A simple, 14-day guide to important music theory for guitar
Learning basic music theory creates a foundation for almost anything you’ll ever want to learn and master on the guitar. As new concepts are introduced daily, you’ll learn how to quickly apply them to your guitar.
This guitar music lesson book is jam-packed with important theory-related topics:
- Major & Minor Scales
- Chord Construction
- Diatonic Harmony
- The Seven ModesIn addition to free audio tracks for download or streaming, here’s what you get each day:
- Scale Construction & Patterns
- Chord Construction & Progressions
- Lead LicksAs new concepts are introduced daily, you’ll learn how to quickly apply them to your guitar and sound great right away.
- Master Major & Minor Theory
- Seven Modes Demystified
- Discover Chord Constructions & Diatonic Harmony
- Circle of 5ths Explained
- Pentatonic, Blues & Diminished Scales Examined
- Read it! Hear it! Play it!
- Music examples are presented in notes and tab. This practical, step-by-step guide to modern music theory for guitarists includes quick-and-easy access to audio tracks via download or streaming – right from troynelsonmusic.com. No signup required!
- Sound great right away with guitar licks for every scale!
- Ionian (The Major Scale)
- Aeolian (The Minor Scale)
- Major Pentatonic
- Minor Pentatonic
- Major Blues
- Harmonic Minor
- Melodic Minor
- Diminished Scales
- FREE access to audio downloads
In the guitar community, music theory is, well, kind of a polarizing topic. Some argue that playing by ear is the way to go, that learning music theory will make their playing more rigid, or “mechanical,” because they’ll be thinking too much about what they’re playing rather than “being in the moment.”
Conversely, others argue that guitarists cannot reach their full potential without the aid of music theory, that even the best “ear” players eventually reach a point where their playing plateaus because they lack the tools to keep growing as players. While each argument has its merits—and it’s certainly possible to be a great “ear” player and still know a little music theory—I speak from personal experience when I say this: you can’t go wrong with learning—and eventually mastering—music theory.
During my first 4–5 years as a guitarist, I knew very little music theory. It wasn’t until I went off to college to study guitar—and, by extension, music theory—that my skills began to grow. And they grew exponentially in those next few years.
My first real breakthrough occurred when, as part of my college’s music curriculum, I had to learn how to read music—traditional music, not tab. Learning to read music forced me not only to learn the notes on the staff, but also the notes on the fretboard—and not just the notes in open position, but the entire fretboard. Those fretboard “blind spots” that we’ve all experienced were removed, which made learning subsequent music theory considerably easier. (section continues in book)
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
Granted, 90 minutes of practice per day can seem daunting to some, especially if you are unaccustomed to practice sessions lasting longer than 20–30 minutes. And that’s OK! Just because the book is structured to teach you music theory in 14 days doesn’t mean you have to follow the program precisely. On the contrary, if you have, say, 30 minutes to devote to the book each day, then simply extend each lesson to a three-day practice session. The material is there for you to use, whether you get through the book in 14 days or 40.
While the 14-day plan is the goal, it’s probably unrealistic for some. The important thing is to stick with it, because the material in this book will eventually have you mastering music theory. How quickly just depends on the amount of time you’re able to spend on getting there. (section continues in book)
WEEK 1: THE MODES
One of the most misunderstood concepts in all of music are the modes of the major scale. For some reason, whenever modes come up in a guitar lesson, the student’s reaction quickly goes from curiosity to sheer terror. Maybe it’s the intimidating names—Dorian, Phrygian, Locrian, etc.—that causes this reaction, or perhaps it’s the thought of having to actually use them in a solo. Whatever the reason may be, rest assured—the modes are actually a pretty easy concept to comprehend.
Simply stated, modes are scales. The term “mode” is used in place of “scale” because the former is actually a “scale within a scale.” You see, within each major scale lies sixth additional scales. In other words, you don’t have to start on the tonic! In fact, you can choose to start on any note of the scale, a concept we briefly covered when discussing relative major and minor scales.
Another important point to make about modes is that, like the major and minor scale, the modes have different qualities, as noted in the table below:
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Here are some important takeaways from the table:
IONIAN: contains a major 3rd and major 7th, therefore it’s a major mode
DORIAN: contains a minor 3rd and minor 7th, therefore it’s a minor mode
PHRYGIAN: contains a minor 3rd and minor 7th, therefore it’s a minor mode
LYDIAN: contains a major 3rd and major 7th, therefore it’s a major mode
MIXOLYDIAN: contains a major 3rd and minor 7th, therefore it’s a dominant mode
AEOLIAN: contains a minor 3rd and minor 7th, therefore it’s a minor mode
LOCRIAN: contains a minor 3rd, diminished 5th, and minor 7th, therefore it’s a half-diminished mode
In summary, seven modes reside within the major scale: two major (Ionian and Lydian), three minor (Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian), one dominant (Mixolydian), and one half-diminished (Locrian). These scale qualities are consistent in every key.(section continues in book)