My first assignment was about the terms used to describe sound, how sound is made and how it travels. I have not found much of this type of information on the guitar lessons sites reviewed here because it is considered theory, and has little or nothing to do with learning to play guitar. In fact, for most guitar students, this is a deterrence to how fast you learn. Most people who want this information are experienced musicians, or are earning a degree in music. I’m learning it because I want to deliver, with 100% confidence, the best online guitar lessons reviewed, on the internet.
The terms and definitions in the first chapter are descriptions of technical symbols for communicating written musical notation through musical interments into sound. By transmitting the sound waves through the air to the ear, the source of the sound is a vibrating object.
It’s hard to separate out only two components because all of them work as a team to make sound. Many components combine to make a particular sound or sounds. Stringed instruments make sound using strings of various lengths and diameters that vibrate causing the air to move making harmonic vibrations.
One example of a stringed instrument is the guitar. Which uses 6 strings of various thickness, material and length to make the relevant tone. I use the word tone because tones can be heard by the ear and notes are what the tone looks like when you read musical notation. A language by itself, universal to all.
Other stringed instruments use the same theory to make sound. Anytime a string is plucked, tapped, hammered on, bowed or fretted [changing the length], a set of sound waves are sent out through the chamber opening, if it uses a chamber, to increase the amplitude or the intensity of the sound, into the air, to the ear.
The vibrations the strings make have always been pleasing to me. Each of the 6 strings on an acoustic classical guitar has a pitch all it’s own. The pitch is determined by the thickness of the string and how fast it vibrates. Along with the length of the string. As in, using the frets on the neck [of a guitar] to change the length of the string, and the tone being heard.
The frequency of vibration is how we determine if it is called a high pitch or low pitch. The standard tuning pitch is 440 Hz [formerly called cycles] for the note A. Which means it is vibrating at 440 cycles per second. Therefore the fundamental harmonic is the lowest note, or the low E on a guitar.
For example, the top string on a normal guitar is called the low E string. It is also the thickest string on the guitar. Every time you pluck it, the string vibrates at a certain amount of Hz, which determines the pitch of the string. The pitch meaning the frequency at which the string vibrates, sending the sound waves to your ear.
It stands to reason than that the thickest string is the slowest moving string therefore making the “lowest” pitch on the instrument. On the bottom side of the neck of a guitar you have the thinnest string. Called the high E string, it vibrates at a much higher speed than the thick string. Therefore we have a faster vibrating string or high E pitch, which is called a “higher” pitch than the low E.
Rhythm is another critical component of the recipe. Rhythm can be put into notation form, but it’s the human side and emotion that sets it apart from a computer generated sound.
Rhythm is the term we use for all aspects of timing in music. It can also be called duration. Duration is the length of time the note is played. The sounds we enjoy the most are arranged in proper time, or they won’t make any sense.
Duration and rhythm use two of the ideas discussed above. Pitch and intensity are two elements that create rhythm. Sounds which are short in duration are combined with sounds which are longer in duration, which are applied for specific amounts of time to combine for rhythm.
The intensity of sound or amplitude of a solid body electric guitar is created through electric amplification. Most electric guitars use metal strings, the strings vibrate at different speeds over electric pickups, which transmit the sound to an amplifier speaker combination which makes the amplitude or volume much greater than, and more variable than an acoustic guitar.
The amplitude of a purely acoustic, classical guitar is generated from the strings vibrating over the sound chamber hole of the hollow body, which is characteristic of a pure acoustic guitar. Which compresses the air inside the hollow body which naturally boosts the loudness through pure acoustics. The size of the sound chamber, or the hollow body has an effect on amplitude and tone.
Chapter two review will come next week. I’ll try to keep informing you of certain information from each class and post them weekly, depending on how much work it turns out to be. I won’t stop my regular posts either. This will become a series called Theoretically Speaking. For those interested in theory, you now have an opportunity to find out more, in terms you understand, in the same Musical Theory textbook I’m using.
Worried about learning guitar? Don’t be, it’s a lot of fun and very gratifying. Information with this much detail is not needed to learn any instrument. In fact I don’t read sight music very well, at all. I wrote a post a few years ago about why I wanted to sight read music. It’s going to come true, which will make me a more versatile guitar player. Review our online guitar lessons now.