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How to adjust a friction tuner?
2
What ukulele should I buy?
3
Musical Meter and Rhythm
4
Circle of Fifth
5
Chord Progression within a Key
6
Chord Formation
7
Connection between Major and Minor Key Signatures
8
Major third and minor third concepts
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Minor Scales
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Major Scales

How to adjust a friction tuner?

Friction tuners have a bad reputation. But there’s nothing bad about them one learns how to use and adjust them appropriately. Because, from time to time, their tightness needs to be adjusted, especially on new instruments or when our ukulele has to adapt to new humidity conditions. So if you are going out on a trip or to a gig, it’s probably a good idea to put a screwdriver in your suitcase (don’t forget to throw a towel in there too). The way it works is very simple: a screw in the top part of the peg controls the pressure applied in between the metal plates located in the front and back of the tuner. Tightening/loosening the screw with small turns (an 1/8 turn already makes a significant difference), we can set each tuner as it should be. When turning the screw to the right, the tuner gains strength, when turning[…]

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What ukulele should I buy?

If you are thinking about buying your first or your next ukulele, you are probably hesitating a lot. That’s why we wrote this article to help you make a good decision according to your budget. Actually, the first decision you have to make is how much you want (or you can) spend. And then know on what you are spending it. Ukulele sizes Ukuleles are manufactured in four common sizes or formats : soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Regarding tuning, the soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles use the same in general: from fourth to first, G C E A; the baritone is tuned one fourth lower: D G B E, exactly like the first four strings of a guitar. Sizes are defined by their scale – that’s right, the string length – and by the size of the body, which accounts for the sound quality. When it comes to deciding[…]

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Musical Meter and Rhythm

So far we have seen that music is made up of notes, that interact together and join to make chords etc. But music is not just a succession of notes. Music is rhythm. A same line of notes can sound in a complete different way, according to the rhythm it is played on. We are going to introduce the notion of measure, tempo, and we will hear the various music figures. Measure The measure or meter is a musical unit that tells us how music is subdivided. On the score, we will see that at the beginning of the staff, usually expressed by a fraction. If the meter changes during the course of the song, this will be notified and the new value of the meter will be specified. The meter enables us to divide the score in measures. The measure bars correspond to each subdivision made within the score,[…]

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Circle of Fifth

The circle of fifths is a way to represent the relationship between the 12 tones found in western music, as well as the alterations that each tone has. It is represented as a circle, like a clock, displaying tones instead of hours, with the C scale located on the “twelve” spot of a clock. Each tone is separated from the previous one, clockwise, in an interval of a fifth. If we go counter-clockwise, it is the interval of a fourth. Surprisingly, this kind of representation allows to classify the different scales by ascending number of alterations. If we go fifth by fifth (clockwise) the number of sharps increases. If you check on the previous image, C has no alterations, G has one sharp, D has 2 sharps… until reaching F# that has 6 sharps. On the contrary, if we go fourth by fourth (turning counter-clockwise), the number of flats increases.[…]

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Chord Progression within a Key

The chord progression within a key is a succession of chords that concur with each scale degree. In a word, each scale interval or degree has its corresponding chord. We are going to study the chord progressions in a major key and in a minor key. Let’s start from a major scale, for example the C scale: C D E F G A B We assign a chord to each interval, just as follows: I -> major chord -> C II -> minor chord -> Dm III -> minor chord -> Em IV -> major chord -> F V -> major chord -> G VI -> minor chord -> Am VII -> half-diminished chord-> Bm7b5 (forget about it) All right, well, if we are in the key of C, any of these chords could work just fine (some better than others), but we would always be playing within the harmony.[…]

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Chord Formation

A chord is nothing more than the union of 3 or more different notes played at the same time. If it’s a union of 3 notes, we call it a triad. If we press 3 different keys of a piano (different meaning that they are not the same note, not even in a different octave), we will have a chord, we won’t know what his name is, but it is a chord. Depending on how we form the triad (specifically, the interval or number of semitones there is between the notes forming the triad, we will have one type of chord or another. Usually, and this applies to all chords, we will have a “base” note, which we’ll call “tonic”, from which the chord will be named after, and from which semitone distances will be calculated to the other notes of the triad, in order to define the type of[…]

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Connection between Major and Minor Key Signatures

When we mentioned major and minor scales, we saw that an X major scale shares the same notes with a Y minor scale. This is because they are relative key signatures, and they share the number of alterations among their scale (number of sharps or flats), and therefore they have the same notes. Each major scale has its related minor (and the other way around, of course). The interval that stretches from a relative minor key signature to its corresponding relative major key, is always of a descending minor third, which is, as we’ve seen, a tone and a half. We are going to take the C major and A minor scales as an example, which share the same number of alterations (literally, none), as we know, and which are therefore related. If we descend one tone and a half starting from C, we exactly get an A: C  B […]

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Major third and minor third concepts

Now that we know what major scales and minor scales are, we are going to define what a major third is, and what a minor third is. A major third is a note that is located two full tones away from the tonic (or 4 semitones), as it occurs on major scales. In other words, it is the third degree of the major scale. In C major scale, the third (an E) is just 2 tones away from the C. A minor third is a note that is located one tone and a half away from the tonic (or 3 semitones), as in a minor scale. So, it is the third degree of the minor scale. If we take the A minor scale as an example, the third (a C note) is exactly 1 tone and a half away from the A note. The interval of third is very important[…]

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Minor Scales

A minor scale (its full denomination should be natural minor scale) is a scale is which we have semitones between intervals 2 and 3, and between intervals 5 and 6. The other intervals are a full tone. Following the rule that we apply to the major scales, with whole and half, the minor scale should be w-h-w-w-h-w-w. Let’s take an example. We are going to write the A natural minor scale. We put the 7 notes beginning with A, and we correct interval distances when needed, using sharp notes. A B C D E F G That was pretty easy, right? As a matter of fact, we didn’t have to alter any note. Does it remind you of something? That’s right, the C major scale doesn’t have any alteration either. This is because these two scales, C major and A minor, are actually the same thing seen through a different[…]

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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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