Monthly Archives: September 2009

The IDP Gig & The Larrivee

Simple Souls, my original project, played at The Peaceful Center last night.

What a great night!  So much fun!  The band did a great job!  Tim and Kim, the new members, worked really hard in the past few weeks learning new songs and working out parts.  We’re so happy to have them in the band.

My board starting having some problems in the last few weeks, though.  The XLR input to channel 5 is not working.  It’s now dedicated to 1/4″ only (ie guitars).  Channel 7 is completely dead.  I think it’s the gain knob.  But despite all that, we were able to get everything mic-ed.  Overall, the system did a very good job.

I’ve been using my Larrivee a lot since I got it. It’s pretty much my main guitar for all gigs. But I haven’t used it with another guitarist.

The other guitarist, Tim, is using two Taylors both with the Expression System (6-string and 12-string). They both sound awesome! So the trick was to make sure the Larrivee and the Taylors blended well together. I wanted them to have distinct voices and compliment each other.

Man, I love the controls on this guitar. It has a pre-amp by B-Band. I think the model is A6..? B-Band now has different models and Larrivee is now putting in LR Baggs systems. In any case… This is a “dual source” system with an AST pickup (acoustic soundboard transducer) and UST pickup (under saddle transducer). It has a slider for blending the two signals. I find that I’m about 90% on the UST side.

Before this, being the only guitar in the band, I had no need to play with the controls other than the EQ. For this, I found the phase switch to be really helpful. Although, I’m still trying to figure out how to use the notch and frequency controls effectively.

During the gig, I was increasing my volume for solos. But at some point, I found that I wasn’t cutting through as much as I’d like. So I increased my mids also and that did the trick. Awesome! Remember: mids is your friend!

Now I just need to fix up my board so I can get a volume pedal and tuner back in my chain.  And maybe the LR Baggs Para DI too.

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Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 6.6

I’m not a big fan of 6.  I don’t know why… maybe under different circumstances we could have been friends… but sometimes a number just rubs you the wrong way… know what I mean??

I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of advice on how to use chords with 6 in them.

I think my favorite way of holding this chord is using this shape.  It sounds pretty nice when you use arpeggios.

I’ve been told that the 6 chord is use in a lot of Christmas music.

But one of my favorite chords with the 6 note in it is by adding it to the sus4 chord.

Sometimes I like to use this instead of the normal sus4 chord.  I like holding this using the 1st finger across to hold all 3 strings (in this case, on 2nd fret) then apply the 2nd and 3rd fingers in front.

Try going back and forth between this chord and the normal root chord (in this case, A major).


Another way to think of this chord might be D/A (that’s “D over A” or “D slash A”) or 2nd inversion D.  We’ll get into those type of chords in future posts.

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 6.4 – 4 and more sus2

1, 2, 3, 4 … come on baby say you love me (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChrzEJ27M2U)

Alright, so we’re going to talk about the 4 note.  The most popular use of this note on guitar is probably the sus4.  Here are the common shapes for this chord:

In these chords, the (major) 3rd is not played and is “covered” by the 4th.  The 3rd is shown using the white dot.

Very similar to the 2 chord, the 3rd is not played so these chords are ambiguous.  They’re not major or minor.

A common (proper? classical?) way to use the “sus” chord is to use the suspended (that’s what “sus” stands for) note as a way to “smooth” out a transition between two chords.  For instance:
     G    Dsus4    D


The G is the “preparation”.  The Dsus4 is the “suspension”.  And the D is the “resolve”.

Here, the G is made up of: G-B-D.  Dsus4 is: D-G-A.  So the G is suspended.  (If you use the open-string shape for G and the Dsus4 shown here, the G on the high-E string is suspended.  If you use fingers 2, 3, and 4 to hold the G, then you’ll probably find that you don’t need to lift your pinky going from G to Dsus4).  And D is: D-F#-A.  So the 4th is resolved by the (major) 3rd.

In these diagrams, the 3rd is shown by the white dot which is “covered up” by the 4th.

Another common use of these chords in modern music is going between the sus chord and normal triad.  This happens a lot with both sus2 (see part 6.2) and sus4.

To hear some examples, check out:

Black or White (Michael Jackson) — the riff basically goes from sus4 to major then sus2 to major http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLWt7kzaex0

Another way to use the 4 note, of course, is to leave the 3rd in.  In that case, we’d be adding the 4.

