Where are the notes?!

ploverwing

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My mom just picked up a Cordoba Mini II today (she's got a Gurian but doesn't want to lug it around to biweekly music class). I was using it to play tab for some Sor etudes, and the tab also has standard notation. I was trying to figure out what the (standard E-E) tuning for a guitar correlates to on the piano. For a violin (which I'm used to), it's the first G below middle C, D immediately beside middle C, first A above middle C and first E above middle C. I've been playing linear tuned tenors now for a few months, and that's the first G below middle C (same as violin), middle C, the first E above middle C and first A above middle C (same as violin). OK, cool. I wanted to check the tuning for a guitar, and got this:


guitar-fretboard-visualization-chart-1080x1561.jpg



Ooooookaaaaay.... but I thought middle C was this (on treble clef):

On the Treble Clef staff, middle C is written on a ledger line just below the bottom line of the staff:

Middle-C-Treble-Clef.jpg
not what I'd call the first C above middle C, which is what they label as middle C on that guitar comparison image above.

When I restrung our requinto with A-A, I tuned it so that strings 1-4 were strung the same as the linear tenor, with the additional D and A lower than the low G. Does that mean I tuned it too low? Should it be tuned an octave higher? Ick, that would not sound good on this particular instrument, IMO.

To add to my confusion, I downloaded a piece written in standard notation & tab for the guilele, and it looks like it's tuned the same as a guitar capo'd to 5th. Is that right? It isn't supposed to be the same as a linear tuned tenor with two extra lower strings? I've not held a guilele so I don't know.

HELP! I am so confused!!
 

casualmusic

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Yes, you tuned the requinto A3-A5 correctly. The four skinny strings should be the same as standard ukulele.

1a. Standard guitar fretboard E2-E4 + Capo at 5th fret = Standard linear ukulele fretboard G3C4E4A5

1b. Standard guitar fretboard E2-E4 + Capo at 5th fret = Standard Guilele fretboard A3-A5


2a. The notes for E2-E4 guitar start at E2 (~82 hertz) in the Bass clef and continues up past the middle C4 (~261 hertz) towards the skinny E4 string (~329 hertz), then continues up the guitar skinny E string to the 12th fret at E5 (~659 hertz) and on up towards the 20th fret

2b. By convention the music for guitar is written an octave higher than reality so that it will fit mostly on the Treble Clef. Musicians say that that guitar music is 'transposed' an octave. Guitarists will play notes an octave lower than written.


3a. Ukulele G3 would normally be written on top line of the Bass clef, and the C4 is middle C.

3b. So music for linear ukulele can be written normally starting with low G3 on the fourth line of the Bass clef. Or for re-entrant ukulele starting with the C4 at middle C.


4a. Music notation (transposed) for standard guitar needs to be played on guitar an octave lower than written to sound correct notes.

4b. To play on GCEA ukulele or A-A guilele you need to check whether the sheet music is written for direct ukulele or for transposed guitar.



5. On your Sublimelody chart:

5a. On the fourth diagram (guitar fretboard), draw the ‘nut’ to the left of EADGBE

5b. To find the start of the A-A guilele fretboard within the guitar fretboard, start at the nut and count 5 frets to the right.

5c. To find the ukulele GCEA fretboard within the guitar fretboard, do the same as 5b and disregard the thick strings 5 and 6.

Cheers.
 
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ploverwing

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Thank you very much @casualmusic! If you can tolerate a little further clarification, I would be delighted.

My violin/mandolin is tuned G3-D4-A4-E5 then, correct?

That is so bizarre about the "transposing" of standard notation for the guitar. OK, that explains a lot. When I was playing, I was positive that the first string on the guitar was not the E as written in the standard notation (E5, which would be the open E on my violin/mandolin), but an octave lower than that (E4), and you've indicated that.

Wouldn't the requinto's 5th and 6th strings, though, be D3 and A2, respectively? They're tuned lower than G3 aren't they? And G3 is lower than C4 (middle C) right? Reentrant tuning would be G4-C4-E4-A5, correct?

Again, thanks a lot!! I think I'm getting there!!
 

casualmusic

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My violin/mandolin is tuned G3-D4-A4-E5 then, correct?
Yes.

That is so bizarre about the "transposing" of standard notation for the guitar.
Composers and musicians hate having music sprawl across both clefs. Especially when it’s hard to insert the singer lyrics.
OK, that explains a lot. When I was playing, I was positive that the first string on the guitar was not the E as written in the standard notation (E5, which would be the open E on my violin/mandolin), but an octave lower than that (E4), and you've indicated that.
Yup. Your ears were correct.

Wouldn't the requinto's 5th and 6th strings, though, be D3 and A2, respectively? They're tuned lower than G3 aren't they?
A3 D3 G3 C4 E4 A5

And G3 is lower than C4 (middle C) right?
Yes

Reentrant tuning would be G4-C4-E4-A5, correct?
Yes.

