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I wrote a piece, can it become a lesson?

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This is a somewhat different approach to reading notation and I think should be made accessible to beginners. Mainly because there's no way to follow David's lessons in the long run if you don't know how to read music. That should be clearly stated for beginners to grasp, not just say it willl improve your understanding: it's a requisite.

I would like to add some examples already available here and use either powertab or another format.
Please contact me if you think it might be useful


Can you hum along with songs? Can you sing La-la-la or similarly?
If that's so, you can learn to read music beyond basic level.

Let's forget about note-identity (or pitch) first. We don't mind if it's A, B, C, D... Let us concentrate exclusively on rhythm first. We'll deal with finding out the specific notes later on.


First you need to count the rhythm.

I'd really advice you to download a software metronome to practice this and go further once you get the basics down pat. Run a search for the keyword "software metronome" here and download one.

To simplify things let's accept the most common pattern in music is 4X4 (that's your time signature strictly speaking).
4x4 is counted TAH-TAH-TAH-TAH at a uniform speed.

In Spain (I'm a Spaniard myself) classical musicians need to learn solfeo which is synonimous to reading musical notation. 4x4 is counted doing the following:

Imagine your hand is a conductor's (or magician's)wand or that you're holding one such wand. You have to point it (in this order) downwards, right, left and up (directions might change if you're left-handed) and you say TAH when the wand hits its imaginary objective. That's one cycle. Speed is not our issue. We just want the TAHS to sound at steady intervals as uniformly as possible. If you're dealing with 3x4 rhythm you say TAH three times (down, right and left). You can also stamp your feet or do anything at which you're good while keeping the beat steady. In the mid-run you want to either strum or pick a note instead of saying TAH. At some point your strumming hands'movements will replace the magic wand.


Let's think there are only these note durations in music:

Full note: would mean you say TAH when you hit downwards and the next TAH comes the next time you hit down again. Mentally you count to 4 but you only say one long TAH. These note duration is represented by a tiny hollow circle with no further details.

Half note: there are two of them in a 4X4 bar (or measure, depends on what you want to call them). You can say TAH twice in one measure: once down, and again when you hit left. Each of these TAHS is a half note. The symbol is a small circle with a stick protruding.

Quarter note: In your original TAH, TAH, TAH, TAH (four TAHs in a 4X4 measure) each TAH is a quarter note. The symbol is the same as for a half note but the circle is all black. In Spanish these notes are called "negras" which means "blacks".

Eighth note: Try to say TAH in quarters (just like before) and include a second TAH inbetween(at the same speed as before). The symbol is a quarter with a single flag (pointing to the left).

Sixteenth note: Is what you get if you double what we just did: four steady TAHS per hit of your magic wand. Symbol is an eighth note with two flags.

I'm sure you have already seen dotted notes. They last their corresponding undotted duration plus half of it. That means a dotted quarter lasts for a quarter (its undotted value) plus an eighth (half of a quarter).


There also are so-called rest-notes too and they have the same durations as their sounded counterparts: full, half... Only difference is they are silent.
Rest symbols appear on the middle of the score because they don't represent a note as such (they are silent). Why should they be on a specific line if they don't represent a pitch at all?

The symbols for rest notes are:
Full and half rest-note: Both are similar. It's a horizontal hyphen between the score lines. I don't ever remember which is which. Since they can't appear together we'll infer from the context. I'll show you how later with an example.

Quarter rest: the symbol is like a vertical hand-written "n" ("negra" means black, which is another way of calling quarter notes in Spanish; maybe the origin is Italian "nera" or who cares)

An eighth-rest has no "ball" as with our usual eighth-note. But it does have the single flag (pointing to the right).

As you have surely imagined a sixteenth rest looks like an eighth rest but with a double flag.


Theoretically each of these notes (both sounded and silent)obviously lasts until the next one comes (although they may overlap as in chords). This note duration is what we talked about at the beginning. But I would like to show you how easy it is to read if you sort of forget how long the note lasts and concentrate on how long it takes until the next note comes(which is the opposite stand-point in a way). In the case of the guitar, note duration really can't be altered that much by the way you hit the strings, unless you mute the strings or something similar. I mean: once you've hit the strings you can't do much for the note to last longer. Thus, forgetting about how long the note has to last (but taking into consideration when the next note comes) is not that big a mistake for a beginner. And for a while it will speed up your understanding. You'll see what I'm saying when we get to the example.


Rhythm is about time or duration relative to that TAH-pattern (your 4x4). It's the way to subdivide your given time signature. Rhythm is about what you do between TAHs.

As we said, a 4X4 measure contains 4 quarter notes. If you get a 3X4 time signature, every measure lasts three quarter-notes. So a full note here means you have one full measure (three quarters) plus another quarter. That's a total of one measure and a quarter. That means in any time signature notes last the same as in 4X4, but there will be more or less of them depending on the time signature. But for now let's think only of 4X4.

What happens when we get mixed note durations? I'm not saying mixed time signatures (which you won't find in one single bar). I just mean notes of different durations.

Let's check that example.

Posted : 06/05/2004 1:03 pm
Posts: 5044
Illustrious Member

I don't read music, and I have no trouble following David's lessons, or any guitar lessons for that matter. I am not a beginner, but didn't have a problem when I was either. I believe that if you want to submit an article, you send it to David first. Here is the link to the submission guide:

"The only way I know that guarantees no mistakes is not to play and that's simply not an option". David Hodge

Posted : 06/05/2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 4472

All you've got to do to submit it as a lesson is to send it to me at [email protected]

I think that this is explained in the submissions page...

Looking forward to getting it.



Posted : 08/05/2004 10:09 pm