Words and Terms of Music, Bass and Musician – by Mike Overly

October 16, 2014

Music GlossaryA glossary is an alphabetical list of words and terms about a specific subject, followed by their definition. A glossary is like a brief dictionary. Always remember, a words definition can change over time!

In ancient Greece, glossa meant: a word or term which needed to be defined or explained. Then, around 1550, glossa’s meaning change to: the definition or explanation of a difficult word or term. And, as we all know, if it’s difficult ~ it’s probably important. Over time, glossa was shortened to gloss, and today gloss means: to define, explain, interpret, translate, or paraphrase a word or term.

Ary derives from the Medieval Latin, aris meaning: belonging to, and arius  meaning: connected with. So, gloss (words and terms) + ary (belonging to music and connected with the bass) = glossary.

Abridged means: not complete, and since every word and term used to communicate music, bass and musician can’t be listed, let’s discover a few words and terms taken from the Tone Note® Music Method for Bass Book 1 to get you started.

Ability – capable of technique, skill
Accidentals – natural, flat and sharp signs
Again – more than one time, repeat
Analog – does not stop, continuous, connected from the beginning to the end
Anchor Finger – the left hand finger that is connected to the key letter; form
Arpeggio – harmony of three or more different letters sounded one at a time
Attention – conscious of perceiving only one
Audition – hearing, listening, or, a music competition
Aware(ness) – conscious of perceiving more than one

Bass – instrument of 4, 5 or 6 strings and 12 frets in one octave, low frequency
Beat – a steady counted pulse, tempo, rhythm
Beginning – where you should start
B.P.M. – beats per minute, steady and even tempo, metronome mark
Bridge – bass part opposite the nut, or, a song part that connects the verse to the chorus

Change – to become something different, variable
Chorus – song part that usually states the title
Chromatic – flat and sharp, not natural
Clock – steady and regular 60 beats per minute, does not change
Choose – using reason to decide “which one”; logic, philosophy, mind
Chord – harmony of three or more different letters sounded at the same time
Coda – ending, stop
Combine – to add, join or link together
Count – give beat numbers to a steady pulse, meter, time signature

Diagonal – 45 degree angle, slanted line
Different – not the same, variation, enharmonic
Digital – not connected, discrete, separated, fraction, fragment
Dimension: measurement,
1st dimension – width, 1D, how wide something is, interval
2nd dimension – height, 2D, how high something is, treble
3rd dimension – depth, 3D, how deep something is, bass
4th dimension – time, 4D, how much space is between two sounds, motion, rhythm
Down – right hand strum, low to high pitch, thick string to thin string, stroke or ghost
Duration – the length of time a sound or silence lasts, rhythm

End – the opposite of start at the beginning, coda, stop
Enharmonic – same sound, different symbol
Even – regular, equal, same, no variation
Exponential – two or more ideas or thoughts multiplied by each other

Flat Sign – not natural or sharp, one fret lower from any letter or tone number
Fine – the place between the beginning and the end of a song that the music is finished
Form – pattern created by the placement the musician’s anchor finger on a bass string, fraction
Fraction – a part or a piece, the disconnected and separated form, not the whole
Fragment – fraction of a fraction, a part or a piece of a form
Fret – vertical metal strip on the bass fretboard
Fret Zero – the sound at the nut played by using a left hand finger
Frequency – the number of vibrations per second, oscillation, pitch
Fundamental – tone 1, scale degree 1, root, tonic

Genre – categories such as: rock, blues, jazz, classical, etc.
Ghost Strum – a right hand motion, down or up, which does not make sound

Half-Step – interval of one fret
Harmony – interval, arpeggio or chord, letter or numeral symbol
Hearing – touching at a distance, listening, audition
Holistic – connected fragments and form fractions, not the whole
Horizontal – east and west, sideways, bass strings

Idea  – the knowledge that thought carries, theory, mind
Improvise – free to choose,”variable, reason, mind
Interlude – play in the middle, usually between the chorus and the verse
Interval – distance or difference between two sounds or symbols
Isotonic – one sound with one location on the fretboard
Isotonic Thinking – one thought with one idea, theory, mind