Again, thanks a lot!! I think I'm getting there!!
Yup. As a beginner to music it confused me a lot. And confused my voice coach who is a piano player and didn’t know about transposed notation.

BTW you can think of the requinto as a guitar shifted one string to the right: drop the E2 and add A5. And think of the standard ukulele as a baritone shifted one string to the right: drop the D3 and add A5. (Approx because the stutter step is slightly different).

Cheers.
 
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Ms Bean

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My mom just picked up a Cordoba Mini II today (she's got a Gurian but doesn't want to lug it around to biweekly music class). I was using it to play tab for some Sor etudes, and the tab also has standard notation. I was trying to figure out what the (standard E-E) tuning for a guitar correlates to on the piano. For a violin (which I'm used to), it's the first G below middle C, D immediately beside middle C, first A above middle C and first E above middle C. I've been playing linear tuned tenors now for a few months, and that's the first G below middle C (same as violin), middle C, the first E above middle C and first A above middle C (same as violin). OK, cool. I wanted to check the tuning for a guitar, and got this:


guitar-fretboard-visualization-chart-1080x1561.jpg



Ooooookaaaaay.... but I thought middle C was this (on treble clef):


not what I'd call the first C above middle C, which is what they label as middle C on that guitar comparison image above.

When I restrung our requinto with A-A, I tuned it so that strings 1-4 were strung the same as the linear tenor, with the additional D and A lower than the low G. Does that mean I tuned it too low? Should it be tuned an octave higher? Ick, that would not sound good on this particular instrument, IMO.

To add to my confusion, I downloaded a piece written in standard notation & tab for the guilele, and it looks like it's tuned the same as a guitar capo'd to 5th. Is that right? It isn't supposed to be the same as a linear tuned tenor with two extra lower strings? I've not held a guilele so I don't know.

HELP! I am so confused!!
Check the clef again. You'll notice that there is a small 8 attached at the bottom. This means that it's supposed to sound an octave lower, but this way it's quicker to read the notes.
Piccolo is sometimes notated with an octave clef (but the one attached to the top of the treble clef), because sometimes there are just too many ledger lines. Here are some examples of octave clefs used with treble and bass clefs:
1665568039061.png
 

Jim Yates

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A guitar is a transposing instrument that sounds an octave lower than the music is written.
 

ploverwing

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Check the clef again. You'll notice that there is a small 8 attached at the bottom. This means that it's supposed to sound an octave lower, but this way it's quicker to read the notes.
Oh cool!!!! Now I do see that in the image I'd posted from this site in my OP, thank you so much for pointing that out! But nope for my sheet music. Just a plain ol' treble, which is where my original confusion arose from.

A guitar is a transposing instrument that sounds an octave lower than the music is written.
I'd never have known that. Is that just something obvious to everyone who first picks up a guitar and knows how to read standard notation for another instrument that uses treble clef? I guess someone with perfect pitch (or better pitch than me). I can tell by comparing two instruments whether it's in the same octave or not, but if I'm only holding one instrument, I can't necessarily tell unless it's ridiculously low or high. My pitch is generally good enough to tune something close to "in tune" with a given note but not necessarily to pick the right note to start with!

A3 D3 G3 C4 E4 A5

OK I'm having a serious brain blockage on the A3 here (and, on reflection, the A5... see below). Based on this, I don't understand why the A3 is in the same octave as the G3. Looking at a keyboard (which is a crutch I'm using to get my brain sorted on this), the D3 is "lower" on the keyboard (cool), but the A3 is "higher" on the keyboard than the G3:

1665587933965.png

which to me seems like using reentrant tuning, yet from the original image comparing the octave clef, keyboard and fretboard taken from here, it appears that the note should be in the octave below the G3.

And it was late last night, so... I'm trying again for the linear tuned tenor ukulele (and by extension, the requinto):

G3-C4-E4-A4

not A5; A4 is equivalent to the second open space on a treble clef, whereas A5 would be the additional line above the fifth line of a treble clef, right? And the uke isn't tuned that high on the open A string. And wouldn't that be the same for the requinto then for that 1st string?

Sorry, I'm like this when trying to understand mathematics and money stuff too; I seem to have a wall in my brain that I just can't see around, and it sometimes takes a lot to get me there. I am willing to let this go if you just need to throw your hands up in despair at me, I can live with that.

