar. This means every note can be found within each string. Let’s start with the notes of the A string.
On The A String
“The notes in between the naturals are called Accidentals. Each accidental note has two forms, a sharp and a flat. They are two versions of the same note. For example: Db is the same as C#.”
She held up a small finger. “Sharps are brighter, and represent the lighter side of notes. Flats are darker, and represent the darker side.”
“Can we see this on another string?” Rosalina felt excited. Finally, she was learning to talk about what she could play!
The water spirit turned and smiled at Rosalina’s enthusiasm. “Of course! Let’s try this on the Elephant E string as well:
On The E String
The Note Circle
“Now we’ve looked at all the notes in music, is there a way we can easily visualise this? I’m a lover of diagrams” said Fraymere.
“Yes!” said the water spirit. “It’s called the note circle, and it’s an adaptation of a great music teacher, justinguitar.com.
They reached the bottom floor. The air was cold and moist. Slime clung to the boulders surrounding them. Jeckles shivered and longingly looked to the other side.
Intervals: Tones and Semitones
“There’s one more thing you need to know about: See those lines connecting the notes on the note diagram? They are the spaces between the notes. The distance from one note to the next is called an interval.”
“There are different intervals for each space. If we move one fret, or one space on the note circle, this is called a semitone. Two frets, or two spaces on the note circle, is called a tone.”
From A to B, this is a tone.
From A to A#, this is a semitone.
The water spirit seemed troubled. “We need your help, adventurers. The spirit world is in chaos. We need you to learn about music theory so you can help us.”
“Here are some exercises to help you learn:
Exercise: Finding Notes On The Open Strings
Try finding all the notes on each open string. We’ve already done two of them, so the remaining 4 are:
High E string (Ears)
Michaels had enough. “We don’t need to learn about the notes, we can already play well enough. It’s not where the essence of music is. You don’t think of an A note when you’re playing, do you?”
Rosalina turned to face him and said “But what if we hear some other note and want to play it? Or learn how notes work together? If we don’t know where we are with our music, communicating ideas with each other is going to be difficult. Imagine if we got separated! How would we tell each other what we’re playing?”
“We would listen to the music! We don’t need notes to navigate our way in this world!”
A slow hissing sound came from the darkness.
Jeckles “I think I hear something down here!”
“See? Jeckles gets it – Why can’t you?” Michaels excliamed.
“That doesn’t sound friendly…” said Rosalina warily.
The water spirit jumped in the air, saying “Help us adventurers! The spirit world needs you!”, before flowing into her sprite form and fluttering high above them.
A giant eel then surged out from the boulders, violently hissing at them. It knocked Michaels and JoJo to the side, and slithered between the adventurers. They ran in separate directions.
The Eel And The Ravine
Michaels trembled as the eel directly faced him, it’s jaws displaying rows upon rows of teeth, like hundreds of swords on display. He played the natural notes he used to call the water spirit. The eel hissed in pain, recoiling. Michaels played the notes again, and the eel angrily slithered away from him.
“We’re looking for a pattern of notes!” Michaels called out.
“What are the notes?” JoJo called out.
“I don’t know! But I’m on the A string.”
“Use the note circle!” said the spirit, franticly fluttering as the eel snapped it’s jaws at her. It hissed and carried on.
Michaels groaned, then reluctantly brought up the diagram. “It’s a D note, followed by an E, D and G, ending with an E note!”
The rest of the group played the song. As they play, the Eel spins in on itself, eating it’s own tail and bursting into light. It’s aftermath leaves a display of letter names, which draws all the adventurers to it, and they reconnect around the group of notes they just played. The Eel’s energy sinks into the ground, glowing yellow lines forming a fretboard and the notes on the A string. The bridge above them repairs itself.
Rosalina grins at Michaels. “That would have been quicker if you learned where the notes are.”
Michaels agrees. “You’re right: just because I can play the music doesn’t mean I don’t need to know how to describe it. We would communicate better as a group and learn about theory much faster.”
Rosalina said “That’s all I was trying to get you to understand.”
The water spirit turned to her human form and laughed delightedly. “Thank you for helping me, and the spirit world.”
The group congratulated themselves as they climbed to the other side of the ravine. They froze as they looked beyond them. The world was bare and empty, stalks of plants having been stripped from the ground, the ground a pale lifeless colour. The scene continued for miles.
“There is much more to do” said the spirit somberly, then fluttered in front of them, weaving as it did so.
The adventurers followed, determined to help the water spirit and it’s world of musical magic to resolve the chaos it was in.