How Notes Work (Answers)


Leave A Comment And Tell Me What You Think…



    Reply Reply October 7, 2014

    Again very clear.

    But your entry email to this mini-series quoted the chord progression I-V-vi-IV. Looking at Wiki gives one example of chords that fit this pattern as C-G-Am-F.

    I don’t understand how the progression and the chord pattern fit together. What have they got to do with half steps?

    Hope all will be revealed in coming videos!


    • Griff

      Reply Reply October 7, 2014

      We will be putting it all together soon. This is a fundamental skill that, if you can’t do it, stops you dead in your tracks for doing anything else. I know it’s all pretty cerebral now but we’ll put it all on the guitar before we are finished.

      • Michael McCartney

        Reply Reply February 5, 2023

        I’m 78, and getting more dense by the day, but…why is there no Cb or Fb?

    • Anthony G Small

      Reply Reply April 16, 2021

      The song “Sixteen Tons” Words and Music by Merle Travis.
      Key of G
      Chords: Em, B7, Am, C7.
      Where is G?
      I’m trying to learn, but this has me baffled.
      Please clarify.

      Thank you.
      Anthony G. Small

      • Jim King

        Reply Reply June 3, 2021

        Your song may actually be in Em – the relative minor key to G. Then, the chords the way you have them listed are, I (Em), V (B7 or Bm), IV (Am) and VI (Cm). I play this (great!) song in Am. Best of luck to you.

    • R

      Reply Reply August 20, 2021

      Need to know steps for building chords (minor, major, dom, dim, etc). And progressions in a given key are built from chords that were built from those half steps, whole steps, intervals)
      WWhWWWWh……steps in maj. scale (key)

      Chords in Maj Key are:

      I. ii. ii. IV. V. vi. vii. VIII or (I next octave)
      Maj. min. min. Maj. Dom. min. dim. Maj

      PS- Chords are built with intervals of 3rds. Number of half steps dictate whether major, minor, dominant, diminished etc.

  • Efren Ropsario

    Reply Reply October 7, 2014

    Thank you, Very easy to understand. You are a great teacher.

    • Michael wise

      Reply Reply August 12, 2019

      Ditto your a Great teacher !!Mw

  • Shane

    Reply Reply October 7, 2014

    Enjoyed the video and testing and very interesten in seeing where this leads and how it translates to actually playing the guitar. Beginner looking for all the knowledge I can get.

  • Jim

    Reply Reply October 7, 2014

    Funny thing..I played saxaphone almost 40 years ago and the way I remember intervals and notes in a scale is by remembering the fingerings on the horn. Now just to get that way with a fretboard!

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply February 20, 2022

      That’s funny. I played piano for decades and I visualize the piano keyboard to remember intervals

  • Graham

    Reply Reply October 7, 2014

    I am very interested into how this leads to learning songs quicker.

    • RustedOut

      Reply Reply April 21, 2021

      Good presentation but most of us wanna-bees are ear players.. theory doesn’t resonate into being a better player. I wish there was a lesson plan that improved ear player’s ability. I know theory some, I learned trumpet in my miss-spent youth.. but fail somewhat on guitar as it is a different clef. I learn faster when my “sound” logic is enhanced. I can visualize all day, but without a resonant sound to implant in brain, I am lost.. again. LOL

    • Pete

      Reply Reply March 24, 2023

      I’ve been playing guitar for 54 years, and at one time professionally, and I was wondering the same thing !

  • Vern Sowers

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    My score was 83.4%. I missed 1, 3, 12, 13 & 19. Back to the drawing board. Thank you Griff

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    pretty well laid out and explained…curious to see where this is headed…Thanks

  • Anthony Ingoglia

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Why didn’t the originators of notation just give 12 letters to each possible note (actually 11). That is A, then B (for A#) and C (for B) etc.? 12 half steps = 12 notes, simple.
    Further, when I sing Do, Ra, Mi, Fa (The 8 whole notes) they seem to my ear to be equally spaced tonally. Your description tells me two of them are not (B-C, E-F). How is that possible? Shouldn’t the physics of sound make each two fret jump sound the same? You are telling me that an A to B jump sounds the same as a B to C jump but one is a whole step and the other a half. In other words, WHY the half step between BC, EF.

