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Music Theory: The Language of Sound by KarrArikh Tor

Index Sections: Notes on Guitar Fretboard * Major Key Guitar Positions * Major Key Bass Positions * Chords in a Major Key


Major Key Bass Positions: Open Position, 2nd Position, 4th Position, 7th Position, 9th Position, 12th Position


Key of C Major Bass Positions: Open Position

Key of C Major Bass Positions: Open Position

Open Position for the Key of C Major on bass

This chart shows the pattern of notes moving across the fretboard on a bass guitar in the Key of C Major. The C note is the root of C Major, and is shown in red. When playing C Major in the open position, it is common to play notes on the first fret with the first finger. Notes on the second fret are played with the second finger, and notes on the third fret with the third finger. Patterns around root notes are powerful tools to know. Practice playing positions as a warm-up before rehearsing. Learn to walk your fingers up and down the scales fluidly. Always play through keys slowly and solidly at first, before trying to sprint up and down as fast as you can. Learn where the roots are in each position, and learn to hear which note you are on in a Major Key as you play it. Can you call out each note as you play it? Try it. With regular practice you will be able to hear when you are on a root of the key and more, just have patience with yourself.

This section of charts shows the notes in the Key of C Major (which are the white keys on a piano). These notes are the natural C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. Sharps and flats are represented on a piano with black keys (a single key on a piano equals one fret on a bass guitar). Note that there is no sharp or flat between a B and a C, and an E and an F (on a bass this would mean there are no frets between the notes). This fact is easier to learn on piano (where it may seem obvious) than it is on guitar (where frets are neither black nor white, but all a bit grey), so that a pianist many wonder why I point some things out, and the guitarist will say, "Oh, now I understand...", so I repeat myself, but music does repeat itself, over and over again. I hope to teach new bass guitarists this. When playing bass, one may play any of the possible notes, but different bass stings have different sounds. It is you, the bass guitarist, who must choose which place on a fretboard you like best, which is the easiest and enjoyable for you.


Music Theory - playing other Major keys

Scale Positions can be moved up or down the fretboard, changing the key being played. One of the easiest to use positions is the 7th Position. The root is played with the second finger on the 6th string. The note which the second finger plays is the Key of the position. If the second finger is on the third fret (a G note), then the 7th Position pattern plays the key of G Major. If the second finger is on the fifth fret (an A note), then the 7th Position pattern plays the key of A Major. Learning the scales of one Key (like learning C Major) in twelve frets, learns all Keys. Remember where the roots are in Positions, and you will always know what key you are in when sliding patterns up and down the fretboard. Notice the same pattern of notes in the Open and 12th Positions, this is where the patterns begin to repeat themselves.


Music Theory - Modes of the Major Key

A Major Key is always written out from the root. C Major is always written out as C-D-EF-G-A-BC (with "-" denoting the fret between some notes). When a C Major is played as D-EF-G-A-BC-D, the new scale is called D dorian. When a C Major is played as EF-G-A-BC-D-E, the new scale is called E phrygian. When a C Major is played as F-G-A-BC-D-EF, the new scale is called F lydian. When a C Major is played as G-A-BC-D-EF-G, the new scale is called G mixolydian. When a C Major is played as A-BC-D-EF-G-A, the new scale is called A minor. To play modes, you need to be able to play the Major Key first.

This applies to all Major Keys, any Major scale played from the second note to the ninth note is the dorian scale of the second note. Any key played from the third note to the tenth note is the phrygian scale of the third note. Any key played from the fourth note to the eleventh note is the lydian scale of the fourth note. Any key played from the fifth note to the twelfth note is the mixolydian scale of the fifth note. Any key played from the sixth note to the thirteenth note is the minor scale of the sixth note. The key of E minor has the same notes as the key of G Major, the root of the keys are different, but the notes are the same. Learn a Major key, and you have learned a minor key too.


about author

KarrArikh Tor has been playing guitar for over 40 years. He is the guitarist in Infinisynth, Deemed Psychotic, Future Dialogue and Tor's Angst. Being autistic with ADHD, he has a unique logical approach to things. He chooses to use colours to help define information. His book, Music Theory: The Language of Sound, demystifies guitar and bass guitar in a straightforward, easy to read manner. The Quick reference version contains all the incredible full color graphics from Music Theory: The Language of Sound in one place! The full color graphics tie the fretboards of a guitar and bass guitar to the piano keyboard and sheet music, making it a valuable tool not just for guitarists and bassists but for every member in a band. Fast and handy for any music theory student.

Music Theory: The Language of Sound, the book and quick reference are based on the information on this site, which KarrArikh Tor used to teach his students. The new book explains how these charts and information can be used. This website was designed only to be a quick reference resource, and was originally titled "The Dark World International Experimental School of Music".