I find that this chord by itself could be a little strange sounding.  But it makes a lot of sense when you play it along with other chords.  For instance, try holding the open-string C chord the same way (ie include the G on the high-E, shift this shape up 2 frets).  Play the C then Dadd4.  C, of course, have the G in it also (and it’s been suspended on the G-string).

Another example of how this chord might be used is in the song Hysteria by Def Leppard (wow… I’m really showing my age with these examples!):
http://www.videocure.com/video/157050.html

Watch Phil Collen’s hand position (that’s the guitarist on the left for you youngsters) .  In this case, I would consider that the riff is made out of the 1, 3, and 4 notes (D, F#, G) and it repeated as a “theme” over D, G and Em (actual progression is: ||D    |G    |Em  G |D   :|| )

Okay, yes, there was a lot of use of sus4 in the 80s!  Probably too much in fact!  (Although, I think these songs “technically” came out in the early 90s)

Let’s try this more recent example of sus2.  Here’s Bad Day by Fuel (well, relatively more recent): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LKUVkRAmPs

Here, the beginning chords are:  A   Asus2   A

Again, the play is with the 3rd.

Sometimes, the sus4 chord might be used as a “substitution” for the V chord and the sus2 chord in place of the IV chord.  (see M&m post)  

There are a few ways guitarists like the play these.  Here is one example:

|G    |Cadd9   |Dsus4   |G      |

For this progression, try holding the G using all 4 fingers.  Your ring finger should be holding the B-string on the 3rd fret and your pinky on the high-E strin gon the 3rd fret.  These are now holding notes D and G.  (see G<–>Cadd9 Thing post)

Cadd9 also has these notes.  Then Dsus4 as well.

In this case, the 4 note is not used as a way to “mask” the 3rd (in the D chord), necessarily.  But the G is suspended throughout the progression.  This is also sometimes called the “pedal point” or “pedal tone”.


For a sus2 example, try:


    |E      |Bsus4     |Asus2    |E       |

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 6.2 – 2 & 9

We’re continuing our look at the other numbers: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9.  I’m going to try to give you some ideas how you might use these chords.

This is part 6.2 because we’re going to look at the 2 chord.  😛

Disclaimer :- The following tips are purely based on my own experience, reading, and experimentation.  Results may vary.  Check with your ears to see if these chords are right for you.  Side effects may include: more time spent with your guitar, creative ways of holding chords, and creative voicing and dressing up your chords.


2 & 9

To be completely accurate, I guess most guitar chords using the 2 note is actually the 9.  What I mean by that is that most of the time, the 2 note being played in most of these chords are not actually 1 step away from the lowest root note but rather an octave + 1 step.  It’s very rare that you’d play a root note with the 2nd note on the next string.  For the most part, it’s just kind of hard to do.  🙂  And the notes tend to become “mushy”.  So I’m going to talk about the 2 and 9 together (interchangeably).

2 if fun.  I like the 2.  It’s very versatile… kind of like a plain white tee… you can where it out, where it under something, where it like pajamas.  Because the 2 chord doesn’t have the 3rd in it, it’s ambiguous — it’s neither major or minor.  So it can be used to “mask” the major or minor.  For instance, try this progression:

    Em   C   D   Asus9  (a la “Drive” by Incabus)

 
Now, try substituting the Asus9 with either A or Am.  You might find that the A sounds okay.  But the key should be G which should make it Am.  But if you try Am, you might find that it’s too dark and lack the “driving” (pun intended) characteristic of the song.

I also like using the 2 with the 3rd, both major and minor.  For instance, try this chord: (Emin9)


Notice that the root is E.  The F# is played on the D-string while the G is also played (on the G-string.  In this case, the 7 (D) is also played on the B-string.

Try some arpeggios (allow notes to ring but only play one at a time).

Here’s a fun progression.  Try playing Emin9 followed by the one on the right which I’m calling C-5+9.

And here’s another way to hold the min9 chord which also sounds great.






Another one that I really like is adding the 2 note with the major chord which might look something like this:

Notice in this version of Cadd9 (see previous post for other version), both the D and the E are played.  And in fact, the D and E are only 1 step apart.

I usually like using this chord to create a smooth/gentle end to a song.

This type of chord is fairly common on the piano in pop.

Well, there you have it.  A few different ways to use the 2 (or 9) notes… without 3rd, with minor 3rd, and with major 3rd.

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 6 – the other numbers

Sometimes I think the other numbers must feel like what’s-her-face on the Brady Bunch (“Marsha, Marsha, Marsha”)… what’s her name…??  Doesn’t matter… Anyway…

In this lesson, we’re going to take about some of the other numbers that are not 1, 3 and 5.

