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String Theory
Linkin Park's Brad Delson brings you one step closer to being an ace guitar player with the first installment of his new Guitar World column.
by Brad Delson of Linkin Park When Guitar World first approached me about writing a monthly column, I thought they were kidding. I mean, how can a hack like me actually sustain a series on anything?! Seriously, though, as the sole guitar player in Linkin Park, I have the freedom and responsibility to fulfill all sorts of roles. For instance, I might play an orchestral harmonic loop in one part of a song and then a power chord rhythm figure right after that. In other words, I have to have versatility—something that comes from listening to and studying many styles of music.
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Figure 1

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I’m a huge fan of everything form emo to hip-hop to techno to hardcore. I didn’t get into each style at the same time, though. Rather, I went through many different musical phases, as I’m sure most of you have. When I started playing in bands, my friends and I
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is that the pitch that’s twice the frequency of the other sounds higher. we focused on our songwriting and the evolution of our hybrid sound. What we are accustomed to hearing in Western music. The complete set of 12 half steps that fall. we began to experiment by mixing beats with guitars. Starting in 1996. a half step is two notes that are right next to each other (one fret apart) on the same string. For example. Now move up the string. the only major scale that contains no sharp (#) notes. Figure 2 MP3 An octave is divided into 12 half steps.delson.com/lessons/artists/0302. and combining singing with rapping. This is illustrated in FIGURE 1. as far as our ears and brains are concerned.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson realized that we could create a unique sound by combining our love for disparate styles into one giant musical melting pot. http://guitarworld. Notice how the two E notes sort of sound the same. the scale would be spelled as follows: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C. the open E note on the first string and the E note at the 12th fret on that same string are said to be an octave apart. Since we didn’t have a record deal or any real way to get our music to the masses. These designated points represent pitches. whole step. Waves that vibrate faster are said to have a higher frequency and consequently a higher pitch. If you were to start on the note C. We can see an example of this by looking at the Cmajor scale. let’s skip the foreplay and cover some basic musical facts that all musicians should know. or semitones. because we use it to organize our whole system of harmony. within an octave comprises what’s known as the chromatic scale. Start at the eighth fret on the sixth (low E) string. That note is C. On the guitar. yet different. which is: whole step. as Xero. or interval. Everything that we hear reaches our ears via sound waves. one fret (half step) at a time. though. Let’s check this out on the guitar. whole step. from any pitch to one that’s exactly twice its frequency on the spectrum is called an octave. The distance. The spectrum of sound waves is divided up into certain arbitrary points or locations. half step (FIGURE 2). is not the chromatic scale but a specific sequence of half steps and whole steps (a whole step is equal to two frets on the guitar) that form the major scale. whole step. which is the C note an octave higher than the C note we started on at the eighth fret. The last note is an octave higher than the starting C note. until you get to the 20th fret. This scale conforms to the standard major-scale interval pattern. half step. The only difference. whole step. Now that we’re acquainted.html (2 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:27:17] . This particular mathematical relationship between to pitches is an important one. It’s also important because we perceive the two pitches as sounding almost the same. The C-major scale is spelled D E F G A B C.

Then do the same thing starting at A and E. If you sound out these intervals correctly. whole step. something that will enable you to teach yourself how to play a major scale beginning on any note. at the third fret on the low E string. whole step. Harris Publications. whole step. Hey. but this time we see that one of the notes names contains a sharp (#). I’m taking my time out from the debauchery of touring life to work on these columns. and then move up this string by the designated interval pattern. which in this case is E. whole. whole step. let’s check this out on your guitar. whole. For example. starting on the note D. half step. G. Inc. half step” formula to construct major scales up the neck on every string. The cool thing about this interval pattern is that it works at any starting point on any string. a whole step is a two-fret jump. FIGURE 4 depicts the major scale starting on the note G.delson. Figure 4 MP3 As a self-teaching exercise. half). Peace out. Start on the C note at the eighth fret on the sixth string. too. Copyright © 2000. whole.html (3 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:27:17] . whish is a half step above it. because you’re going to need the practice in order to tackle next month’s lesson. so I expect you to make time for this.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson Figure 3 MP3 Once again. You’ll notice the interval pattern is exactly the same (whole. while a half step is only one fret. you’ll hear the C-major scale (FIGURE 3). half. you’ll also see that F# is the right distance from the next note in the scale. We have to play F# as opposed to F because the seventh note of the scale needs to be a whole step higher than the sixth note. Remember. practice using the “whole step.com/lessons/artists/0302. Be sure to do this. whole. All rights reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy http://guitarworld.

