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Sheet Music and the Guitar

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RTLdan
(@rtldan)
New Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Hey everyone,
This is my first post on the board.

Here's my question:
I know the basics of reading sheet music. I CAN DO IT, I'm just slow.
But when I try to read guitar parts on sheet music, it doesn't make sense to me.

For instance, if the note on the staff is an A, I know to play an A, but I don't know which A on the fretboard to play.
On a piano, you know exactly which A it is depending on where it is in the staff. How does the guitar work with sheet music?

All help is greatly appreciated.
Thanks!
-Daniel


   
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greybeard
(@greybeard)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

Sheet music for guitar is a bit odd. Guitar is really a "bass" instrument, i.e. a lot of the notes occur on the bass staff. To make i easier to read, the music has been raised by one octave. Middle C (normally on the first ledger line below the treble staff) is played as if it were on the C one octave higher, i.e. the "space" above the B (on the middle line of the staff).
The first ledger line below the treble staff is played on the 5th string at the 3rd fret.

The other oddity about the guitar is that tones can appear on more than one place. The high e (1/0) can also be found at the 5th fret of the 2nd string, the 9th fret of the third string, 14th fret of the 4th string, 19th fret of the 5th string and the 24th fret of the low E. They are all the same E at the same pitch. Which one you play is to some degree choice and to some degree determined by the notes around. You can also use it to get different sounds into your playing - just play each E, as above, and listen to the difference in tone.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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Niklas
(@niklas)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 248
 

All the sheet music I have played and seen also includes which finger you should use for which note. It actually makes it much easier to know where to play the note.

Sometimes the numbering for the fingers can be a bit weird and unpractical, but it is a good guideline.

I haven't played with sheet music for very long and it does take a long time to read in the beginning, I am still very slow when it comes to reading, and I'm worthless when the music is in any other key than G or C.

By the way, welcome to Guitarnoise :) .

"Talent is luck. The important thing in life is courage."


   
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Fretsource
(@fretsource)
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Look out for other signs too that are sometimes added to the sheet music. A number inside a circle, next to a note indicates which string to play that note on, and Roman numerals above the staff indicate which fret 'position' your hand should adopt to play a passage.

These signs are suggestions added by editors indicating what they believe is the best or easiest way to play it. They're not part of the notation, and you don't have to follow them if you can find a better way to do it.


   
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Oric
 Oric
(@oric)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 87
 

If there are no fingerings, just use the one that's most comfortable. Piano music's the same way, there's usually suggestions for fingerings, but you can make up your own which works for you. And really, most music will have a good fingering, especially if it was composed for that instrument.


   
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Diceman
(@diceman)
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To expand a little more on this subject , the reason they write guitar higher on the staff ( an octave ,or 8va ) is so you only have to learn one staff , the treble or G Clef .

If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .


   
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frosk
(@frosk)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 42
 

I was wondering about the same, and I was very very confused.

I use the notation to tab translation in this thing and hope it's good enough

http://www.acousticguitar.com/lessons/notation/notation.shtml


   
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greybeard
(@greybeard)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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I use the notation to tab translation in this thing and hope it's good enough
Up to a point is it. The table only gives you the correlation between standard notation and the open positions on the guitar. Many songs are played higher up the neck, so the table is limiting.
It is still a good basis from which to learn.
I've put a couple of pages together that may be of use to you.

All Notes
Standard_Portrait
Standard_Landscape

Feel free to download and use them.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


   
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Kevin72790
(@kevin72790)
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Posts: 837
 

^^^Thanks for those.

This is still on topic, I think...but anyways, how is it determined what note to play on what string? For example, an open e string is also fifth fret B string, ninth fret G string, etc. Is it determined from what the staff(pretty sure that's what it's called) says?


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Sort of.

The five lowest and five highest notes on a guitar occur in only one place, so if the score includes any of those it dictates your position - at least for that part of a piece.

It's a process of narrowing things down. First I look at the key signature - let's say it's in C. There are going to be 'good' positions for that key: first, second, fifth, seventh, tenth... 'bad' positions (the 11th fret has no notes in C), and so-so positions - all the rest.

Next I look at the range of the piece. You want as many notes as possible to be playable in one position (to avoid yanking your hand up and down the neck), but you also want to put the melody where it's going to sound the best - usually on the first three strings.

So really, reading for the guitar is about making choices, and the more practice you get at reading, the better the choices you'll make.

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Alan Green
(@alangreen)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

^^^Thanks for those.

This is still on topic, I think...but anyways, how is it determined what note to play on what string? For example, an open e string is also fifth fret B string, ninth fret G string, etc. Is it determined from what the staff(pretty sure that's what it's called) says?

The best way to determine this is to look at what comes before and what comes after the note you're working on. You don't want to be flying up and down the neck for one or two notes if you can play a whole bunch in one place.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
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RTLdan
(@rtldan)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Hello Everyone,
Thank you for all your replies. I found them to be very helpful.
It's a little overwhelming to find that it's not as cut and dry as the piano.

That makes it something that you really need to get experience with.

But I'm up to the task...partly because I need to know what to play in my guitar book! :D

Again, thank you.
This is by far the best guitar forum that I've found.
Looking forward to more posts here!
-Daniel


   
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