Just to recap… We use 1, 3, and 5 to build triads.  When we do this, we find that we get major chords and minor chords.  The 1 and 5 are the same for both.  The major chord uses the major 3rd while the minor chord uses the minor 3rd.

So let’s look what we can do with 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9.
Often, people will use sus2 and sus4.  The “sus” is short for “suspended”.  In these chords, the 3rd is not played and is substituted by the 2 or 4.  For instance, Asus2 would be made out of: A B E.  While Asus4 would be played using: A D E.

The 6th chord is simply the normal triad with an added 6th.  For C, this would mean the notes are: C E G A.

The 7th chord is simply the normal triad with an added 7th.  Normally, if it just says “7” as in C7, the “7” refers to the minor 7th.  So C7 has: C E G Bb.  You can also add the 7th to the minor chord.  Cm7 would be: C Eb G Bb.  The major 7th can also be used but it’s normally written as “maj7“.  Cmaj7 would be: C E G B.  

The last number we’ll talk about for this lesson is the 9.  As you may recall, the 1 and 8 notes are the same note except the 8th is an octave above the 1.  The 9th is therefore the same note as the 2nd also an octave above.

For 9, there are 4 chords worth mentioning…

add9” (ie Cadd9, see previous lesson) — This is probably the most common one for guitarists.  For instance, Cadd9 would be: C E G D.

9” — This is not the same as “add9”.  In this case, the minor 7th is implied.  So the notes for C9 are: C E G Bb D.

maj9” — In this case, the major 7th is implied and so Cmaj9 would be: C E G B D.

min9” — Very similar to the “maj9”, here the minor 7th is implied and so Cmin9 would be: C Eb G Bb D.

There are also 11th and 13th chords but we’ll look at them another time.

In one of the next posts, we’ll look at how these chords might be used.



Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 5 – M&m

HEY!  WAKE UP!!

I know… very boring… but keep reading… once you get a hang of this stuff, you’ll see the fretboard in a whole new way.

In the last lesson, we talked about what a “major” chord is verses a “minor” chord.  And we also looked at building “triads” which are basically 3 notes played together.  Major and minor chords are triads.  And we also looked at how there are different shapes for the major and minor chords that you can place at different frets to get all the chords.

We used the C (Major) Scale to build a triad starting with C and we got the C (Major) chord.  But what if we built triads using the rest of the scale??  Let’s see…

  1  C — C E G = C
  2  D — D F A = Dm
  3  E — E G B = Em
  4  F — F A C = F
  5  G — G B D = G
  6  A — A C E = Am
  7  B — B D F = Bo (diminished)
 

Let’s look at a few of these and see why they might be major or minor.  Remember that a chord is “major” if its 2nd note is a “major 3rd” from the root (2 steps).  And the chord is “minor” if its 2nd note is a “minor 3rd” from the root (1 1/2 steps).

The 1st chord we get has the notes C, E, G.  The E is 2 steps away from the C so this is a major chord.

The 2nd chord we get has the notes D, F, A.  The F is 1 1/2 steps away from the D so this is a minor chord.

The 3rd chord we has the notes E G B.  E is 1 1/2 steps away from G so it’s minor.

The 4th (sometimes called the “sub dominant”) and 5th (sometimes called the “dominant”) chords are both major because their 2nd notes are 2 steps away from their root (ie F->A and G->B).

The 6th chord is minor.  This is also the “relative minor” to the 1st major.

The 7th chord is different.  Not only is the 2nd note a minor 3rd from the root (B->D).  But the 3rd note is not a 5th!  B’s 5th is F#, not F.  So the F is flat or “diminished” from the normal 5th.  Therefore, this chord is called the “diminished” (usually denoted by a superscript O).

Let’s review and use “M” for major and “m” for minor (and “o” for diminished).  We have:
  1  2   3   4   5  6   7   <– numberth note in scale
  C  D   E   F   G  A   B   <– notes for C scale
  M  m   m   M   M  m   o   <– [M]ajor, [m]inor, or diminshed
  I  ii  iii IV  V  vi  vii <– roman numerals (uppercase = major)
If you go through this exercise with all/any of the scales, you’ll find this pattern in every case.


Why is this useful?


This is also sometimes called the “Nashville System“.  Instead of writing out the specific chords, for instance: C, G, Am, F, the chart might read: I, V, vi, IV or maybe: 1, 5, 6m, 4.  The expectation is that you would be able to figure out which chord it is if/when provided the key (ie root or scale).

