12 Tone Music Newsletter 11/13/15 ~ by Mike Overly

October 8, 2015

EdisonYou’re gonna wanna read this latest 12 Tone Music Newsletter ~ First Recordings Ever Made ~ written by two-time GRAMMY® Nominated Music Educator and author of Guitar and Bass EncycloMedia Mike Overly . . . http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs139/1119235923778/archive/1122647422714.html


Harmony Numerics – by Mike Overly

July 30, 2015

Guitar HarmonicsIn this lesson, the first five harmonics in the harmonic series are presented. These five harmonics are then shown as scale degree tone numbers: 1, 8, 12, 15, and 17.

These five tone numbers are then converted to their 1st octave tone numbers: 1, 3, 5. Tone number 8 of the second octave is also included. Then, these four tone numbers are added to harmony numerals which creates four intervals: Unison, Octave, Perfect 5th and Major 3rd. An interval is harmony of two sounds.

Finally, these intervals are illustrated on the guitar fretboard. However, it should be noted that these intervals have the same pattern on a 4, 5 or 6 string bass.

Harmoniy Numerics 1Harmoniy Numerics 2www.12tonemusic.com

Intervals Unplugged – with Mike Overly

May 20, 2015

Center ViewJoin GRAMMY® Nominated Music Educator Mike Overly as he explores the Unplugged Intervals of Pythagoras, J.S. Bach, The Beatles, Black Sabbath… plus more!



A Staff of 5 Lines and 6 Spaces – by Mike Overly

May 6, 2015

MamuscriptYou have been led to believe that if you want to be “serious” about learning guitar, you must first learn to read the “notes.” This isn’t true. Unless you are a drummer, you must learn the letters of the staff before you read the notes.

When you first started to play guitar, you did the same thing we all do: you bought a guitar and a guitar method book 1. This seemed logical, however, this is where your problems began.

Let’s say you bought a method book 1 and are all set to play some guitar. After a few pages of stuff that you skip over, like: what a guitar looks like, how to tune and how to hold the guitar and pick, you encounter a page that has a whole bunch of music symbols on it. You know this must be important and that you probably should memorize it, but, you’re so overwhelmed that you just end up turning the page.

So, let’s slow down and discover a different way to make sense of all those music symbols. We’ll begin with the staff because this is the first idea of traditional music theory, and for a musician playing guitar, it’s the start of many unfolding problems.

Traditional music theory teaches that the staff has 5 lines and 4 spaces between the lines. The following illustrates the 5 lines of the staff.

5 Lines




And here are the 4 spaces between the lines.

4 Spaces




The Clef is the next idea presented on the music symbols page and it isn’t even a symbol, it’s a sign! Good thing we learned in the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar Book 1 that a symbol represents something and a sign tells you to do something.

The purpose of the clef sign is to tell you where to place the letters of pitch on the lines and spaces of the staff. Although there are many different clef signs, the G Clef, also known as the Treble Clef, is used for guitar staff note music. The following diagram places the G Clef at the beginning the staff.

G Clef




The name of the G Clef is very helpful because it tells you with certainty that the letter G is placed on line 2 of the staff. The Treble Clef’s name isn’t as helpful because the definition of treble is “high sounds” and that’s a bit ambiguous.

The following example illustrates the staff, the G Clef and the pitch letter G on line 2 of the staff. Notice that the “curly part” of the G Clef wraps around line 2.

Line 2 G




Since you now know where the letter G is located on the staff, you can easily understand where the other letters are located on the lines of the staff by simply skipping a letter in the 7 letter musical alphabet order. Think of it this way: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A….

This letter skipping order for the 5 lines of the staff is easily remembered by this sentence: Every Good Beginner Does Fine! The following example illustrates the five letters of pitch on the 5 lines of the staff.

5 Line Letters





Now, you will easily understand where the 4 space letters are located on the staff by again skipping a letter in the 7 letter musical alphabet. Again, think of it this way: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A….

This skipping letter order creates a word for the 4 spaces of the staff: F A C E. The following diagram illustrates the four letters on the 4 spaces of the staff.

