38
votes
22answers
57k views

Best method to learn to play barre chords?

I've been trying to learn the F chord for a while now, and I am having a very hard time playing the barre chord. I've read that pulling back slightly with your finger and using the body of the guitar ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

What are modes and how are they useful?

I'm a self-taught guitarist with zero to little experience in music theory. After marrying a violinist I found that there's a lot to music theory that I know tribally but don't understand the ...
42
votes
13answers
14k views

How do you identify a good acoustic guitar?

What do you look for when going for a guitar? I own an acoustic and am looking for a better one. What should I be looking for? Wood quality, brand, strings, etc.?
53
votes
19answers
11k views

How often should I replace the strings on my guitar?

When and why should you replace your guitar strings?
23
votes
6answers
2k views

The major scale - why and how?

background: I am an amateur guitarist. I was trained in Indian classical music as a kid. Most of what I know in music theory is from books or Google. So please feel free to correct me or tell me if ...
30
votes
5answers
23k views

What are the most effective ear training methods ?

Ear training is a very important ability for any musician to develop. From intonation when singing or playing an instrument to playing and transcribing by ear. What is the best way to improve this? ...
63
votes
6answers
9k views

Why are there twelve notes in an octave?

I know that one scale consists of 12 half-tones. But my question is still: Why? Why not 13 or 11?
26
votes
6answers
2k views

How to start playing by ear/improvising?

Up till now I've been playing music from the sheet, and eventually I've grown frustrated how after 3 years of playing I can't even play Jingle Bells if I'm asked to without figuring it out from a ...
41
votes
9answers
44k views

How can I significantly improve my hand independence on piano?

I started taking piano lessons about 7 years ago, and stopped about 2 years ago when my teacher (the one and only piano teacher I've had) quit. In all honesty, my piano has been severely neglected ...
108
votes
10answers
11k views

Why do minor keys sound “sad”?

Oftentimes major keys are called "happy" and minor keys are "sad". Why is this? Is it universal across cultures that use these scales? Do similar connotations exist in other scale systems? (If this ...
62
votes
6answers
33k views

Is there any real-world difference between time signatures such as 4/4 and 8/8?

These days I pretty much play everything by ear, but was originally trained in strathspey and reel violin so realise I should know the answer to this, but I can't remember what, if any, the practical ...
45
votes
22answers
7k views

What's the point of keys other than C and Am?

I'm VERY new to music theory, just learning. I'm reading about keys and scales right now. From what I understand major keys are all the same except for being shifted by one or more semitones (e.g. C ...
35
votes
4answers
41k views

What to look for when buying a digital piano for a beginner?

My wife has recently started learning to play the piano and needs something at home on which to practise. I'm inclined towards a digital piano as it is more practical (Mainly space but also no tuning ...
26
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is C the base note of standard notation and keys?

Why is it that notes "start" with C? In key signatures, for example, C Major is the basis and accidentals are added for all other key signatures. I know that the musical alphabet starts with A and ...
54
votes
19answers
16k views

How to play a song without making mistakes?

I have played keyboard quite a while and now I'm starting to practice some classical musics like Fur Elise. When I see a live performance of any musical instrument, there seems to be no error at all. ...
45
votes
6answers
4k views

What's the difference between a G♭ and an F#?

I've heard it said that, whilst on most instruments these notes are played with the same fingerings/technique/etc there is a subtle difference. This isn't specific to this particular note ...
44
votes
19answers
15k views

How can I overcome the fear of performing in front of an audience?

I have been learning how to play Spanish guitar for more than two years and half. Every time my friends ask me to play something, I get scared and my hands start to shake. How to break this fear? I ...
28
votes
9answers
9k views

Why Is Just Intonation Impractical?

I've read about the debate of "just intonation" vs 12-tone equal temperament. And nowhere it was clearly stated why just intonation is impractical. Here are my assumptions. Please let me know if I am ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I set up an electric guitar?

How do I set up the pickups, neck, etc. in an electric guitar? I'm not concerned with producing a particular sound as I am with keeping the neck from warping, prevent string buzz, improving ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are notes named the way they are?

In 12 tone equal temperament, why are the notes named: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B instead of, for example, A, A#, B, B#, C, C#, D, D#, E, E#, F, F# or any other thing?
15
votes
5answers
11k views

How do I choose my first guitar for self-learning?

Let's say I've never played the guitar, or I've only learned to pluck a string and play a chord but have forgotten most of it. Now, I've become interested and would like to try it out. I don't want to ...
16
votes
6answers
16k views

How to tell the time signature of a song by listening?

Every song has some kind of time signature even if different parts of the song have different time signatures there is always a time signature. When learning a song by ear and no score, knowing the ...
6
votes
7answers
947 views

How to minimize the pain for a beginning guitar student so they won’t give up before they develop callouses?

This is a common problem and solving it will ultimately lead to a much higher success rate for beginning guitar students. So I wanted to share the information here on Music and Theory. Many of my ...
32
votes
20answers
4k views

Glossary of Guitar Effects

There are numerous effects options available to the guitarist, especially the electric guitarist. This question is intended to gather and cultivate a set of answers to questions in the form of: ...
26
votes
8answers
9k views

How to transcribe music by ear?

