Acoustic having a sound made
naturally, rather than made louder by electronic means
Action The distance between the
guitar strings and the fingerboard. Low-action guitars are easiest for
beginner to play.
Amplify To increase the
power of an electrical signal.
Arpeggio A chord whose notes are
played separately. This technique is common in classical guitar style.
Bar A group of counts.
Bar chord A moveable chord shape
in which your first finger presses across the strings like a bar.
Bar line A line which divides one
bar from the next. The end of a piece of music is shown by a double bar
Bass A lower sound. The three bass
strings on a guitar make low notes. A bass guitar is tuned one octave
lower than a standard guitar.
Bass/Chord strum A way of playing
a chord which combines a plucked bass note and a strum.
Bass line Notes plucked on a bass
guitar or on the bass strings of a guitar.
Bass run A folk guitar technique
in which a series of notes links the bass notes of two chords.
Beat The counts in a bar are
divided into rhythmic units called beats.
Chop A way of playing reggae
chords so that they sound clipped.
Chord A group of notes played
Chord sequence A series of chords
to be played one after the other.
Chord shape The position of your
left hand fingers on the neck of the guitar when playing a chord.
Clave rhythm A West Indian rhythm
traditionally played on a pair of sticks, called claves.
Click A technique used in
funky music for giving chords a muted, clicking sound.
Count A bar is divided into equal
units called counts.
Da capo al fine Italian for 'from
the top to the end'. If you see this written at the end off the music, you
must repeat the first part again.
Damping Using the left hand to
muffle the vibrating strings.
Dominant 7th The name for the
third chord in a three-chord set.
Dotted note A note followed by a
dot. The dot means the note is half as long again. For example, a dotted
quarter note lasts for one and a half beats.
Downstroke A strum from the bass
strings towards the top strings.
Eighth (note) A note that lasts
for half a beat.
Fifth fret trick A method of
tuning the guitar, in which the strings are pressed down at the fifth fret
and then plucked to see if they sound the same.
Fingerboard the long, narrow part
of the guitar on which the strings are stopped by the fingers.
Finger picking A style used a lot
in folk music, in which each string is plucked individually.
Flat note A note which is played
one fret lower than the note of the same letter name.
Flatpicking A plectrum technique
which combines plucked strings and strumming.
Free stroke A classical plucking
technique which produces crisp, clear notes.
Fretting Pressing down on a string
behind one of the frets with a left finger.
Hammer-on A technique that enables
you to sound two notes by plucking a single string. It is used to give a distinctive
folk sound to open-string chords.
Harmonics Clear, ringing notes
made by touching a string lightly at certain points while you play it.
Harmony A combination of notes
sounded together to make chords or part of a tune.
Improvise To invent as you go
along. A lot of folk music, flamenco for example, is improvised. Most
improvised rock music involves making up a melody to go with an existing
Input The electrical signal fed
into a piece of equipment.
Key The letter name given to a
scale of notes. It is usually the same as the first note of the scale.
Key chord The chord that begins a
three-chord set and gives the set its letter name.
Key note The bass note of a chord,
which gives the chord its letter name.
major chord or scale contains eight notes separated by certain specific
Melody A sequence of notes forming
Minor A minor chord or scale has
eight notes separated by different intervals from a major one.
Ninth chord A moveable chord shape
which includes the ninth note of a scale, much used in jazz.
Octave A distance of eight notes
separating two notes of the same letter name.
Off-beat-rhythm A reggae rhythm,
in which the second and fourth beats of a bar are stressed.
Open string A string that is
played without fretting it. On a chord diagram, this is represented by a
Open string chord A chord that
includes some open-string notes.
Output The signal sent out by a
piece of electrical equipment.
Passing notes Plucked notes,
linking the key notes of a bass line.
Picking An alternative word for
plucking (see below).
Pitch How high or low a note
Plucking Sounding the strings with
the fingers and thumb, or with a plectrum.
Power chord A two-string chord
shape, popular in heavy metal music.
Pull-off A technique which enables
you to pluck extra notes from the neck of the guitar with your left
Quarter (note) A note of one beat.
Rasguado A rapid strumming
technique used in flamenco guitar.
Rest A beat in a bar where you do
Rest stroke A classical plucking
technique which produces a full, strong sound.
Rhythm A pattern of long and short
notes which makes up a melody.
Riff A 'phrase' of music, often
repeated throughout a tune.
Scale A set of notes going up or
down in order. A tune is usually composed from one particular scale. On
the guitar neck there are twelve frets between the first and last notes of
Seventh chord A moveable chord
shape that includes the seventh note of a scale.
Sharp note A note which is played
one fret higher than the note of the same letter name.
Sharpened ninth chord A variation
of the ninth chord, in which the ninth note is played as a sharpened note.
Sixteenth (note) A note that lasts
for a quarter of a beat.
Slap and pop A way of playing bass
guitar, used a lot in funky music.
Slide the part of a steel guitar
that can be moved along the strings to alter the pitch.
Sliding chord A chord shape, such
as a ninth, that you can slide up and down the neck of the guitar to vary
String-bending A popular technique
in blues music, in which you can give a note a moaning sound by bending
the string with a left finger.
Strumming A way of playing
chords by sweeping down and up the strings with your first finger.
Sub-dominant The name for the
middle chord in a three-chord set.
Tablature A way of writing down
music for the guitar, in which the strings are represented by six
Three chord trick A set of three
chords that enables you to play a vast number of tunes, especially folk
and blues songs.
Tied note A note joined to another
one by a curved line. The note is played once only, and lasts for the length
of both notes.
Transpose To play a piece of music
in a different key from the original one.
Treble A high-pitched sound. The
top three strings of the guitar.
Trill A rapid alternation between
a pair off notes. You play a trill by hammering-o and pulling-off notes
from the same string.
Triplet A group of three notes
played in the time usually given to two.
Tune up To adjust the pitch of the
strings to make the correct sounds.
Upstroke An upwards strum from the
top strings to the bass strings.
Vibrato A vibrating note made by
vibrating a string with a left finger.