Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Fretful
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Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:25 pm

FINGER BOARD KNOWLEDGE & SIGHT-READING
(an intermediate knowledge of musical notation is assumed)

PART ONE : SIX STRINGS :

Crucial to sight-reading are: Anticipation - Melodic or Harmonic Recognition - Reaction - Knowledge of Choices - Decision - Execution.
Each area requires a special approach and practice, but of these, knowledge of the interrelationship between the notes on the page and the fret board is key.

Fingerboard knowledge is not so much a question of knowing where the notes are, but of understanding and hearing where they are.

The following notes only occur once on the fingerboard:
NOTES occurring ONCE (Tuned to E).jpg
NOTES occurring ONCE - (Tuned to D).jpg
Know your Six Strings
Play the following scales, as indicated, concentrating on only one string at a time ; it is essential to say the names of the notes out loud or, better still, to sing them) as you look at them on the stave while acknowledging the string you are playing them ON, as well as the position you are playing them AT. Look at your Left Hand only if you feel it necessary (assuming you play “right-handed”) (develop the “feel” rather than the “look” of your hand – there will, later, be variations to this instruction).

Work on ONLY ONE STRING for about two days, before moving on to the next string.

SCALES ON THE SIXTH STRING (⑥) (in C Major, E minor, E Major) :
(Note, in passing, that the A at V on ⑥ is the same note as the open A on ⑤)
SCALES on E (bass) String.jpg
SCALES ON THE FIFTH STRING
(Fingerings no longer given and must be inferred from the stated positions)

(Note that the D at the fifth fret on ⑤ is the same note as the open D on ④)
SCALES on A String.jpg
SCALES ON THE FOURTH STRING (④)
(Note that the G at on the fifth fret on ④ is the same note as the open G on ③)
SCALES on D String.jpg


SCALES ON THE THIRD STRING (③)
(Note that the B on the FOURTH fret on ③ is the same note as the open B on ②)
SCALES on G String.jpg
SCALES ON THE SECOND STRING (②)
(Note that the E at the fifth fret at V on ② is the same note as the open E on ①)
SCALES on B String.jpg
SCALES ON THE FIRST STRING (①)
SCALES on E (treble) String.jpg
Next Instalment : Across the Strings
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SteveL123
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by SteveL123 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:30 pm

Thank you, subscribed! I really need to work on this!

DaveLloyd
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by DaveLloyd » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:09 pm

Looking forward to this!

I've also subscribed to this thread.

Thank you Fretful!

dtoh
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by dtoh » Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:15 am

I hate to say this, but a few years ago I would have hugely welcomed these exercises. There wasn't much out there, so I created my own exercises... some of which were very similar to the exercises below... and some of which were more complex. I spent a lot of time working on the exercises. The problem is that the brain is very clever and with just a little repetition, the brain is able to quickly map relative positions and then muscle memory takes over so you can easily play the exercises but you haven't really learned the fretboard. You've only learned relative movements, and when you see the note outside of the context of the exercise you haven't created an absolute mapping between the note on the page and the note on fretboard.

In my opinion the only way you can learn to sight read in the higher positions is to practice sight reading a LOT of material written for the higher positions. Your brain needs ... at the slightest glance at a note on paper... to be able to instantly, effortlessly and automatically fire the neurons needed to move your fingers, and it needs to be able to do this from a countless number of starting positions. Different brains may work differently, but I think that entails something different than memorization of specific movements.

That said, kudos on your efforts. I look forward to additional installments, and I hope I'm wrong.

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Wed Aug 22, 2018 2:29 pm

A NOTE ON TESTING AND SOME TESTING NOTES:
Publishing a course in instalments helps students not to jump the gun. Part Two will begin on Saturday 28th; by then, the notes forming the octave of each string will have started to sink in. To test this, play the following melody, first with its conventional fingerings (A), then adhering to the given strings (B). John Williams once deplored the fact that he so often observed that guitarists “couldn’t even find a C♯ on the D string” … and on that string, there’s only one!