4 Space Letters





For the remainder of this lesson, a quarter note will be placed on a line or space of the staff to imply the letter of pitch that is to be thought. Notice that the stem that is attached to the head of the quarter note may be up or down. This is done to keep the stem on the staff. In our next lesson, Introduction to Staff Notes Part 2, we’ll go into much greater detail about notes and rhythm.

Now, here’s something interesting. Although there are many reasons why learning fails, there are two that are most common. Neither one is your fault, they’re both the fault of your teacher!

Stated simply, learning fails if the teacher: 1) shows, tells or uses something that you were not taught, or, 2) teaches you something and then doesn’t use it until much later, if ever. Without immediate reinforcement there will be no long-term memory. In other words, you failed to learn because you fail to remember. But, it’s not your fault!

A typical guitar method book 1 presents a perfect example of using something that you were not taught. Remember, you were told that there are 4 spaces on the staff, however, the following 3 staff notes are what you are expected to learn first.

3 Staff Notes




Do you see the problem? If you are asked what space the quarter note is placed for the letter G, you will not have an answer. This is because it isn’t on one of the 4 spaces that you were taught. Said one more time, something is being used that you were not taught!

Fortunately, this problem has a simple solution: there are 6 spaces! And these 6 spaces have 6 letters: D FACE G. The following diagram illustrates the 6 space locations on the staff with their 6 letter names.

6 Space Letters




We’ll end this lesson by revealing this new staff note truth of 5 lines and 6 spaces.

5 Lines 6 Spaces





‘til next time, have some 5 Line, 6 Space staff note fun… I’ll be listening!


Guitar Forum 2.0 with Mike Overly

April 8, 2015

Guitar Forum 2.0Here is the new Guitar Forum 2.0 with GRAMMY® Nominated Music Educator Mike Overly. It’s a reboot of his late ’90s TV show: Guitar Forum. Watch the first episode: Pentatonic and Hexatonic Scales, now. <https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=RIspMoyib2w>

And while your there, be sure to subscribe to the 12 Tone Music YouTube channel to be notified of each new monthly episode. <https://www.youtube.com/user/12tonemusic>

Also, don’t forget to visit and like the official 12 Tone Music Facebook page. <https://www.facebook.com/12ToneMusicPublishing>


Set Design Art by Phil Benton

Major Tone 3 – Guitar Lesson with Mike Overly

February 25, 2015

Mike OverlyFollow GRAMMY® Nominated Music Educator Mike Overly in this classic Vintage Video as he presents essential information about the guitar’s 5 major chord forms and the 7 major scale and arpeggio forms. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3MsncVFPyw&gt;

To discover more about Mike and his 12 Tone Music Publishing company, please visit: <www.12tonemusic.com>.

And don’t forget to join the official Mike Overly/12 Tone Music Mailing List… and please forward this link to a friend!



Guitar Clef ® – by Mike Overly

February 10, 2015

12 Tone LogoThe Guitar Clef ® is a registered trademark of 12 Tone Music Publishing, LLC and it is more than just a clever logo design, it is symbolic of the way guitar music is notated. Here’s what I mean.

Guitar is a transposing instrument. It sounds one octave lower than it is written in staff notation. In other words, staff music for guitar is written in the Treble Clef, however, the majority of the guitar sounds in the Bass Clef.

Let’s begin with the first staff note shown in every book 1 guitar method: string 1, fret zero/open, E.

Staff Note E

Now, this doesn’t pose a problem unless you’re playing with another treble clef instrument for example, the piano. This is because when the guitar and the piano read and play the same staff note, two different sounds are heard. Remember, the guitar sounds one octave lower than the staff note that is written. This is why guitar staff notation should have an 8 beneath the treble clef. This tell the player to play the staff note one octave lower than written. However, you won’t see it used in guitar method books.