When you’re learning a song, if you don’t have an instrument handy (and you don’t have perfect pitch), it might be hard to figure out what notes/chords are being played.  But if you train your ear to hear “relative pitches” and use this basic understanding, you can learn a song by ear simply by identifying the chords by their numbers.  What you’ll find is that each chord has a distinct feel/flavor.  And no matter which key you’re playing in, each chord can serve the same function.  For instance, if you play a progression (a sequence of chords that repeat), you may find that the V chord likes to be followed by the I chord.  
I do most of my learning this way for covers.  I find that it gives me 2 advantages:
1) I can learn a song in the car while driving
2) I’m not “stuck” on a particular key in case we decide to play it in another key (usually requested by singers)

TIP 1 :- Listen to the bass notes.  Most of the time it’s easier to identify the chord using that note.
TIP 2 :- Pick a key.  Start with the I chord.  Then play another chord from the scale (ii, iii, IV, V, vi, or vii) then play the I chord again.  See if you can hear the differences and movement.

This might come in handy when trying to transpose on the spot.  For instance, let’s say you learned the song in C.  The progression is: C, Am, F, G.  Instead of think of the chords by their letters, think of them as: I, vi, IV, V in the key of C.  Now, let’s say you want to play this song in E.  And you might remember that the notes to E (major scale) are: E F# G# A B C# D# E.  So this progression in (the key of) E is: E, C#, A, B.

In fact, transposing on guitar is extremely easy (much easier than piano IMHO).  If you have learned your progression using barre chords, and you’ve been playing the above progression in C using 3rd fret (A-shape for C major), you can shift your entire playing down 4 frets to E (7th fret on A-string) and wa-la, you’re playing in the new key!

If you’re writing your own songs, this might give you some basic starting point for coming up with a progression.  This can serve as the basic guide or “rule of thumb” for what chords might sound good together.  This can also serve as the rules to break.

This also helps when improving (a solo that’s not predefined).  Usually in these situations, you already know what the progression will be.  By remember what notes are in the chords coming up, you can quickly figure out what notes might sound good over them (vs other notes that won’t sound so good… unless that’s what you’re going for).  This becomes even more powerful when you think of this in terms of numbers.  For instance, think of the V chord as having notes 2, 5, 7 from the scale.  For guitar, this means you just need to know the “starting point” (ie key, root, scale).  So you know that if you play one of those notes from the scale, it’ll harmonize with the chord.


Once you start analyzing songs this way, you’ll confirm what you’ve probably heard others have said, “this is basically the same song as ____”.

Over time as you develop your ear, you’ll hear the same patterns over and over again so learning new songs becomes very easy.  (ie *yawn*, another 1 5 6 4 pattern?!)


Guitar Lesson – Back to Basics – Barre Chords

Alright, so let’s see how we can put all this theory to practical use!

You might notice that we only looked at a few chords in the Basics section.  Now, let’s get into barre chords.

How to play barre chords
In the chart below, you’ll see lines going across.  This means that those notes are meant to be held by 1 finger.  Normally, you would use your index finger (1) to hold the “barre”.

TIP 1 :- In reality, your index finger will not be perfectly straight and probably won’t actually hold down the A and D strings very much (not enough to hear notes).

TIP 2 :- The minor shape on the 1st row below requires the index finger to hold down the low-E, G, B, and E strings.  This is too hard for me to do with just my index finger.  So I use my middle finger on top of my index finger to give it extra support.


Take a look at the “major” and “minor” shapes on this chart.

You might notice that this chart is not specific to any particular chord.  That’s because the same shape can be applied to any note.

Looking at the figure on the upper-left, you might notice that it looks a lot like the E chord.  That’s because it is!

One way to look at it is that the E chord is like having the barre at the 0th fret (ie you’re not playing it, the nut is).

Now, if you shift the whole shape down by 1 fret and hold the 1st fret (all of it) using your index finger, you’ll be playing the F note on the low-E and high-E strings as well as the C note on the B string.  Then place your middle finger (2), ring finger (3), and pinky (4) into position.  Now you’re holding F (major)!

Shift this shape down again to the 3rd fret (ie index on the 3rd fret).  Now you’re holding G (major).
As you can imagine, you can shift this shape up and down the fretboard.
In the last lesson, I mentioned that it’s important to remember where the root note is for each shape and this is why…  
So, let’s say you need to play C# (major).  Well, you have a few choices.  Looking at this chart, there are 2 ways of playing a major chord.
One way is to use the “E” shape (figure at upper-left corner).  The other way is to use the “A” shape (3rd row left).  
If you remember, for the “E” shape, the root note is on the E-string.  And by counting steps, you will find the C# note on the E-string on the 9th fret.  So if you use the “E” shape on the 9th fret, you’ll be playing C# (major).