Look up a thing called Scientific Pitch Notation or SPN. It assigns a pitch to a note with the note and the octave. Like C4 = Middle C, the C note in octave 4.
Lol, that's actually what got me into this mess, and made me start second-guessing everything. I understand standard notation for treble clef (at least well enough to find notes on a keyboard and a violin without a lot of thought), and so when I was reading the sheet music for the guitar and playing the notes, my ear was like "um, no, that's not an E like my open violin string (aka E5) that's an E like I'd play on my violin's D string (aka E4)," yet the standard notation was written as E5, without that funky little octave clef notation that I'd never run across before that Ms Bean pointed out.

Thanks, team UU, for helping me limp along to understanding this!! I really appreciate it.
 

casualmusic

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OK I'm having a serious brain blockage on the A3 here (and, on reflection, the A5... see below). Based on this, I don't understand why the A3 is in the same octave as the G3. Looking at a keyboard (which is a crutch I'm using to get my brain sorted on this), the D3 is "lower" on the keyboard (cool), but the A3 is "higher" on the keyboard than the G3:

View attachment 144362

which to me seems like using reentrant tuning, yet from the original image comparing the octave clef, keyboard and fretboard taken from here, it appears that the note should be in the octave below the G3.

My understanding is that scientific notation goes from A0 to G0, A1 to G1, A2 to G2, A3 to G3, A4 to G4, A5 to G5, etc.

Dunno why that diagram shows coloured groups from C to B?

 
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ploverwing

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My understanding is that scientific notation goes from A0 to G0, A1 to G1, A2 to G2, A3 to G3, A4 to G4, A5 to G5, etc.

Dunno why that diagram shows coloured groups from C to B?
AH! OK, thanks, that would make sense then, thanks so very much!!!
 

Mike $

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I really like that the uke starts on middle C and only goes up a line above the staff, unless you have useless frets above that. Unlike the guitar that goes a confusing amount of notes below the staff and what seems like a hundred lines above the staff. Even if you have a set of low G strings, you only go two lines and a space below the staff. Tab would be a push, but I don't use it. I rarely use standard notation, unless there are no recorded versions of a song that I've never heard before and for some reason, I want to learn it. Will probably never happen.
 

Arcy

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My understanding is that scientific notation goes from A0 to G0, A1 to G1, A2 to G2, A3 to G3, A4 to G4, A5 to G5, etc.

Dunno why that diagram shows coloured groups from C to B?

The SPN octave starts at C and the number changes between B and C.

...G3-A3-B3-C4-D4-E4-F4-G4-A4-B4-C5-D5-E5...

From @casualmusic 's Scientific Pitch Notation wikipedia link:

The octave number increases by 1 upon an ascension from B to C. Thus, A0 refers to the first A above C0 and middle C (the one-line octave's C or simply c′) is denoted as C4 in SPN. For example, C4 is one note above B3, and A5 is one note above G5.

I believe we started focusing around C started around the time the major scales became prominent, and C is the all natural major scale. This question on music.stackexchange.com has some good commentary: https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/41733/why-does-the-octave-number-change-between-b-and-c
 

ploverwing

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I often only use the label part of SPN and ignore the assigned audio frequencies when working things out. But if you choose to be technically accurate all the time, SPN does specify audio frequencies. I am not sure of the label for the naming system that is independent of a real audio frequency, so I just call it SPN, which can be technically wrong in some cases where the actual frequencies matter. But there are no rules for ukulele players so its OK in most cases.

The SPN octaves run from C to C, the octaves start at C.

The numbers for the frequencies are based on some maths that gets C0=16.3516. You get this number if you plug A4=440 into the maths of the Equal Temperament system. A Temperament System is a long name for a way of assigning audio frequencies to notes in a scale, mostly we have 12 notes in an octave. The Temperament Systems are not all based on maths and physics, a few are based on trial and error, and you are allowed to make up your own if you are really keen. But, the system of assigning audio frequencies to notes or pitches used to design and build your ukulele is mathematical and is based on 12 ratios or intervals which are a mathematical model of a real series of harmonics generated from a seed frequency, and are manifested into real sound via fret spacings on your ukulele.

Anyway, it is a theory, an actual music theory. The theory is: "Let A4=440Hz, and calculate a series of 12 audio frequencies which we will label as the 12 notes". The labelling is all made up by humans, and I do not think A4=440Hz actually exists as a thing in the real universe.

That is the basis of most of the music we write and read and play. It is manifested in the Chromatic Scale, the easiest example to study is the A Chromatic Scale. If you can map the chromatic scale on your various instruments, and use a reference label like A4 or C4 or C3, you can align all the notes and work out how to accompany each other on various instruments. And with some intellectual effort, you can work out the transpositions and offsets and labelling conventions used for the written notation for each instrument.

SPN is not the only labelling system, some others are the Helmholtz and ABC forms. They use case, commas and apostrophes to indicate octaves, and have a one octave offset when you study them, even though they look exactly the same.