    • JohnnyB

      Reply Reply March 9, 2018

      I thought the B/C and E/F half-steps were only in the key of C… with different half-step pairs in other keys. I suspect a lot of the odd things in music theory came about because they didn’t figure it all out at the same time. Then they were stuck with, for example, the A-G scheme before they understood flats and sharps. And there were different schools of thought, and one could become dominant that did not mesh well with then-current orthodoxy. People with a natural gift for music don’t see it as hard, but it looks batshit crazy to me.

      • Keith

        Reply Reply March 30, 2019

        The picture you have is pretty close to correct, JohnnyB. Yes, those notes and everything else appear ONLY without accidentals (sharps and flats) in the Cmajor scale and no other MAJOR scales. But all of the other major scales have that little half step jump between the 3rd and 4th note and the 7th note and octave. That’s why it’s there. Look at the notes in the C scale: as you jump from note to note it’s whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole,half from C to C as you step between the notes. If you want to start the scale on any other root note, it’s the same. C is a very useful key for piano and ukulele, but most guitar players start with the G scale. So what are the notes? Hint: there’s only one sharp…to find the notes and that sharp, start at G and count to the next G on Griff’s diagram.

    • John Machado

      Reply Reply May 21, 2019

      Anthony – This lesson was regarding the 12 notes of the Chromatic scale of A – G.
      The Do-Ra-Mi scale is the Diatonic scale of 8 notes out of the 12. It regards a different theory and application using intervals.

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply February 20, 2022

      The notes in Do Ra Mi … aren’t spaced evenly. Try playing notes 2 frets apart and singing with it, you’ll hear it (it’s called a whole tone scale and it sounds strange). And the 8th note will be more than one octave above the first note.
      The 1/2 step between B/C and E/F is arbitrary, that’s how the notes were named centuries ago. I suppose they could have named them A thru L (the 12th letter) and eliminated sharps and flats but they didn’t.

  • Eu

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Delightful, very well presented… looking forwards to see all of video classes!!!

    • Karl

      Reply Reply March 8, 2018

      Anthony, the reason they sound right is because that’s what you’ve been hearing (probably) all of your life. They aren’t equally spaced tonally, just as Griff described. The move from B to C isn’t two frets – it’s only one. Likewise E to F.

      The why is more complicated and ultimately somewhat speculative. Why did they do it that way? Just because it worked for them? In part, yes. Listen to music from many non-European sources (e.g., India) and you’ll music played using different scales with different intervals. Why? Well, it worked for them ,,, ,

  • Len

    Reply Reply October 10, 2014

    Another good one Griff. Everything is in the attitude, especially to students. I am a bass player and get your emails Griff because you are a gifted teacher and because your lessons frequently go beyond the guitar. Rock on.

    To Anthony Ingoglia, if you check out other music theory sources you will find that it is because the notes are approximations to something like the sounds, that they have made the intervals or distances they do. Other theory sources talk of 100 points in the octave and dividing them roughly equally so they sound right. Fascinating aint it?

  • Vince Murphy

    Reply Reply November 24, 2014

    Many thanks Griff – I think I cna see where you are going and it is looking good! The only problem is that the link you have porvided for the pdf tab is not correct – it links to the first pdf ‘How-notes-work-questions.pdf”.
    All the best,

  • Mark a Wales uk

    Reply Reply March 2, 2016

    Cheers Griff
    I got the first two questions wrong but all the rest right . And I can pick a string and go up the fretboard and back and name all the notes.

  • Dave Berube

    Reply Reply May 22, 2016

    Vert easy when I can look at the notes. Not so easy doing it in my head when it is more than a few half steps.

  • Louis Ogden

    Reply Reply March 8, 2018


    I got a perfect score but almost feel like I was cheating. I am a better keyboard player than I am a guitarist and I can read music. I had no problem visualizing a keyboard while doing the quiz. In fact, I could not STOP from visualizing a keyboard. I need a different way to learn the notes on a guitar. I know most of them, but some I am still counting up or down. That was fun but I need a different method to do the same while visualizing a guitar. Thanks for all your work and taking so much interest in your students. You’re the best teacher by far!