Certain musical themes might make you feel sad. As I illustrated contact us advertise last month. 1. half-step. I explained how our ears have been conditioned to music and how we’re used to hearing certain patterns of notes. you would react entirely differently to tonal relationships. or scales.delson. half-step). if you start on the note C. while others make you feel happy. you might anticipate the next note to follow. And. wholestep. If you grew up in India and were never exposed to Western music. When you hear a particular note in a scale. we’re exposed to an enormous amount of music.html (1 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:28:43] . you will have played the C major diatonic scale (FIGURE 1). the most common scale is the major diatonic [seven-note] scale. 1. or formula. and play each successive note prescribed by the interval pattern (D E F G A B C).com/lessons/artists/0402. we react predictably to certain patterns of pitch. The result: you subconsciously began to digest and understand repeating-interval patterns. whole-step. as we learned last month. current issue message board news lessons tune ups gear reviews new equipment axology interviews spotlight buyer's guide transcriptions back issues So what does this have to do with last month’s homework? gw acoustic gw legends gw books Figure 1 MP3 Figure 2 MP3 mp3 resources guitar links Good question. Last month. 1/2 (we say: whole-step. whole-step. whole-step. at the eighth fret on the sixth string in standard tuning. 1. As I just explained. For example. 1/2. no matter what note you start from: 1. 1. this scale follows a set interval pattern.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson String Theory by Brad Delson of Linkin Park Search GW search tips home subscribe gw store Major Assignment learning all your major scales. In Western culture. This is all based on cultural conditioning. From the day we’re born. if you http://guitarworld.

com/lessons/artists/0402. G. and one half-step from the next note. But for the time being. B. the first two notes are correct and no changes are necessary. write out the eight note names (not including the sharps) between it and its octave above. “So.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson completed your homework successfully. 1. 1. When you do the same exact thing with the A and E major scales. begin to check each interval to see if it’s right by referring back to the C major scale (FIGURE 1). F. Here we have a problem. as well. that conforms exactly to the standard interval pattern. 1/2. In order to demonstrate how all this theory impacts the fretboard. The first interval is a whole-step. you should have come up with notes A B C# D E F# G# A for the A major scale and E F# G# A B C# D# E for the E major scale. I’d like to take this opportunity to present you with some diatonic patterns. These are the actual. you will have sounded out and constructed the D. but how in the world can I use this in my playing?” That’s another good question. 1. and E major scales. physical manifestations of what we’re discussing. F# is a whole-step away from the previous note in our D major scale. we will concentrate on learning the diatonic patterns in the key of G major. Since D is naturally one wholestep apart from E. the correct D major scale notes are: D E F# G A B C# D (FIGURE 4). you will find that the only other note in the D major scale you need to raise is C. A. 1. Figure 3 MP3 If you complete this exercise correctly. G. 1/2). or one fret. I’ve done my homework. or two fret. and the best thing is this: since they are only patterns. the root note) D. E. Remarkably. As you can see by referring to the chromatic scale we also learned last month (FIGURE 3). Next. Therefore. C and D. If you look at FIGURE 1 you’ll notice that the distance from E to F is only one half-step. So we must raise (“sharpen”) F by one half-step to F# in order to make it fit into our interval pattern. A. beneath these notes. Let’s review by constructing the D major scale: Starting on the keynote (a.html (2 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:28:43] .delson. Brad. These are D. http://guitarworld. The next interval is also supposed to be a whole-step. as illustrated in FIGURE 2. Then. they can be amoved anywhere on the fretboard to represent the diatonic scale in any key. write out the standard major scale interval pattern (1. E.k.a. distance..

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact http://guitarworld. A and B. and so on. make sure not to cheat on the fingering. up.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson Figure 4 MP3 Figure 5 MP3 Pattern 1 (FIGURE 5) begins on the keynote G at the third fret of the sixth string and utilizes three notes on each string. D and E on the A string. begin to employ alternate picking. etc. It should be played with the left-hand fingering shown in FIGURE 6. When you’re practicing this pattern ascending and descending. up. etc. 1/2) and then determine whether or not you need to alter any notes to make them conform to the interval formula. you should have no problem being fully prepared for next month’s lesson. F#. Your other assignment is to finish constructing the major diatonic scales in each of the following keys: B. plug in the interval pattern (1. up. beginning and ending with the keynote. You have all month to complete these tasks. © and ™ 2002. Here. either. G and A on the D string. Inc. All Rights Reserved. Figure 6 MP3 This. To review: write out each of the scales.delson. 1. By putting in a little time each week.html (3 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:28:43] . down. down. As you follow this pattern across the neck toward the first string. 1/2 1. 1. Both of these assignments are mandatory.com/lessons/artists/0402. the first three notes are G. is the first component of this month’s homework. So you play C. Once you’ve memorized this pattern and are confident that you are fingering it correctly.). 1. my friends. F# and C#. you will sound out the succession of notes in the scale: C D E F# G A B C D. Harris Publications. This means you should alternate the direction of your picking with an upstroke following each downstroke (down.

