Glossary Of Music Terms Used In The Course

Throughout the course we will be using many terms that you may or may not know already. I have made a list of some of the terms we will be using in the course, and included definitions to help you get familiar with them. This terms page is just for quick reference and many of these terms will also be explained more thoroughly in the lessons. If you should run into words in the course that you do not understand, always refer to this page and check to see if it is here. A link to this page will be provided from every lesson in the course, so you should have no trouble finding it.


  • scale - A group of notes that work well together
  • chromatics - These are basically all twelve (12) notes in an octave. The naturals (7) and non-naturals (5) together make up the chromatics. (7+5=12)
  • naturals - The notes that do not have sharp or flat names (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). There are seven (7) of them.
  • non-naturals - The notes that do have the sharps or flats in their names (A#, C#, D#, F#, G#). There are five (5) of them. These notes are also often called the "accidentals".
  • sharps - Sharp generally just means higher. Sharp of the note you are on would be one note higher. To tune sharp you would tune "up".
  • flats - Flat generally just means lower. Flat of the note you are on would be one note lower. To tune flat you would tune "down".
  • major - This is a type of scale or chord that sounds bright, happier, and more upbeat. It has no flats in it. This is kind of subjective, and will be explained much more in-depth in the lessons.
  • minor - This is a type of scale or chord that sounds darker, maybe more sad, kinda gloomy. Minor scales or chords do use flats. This is kind of subjective, and will be explained much more in-depth in the lessons.
  • root-note - This is basically the same thing as "key". The root note is the note that the music is centered on or built from. You could say its the "main note" in a song.
  • key - A key is a group of notes and chords built on the notes of a scale, centered on the root.
  • transpose - Transposing to another key or root simply means to move our scale, etc to another key or root note. It will be the same scale, etc. but now centered on a different key.
  • octave - In traditional music there are only 12 different notes, then they repeat themselves. When you move up or down 12 notes, you will find a higher or lower version of the note you started on. This is an octave. Same note, but one octave higher or lower.
  • position - This would be the four frets that your hand is over at any given time. You have four fingers, one for each fret. Position also refers to the pattern of notes you would play at any four frets for your chosen scale, etc.
  • fret - Technically, the frets are the small metal bars across the neck of your guitar or bass. When you press your fingertip down between two "frets" you will fret the string and make the appropriate corresponding note. (you don't actually press your fingertip down "on" the frets, but between them)
  • interval - This is the space between notes. (see whole-step and half-step)
  • half-step - This is the shortest interval. It is the next note up or down from where you are. For guitar and bass players, this would simply be moving up or down one fret.
  • whole-step - This is a longer interval than the half-step. With a whole-step you would skip a note and play the second one. For guitar and bass players you would simply "skip a fret" up or down.
  • pentatonic - This is a type of scale using five different notes. Penta means five and tonic means tone. So a pentatonic scale is a "five tone scale".
  • mode - If theory is learned properly, the meaning of this would be different, but this term generally applies to a group of seven note scales.
  • melodic-interval - A single note.
  • harmonic-interval - Two notes at a time.
  • chordal-interval - Three or more notes at a time.

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