    Louis Ogden

    • Louis Ogden

      Reply Reply May 14, 2021

      Same thing from last time that you gave this quiz and I’m still visualizing my keyboard.

  • anthony comi

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    Hey Griff


    While I know you make every effort to get all info correct I began counting from the A or Bb or F# including the A, Bb or F#. No big deal since I always over counted by 1. An easy math solution.


  • anthony comi

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    Like Louis,, I’m a classically trained pianist. I didn’t think I was cheating but I already know how to count intervals.
    Am I doing myself a disservice?
    Hi Louis.


  • Louis Ogden

    Reply Reply March 10, 2018

    Hey Anthony,

    I cannot claim to be classically trained but I did take piano lessons as a kid (in the early to mid 1960s and I was in a garage band on guitar in my teens in the mid to late 1960s. The name of the band was certainly indicative of the time – “The Aeons of Tyme.” Since I had such a long break b4 starting to learn guitar and keyboard (about a 50 year break). I find these exercises to be a good refresher on theory after such a long time away from music.

    Keep on rockin’ or bluesin’ – whatever is your thing!


  • Raul Moralez

    Reply Reply March 11, 2018

    Very informational. Well done.

  • Mohawk750

    Reply Reply March 11, 2018

    Unlocking the secret of the major scale has kicked the door wide open for me as far as learning the fretboard goes. Without knowledge of the major scale the construction of the fretboard makes no sense logically or mathematically. At one point you just have to accept that there is a half step between B-C and E-F and move on with that knowledge.

    You can google the origin of the major scale and it’s development but you will never find an answer that fully satisfies your curiosity. You will however get sucked into a rabbit hole of explanations that while interesting to some will do little to advance your playing. I know, I did it!

    Accept the major scale for what it is, as the historical building block of most early European and popular music today and move on. Start by counting the steps on the diagram Griff gave us and then move on to counting the steps on the fretboard. For those that already know the intervals I suggest doing the exercise with the guitar only as a way of transferring that knowledge to the fretboard. You can substitute the word fret for step while working through the exercise since a fret space and a half step are the same thing.

    Thanks Griff

  • john

    Reply Reply January 3, 2019

    Got it, 100%. Thanks

  • Robert

    Reply Reply February 18, 2019

    Griff excellent lesson thank you!
    Question, didn’t you put out an e-mail explaining the !/2 step and Whole step (W) formula for making a scale?
    I THINK it was note then WWHWWWH ???

    can you verify?/

    • R

      Reply Reply August 20, 2021

      You are correct. That is for the major scale. Or just remember half steps between 3&4 and 7&8.

  • tombo

    Reply Reply March 28, 2019

    Thanks as always Griff. Since the previous comments covered visualizing the keyboard, shouldn’t we be visualizing the fret board and counting frets instead of half steps? There are apps that make a game out of naming the notes by placing a dot on the fret board and you have to name the note from four choices. The game is to beat your own score within a time frame.
    The time isn’t as important as the number of correct answers. Knowing where Griff’s quiz question starts and seeing where you have to go gives the visual of “how many frets apart, or how many half steps.” If this helps anyone, great, if not I hope I didn’t make it more confusing. Nice “talking” to you.

  • Keith

    Reply Reply March 30, 2019

    Missed 16: forgot to note whether to go up or down, but I got 3 and 3+9=12, so kinda half right. 13 is really interesting: 6 either way you go. Also my model includes knowing chords and how to construct them with intervals. For instance minor 3rd is 3 HS’s, major 3rd is 4, 4th is 5, 5th is seven and so on…knowing that a major chord is a major 3rd and a minor 3rd is good and knowing that a diminished chord is just 4 minor 3rds is also handy and will help you to find a good a voicing for your diminished chords. It’s all very useful theory, just like your mental model. I can do this stuff all day long, but I still can’t play smooth chords and cool sounding licks: working hard on that. It was a good excercise, for sure.