Here’s another common book 1 example: string 2, fret 1, C. Notice that this example uses ledger lines. Ledger lines enable pitches to be written that extend lower, and higher, than the 5 lines of the staff. It should be noted that this is the first staff note presented in the Tone Note™ Music Method for Guitar Book 2.

Staff Note C

When the treble clef begins to use ledger lines below the staff, the bass clef becomes useful.

treble bass clef

This next example shows how guitar notation writes a treble clef C, how it actually sounds in the treble clef, and how the actual sound is written in the bass clef.

C treble bass clef

Book 1 guitar methods only teach three open position treble clef staff notes on string 2, B C D. The following example shows how guitar notation writes B C D in the treble clef, how it actually sounds in the treble clef, and how the actual sounds are written in the bass clef.

Staff Notes B C D

This next example illustrates the complete range of open position treble clef staff notes that are presented in every book 1 guitar method. Pitch letters and circled string numbers have been added. Now, you can clearly see that the majority of the guitar’s pitches actually sound in the bass clef.

3 Staves

There is only one book that I know of that presents the actual pitches of the guitar in true staff notation: the Johnny Smith Approach to Guitar, published in 1971 by Mel Bay MB93669. Here is a Schoenberg example Johnny included in his book to illustrate that others have acknowledged and used this actual pitch guitar staff notation.

Schoenberg guitar

In Johnny’s book, he writes guitar music using two braced treble and bass staves that look like like piano staff music. Here is what a C major chord looks like in actual pitch treble and bass staff notation.

Open C major chord


Again, you can again easily see that the vast majority of the guitar actually sounds in the bass clef. And this is why the Guitar Clef ® is not only clever and trademarked ~ it’s true!

’til next time, have some guitar playing fun no matter what clef you use… I’ll be listening!


Ol’ Skool images hand written, cut, taped and scanned by MO. ;~)

12 Sounds, 21 Symbols and 15 Keys – by Mike Overly

January 20, 2015

Math ParabolaOne octave has 12 sounds and 21 letter, tone, and staff note symbols: 7 (natural) + 7# (sharp) + 7b (flat) = 21 symbols. Now, the question becomes: are there 21 major scales?  The simple answer is yes – but to spell them we need more than 21 symbols. For example, we can easily play a G# major scale, but to spell it we need a double sharp symbol: G# A# B# C# D# E# F##.  The same is true for the Fb major scale: easy to play, but to spell it a double flat is needed: Fb Gb Ab Bbb Cb Db Eb.  Said a different way, the reason why there are only 15 traditional major scales is because there are only 21 symbols from which to spell – and you can only spell 15 major scales with those 21 symbols! In other words, to spell any other major scales, not listed below, we would need additional double sharp and double flat symbols.

Notice that even though each major scale has a different letter spelling, they all have the same tone number spelling: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. Traditional music theory call tone numbers, scale degrees. The different letter spellings are the result of applying the major scale interval pattern (2 frets – 2 frets – 1 fret, 2 frets – 2 frets – 2 frets – 1 fret) to each of the 15 traditional major scale letter spellings. In other words, there are 15 major scales, in 15 major keys, that are known by their 15 major key signatures. See Guitar EncycloMedia page 15.

15 Major Scale

For now, key will simple be the letter of tone 1, also known as the root or the tonic. For example, if we are in the key of C major, then the letter C is tone 1, and the key signature is 7 naturals. In the next lesson we will learned how to connect 12 sounds and 21 symbols on the fretboard, in a perfect 4th and perfect 5th interval sawtooth pattern. But for now, let’s illustrate this 4th and 5th interval pattern as a “circle” of 15 perfect 4th and perfect 5th related major keys and relative minor keys.


It’s important to remember that up a perfect fourth arrives at the same letter as down a perfect fifth, but sounds one octave higher in pitch. In contrast, down a perfect fourth arrives at the same letter as up a perfect fifth, but sounds one octave lower in pitch. This is known as the rule of nine. What becomes apparent as we look at this new parabolic view of of 4ths and 5ths, is that the “circle” of 4th & 5th intervals is not a circle at all, but rather a parabola! Simply stated, a parabola is two curved lines that start at the same place, in this case C, but end at two different places, in this case Cb and C#. The parabola view shows us an important fact — the only way to create a circular motion is to modulate (change keys) at one of the three enharmonic keys: Db/C#, Gb/F# or Cb/B and continue in the same direction toward “home.”  See Guitar EncycloMedia page 42.