You are not here in the least concerned with time-keeping or how well you are playing; the sole question is: do you know where the notes are on the strings?
TESTING NOTES - 1 - (A).jpg
Having familiarised with version (A), you could try playing version (B) as is, but even very competent guitarists find it rather challenging and tend to lose track of positions as no specific fingerings are indicated.
Better to play the exercise as suggested in “Execution of Bars 1 to 4 of Testing Notes” immediately below, following this procedure:
1 - look at the note on the score and try to “think” where it might be on the advocated string
2 - look at your left hand and locate the relevant fret, then go to that fret with any finger you like and play the note, then …
3 - … keeping your finger on the note, visually (and mentally) retrace the string back to the nut (what would be the open string), and then visually trace the string from the finger to the XIIth fret (the octave of that string)
4 - from the XIIth fret, visually return to the fingered note
5 - finally, starting with the open string, play, name, and sing the scale up to the given note
TESTING NOTES -1 - (B).jpg
TESTING NOTES - Execution of Bars 1 to 4.jpg
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chrisphattingh
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by chrisphattingh » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:30 am

Thank you...... so much to learn, so little time left.....

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Aug 25, 2018 3:10 pm

PART TWO : ACROSS THE STRINGS :

A Major scale consists of one Octave of TWELVE semitones unevenly grouped as follows:
MAJOR SCALE (12 semitones).jpg
Each note of a scale has been given a name, respectively: TONIC, SUPERTONIC, MEDIANT, SUBDOMINANT, DOMINANT, SUBMEDIANT, LEADING NOTE, and the recurring TONIC at the Octave. At the moment, we’ll only be concerned with the special relationship between the Leading Note and recurring Tonic.
Following the discipline and order of the above intervals, the first position of the guitar’s fingerboard offers TWO OCTAVES:
TWO OCTAVES - from 6 to 1.jpg
You will find that a scale which would adhere to the order of tones and semitones given above can only be built from ONE NOTE, the “C”; start on any other note and “something” will seem to be missing:
G MAJOR SCALE - (No Acc.).jpg
This scale does not sound “wrong”, but it doesn’t sound “right” either.
Compare the order of tones/semitones between the C and G Major scales; there is one glaring difference: at the end, the semitone between the Leading Note and recurring Tonic of the C Major scale has been substituted in the G Major scale by a WHOLE TONE. This is in contradiction to what our Western ear has been accustomed to expect, and something must be added to “restore” the balance; in this instance, the simplest thing that can be done is to raise the F to bring it “closer” to the G (you can’t lower the G because the Octave would no longer be an Octave); the tool used for this is called an “accidental”; as “raising” is required, it is called a “sharp” (as opposed to a flat); in the following example, using this tool to reduce the gap, we have created a so-called “leading note” which “leads” the ear to the conclusion, or the close, of the scale:
G MAJOR SCALE - (With Acc.).jpg
The scales in Part 1 progressed longitudinally (up and down the same string); scales can also progress laterally (across the strings), the fingerings being dictated by the arrangement of tones and semitones (easy to see on the same string even though position shifts confuse the issue, but more difficult when going across the strings). So far, the principle of raising or lowering the pitch by shortening or lengthening a string has been applied; but across the strings, the respective (ascending) intervals between the strings: 4th,4th, 4th, 3rd,4th, must also be taken into account. So, playing an ascending scale across the strings will always require two skills: raising the pitch by shortening the strings, and raising it by using the intervals across the strings offered by the natural tuning of the guitar.
In a scalic progression, the first choice that presents itself is whether or not to use open strings; staying with C Major and starting with the Tonic, C, an immediate option is on offer regarding the Supertonic, D; we can play it “open”, at Position I, on ④, or we can be more adventurous and, using Position II, play it on ⑤; the same will apply when finding the G and B where similar alternatives exist; but what advantage might that have?
Here are two C Major scales, the first at Position I, the second at Position II:
C MAJOR Scale - at Position I.jpg
C MAJOR SCALE at Position II.jpg
In the second example, at Position II, apart from creating a more homogenous sound across the strings (although that will be open for debate), in playing the scale, a pattern will emerge which can be replicated in ANY position across the board. You will also observe that you could use a barre where finger 1 would, in effect, replicate the nut.
To continue familiarising with aspects of scales, here is the first of five Major scales, preceded by a short preamble designed to “locate” the TONIC in relation to the OPEN STRING on which it is found. When working on this scale (and subsequent ones), THINK, OBSERVE, and LISTEN, respectively:
to the chosen POSITION, the choice of STRING, the INTERVALS played.
Continue to say (or, better still, sing) the name of each note as it is being played. There is no need, at first, to memorise the location of the notes: the principles advocated in the preceding paragraph will, in time, allow the knowledge to “sink in” naturally.
Work slowly ( ≈ Crochet = 80 ) and on no more than ONE scale a day (one tonality); the average time needed to play a scale and its preamble (with repeats) is about 30 seconds, so only five minutes are needed to play them ten times. With all due and infinite respect for Segovia’s advice to practice scales three hours a day, you may find that repeating the procedure two or three times a day may be sufficient.
C MAJOR Scale (with preamble and fingerings):
C MAJOR SCALE - Preamble - fingerings.jpg
Once this has been absorbed, continue working on this C Major scale, alternately looking only at the stave, and then only looking at the left hand, thus familiarising alternately with the notes on the score and then with the fingers on the frets in conjunction with the notes on the strings. However, once familiar with the visual aspect of the left hand on the board, try to prioritise keeping your eyes on the score :
C MAJOR SCALE - Preamble - NO fingerings.jpg
Working further on the above, add, ad lib, the alternate use of the barre.