  • Stephen Connolly

    Reply Reply April 7, 2019

    I’ve been playing for a few years but I just can’t get the hang of it I’m wanting to play I have a electric and acoustic guitars so I’m very interested in learning more please and thanks

  • Stephen Connolly

    Reply Reply April 7, 2019

    I don’t have a website

  • Greg J Smith

    Reply Reply June 3, 2019

    Can you show this on the neck of the guitar, that would help me!

  • BestNicolas

    Reply Reply August 13, 2019

    I see you don’t monetize,
    don’t waste your traffic, you can earn additional bucks every month with new
    monetization method. This is the best adsense alternative for any type of website (they approve all websites), for more
    details simply search in gooogle: murgrabia’s tools

  • Randy Davis

    Reply Reply September 5, 2019

    Griff, I luv music theory; learned some playing uke and moved on to the piano and guitar. The theory is the same for all of these, of course, so i saved a lot time and am getting up to speed in the process. Keep it coming and thanks

  • Graham Clark

    Reply Reply February 5, 2020

    Hi Griff,
    Enjoyed the note interval lessons you posted. However I feel note interval stuff is what we should all know and learn at an early stage in our musical journey. Yes it is difficult when you are suddenly asked to go and count backwards from say G to B – that makes you stop and think. What I am really trying to say here is that this note interval lesson both going up the scale forwards and especially the note intervals going backwards is the one that sorts the wheat from the chaff (English saying). It made me realise that I am actually not so good after all at note intervals. I’ve never really considered going backwards on note intervals before.
    So thank you for that. I’m now going to put my memory cap on and try getting some fluidity in counting backwards on the grand mystery of fretboard notes.
    Good work as always — thank you.
    Graham (UK)

  • Byron

    Reply Reply March 26, 2020

    Thanks, Griff!

    A few thoughts:

    1. Thinking of an octave of 12 equal-spaced notes rather than 8 unequal ones makes the math and movement on the frets easier. In such a system, instead of a 1,3,5 as indicating a major chord, it would be 1,5,8, or if minor, 1,4,8. If a 7th is involved, it would be a 1,5,8,11 for a major 7th (so-called in our current system), and a 1,5,8,10 for a dominate “7th”. I like your counting in “half-steps” because they’re equal-spaced. Easier for spacial awareness on fretboards.

    (As an aside, I sometimes wish I could imagine the chord laid out on a circle with 12 equal slots available, the 0 and the 13th being the same place, only a layer above if the circle were seen as a spiral. There’d be a easily seen geometry that would lend itself to harmonic resonance or dissonance, a spacial-pictorial way of seeing how notes or chords relate.)

    2. A fun way to acquaint our ears to various modes is to start (or drone) on some notes as home base while making the others relate to it. For instance, in the key of C droning on C as the tonic and playing all the other white keys on a piano puts you in Ionian mode, the familiar “Do, Re, Me, Fa, So” scale that most of our music uses. But drone on the A of that same set of notes puts us in the Aeolian mode, the so-called relative minor of C. But it gets better. Drone on the D and play the Dorian mode. G gets us to the Mixolydian, our favorite blues scale. E is interesting. F is jazzy. B is strange but fun. Using the piano makes this easy to see and hear, but the same set of chordal relationships and scales apply to any other key than C.

    3. One thought about enharmonic notes. We wouldn’t want to think of going from Eb to E, for that is the same letter. We’d instead think of it as going from D# to E, for then the A-G (or G-A) letters are still in place in a scale. I also think of going from, say E to Eb when I want to flat the E (as in bending a C major chord to a C minor one). But in terms of learning music, I’ve noticed there are two realms other than all white keys on the piano, the flat realm and the sharp realm. If I wonder how to read a note or call a note I don’t mix flats and sharps. Picky, but perhaps useful in mental understanding.

    4. All the modes and scales discussed so-far have to adjacent 2nds in them. In C Ionian, they’re the EF and the BC. In A Aeolian they’d be BC and EF again, but in another place. All other steps would be so-called whole steps, what you’ve presented here as two half-steps. Knowing where the adjacent seconds are helps orient all other notes, for they’d be whole steps, not half.

