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Guitar and Piano Theory

Updated on December 7, 2020
Jon Green profile image

For many years I taught guitar and music theory in college - here are some tips to save time.


Well, at least it's short!

I've posted a few hubs where all the material is in the same key - if you check them out it might help you in understanding this post. In my opinion music theory as taught is always too complex. If you learn one key really well, all the relationships (chords, intervals, scales, inversions) can be transferred to all the other keys.

In other words, once you learn the pattern for one key, it can be transferred to all the other keys.

The numbers especially turn people off, but they are crucial - a number just tells you the distance from the starting note, so C6 just means a C chord with an A added-


So C6 is C E G A (The C chord is C,E,G.Plus the sixth.)

C7 is C E G Bb

C maj7 is C E G B

For all these chords, a basic C chord (1,3,5) (C,E,G) has a note added to make a four-note chord. In practice, it's faster to count down from note 8, the same as note 1, but one octave higher.

The last couple of bullet points are guitar-centric, but the note sequence is the same for piano or keyboard, and also bagpipes!

Note names - there are no flats or sharps between B and C , E and F - all the other notes have them.

On piano, the seven different chords in any key have a fixed pattern:

Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor, dim or min 7th flat 5

Shown in more detail in my hub Piano Chord Pictures, you don't need to read music!

In the key of C, just move the chord shape up one note to the right, so C E G (C) becomes D F A, etc. (Dm) Repeat this move to get all the chords in C.

Easy Music theory


The material shown here is all you need to start songwriting - and using Garageband for instance, you could be creating your own tunes in a very short time. If you take other songs apart and reassemble them it's a great way to learn fast - just as taking cars to bits will give you some insight into how they work.

Also look at my other hub Music theory - cycle of fifths, it might help.


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    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      11 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Thanks again keira

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      My son and I are your fans.:) Thanks for the great hub. God Bless.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      11 years ago from Worcester, UK

      "The Wrong Box" by Robert Louis Stevenson. Anyway, I'll stop diverting your thread now :)

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      11 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      I'll have to pass on that one. Don't expect the tone was improved though.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      11 years ago from Worcester, UK

      Broadwoods sound great and have a nice positive action. Trivia question - in which classic book is a dead body transported round the country inside a Broadwood Grand?

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      11 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Paraglider - could be a business opportunity there, it's going to take a lot of wood...

      Actually I really like Broadwood pianos, especially the Grand pianos.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      11 years ago from Worcester, UK

      Hi Jon - I was wondering if you know a good make of capo for my piano, a 1900 Broadwood Upright ;)


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