Rather. contact us advertise Figure 1 MP3 Figure 2 MP3 Figure 3 MP3 http://guitarworld.delson. Unfortunately. he allows his injury to heal. our performance schedule ensures that I exacerbate my wounds every night! I’m currently suffering from a swollen right foot (due to a previous altercation with a heavy object).html (1 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:30:56] . you’ll notice certain similarities: each major scale contains eight notes. when an current issue message board news intelligent individual hurts himself. lessons tune ups gear reviews new equipment axology interviews spotlight buyer's guide transcriptions back issues But that’s not the kind of theory we’ve been exploring. then you have (successfully or unsuccessfully) constructed major diatonic scales in the keys of B. So I’m sitting in the back of our bus contemplating the injuries I’ve sustained over the past two years of touring. we’ve spent the past two months discussing the kind of theory that explains the nature of Western music. whole step. a pesky pinkie cut and now a sharp pain between my shoulder blades. half step. half step. If you’ve completed your homework from last month’s column. F# and C#. patterns and the perils of performance. and follows the standard interval pattern: mp3 resources guitar links whole step. whole step. I gw acoustic gw legends gw books strongly recommend you find the March and April 2002 issues of Guitar World.com/lessons/artists/0502. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s show! What does all of this have to do with music theory? Theory: music can be quite hazardous to your health. mild stomach flu. whole step. whole step. including the keynote and its octave. Looking at the formulas for these three scales (FIGURES 1–3). Normally.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson String Theory by Brad Delson of Linkin Park Search GW search tips home subscribe gw store Hurts So Good Principles. If you have no idea what I’m talking about here.

The next scale we looked at. which consists entirely of sharped notes. F# was previously raised in G major and C# is the seventh note in the D major scale. which has two sharps: F# and C#. E. not C. 4. each of the scales we’ve constructed so far has had one more required change than the one before it. 1. So. five notes must be sharpened: C. F and F# in the same scale is illegal.) occurs as you construct the major scales in a particular order. But don’t blame me. whether it is raised.” in order to create the appropriate distance or interval between consecutive notes in the scale being constructed. 2. while the raised note(s) from the previous scale reappeared. G major. B# is the correct theoretical name for the seventh note. lowered (“flatted”) or left natural. This pattern of increasing sharps (0.delson. etc. F and G). F#) are raised. G and A. Figure 4 MP3 Interestingly enough. In the B major scale (FIGURE 1). as ridiculous as it may sound. F. D. Notice also in this scale that E has become E#. D.html (2 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:30:56] .Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson Their differences are determined by which notes must be raised one half-step. in the C# major scale (FIGURE 3). Unnecessarily complex? Maybe. So why do we write E# as opposed to F? Because. C. For example. 3. that’s what the laws of music theory dictate! When the rules of major scale construction were written way back when. In other words.com/lessons/artists/0502. it was decreed that every major scale had to contain one of each note name (A. We’ll get into that next month. hence the reason E# is written as the seventh note of the F# major scale as opposed to F natural. had one note that became a sharp—F became F#. http://guitarworld. the next scale we looked at was D major. even though there’s really no such note because the note one half step above E is actually F. we raised the seventh note. and that in each subsequent scale we’ve constructed. or “sharped. B. For example. I didn’t create this rule. Likewise. Notice that F# is the seventh note in the G major scale. no major scale can contain two “versions” of the same note. the C major scale has no sharped or flatted notes—all of its notes are natural. And so the pattern continues. six notes (including the key note. In the F# major scale (FIGURE 2).

it’s time for me to get into my bunk and go to sleep. while the second part presents the pattern in traditional tablature (TAB) form and shows it ascending and descending. Figure 5 MP3 As you practice these patterns. and the last thing I need is to add exhaustion to my list of impairments. pay special attention to the left-hand fingering guidelines accompanying each pattern.delson. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact http://guitarworld. Tomorrow is another show day. Each of these patterns has you playing three notes per string. © and ™ 2002. Inc. Speaking of the road. be sure to alternate the direction of your picking so that each downstroke is followed by an upstroke. Finally.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson Hopefully you’ve come prepared with the other half of your homework and memorized the G major diatonic pattern I showed you.com/lessons/artists/0502.html (3 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:30:56] . I’ve chosen to illustrate each one of them in two complementary ways: the first part of each figure shows you the fingering positions as they appear on the fretboard. This month you are to memorize the next two diatonic patterns (FIGURES 4 and 5). Peace out. Bad habits are hard to break and can limit your speed and dexterity down the road. Harris Publications. It’s important that you use particular fingers as you navigate the fretboard.

