Tetrad Harmony for Guitar – by Mike Overly

May 5, 2016

Alex Grey GuitarIn music, a triad is harmony of 3 different letters. In major scale harmony, the I (one) chord is a major triad. And in the key of C major, the I major chord is C major. The C major triad is spelled in letters: C E G, and in scale degree tone numbers: 1 3 5.

A tetrad is harmony of 4 different letters. In major scale harmony, the I chord is a major seven tetrad. And in the key of C major, the I major seven chord is C major seven. The C major seven tetrad is spelled in letters: C E G B, and in scale degree tone numbers: 1 3 5 7.

For this lesson, Holistic will be defined as Forms that Overlap. The following illustrates the Holistic Overlap of 5 major seven chord forms in 1st Octave scale degree tone numbers on the guitar fretboard.

5 Forms Maj7

We’ll end this lesson with a song from Guitar EncycloMedia that applies the I major seven chord to 15 tonal centers.

5 Forms Maj72

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Image by Alex Grey

Do Re Mi – by Mike Overly

February 18, 2016

Do Re MiSimply stated, music is heard as sound and seen as symbol. The symbols are given names which may create confusion because sometimes a different name is given to the same symbol.

This confusion also arises in relation to concepts, thoughts and ideas. For example, melody is created when sounds are connected together and then played one at a time. Melody is often mislabeled by guitar players, but correctly identified by musicians playing guitar. For example, a guitar player will call playing a melody, lead guitar, while a musician playing guitar will correctly call it, melody guitar.Here’s another example, harmony is the result of more than one sound played at the same time. Confusion arises in this case because a guitar player will call this, rhythm guitar, while a musician playing guitar will simply call it, harmony guitar. The idea of lead guitar may have started because generally speaking, melody leads. But the idea of rhythm guitar doesn’t make much sense, since melody also has rhythm. In this lesson, we’ll focus on melody and leave harmony for later.

Let’s begin by reviewing the major scale the way Julie Andrews sang it to us in the Sound of Music, you know, Doe, a deer a female deer; Ray, a drop of golden sun; Me, a name I call myself; Far, a long, long way to run; Sew, needle pulling thread; La, a note to follow sew; Tea, a drink with jam and bread… Wow, the hills really are alive!

This do re mi fa so la ti method of symbolizing sound is known as Solfège. Solfège began in eleventh century Italy when Guido of Arezzo developed a six-note ascending scale that went: ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la. Guido borrowed these syllables from the first verse of the Latin hymn: Ut Queant Laxis. Then, in 1600, Ut was changed to the open syllable Do, at the suggestion of Giovanni Battista Doni. A seventh syllable, si, was added soon after from the initials for Sancte Iohannes [Saint John] to complete the seven tone diatonic scale. By the nineteenth century, Anglo-Saxon countries had changed si to ti so that every syllable began with a different letter.

It’s interesting to note that Isaac Newton associated the 7 solfège syllables with the 7 colors of the rainbow and theorized that each color vibrated accordingly. Thus, red [the lowest sound] has the least amount of vibration while purple [the highest sound] vibrates the most. In other words, he believed this: C do Red; D re Orange; E mi Yellow; F fa Green; G so Blue; A la Indigo [Blue Violet] and B ti Purple [Red Violet].

Okay, now, let’s covert the solfège syllables into scale degree numbers or simply, tone numbers. In this transformation, Do becomes tone 1, Re becomes tone 2, Me is tone 3, Fa tone 4, So tone 5, La tone 6 and Ti tone 7. This simple tone number symbolization forms the basis of the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar. In other words, by learning only seven tone numbers on your guitar, you may begin playing many songs. Tone Note® makes music and guitar so easy!

Practically speaking, there really are no songs to be played with only one tone number, tone 1. And there really aren’t any songs to be played with only two tones, tone 1 and tone 2. However, as soon as the third tone is added, tone 3, then, like magic, there are many songs that may be “spelled” with tone numbers and then played.

Let’s begin with a simple song, Merrily We Roll Along. Merrily may be played on the guitar by using only three tone numbers, tone 1, tone 2 and tone 3. At this point, there is really no need to learn how to read and understand the rhythm symbols of music, notes. This is because you already know how to sing this song and therefore you can “imitate” its rhythm.


By adding one more tone, tone 4, we can play other songs. Here is a favorite Mother Goose song, Old King Cole. This song uses four tone numbers, tone 1, tone 2, tone 3 and tone 4. Remember, if you already know the song you can imitate the rhythm, however, if you don’t already know this song, then you would have to begin learning notes, the rhythmic duration symbol of music.


