Music Theory for the Tone Deaf

Pitch

Music notation originated when musicians started drawing a picture of the pitches that went with a song's words. They would place little dots higher on the page for high-pitched notes and lower on the page for low-pitched notes.

Early Notation

This system served as a reminder of how a song sounded, but it was not exact enough to teach a song to somone who had not heard it before. Eventually, musicians started to draw lines so it would be clear exactly how much higher one note was from another. This allowed students to learn a new piece of music just by looking at the notation.

Currently we draw notes like this:

Note

Modern notes have several parts:

Note Parts

The location of the note's head is what determines its pitch. The stem and the flag show how long a note lasts. (A note's duration will be covered in our rhythm course, one thing at a time!)

The following mini-game allows you to hear notes on the staff, give it a try.

What's important to remember is that notes on a page show how high or low they are, and not where they are on the guitar. The lines are not the strings!