Wait! Come back! It's not that bad, I swear.
You've probably heard of this antediluvian, cosmic horror known as Music Theory (cue thunder and evil laughter...) and likely done a bit of digging around. If so, I'll bet money that you found about 5 million sites covering a million different topics each. Yeah, that's a problem.
So how do you sort through that mess? Well fortunately, I'm gonna do it for you. I bounced around like an idiot for a long time with music theory. I had no clue where to start or what was important for my goals. If your goal has anything to do with playing metal lead guitar (you're here, so I'm betting that's the case), read on.
ABSOLUTELY MOST IMPORTANT BIT OF MUSIC THEORY EVER, COMING UP:
Intervals are the building blocks of all music, and learning them is absolutely clutch. An interval is just the musical "distance" between two notes. On a guitar, you can measure this in frets.
In western music, there are only 12 possible intervals within an octave. Of those, only 7 are important at any given time. There's a bit more to it than that, but starting here will make you progress sooooooo much faster. Here are the intervals that exist in western music, within an octave, followed by their use in the Major and Natural Minor scales:
|Fret||Name||Major Scale||Natural Minor Scale|
The table above shows the number of frets you need to travel for a given interval. The columns marked "Major Scale" and "Minor Scale" are there to show you which intervals are present in each of those scales. I recommend starting with the Major scale. Pick any note on the fretboard, then move up the number of frets in the left column, and bang - you've found your interval. Play around with this on any one string of your choosing. Play the first note, then the interval, first note, interval. Repeat. Listen to the difference in the sound of each interval.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO MEMORIZE THE NAMES OF THE INTERVALS RIGHT NOW!
The important bit to absorb is the distance between each note of the scale you are working on.
To be continued:
3 Note Per String Scales
You absolutely want to learn these in conjunction with intervals. Why? Because both of them will make so much more sense if you think about them together. Fear not, I'll make a separate post about these soon, but go ahead and google if you want. I mention it here now because if you don't know the term, you can't look it up. Go for it.