TAB has been mentioned and TAB is good when you just want to sit down and play a tune. However, when you are studying and trying to work out arrangements and how several instruments can form a band or orchestra to make the best sounding music, taking advantage of the best parts of each keyboard or fretboard, a good starting point is to find C4 or Middle C or A4. By ear or by looking at a map. This will provide you with a reference point to work out all the rest of the stuff. And note that when you play, A4 is what you make it, it does not ever have to be set at 440Hz on many instruments, it can be set between 430 and 450Hz as you choose, as long as everyone sets their A4 note to the same audio frequency, everyone should be in tune.

In guitar arrangements, C4 is the note at the 3th space on the staff. For piano arrangements C4 is on the ledger line under he staff, looking like Saturn. I believe that specialised guitars like Requintos may also have a transpose, so that the written C note actually sounds as a F note. This is why finding a common reference point based on a real audio frequency is important when you want to arrange music for several instruments.

A further complication which you will find and have to work around is the actual tuning of the instruments. Some good examples are harmonicas and pianos. Harmonicas and piano can have notes tuned to slightly different audio frequencies to what your ukulele is designed and built to produce. If you want to explore this area as part of working out how to do multi-instrument arrangements, check out the tables of audio frequencies found in harmonicas and pianos and compare them to the frequencies you use to tune your ukulele. Just do the GCEA pitches and you will start to see the issues. If you choose to advance in your playing to be skilled in working in a band or orchestra, you will need to work out how to deal with these issues, as well as decoding fretboards and keyboard layouts.

@Bill1, as is frequently the case, my mind is blown with your thoroughly detailed and fascinating response. Thank you very much.
 

ubulele

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What Arcy said: Each octave starts with C, not only in SPN but in every pitch system I'm aware of.
From the Wikipedia article (the same one casualmusic referenced):
"The octave number increases by 1 upon an ascension from B to C."

Therefore, the lowest note in guitar E tuning is E2, and the lowest note in guitar/guitarlele A tuning is A2 (not A3), in the same C-to-B octave as E2, specifically, a fourth above. The tuning is strictly linear with no re-entrance, like standard guitar tuning. You caught that the top notes in these tunings (and in the corresponding uke tunings) fall in octave 4 rather than octave 5 (E4 and A4).

One might be confused by a line earlier in the article where it says the letters run from A to G. That's true, but it doesn't mean the octave numbers transition when looping from G back to A (though that would be a natural assumption to make without further clarification).

All these pitch labeling systems (including SPN) are somewhat relative; they aren't strictly tied to A=440 Hz, though they should be close.
 

ploverwing

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What Arcy said: Each octave starts with C, not only in SPN but in every pitch system I'm aware of.
From the Wikipedia article (the same one casualmusic referenced):
"The octave number increases by 1 upon an ascension from B to C."

Therefore, the lowest note in guitar E tuning is E2, and the lowest note in guitar/guitarlele A tuning is A2 (not A3), in the same C-to-B octave as E2, specifically, a fourth above. The tuning is strictly linear with no re-entrance, like standard guitar tuning. You caught that the top notes in these tunings (and in the corresponding uke tunings) fall in octave 4 rather than octave 5 (E4 and A4).

One might be confused by a line earlier in the article where it says the letters run from A to G. That's true, but it doesn't mean the octave numbers transition when looping from G back to A (though that would be a natural assumption to make without further clarification).

All these pitch labeling systems (including SPN) are somewhat relative; they aren't strictly tied to A=440 Hz, though they should be close.
Great, thank you very much. I am now more comfortable about what notes are actually being played on the guitar, despite what the printed clef says!

I really appreciate everyone's feedback on this, thank you, all, for taking the time to help me to understand this!
 

clear

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Is that just something obvious to everyone who first picks up a guitar and knows how to read standard notation for another instrument that uses treble clef?

Definitely obvious to not everyone. I was totally confused with this stuff when I picked up the guitar (my only instrument prior was the piano).
 

ploverwing

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Definitely obvious to not everyone. I was totally confused with this stuff when I picked up the guitar (my only instrument prior was the piano).
Oh goody! I'm glad I wasn't the only one!!
 

Wiggy

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A really good book* that explains all this (well, technically not "all") is Backbeat Books: Dave Stewart's "The Musician's Guide to Reading and Writing Music." It is 111 pages end-to-end, but has a world of facts [gasp: theory] in one place.

Ex: Did you know that there are it takes only three 4-note combinations that will to cover all 12 diminished chords? (See Pg. 47.)
Try it. Play the same three chords 4 times in a row and listen through the 12 keys.

<edit> Each of the three chords uses 4 notes of the scale: Each chord is unique as no notes are used in more than one chord.

They might be "inversions" and they might be "rootless", but they work.

Q: Without a root, can there be an inversion?

*ISBN 0-87930-570-3
 
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