But you can also use the “A” shape which has the root note on the A-string.  The C# on the A-string on the 4th fret.  So if you hold the “A” shape on on the 4th fret, you’ll also play C# (major).

Let’s use one more example.  How about Bm (B minor)?
You can use the “Em” shape (1st row center) or the “Am” shape (3rd row center).

Again, for the “Em” shape, the root note is on the E-string.  The B note is on the 7th fret on the E-string.  So hold the shape there.  For the “Am” shape, the root note is on the A-string and the B note is on the 2nd fret on the A-string.  So hold it there.


So… by learning 4 shapes (E, Em, A, Am), remembering where the notes are on 2 strings, and applying a little bit of theory, you can now play all major and minor chords in 2 positions!  Cool huh?

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 4 – Easy as 1, 3, 5

Last time on “Guitar Lesson – Music Theory”…
  • Notes next to each other = 1/2 step (H), two 1/2 = whole (W)
  • On the guitar, 1 fret = 1/2 step
  • To play a major scale, start at a note then play W-W-H-W-W-W-H to get back to the same note on octave away
  • If you start a scale on a different note, you’ll get different number of sharps and flats
  • Following number of sharps and flats is also called the circle of fifths
  • Using the same pattern but starting at a different position will give you another scale.  By starting at the 6th note, you’ll get the minor scale pattern.
  • Major scales and minor scales that have the same notes are “relative” to each other.
And now, part 4….
This time, let’s look at each note in the major scale and see what their relationship is to the “root” note (aka “1”, aka “do”):
(remember: W W H W W W H)
1 -> 2  =  W                      = whole step
1 -> 3  =  W + W                  = 2 steps 
1 -> 4  =  W + W + H              = 2 1/2 steps
1 -> 5  =  W + W + H + W          = 3 1/2 steps
1 -> 6  =  W + W + H + W + W      = 4 1/2 steps
1 -> 7  =  W + W + H + W + W + W  = 5 1/2 steps
 

How about the minor scale?

(remember: W H W W H W W)
1 -> 2  =  W                      = whole step
1 -> 3  =  W + H                  = 1 1/2 steps 
1 -> 4  =  W + H + W              = 2 1/2 steps
1 -> 5  =  W + H + W + W          = 3 1/2 steps
1 -> 6  =  W + H + W + W + H      = 4 steps
1 -> 7  =  W + H + W + W + H + W  = 5 steps


For now, let’s just look at the notes 1, 3 and 5.  The 1 note is, of course, the root.  As mentioned in the previous lesson, the 5th is the same between the two scales.  But the 3rd is different.  The “major 3rd” is 2 steps away from 1 while the “minor 3rd” is 1 1/2 step away from the 1.

This little 1/2 step makes a big difference in sound.


Let’s take a look some chords and see how this works out.
 
All the basic chords from the earlier lessons are “triad” meaning that they are made of 3 notes.  To form a triad, simply start at a note (1), skip a note, take the next note (3), skip another note, then take the next one after that (5).


When you do this with the C on the C Major Scale (C D E F G A B C), you get: C-E-G.  This picture shows where these notes are played when you play a C (open string).






How about when we do this for A minor?  The notes to Am are: A-C-E.  But the A major scale is: A B C# D E F# G# A.


But what if we looked at the notes from the A minor scale?  Then we have: A B C D E F G A.


So… when you take the 1, 3, and 5 notes from the major scale, you get the major chord.  When you take the 1, 3, 5 notes from the minor scale, you get the minor chord.


And that’s actually what is meant by “major” chord and “minor” chord.  The “major” and “minor” refers to which 3rd you’re taking from.  The major scale or minor scale.


In other words, in C major (chord), the “major” refers to the “major 3rd”.  And in A minor (chord), the “minor” refers to the the “minor 3rd”.



Sometimes people will use numbers purely relative to the major scale.  In this method, a minus sign (-) is used to mean “flat” or “diminished” and a plus sign (+) might be used to mean “sharp” or “augment”.


So a major chord might be written as: 1 3 5.  While a minor chord might be written as: 1 -3 5.