    (But even more interesting and fun to play is the Hungarian or Harmonic Minor. Take A Aeolian (the relative minor of C major) and instead of using the dominate 7th (the G), skip it and play it as the G#. This creates three adjacent seconds in the scale and an unusual big gap (a step and a half) between the 6 and the sharpened 7th (now adjacent to the tonic A). Sounds complicated, but it’s easy to see and use. Drone in A, play all the white keys, but avoid the G and play it as a G#. It’s a very fun, dancy, squirmy sort of mode.)

    Anyway, you asked what we thought, and these are some thoughts your initial explanation of the scales with various steps within them popped up for me. They’ve been on my mind. Distancing myself at home and glad for your occasional lessons. Thanks for asking.

  • Don Hall

    Reply Reply May 2, 2020

    No doubt about it, this kind of study is WAY easier on a keyboard! Sometimes all those piano lessons come back to help me.

  • bob hubbard

    Reply Reply August 11, 2020

    im a litte slow on the draw so i will put more time in im comfortable wiyh it

  • David shaw

    Reply Reply November 11, 2020

    Please cancel my subscription because of my job change and I won’t have sufficient time to practice as needed.please cancel my card at this time and when ever normalcy arrives again we will continue.thank you.

  • Gary Griffin

    Reply Reply January 14, 2021

    Thank you I’ve learned so much.amd want more.thank just starting out.

  • Shawn N.

    Reply Reply January 15, 2021

    This exercise helps reinforce the work I’ve already been doing to memorize the notes on my fretboard. It was a fun experience. Thank you

  • Tony Ryan

    Reply Reply April 13, 2021

    It didn’t work for me, like reading codes. But I long ago learned off Griff’s Boxes of E minor pentatonic and, as I jammed solo to CDs, began to anticipate note and semi-note choices by ear, converting Box one into Box 1,2,3,4,5; relying on my ear to tell me which will work for a particular song. This also gives me the flexibility to reverse the note pattern as I traverse the frets, as in E to A to C, etc.

    As some very good songwriters make unconventional choices, my ear anticipates these as the natural way to go, and it seems to me that these are the note progresions that make songs immortal.

    I am guessing I am making no sense to most of you LOL.

  • kenneth e holtz

    Reply Reply April 13, 2021

    wish i could print the picture only

  • Geno

    Reply Reply May 24, 2021

    Does the minor pentatonic have a scale..? &, does the minor scale come from the major scale..???? Thank you

  • R

    Reply Reply August 21, 2021

    The pentatonic scales are abbreviations of the full scale. They only contain some of the notes. So the major pentatonic comes from the major scale. The minor pentatonic comes from the minor scale. A minor scale is relative to the major scale. If you play a scale from the sixth note of a major scale it is now a minor scale. Another way to look at a minor scale is to take a major scale and flat the third and seventh note.

  • John S

    Reply Reply October 22, 2021

    Great exercise

    Made a couple of mistakes with 14 & 16 but the got the rest right, it’s pretty clear in my head now.

  • Peter Blott

    Reply Reply April 21, 2022

    Rank beginner but this took me back to my grammar school music classes (in England) a looooong time ago. Very clear explanation, my old music teacher could learn a few things too. I screwed up on 2; 13 & 15 but I’ll go through it again.

  • Ron Rees

    Reply Reply April 25, 2022

    This memory tool is great, and for me it was very beneficial when I chose to sort the various ways this can be seen when applied to a fretboard diagram. Most of the18 questions can be visualized from the low “E” string (as well as the 3rd,4th & 5th strings). For me I prefer to see the patterns and so I usually print a a copy and then edit it to my personal needs and some times color code the actual notes which I then compare the various diagrams. (The circle of 5th’s come to mind.) I’ve created several diagrams prior to this and paste them on a wall or add them into a 3 ring binder.

    But brain memory and muscle coordination combined will but you on the stage! Thanks.

  • Barry Hall

    Reply Reply June 25, 2022

    If you can’t count notes down quickly you can answer the ‘down’ questions much faster by just counting up in your head from the second note to the first. Its the same distance both ways.

  • Bill

    Reply Reply March 27, 2023

    Thank you

* Denotes Required Field