So you are learning guitar and there is a hang up. Either in music class or from the movie “The Sound of Music” you heard a series of tones that are sequential in nature and fairly consistent in change from one to the next. Maybe it’s that you are a bit OCD and someone finds it funny to say “Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti” and waits to see if you are sane enough to not have to say the final “Do”. The reason I needed to learn this grouping of names for musical tones was because during a time in Mexico, I was playing guitar with some people and these are the only terms they used to describe the notes they were playing.
Whatever exposure you may have had, it’s good to understand how this naming system relates to the typical system known as the notes A through G. In music, progressions of notes are arranged in what is called a scale, beginning with the root note or the first note of the scale and the progressing with higher notes (or if working you’re way down from the top end of the scale, progressing with lower notes). If you want to understand scales more, I’ll get a post up soon about scales and keys and all that.
Here’s the basic answer to the question of all of those sequential 2 letter words: They are a word representation of the C Major scale. Again, if that doesn’t mean anything to you, watch for a post on scales. If someone is asking you to play “Do”, then they are looking for a C note or a C Major chord. “Re” then would be the second note of a C Major scale, which is D.
For a quick reference of a C Major scale, it is the simplest of all major scales with no sharps or flats. Simply: C D E F G A B C
Now, if someone is playing in C Major and asks for “La” you would then match that to the note letter A. If you don’t understand notes by letter names, there’s a whole other post for you. Now, this is where it gets a bit complicated though. Although it is note A, it would not be an A Major chord but an A minor chord. We will get into that more when discussing building chords around the key that a song is in, for now we have one more thing to cover with this progression of notes (yes, both the one letter A through G notes and the Do through Do progression)
Since this is a major scale, the following is true of the seperation between each notes of the major scale. Between Do and Re for example is a normal seperation (usually referred to as a whole step and on guitar is the equivalent of two frets difference). Between Mi and Fa for example is a half step, the equivalent of 1 fret difference on a guitar. So here it is to give you a better picture of all the note separations and how many fret difference between each step of the progression.
C (2) D (2) E (1) F (2) G (2) A (2) B (1) C
Do (2) Re (2) Mi (1) Fa (2) So (2) La (2) Ti (1) Do
Just a quick hint on Major scales. Start on any note and play each note in progression up the number of frets indicated between each step of the scale and you can easily craft any major scale!
So that’s it. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, D0 can basically be seen as others names for the notes of the C Major scale. Here’s one last chart to see them side by side
Do – C
Re – D
Mi – E
Fa – F
So – G
La – A
Ti – B
Do – C