Key – the letter of tone 1Key Letter – the letter of tone 1, scale degree 1, root, fundamental or tonic
Key Signature – the letters of tones 1 through 7; key plus signature
Key Tone – tone 1, scale degree 1, root, fundamental or tonic
Knowledge – that which is learned as an idea, carried back to the thinker as thought, mind

Layer – one in front of the other, music symbols seen on the bass fretboard
Learn – understand, comprehend, memorize and remember, mind
Left Hand – finger numbers 1 2 3 4, which fret the strings
Letter – first music symbol of pitch
Lick – a tone row of high sounds, 2D
Listening – awareness and attention to sound, more than just hearing
Location – the string and fret “place” of a pitch on the bass fretboard, position
Logic – thoughts and ideas “in-order,” using reasoning to “choose,” philosophy, mind

Mark – written symbol or sign; rhythm symbol of harmony
Measure – group of beats set by the meter, time signature
Meter – to measure, number of beats per bar or measure, top number of the time signature
Metronome – variable clock, steady and even pulse, tempo, bpm
Metronome Mark – beats per minute number, tempo, time
Melody – in-order scale played out of order, sounds one at a time that can’t be changed
Mind – musician, location of the “thought carries idea” process, theory, thinking, philosophy
Modulate – change the letter of tone 1 for only a part of the song
Music – Art: sound of Nature, artificial: sound of man, artifact: recording of man’s sound
Musician – the one who thinks music symbols to play music’s sound, mind

Natural Sign- not flat or sharp, the original 7 letters and tone numbers
Note – rhythm symbol of duration, connected to a tone number or placed on the staff
Number – numeric symbol for place and order
Numeral – third symbol of pitch, numeric symbol of harmony which indicates type
Numeric – the word, number and numeral for place or order: one, 1, I
Nut –  part of the bass opposite the bridge, turned into fret zero or open by the musician

Octave – the same letter 12 frets apart, a first octave tone number plus 7 (1+7=8, 2+7=9, etc.)
Open – the sound at the nut not played by a left hand finger
Order – in or out of place, numeric
Oscillation – a single swing in one direction of a bass string, vibration, frequency, pitch

Pattern  – a group of things; letter pattern, tone pattern, rhythm pattern
Perform(ance) – the result of practice, playing for others, technique, skill
Philosophy – thinking about thinking, choice, logic, reason, mind
Pick – a plectrum held by the right hand to strum the strings
Pitch – frequency, vibration, oscillation, letter, number, numeral and staff
Place – string and fret location on the bass fretboard, position
Play – will, ability, technique, skill
Position – a four-fret and 4, 5 or 6 string area on the bass fretboard; location, place
Practice – repetition which leads to performance, technique, skill
Process – the analog flow of thought and idea, theory, mind
Pulse – a “sound in time” that is not a beat because it is not counted

Reason(ing) – method used to decide what to choose,”logic, philosophy, mind
Re – again, one more time
Refer – to bring the answer back to the question
Regular – equal distant, steady and even like a clock, metronome, tempo, rhythm, bpm
Repeat – more than one time, a music sign meaning to do again
Represent – present the sound again as symbol; letter, tone number, numeral, staff-note
Result  – a consequence or outcome
reWrite® – to convert staff-note into tone number to create
Tone Note® Rhythm – beat plus notes or marks, two or more analog patterns at the same time
Riff – a tone row of low sounds
Right Hand – finger letters: T i m a c, which strum the strings
Root – tone 1, scale degree 1, fundamental, tonic, key tone or key letter