Next : the second of five scales
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kmurdick
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by kmurdick » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:51 pm

Here's a summary of what Aaron Shearer taught concerning learning the fingerboard.

Probably the best way to learn the fingerboard is the way other string
players do it. I assume that you can already read well in the first position.
Aaron Shearer's Classic Guitar Technique Vol 2 ( Alfred) devotes the
second half the book to learning the upper positions. The exercises mentioned below can, for the most part, be found there. Page numbers refer to this book.

1) Learn the first string by reading single string exercises in various
positions. Visualize them first. Page 103-104

2) Play scales on the first string in many keys. Visualize them before
playing by naming finger and note names. When you shift, think from the
last finger put down so that the largest shift is only two frets. Example, an
F scale on the first string. f1, g3, (2 fret shift) a1, Bb2, c4 (2 fret
shift) d1, e3, f4, (and then back down). Page 110,111

3) Play a few pieces that use the the upper positions on the first string. Page 112-114.

4) Repeat proceedure 1-3 on the next string, except practice position studies
combining the first and second string in all positions (positions 3-9 is
usually adequate). Always name finger numbers (visualize) before playing.
(Position studies begin on page 117 and continue thorough rest of the book)

5) When you have learned all six strings using the above proceedure, turn
your attention to playing position studies on all six strings in all
positions. These may be found in Shearer's huge scale book (Belwin Mills).
Always visualize the page first. Another good book is the 2nd (I think)
Berkley Jazz Guitar series book.

Here's visualization exercise for when you have learned all six strings. Take
a position (we'll use 5th position), and name the notes you would play with
fingers 1 and 2, skipping strings. You would name A, D#, G, C#, E, A#, and
back down get the ones you missed A, F, C, G#, D, A#. Now do it with fingers
1 and 3. A, E, G, D, E, B and back down A, F#, C, A, D, B. Do this with 1
and 4 as well. A, F, G etc. Learn to do this exercise rapidly with all
fingers, in all positions, using both sharps and flats. Do this OFF THE
GUITAR!