The point of all this will become more meaningful when we begin to explore harmony progressions.

’til next time, have some parabolic fun, no matter what key you’re in… I’ll be listening!


Finger Picking Guitar Lesson with Mike Overly

December 30, 2014

Mike Overly GuitarFollow Legendary GRAMMY® Nominated Music Educator Mike Overly as he presents essential Guitar Finger Picking tips, techniques, insights and more in this classic Vintage Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE3tXTQ-Hts&gt;

To discover more about Mike and 12 Tone Music Publishing, LLC, please visit: <www.12tonemusic.com>.

And don’t forget to join the official Mike Overly 12 Tone Mailing List… and please forward this link to a friend! <http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=0014rpMSLN9P_2wKyCazQWpig%3D%3D&gt;

Homeschool Guitar – by Mike Overly

December 23, 2014

Guitar KidMost home school parents I have met all seem to share this same basic concern: Can I really teach my child guitar if I myself don’t know how to play?

The joyous answer is, yes! But only if your teaching method is as simple and logical as a connect-the-dots picture. By using a music method for guitar that is clear and simple, your child will stay engaged long enough to experience the rewards of a successful guitar education. By learning in this connect and continue way, your child will know exactly what’s coming next and therefore will never get confused, frustrated, or even worse, want to stop and quit! In addition to the simple joys of playing guitar, there are many other wonderful benefits your child will gain by learning to play guitar, such as self-discipline, greater self-esteem and a higher IQ. So, I think it’s safe to say that learning music and guitar would be a good idea for you and your family. Now, let’s look at a few other common questions you may have about beginning a guitar curriculum in your home.

What Is A Good Age To Begin Learning the Guitar?

Although there is no one correct answer to this question, I have found that by the age of six, children have developed enough cognitive skills to learn guitar. For example, they know the alphabet, can count numbers up to 12 and higher, and most importantly, when properly engaged, can exercise the self control needed to sit with attention and awareness during a half-hour lesson. Also, by age 6 they are big enough to comfortably hold the guitar and have developed the finger strength necessary to press down a guitar string.It’s important to remember that at this age, when it comes to getting your child to play the guitar, the enthusiasm needed must come from them, not you. That’s why it is best to begin guitar instruction when your child asks to play, not later when their interest may not be as strong, or when you have determined that they should. Said a different way, never force your child to learn guitar if they don’t want to. But if they want to, and if you can afford it, you will want your child to learn correctly from the beginning, so it’s very important to find a guitar instructor who is effective with children. Quality instruction at this age is essential because some children tend to have short attention spans and are often easily distracted. These conditions can be correctively addressed by a qualified guitar teacher who is experienced with children. They will know how to apply just the right amount of fun and seriousness so that your child finds the lessons enjoyable and exciting and will want to continue to learn music and guitar.

Should I Encourage My Child To Play The Guitar?

Of course you should! If your child comes to you and tells you that she or he is interested in playing the guitar, then by all means, you should definitely encourage your child to do so. It’s equally important not to force them to play an instrument they don’t want to play. For example, if they want to learn the guitar, don’t make them play the piano. You may be surprised to learn that many parents can be pushy in forcing their child to play a particular instrument because it’s the one that they played, or they feel it to be a superior instrument. Let your child choose the instrument they are interested in, even if it’s the glockenspiel!

