Music Theory

Introduction to the world of music theory: basic concepts, nomenclature, chord formation, scales. Understanding how these operate may be useful on your journey with the ukulele.

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Major Scales
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Music Nomenclature

Major Scales

Before we move on, let me introduce the notion of scale. A scale is a set of different notes that have a certain relation together. Depending on that relation, we will define the name of the scale. The first note is called tonic or root. The rest of the notes, called intervals or degrees are assigned by order: second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh (we could have the eight, which is the same note as the tonic, just an octave higher). Normally, intervals are written in Roman numbers, for example if we see V it refers to the fifth degree, which for instance among the C scale, is G. A major scale is a succession of 7 notes, one tone away from one another, except between the third and fourth degree, and between the seventh and eighth (exactly the same note as the tonic) which are separated by a semitone.[…]

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Music Nomenclature

Even though you are new to this, and the ukulele is your first instrument, I guess you know that music is formed by a succession of notes, as if they were letters forming a text. In western culture, this musical “alphabet” is made of 12 notes. Yes, you heard me well, from J.S Bach to Iron Maiden, it’s all based on 12 unique notes. We can trot these notes out, thanks to Mary Poppins : C, D, E, F, G, A, B Wait a minute – you’re probably asking “Didn’t you say 12 notes? I only see 7 here…” That’s right. What Julie Andrews used to sing was actually a C major scale, formed by 7 notes (like all major scales, and many other scales). These seven notes are also known as the natural notes. Actually, what’s missing is a series of notes placed in between some of them. This[…]

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