Same – not different, no variation
Separated – digital, fragment, form fraction
Scale – in-order sounds connect by steps; half-step (one fret) and whole-step (two frets)
Scale Degree – numeric tone number; also used to locate harmony numeral
Sharp Sign – not natural or flat, one fret higher from any letter or tone number
Sign – a call to action, tells you to do something, direction
Signature – what something is, key signature, time signature
Similar – to share somethings but not all
Skill – ability and technique, practice, perform
Stack – one above the other, time signature
Staff – 5 horizontal parallel lines, pitch as letters, not TAB
Staff Note – a connection of a rhythm note with a staff letter
Start – the best place to begin, there are many places to start but only one beginning
Steady – regular and even like a clock, tempo, beat, metronome
Steps – half step (one fret) and whole step (two frets), interval
Stop – at the end, coda
Strings – Bass has 4, 5 or 6
Stroke – a right hand strum down or up which makes sound
Strum – a right hand motion down or up; stroke or ghost
Style – a sub-category of a genre, such as: classic rock, smooth jazz, heavy metal, etc.
Symbol – represents sound as: letter, number, numeral, note, etc.

TAB – 4, 5 or 6 horizontal parallel lines (bass strings) with “layered” fret numbers, not staff
Technique – skill and ability, gets better over time; repeat, practice, perform
Tempo – rate of speed (slow or fast) of the steady beat, bpm, metronome mark
Theme – the original melody or “tone row”
Theory – to think, thought connected to idea, mind
Think(ing) – process of connecting thought with idea, awareness and attention
Thought – carries an idea (knowledge) back to the thinker; refer, theory, mind
Tie – a “curved line” that “connects” sound (tones and notes); silence (rests) do not get tied
Time – rhythm, motion, when a sound or silence occurs, pulse, beat, tempo, count
Time Signature – meter and value numbers “stacked” one above the other
Tonic – tone 1, scale degree, fundamental, root
Tone Note® – the connection of a rhythm note with a tone number
Tone Number – second music symbol of pitch, scale degree
Tone Row – series of connected pitches as tone numbers; melody, lick, riff, etc.
Transpose – change the key of the entire song
Treble – high frequency
Type – what kind of scale, arpeggio or chord; major, minor, whole tone, etc.

Unison – the same sound in more than one location on the bass fretboard
Unison Thinking – one thought with two or more ideas
Up – right hand strum, high to low pitch, thin string to thick string; stroke or ghost

Value – one beat, bottom number of the time signature, note that gets one beat changes
Variation – to change the original, different, not the same
Variable – able to change; metronome, improvise
Verse – song part that tells the story
Vertical – north and south, up and down; nut, bridge and frets
Vibration – repeated back and forth motion, oscillation, frequency, pitch

Whole – all, complete, undifferentiated fragments, forms fractions; not separated
Whole Step – interval of two frets,
Will – self directed action behind thought and idea, play

Zero – the number 0 before 1, as in fret zero, not the letter O as in open

Congratulations, you now have the necessary vocabulary to begin playing music on your Bass!

’til next time, begin having some vocabulary fun with your new found glossary ~ I’ll be listening . . . http://www.12tonemusic.com/bass/tonenote/

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

August 28, 2014

One octave has 12 sounds and 21 letter symbols: 7 natural, 7 flat (b) and 7 sharp (#). And with these 21 letter symbols we can spell 15 major scales in 15 major keys.

15 Major keysNow, here’s a simple question: aren’t there really 21 major scales?  The answer is yes, but to spell them we need 14 more letter symbols: 7 double flat and 7 double sharp.

For example, to spell the Fb major scale, we need B double flat (Bbb): Fb Gb Ab Bbb Cb Db Eb, and to spell the G# major scale, we need F double sharp (F##): G# A# B# C# D# E# F##.

Remember, the reason why there are only 15 traditional major scales is because only 15 major scales can be spelled with 21 letter symbols. To spell any other major scale not shown above we would need to use double flat or double sharp letter symbols.

Here is something important. Even though each major scale has a different letter spelling, they all have the same tone number (scale degree) spelling: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7!

The different letter spellings are the result of applying the major scale interval pattern (whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step,), to each of the 15 major scale key letters. On the guitar and bass fretboard, a half step is one fret and a whole step is two frets.

’til next time, have some fun playing 15 major scales with 12 sounds, and spelling 15 major key signatures with 21 symbols… I’ll be listening!