No matter what the instrument, learning to play music will help your child in many other areas of their life as well, for example, they will be able to concentrate and stay focused for longer periods of time. Learning music also enhances your child’s listening skills and teaches them that the art of continual practice leads to betterment. Lots of children want to learn to play guitar and that’s understandable because many of today’s music artists play the guitar. For many, this is what makes guitar “cool” and therefore, learning to play guitar is seen as more preferable to playing a band or orchestral instrument such as a trumpet or violin. So, it becomes important to remind your child that even with quality guitar instruction playing guitar will still be a technical challenge. It will take time to develop strong and flexible hands in order to press the strings tightly and strum the strings properly. But if your child is willing to devote the time to practice, good technique will come. To keep them dedicated to improving their technique and evolving the dexterity necessary to become proficient at playing guitar, be sure to support and encourage them often. Keep in mind that a quality instrument, a clear and in order music method, and a qualified teacher is the key to making the difference between your child quitting and succeeding.

How Long Should My Child Take Guitar Lessons?

The simple answer is: a lifetime! We never outgrow our need for the next musical thought or technical idea. However, with this said, the answer to this question depends on what level your child wants to take their guitar playing. Playing levels vary from being a hobby to developing mastery. Time will unfold a dedicated player from an amateur to a professional, or said more traditionally, from a beginner to an advanced musician. It’s important to remember that learning to play guitar is different from learning to ride a bicycle. With a bicycle, you only need to practice riding until you discover balance and no longer fall off your bike. When you reach that moment, you no longer need to practice. However, when learning to play the guitar, you will soon get to a stage where you can play a few simple melodies and harmonies, and if you’re happy with that, you could stop practicing at that point. But, if you would like to play more popular and complex music, you can’t stop there, you must continue to practice so that you get better and faster.

In addition to being able to play many songs, with more practice you will be able to develop advanced technical skills that will have your playing sounding much more professional. And don’t forget, if you really want to become an expert at playing music on guitar, you will need to practice even more. However, over time you will discover that the better you get, the more you will want to play, and the more you play the more you enjoy playing, to the point that playing guitar becomes a passion. Then, you won’t be asking yourself how much longer do you have to keep practicing because playing will be the only thing you’ll want to do!

How Do I Recognize A Quality Music Method for Guitar?

If you’re interested in learning to play guitar but cannot afford a qualified private music teacher to show you the way, you might have gone online to look for guitar instruction. You probably ended up being overwhelmed and confused with so many methods claiming to teach you how to play the guitar in a certain number of days, if not hours or minutes! Now, you’ve heard this before, if something sounds too good to be true, then chances are, it’s not true. Just because the method is published by a big company, is backed by lots of bells and whistles, has a flashy website with all the latest technology, comes with a 60 day money back guarantee and has more fake testimonials than you have time to read, doesn’t mean that the content is complete, connected in-order, or will lead to success.

The following is the scenario of a typical beginning guitar student and supportive parent:

1. Goes to the music store and buys a guitar and a traditional beginner’s guitar method book. If you study the options, you’ll discover that it doesn’t matter what brand of method book you buy because they are all the same! But don’t believe me, visit the music store and look through the top-selling guitar methods and you will see for yourself that they all present the same lesson plan. This isn’t because they succeed, in fact they don’t, it’s because the authors and publishers are vested in making sales rather than investing the time and money necessary to develop a music method for guitar that really does succeed.

2. Takes the guitar and the method book home and quickly becomes overwhelmed and confused. This common experience is the result of incomplete and out-of-order instruction. At this point, many beginners decide that learning guitar is too difficult for them and they quit, or, they blame themselves for not understanding or, they blame the author and go back to the music store to buy a different beginner book.

3. But nothing has changed, the same confusion and frustration is experienced and again they decided that guitar is too hard for them, they blame themselves and the author and quit or, in rare cases, decides to try it one last time. But once again, the result is the same and finally the guitar is pushed under the bed and forgotten.

I’ve witnessed many promising beginners go through this cycle and then give up and choose to do something that they know they can do, but it’s usually something which has no real benefit or lasting value… like video games!

Don’t let this happen to your child. Get them a quality instrument, a complete and in-order music method for guitar, for example: the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar Book 1, a qualified teacher and encourage them to experience the joys of learning music and playing guitar in a revolutionary new and successful way.

’til next time, have some fun learning guitar at home… I’ll be listening!

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