Often times we find ourselves enjoying a piece of music that, for whatever reason, we are unable to find appropriate documentation/tablature for. What are good practices for transcribing music by ear ...
25
votes
17answers
25k views

Software that slows down music to help in transcribing

While reading some of the questions about transcribing music here. I have come across these software tools that allow to slow down music and manipulate it freely. I think this is very interesting ...
45
votes
9answers
11k views

Purpose of double-sharps and double-flats?

In a few pieces of music I have read through, I have come across double-sharps and flats. To my understanding, they are two semitones above/below the note indicated. What is, then, the point of ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Understanding minor key harmony

A comment discussion under this question from me, clued me in to the fact that I don't really understand how minor keys work very well. So here is what I think I know The natural minor comes from the ...
17
votes
4answers
78k views

How does string gauge affect a guitar's sound and playability?

Guitar strings are available in a variety of gauges. What effect does my choice of string gauge have on the sound of my guitar? What effect does it have on playability?
85
votes
9answers
9k views

Why is the guitar tuned like it is?

Why is there that funny tuning kink between the G and B string on a guitar in standard tuning? I.E. the gap (interval) between the rest of the adjoining strings is 5 frets (or a perfect fourth), but ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

Why do musicians prefer to play in certain keys?

Why do musicians care about which keys they choose?
32
votes
8answers
1k views

What exactly should I have to learn to understand why certain combination of chords are harmonic when played in a sequence?

I am an intuitive music composer trying to move to a technical music composer. As a dummy, I see music as a composition of 'pieces' (my word). Each piece is a set of notes that are melodical when ...
30
votes
11answers
52k views

Why learn scales? What are they for?

I tried Googling but it seems there is no answer for this one. So the internet assumes everyone knows what scales are for? Why should I learn them? Are they important to be a good guitarist?
52
votes
21answers
2k views

Ways to get out of a scalar rut?

I'm a well versed and experienced guitarist. I have a decent sense for rhythm and melody, but I have a VERY hard time with soloing. I know you've heard it all before I'm one of those guys that got ...
18
votes
3answers
12k views

How do harmonics work?

The guitar has harmonic notes at some places. I can play it, but I don't understand the logical reason why/how this is can played. Can you tell me how exactly this works? What other musical ...
18
votes
4answers
31k views

Using keyboard/MIDI controller to learn piano

I'm an adult just starting to learn music from scratch. The piano I have been using is sometimes not available for me to use, so I would like to buy a keyboard/MIDI controller so I can practice ...
20
votes
7answers
7k views

What to check when buying a new guitar?

I have been playing acoustic guitar for quite some time now. I'm not a beginner but neither am I pro. I'm now looking into buying an electric guitar. My questions are - What do I need to ...
10
votes
4answers
9k views

What is a secondary dominant chord?

What is a secondary dominant chord? What's the theory behind them? How are they used in composition?
11
votes
6answers
1k views

The same note on two staves

On rare occasions, I encounter the same note on two staves with overlapping durations. Attached is an example from an arragement of "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles (The note in question is ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I use string gauge tables?

I have seen that string manufacturers publish tables of string gauges and tensions. For example, this one. How can I use these to choose a set of strings for my instrument?
5
votes
5answers
790 views

Need Help in Starting to Learn Guitars?

I am a beginning guitar player. I enjoyed playing in my childhood, but for some reason I was not able to learn. But now I want to learn guitar. I wasn't sure whether to buy an electric guitar or a ...
25
votes
2answers
6k views

Why is my guitar's saddle at an angle?

Most acoustic guitars I've seen, including my own, have an angled saddle (the white strip holding up the strings): This makes the bass strings longer than the treble strings. Why is this? ...
22
votes
9answers
19k views

What is intonation and how can I find out if my guitar has correct intonation?

What is intonation? What is the best way to check my intonation and fix it if necessary?
98
votes
18answers
63k views

What is good software for learning how to sight-read?

I'd like to learn how to sight-read on my own, but practicing the same song over and over again just causes me to memorize it, and filling out worksheets is boring. Is there any good software for ...
50
votes
8answers
5k views

Are there any games useful for ear training?

There have been several popular music games in recent years, but they seem to be most useful for developing a sense of rhythm. Are there any games that are helpful as ear training exercises? What ...
39
votes
9answers
19k views

How can a classical pianist learn jazz piano?

I'm a classically trained pianist. Took lessons all through my childhood. I've continued to play and read classical literature all my life. But I never learned anything about jazz piano. I also know a ...
29
votes
3answers
15k views

How can I train my ear for music?

I have noticed that some people are better at hearing music, e.g. they are better in distinguishing the notes or noticing mistakes when someone is play. Is it possible to train oneself to hear music ...
29
votes
7answers
4k views

Is there a way to measure the consonance or dissonance of a chord?

I know that if I played C and B together they would be very dissonant compared to if I played a G or C one octave up. Is there a quantitative way to describe that sort dissonance? Edit: I understand ...
17
votes
5answers
37k views

What is the first scale one should learn on guitar

The title really sums it all up but I'll try expand it slightly. Lets say I'm learning guitar and would like to improve my guitar work. Which of the scales should I learn first and why?
33
votes
17answers
19k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.

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