Secret Fretboard Angles Revealed – by Mike Overly

August 7, 2014

beatlesAs the Beatles sang: listen, oo wa oo, do you want to know a secret…

Wouldn’t you like to be let in on something that other guitar players don’t know? Imagine what you would be able to do with this hidden information. Well, here are three little known, and rarely understood, secret fretboard angles that will change the way you view your guitar fretboard. Does the following look familiar to you? It should, it’s your fretboard!


Simply stated, X is the horizontal strings, Y is the vertical frets, including the nut and bridge, and Z is the diagonal octaves. This simple fretboard geometry is the key which unlocks your ability to instantly locate any letter on your fretboard. Let’s reveal the first secret angle, the horizontal strings with their letter names:

horizontal strings






Next, let’s define the string’s length by revealing the second secret angle, the vertical nut and bridge:

vertical nut and bridge





The distance between two pitches, whether letters or tone numbers, is called an interval. The smallest interval is the half step, which on the guitar fretboard is one fret. Here’s a very old discovery made by Pythagoras, 6th Century BCE: when a string is divided in half, the frequency is doubled, and the octave is created. The interval of an octave is 12 half steps or 12 frets. Therefore, fret 12 divides the string in half and creates the 1st octave. Then, 12 frets higher, fret 24, the string is divided again and the 2nd octave is the result as follows:

two octave 24 fret fretboard





We can now reveal the third secret angle, the diagonal octave. This simple angle enables us to locate any letter, on any string, faster than we every thought possible. Here are all the E’s within 12 frets connected by the diagonal octave angle:

diagonal octaves






Remember, although all the letters are the same, they are not all in the same octave, but that’s another lesson. So, let’s end this lesson by showing the 7 letters of music, A B C D E F G on 12 frets:

7 letters on 12 frets






’til next time, have some fun connecting the diagonal octaves of all 7 letters because it’s a secret no more . . . I’ll be listening!


All the Chords I Needed to Know I Learned at My First Lesson – by Mike Overly

May 22, 2014

Mike Overly Custom Guitar by Ed SchaefferAt a recent Homeschool Convention someone asked me: How many chords are there on the guitar? That’s a very good question, I replied. Is the answer, six, ten thousand, a million, who knows? What we do know is that there are only five simple open shapes from which all chords originate!

Let’s begin by imagining the picture on the cover of a puzzle box. Visualize the picture on the box and see it as a whole picture. See this whole picture as the seven letter of music on your fretboard. When these seven letters of music: A, B, C, D, E, F, G are horizontally connected on the 6 strings and 12 frets of your guitar, the following picture is revealed.

Now, imagine taking a pair of scissors and cutting this whole fretboard picture into five pieces, which we will call fractions. How hard would it be to put together a puzzle if it only had five pieces – Playskool® right? Well, the five puzzle pieces are the five open major chords: E, D, C, A, G which like an anagram can be rearranged into the word: CAGED. You probably know these five open shapes already.

Next, let’s see how these five shapes become movable forms on the holistic fretboard. Simply stated, the definition of holistic is forms interlocked. To see this holistic connection, we need to know that a chord contains at least three different letters that are played at the same time. For example, an F major chord is spelled with these three different letters: F A C. However, unlike English, these 3 letters may be arranged in any combination, for example: F A C, A C F, C F A, F C A and the chord will still be F major. These different letter orders are called inversions. In the following example, we’ll group the three F major chord letters vertically as we move up the fretboard, and like magic, the five F major chord forms appear!

Perhaps you’re having a little trouble seeing them? The following animated gif image we help you visualize these five shapes more clearly, by highlighting the three F major chord letters, FAC, into the five movable major chord forms.

Congratulations! You can now see all five F major chord forms on your holistic fretboard.

Now, here’s the important part, no one knows any more F major chords than you do… there are only five! And by simply moving these five major chord barre forms to a different letter location the fretboard, all major chords can easily be played – but that’s another lesson…

So, till next time, have some fun interlocking your five form holistic puzzle pieces ~ I’ll be listening . . .


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