Yet another way to look at this is:
    major 3rd is 2 steps from root
    minor 3rd is 1 1/2 steps from root


Specifically for guitarists, once you’ve learned how to hold the chords, you may want to review the notes chart (see Part 1) and try to remember what notes are being held on each string.


TIP :- For each shape, start by memorizing where the root note is.  For instance:  (all examples refer to the open string chords from Guitar Basics lessons)

   Chord      Notes (1 3 5)    Root Notes On Strings

     E          E  G# B        low-E, D, high-E
     A          A  C# E        A, G
     D          D  F# A        D, B
     G          G  B  D        low-E, G, high-E
     C          C  E  G        A, B
     Am         A  C  E        A, G
     Em         E  G  B        low-E, D, high-E
     Dm         D  F  A        D, B
    

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 3 – Major (Pain), Minor (Inconvenience)

So far, we’ve talked about the major scale which has a W-W-H-W-W-W-H pattern.

You can imagine that you can take this pattern and start in a different position.

So let’s try that with the C (Major) Scale:

   C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C

     W   W   H   W   W   W   H

What if we started this on A instead?

                       A   B   C   D   E   F   G   A

                         W   H   W   W   H   W   W

Now the pattern becomes:  W-H-W-W-H-W-W  (and we get the Minor Scale).

This is also called “relative minor” and “relative major”.  

In other words, the C Major Scale is “related” to the “A Minor Scale”.

This chart is sometimes called the “Circle of Fifths“.  Because as you go clockwise, the next note is the 5th of the previous one.

But what if we looked at the C Major Scale vs C Minor Scale?

        1  2  4  5  8
major:  C  D  F  G  C
minor:  C  D  Eb F  G  Ab Bb

Not only can you build another scale using the same pattern starting at a different position.  But when you look at the patterns side-by-side starting with the same note, you’ll notice that some notes from the two scales are the same while others are different.

In this case, the major and minor scales differ on the 3rd, 6th, and the 7th notes.

This will make more sense when we go back and look at chords.

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 2 – WWHWWWH

In the previous lesson, we talked about steps.  Just to summarize…

notes next to each other = 1/2 step apart
two 1/2 steps = a whole step

Now we’ll take this idea and see how it applies for scales.

The first scale that most people learn is the C Major Scale.  The notes for this scale are:

    1   2    3   4   5   6   7   8    <— let’s numberthem
    do  re   mi  fa  so  la  ti  do   <— for vocalists
    C   D    E   F   G   A   B   C
(1 = starting note = “root’)

If we look at these notes on the piano, the first thing you might notice is that to play this scale, only the white keys are required.

Now, let’s look at the relationship between the notes.  In this chart, we’ll also number the notes:



C -> D = whole step (W)
D –> E = whole step (W)
E –> F = 1/2 step   (H)
F –> G = whole step (W)
G –> A = whole step (W)
A –> B = whole step (W)
B –> C = 1/2 step   (H)

All major scales follow this pattern: W-W-H-W-W-W-H.  So playing the C Major Scale is simply saying play this pattern starting with C.

Let’s look at what this might look like for the G Major Scale:

    G  A  B  C  D  E  F#  G

When we follow this pattern starting with G, we get F#.  So This scale has 1 sharp (#).

Let’s do it again for the F Major Scale:

    F  G  A  Bb  C  D  E  F

When we follow this pattern starting with F, we get Bb.  So This scale has 1 flat (b).

If we do this for all the notes, you’ll notice that each note will result in a different number of sharps and flats.

TIP 1 :- Letters should not be repeated.  So for the F (Major) Scale, the A was already used as the 3rd note so the 4th note could not be A# and has to be Bb.

TIP 2 :- On music sheets, the sharps and flats are placed on the line representing that note/letter.


So let’s take a look at what each scale might look like.

Here, we’ve put C in the middle.  As you move down from C, the number of sharps increase.  And as you move up from C, the number of flats increase.
 
This is also known as “circle of fifths“.

The way that I memorize it is this…

For sharps:
   [C]alvin
   [G]o
   [D]own
   [A]nd
   [E]at
   [B]reakfast





For flats:
   [F]at
   [B]oys (Bb)
   [E]at   (Eb)
   [A]ll    (Ab)
   [D]ay  (Db)
   [G]??  (Gb)


This called the circle of fifths because as you move clockwise around, the next scale starts with the 5th note of the previous.  For instance, G’s scale has 1 sharp and is the 5th note of the C Scale.  D’s scale has 2 sharps is the 5th note of the G Scale.

As I always tell my students, if you don’t remember anything else, remember this: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole half (WWHWWWWH)!