Whatever you do, don't waste your time on some chart method or other such
trick. Remember how difficult it was to learn the first position? It's 10
times more difficult to learn the rest of the guitar fingerboard. You must
learn learn it in a methodical manner just the way the first position was
learned. Combined with an effective repertoire, it can be a rewarding
experience.

Kent

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Wed Aug 29, 2018 12:00 pm

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
THE G MAJOR SCALE
As seen above, adding one # to C Major moves the tonality up by one fifth, to G MAJOR;
observe once again that G Major scale with the TONE, TONE, SEMITONE, TONE, TONE, TONE, SEMITONE construction which was analysed earlier:
G MAJOR SCALE - (With Acc.).jpg
Using the preamble to “fix” the Tonic (G) on the E string ⑥, (play while singing) the exercise below:
G MAJOR Scale - Fingerings.jpg
Even though this is very early in the course, you have reached one of its MOST CRUCIAL phases: as you evolved through this G Major scale, you will have noticed a PATTERN emerging: the fingerings and the passing from one string to another are the SAME as for the C Major scale above. However,
IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL THAT YOU SHOULD NOT PLAY THIS SCALE (OR ANY SUBSEQUENT ONES) AS A RESULT OF THAT PATTERN; ON THE CONTRARY, LOOK AT EVERY SINGLE NOTE ON THE STAVE (AND SING IT) AS YOU PLAY IT, ONCE LOOKING AT THE SCORE, THEN LOOKING AT YOUR HAND, THEN AGAIN AT THE SCORE; EACH EMERGING NOTE MUST BE THE RESULT OF SEEING THAT NOTE ON THE SCREEN (OR PAGE) AND THINKING AND UNDERSTANDING WHY AND WHERE THOSE NOTES ARE ON THE FINGERBOARD AS YOU PLAY THEM.

There is still no need to memorize anything yet.
Replicate the G Major scale as specified above (no fingerings or strings are marked this time):
G MAJOR Scale - NO fingerings.jpg
After looking at the construction again,
G MAJOR SCALE - (With Acc.).jpg
play the scale as written below, making a special effort to listen to whether you are playing TONES or SEMITONES – the SEMITONES are marked with a *:
G MAJOR Scale - Semitones marked with star .jpg
Adding another # takes the tonality to D MAJOR (all previous principles apply).
The Second Position offers the choice of playing the bass A either as the open string ⑤, or with 4 on ⑥. Observe that, after the shift to Position IV, the fingerings for the scale are identical to those of the C MAJOR and G MAJOR scales; however, as before, DO NOT ALLOW the fingerings to be informed by habit, but rather as a consequence of note-reading:
D MAJOR Scale - Fingerings.jpg
and without marked fingerings; pay particular attention to the two-fret slide (B - C#) which takes you to a new position (IV):
D MAJOR Scale - NO Fingerings.jpg
A MAJOR SCALE (all previous principles apply - use the preamble to “fix” the bass A on ➅):
A MAJOR Scale.jpg
Next : Two further Scales
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kmurdick
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by kmurdick » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:07 pm

Fretful, with all due respect, that's one of the most complicated and tedious methods of learning the fingerboard that I have ever seen.

PeteJ
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by PeteJ » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:37 am

I rather agree, but in Fretful's defense it's possible that for exactly this reason it's a good method.

khayes
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by khayes » Thu Aug 30, 2018 11:39 am

kmurdick wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:07 pm
Fretful, with all due respect, that's one of the most complicated and tedious methods of learning the fingerboard that I have ever seen.
I wanted to say the same thing, it's not rocket surgery :D
Ken

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:16 pm

Two further scales:

E MAJOR SCALE at Position I:
(Remain aware of the Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone structure)
E MAJOR Scale.jpg
B MAJOR SCALE:
Don’t be daunted by the number of sharps (they are there simply so that the “T, T, S, T, T, T, S” structure of any Major Scale is respected), therefore allow the structure of the scale to inform your fingerings, as well as the string changes; don’t necessarily memorise but notice that to raise (or lower) a melody by a whole tone involves two frets on the same string, OR fingers 4 to 1 (or 1 to 4) when moving from one string to another (with the usual exception, of course - when moving across strings ③ and ② - which involves fingers 2 and 4);

singing those intervals while fingering them will quite soon instil reflexes equivalent to those which subconsciously inform the complex mechanisms involved between "intention" and "execution" when engaging in those most "natural" of occupations: speaking or singing:
B Major Scale - tone, tone, semi - string change.jpg
(Just for interest, notice that, in a descending scale, the penultimate note does not have the proximity to the Tonic which exists between Leading Note and Tonic in an ascending scale; in an ascending scale, the interval (the space) between the 7th and 8th degrees of the scale is a semitone; in a descending scale, the interval between the 7th and 8th dergrees is a whole tone)

Continuing with the philosophy of awareness rather than memorisation, practice the following scale, concentrating alternately on its harmonic structure “T, T, S, T, T, T, S”, and the resulting shift from string to string:
B MAJOR SCALE.jpg

RECAPITULATION IN C MAJOR
:
Returning to C Major, further exploration (before moving on to the study of Intervals); note that adhering to the given positions leads you to switch to different strings:
*The continuing insistence on scalic construction, at this juncture, ensures that players recognise that they are doing the right thing since, in scales, note-progressions is easy to recognise.
C MAJOR SCALE - further.jpg
With the next exercise, it is suggested that you memorise the location of the middle C on ④ (at fret X). First, re-visit the scales on the D string (in C Major, D Major, D minor):
SCALES on D String.jpg
C MAJOR SCALE - Locating C on ④ - C MAJOR Scales up to VIII and IX.jpg
If you experience any hesitancy – for instance, finding the Cs at Position VII, return to the initial scales on individual strings (⑥ [at VIII] for the Bass C; ④ [at X] for the Middle C), then, with that recapitulation fresh in the mind, attempt the exercise again until there is no further tentativeness.
When familiar with this exercise, practice the position changes while keeping your eyes on the score.

Next : PART THREE : Pointing the Finger at the Board
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Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:27 am

PART THREE : POINTING THE FINGER AT THE BOARD :

“PINNING” THE RECURRING NOTES TO THE BOARD (and to the mind) :

Working on the following exercise (and those to be posted in the next few months) is the musical equivalent to absorbing multiplication tables; although these need not be memorised (learning by rote will never be suggested in this course), special attention should be paid to the specifically targeted note (the note of the title) which should be memorised together with where they appear on the fingerboard. Each exercise does not require memorizing more than THREE NOTES AT MOST, but these three notes and their places on the fingerboard MUST BE MEMORISED. Practice regularly until the knowledge of the notes has become “second nature”. Make the title note your “note of the day”, or of “the week” (a particularly effective method is to mentalise that note, and its respective places on the fingerboard, just before going to sleep – you will most likely, the following morning, find them for ever imbedded in your memory).

More emphasis is placed on showing positions rather than fingerings: POSITIONS should be considered not so much by their names but by their implications and in relation to the string used so, for example, if at position III on string ⑥ “think” of finger 1 being on the bass G, three semitones above the open bass Ⓔ, (for those who are a little more advanced, they will also recognise it by its sound as a minor third above the said “E”) so that, eventually, adopting positions will become a musical consequence of reading and playing. The more facets of a note you are aware of, the easier recognition will become.

Allow plenty of time for this.

PINNING THE BASS “A” TO THE BOARD :
Pinning the Bass A.jpg
Now play the same exercise, toying with alternative fingers on the “A” on ⑥:
Pinning the Bass A - Further Fingerings.jpg
In the next week or so, ONLY these TWO NOTES need to be memorised: the bass A on ⑤, and the same bass A on ⑥ with alternative fingerings.
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ronjazz
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by ronjazz » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:08 am

Exhausting. Learn the Segovia Scales and some Tarrega and Guliani studies. Mission accomplished.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

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