With the addition of tone 5, many more songs are possible. Here is one of them, Mary Had a Little Lamb. It’s important to note that Mary only uses four tone numbers, tone 1, tone 2, tone 3 and tone 5. She doesn’t use tone 4. This is just like spelling words in English, not all words contain all 26 letters. In fact, no one word contains all 26 letters! You probably already know Mary Had a Little Lamb and therefore can imitate her rhythm. Notice how similar Mary is to Merrily We Roll Along… there is only a one tone difference!


I found this interesting and perhaps you will too. The reason there are no 26 letter words in the dictionary is because the usual rules of English spelling outlaw consecutive triple letters. We put hyphens in words that contain three of the same letters in a row, so as to separate the letters. For example: bee-eater, bell-like, cross-section, cross-subsidize, shell-less and joss-stick [incense]. A person who flees is a fleer, not a fleeer, and someone who sees is a seer, not a seeer. Chaffinches used to be called chaff finches, but when the two words were merged, one of the letter ‘f’s was dropped. It should be noted that written representations of noises often contain triple letters, such as brrr, shhh, and zzz, but they don’t really count as proper words. Too bad!

Let’s continue. By adding tone 6, we can play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Again, you probably already know this song and therefore can imitate the rhythm. Notice that Twinkle uses all six tone numbers, tone 1, tone 2, tone 3, tone 4, tone 5 and tone 6.


We’ll end this lesson by adding tone 7. By adding this final tone number of the major scale we can now play Jack Be Nimble. This song may be buried deep in your nursery school mind, so, once again, just like Old King Cole, you may have to learn the notes of rhythm. Notice that Jack uses all seven tone numbers, tone 1, tone 2, tone 3, tone 4, tone 5, tone 6 and tone 7.


It is my hope that this lesson has shown you how simple and easy music really is. Now, by continuing in this progressive step-by-step manner, from the beginning toward the end, I’m sure you’ll realize that with patience and practice, you will be able to play and enjoy music, and your guitar, at every stage of your life.

‘Til next time, have some Tone Note® Music Method fun… I’ll be listening!



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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

Bass Tone Rows with GRAMMY® Nominated Music Educator Mike Overly

July 16, 2015

Bass GuitarJoin GRAMMY® Nominated Music Educator Mike Overly as he presents 13 iconic bass riffs used by Eric Clapton, James Brown, Herbie Hancock, SRV, Elvis, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Albert King and others.


To learn more, visit www.12tonemusic.com/bass

And be sure to like Mike on facebook www.facebook.com/12ToneMusicPublishing

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;

Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar Video – by Mike Overly

September 13, 2014

Tone Note guitar front CoverThe Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar makes it simple and easy to play fun and exciting music on your guitar correctly from the beginning.

On the cover of the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar is a connect the dots picture of a bass which presents four very important ideas that a connect the dots picture teaches us: 1. start at the beginning, 2. continue in order, 3. the end connects to the beginning, and 4. when the last dot is connected ~ you can see the picture! These four ideas form the basis of this book.

The Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar 1 contains a method book, rhythm book and song book. Each book is designed to present the benefits of the Tone Note® system with clear and simple step-by-step instruction. And each lesson within each book connects and continues with the last in a progressive order so that a person new to music and guitar will learn the symbols and signs of music quickly and develop the skill to play guitar easily. You will play and enjoy music and guitar from the very beginning just like you hoped you would and as you practice, progress and improve, the better you will get, and the better you get ~ the more fun you have!

The purpose of the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar is to introduce a beginner of any age to the simple pitch Letters, tone (scale degree) Numbers and harmony Numerals of music. The following flowchart illustrates this.

Tone Note Music Flow

The Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar answers this simple question: why is it so hard to learn to play guitar? Is it the fault of the student, or is it the fault of the instructor? The answer is neither, it’s the fault of false methods. So, let’s clean the slate and begin anew with a truly unique 21st century revolutionary music method for guitar.

Over the centuries, guitarists have believed many false ideas and have kept adding more false ideas over time. This has created much confusion and has made learning music and the guitar a problem. The Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar solves this problem by keeping only the truth of the past and leaving the false behind.

And the truth is, music is a simple language that may be learned easily by anyone of any age. All that is needed is a clear and simple step-by-step method which will introduces what you need to know, when you need to know it. In other words, a method that presents one idea and then connects it to the next idea. Learning in this manner guarantees that you do not have any gaps between your thoughts and ideas about music and the guitar. The benefit is, you will never feel overwhelmed or confused, and more importantly, you will never stop or quit! Understanding music on the guitar will always be easy for you.

By the end of the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar 1 your technique will have greatly improved and you will have gained a solid theoretical foundation that will last you a lifetime and prepare you to connect and continue with the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar 2. Meet you there!

Here is a short video that will introduce you to the Tone Note® Music Method for Guitar 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7yK9IrNZLM

’til next time, have some Tone Note® guitar fun… I’ll be listening!


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