lessons tune ups gear reviews new equipment axology interviews spotlight buyer's guide transcriptions back issues gw acoustic gw legends gw books mp3 resources guitar links contact us advertise Figure 1 MP3 Figure 2 MP3 “All right.html (1 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:32:57] . But to me. what relationships exist among them and why they evoke the emotional reaction they do. one’s eyes can become as open as one’s ears.delson. Some current issue message board news people might disagree. The goal is to achieve awareness—not only as guitar players but as musicians. In fact.com/lessons/artists/0602. I began to illustrate the importance of understanding music theory to becoming a great guitarist. Stop preaching and start teaching!” http://guitarworld. In my first column. many guitar players can shred on their instruments without knowing why certain notes sound good together and why others don’t. By achieving even a basic understanding of what different musical elements are called.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson String Theory by Brad Delson of Linkin Park Search GW search tips home subscribe gw store Look Sharp Getting to know the cycle of fifths. this is like playing blindly. enough already.

Figure 4 MP3 Fortunately.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson Okay. E.com/lessons/artists/0602. then B (the fifth of E major). F#. D. By the time you reach the C# major scale. C# (the fifth of F# major). A. I’m sorry. If you count forward from the first note. For example. all this theory does have a real-world application: each of these scales can be played on http://guitarworld. The G major scale has one sharp. I pointed out that each one of these scales had one more modified (“sharped”) note than the one before it. FIGURE 1 illustrates this with the notes of the C major scale. then F# (the fifth of B major) and. G# and D#) and so on… Figure 3 MP3 This phenomenon of increasing sharps occurs as you construct the major scales in a particular order. lo and behold. we construct the major scale beginning on A. We then see that D is the fifth of G major. it has one modified note: F#. Next. then E (the fifth of A major). you’ll notice that G is the fifth degree (note) in this scale. which is the fifth of D major.delson. You start with C major and proceed to construct the next major scale beginning on the fifth degree of each respective scale you finish. Interestingly. you’ll notice that all the notes in the scale have been sharped! In music theory books this sequence of keys is often referred to as “the cycle of fifths” for fairly obvious reasons. the C major scale has no sharps—all of its notes are natural. C.html (2 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:32:57] . G. I have a tendency to get a little didactic! Last month we finished constructing major scales in eight different keys: C. C# and G#). So the next scale you construct is G major and. The D major scale has two sharps (F# and C#). F# and C#. E major has four sharps (F#. B. C#. so D major is the next scale we construct. A major has three sharps (F#. and it has two modified notes: C# and F#. last.

Figure 5 MP3 In the next column. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you memorized both of these and can move up and down them fluidly. Again. we’ll begin to move back and forth between these patterns. and using the appropriate left-hand fingers. so I want you to have mastered them by next month. I’ll also demonstrate how to move these patterns so you can play them in any major key. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact http://guitarworld. Last month.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson the guitar. In essence. All Rights Reserved. and you’ll see that they are not isolated but are interrelated with one another up and down the entire fretboard. make sure to learn them ascending and descending.delson. © and ™ 2002. we’ve been learning these patterns in the key of G major. and their physical manifestation comes in the form of diatonic fretboard patterns. This month you are to memorize the remaining four diatonic patterns shown in FIGURES 2–5. These are the only four diatonic major patterns left. I illustrated diatonic patterns 2 and 3. For our purposes. Harris Publications. Inc. employing alternate picking. by mastering these seven diatonic major patterns. you’ll be on your way to becoming a versatile guitar player and an accomplished musician.com/lessons/artists/0602.html (3 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:32:57] .

you’ll notice that the second and third notes of Pattern 1 are the first and second notes of Pattern 2.delson. Moreover. one must first understand each of its component parts. all of which represent the G major scale in various positions up and down the neck. the second and third notes on any string in Pattern 1 are the first and second notes on the same string in Pattern 2.html (1 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:34:41] . So. lessons tune ups gear reviews new equipment axology interviews spotlight buyer's guide transcriptions back issues gw acoustic gw legends gw books Figure 1 MP3 mp3 resources guitar links What I’d like to do this month is show you the entire image of the wide fretboard mural I’ve just described. In order to grasp the entire picture. While every one of the seven patterns you’ve recently learned is an individual entity. we’ve been learning current issue message board news how to play the diatonic scale in the key of G major (G A B C D E F#). If you take a close look at Pattern 1 (FIGURE 1) and Pattern 2 (FIGURE 2).com/lessons/artists/0702. Over the last few months we’ve been discussing the diatonic scale. In the last three columns. What this establishes is http://guitarworld. Likewise. I’ve illustrated seven different fretboard patterns. though. Let me give you an contact us advertise example that will illustrate exactly what I’m talking about here. You can think of these seven patterns as overlapping snapshots of a very wide mural.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson String Theory by Brad Delson of Linkin Park Search GW search tips home subscribe gw store Stitchcraft How to join fretboard patterns. I could point out the exact same phenomenon with any two consecutive patterns in the seven we’ve learned. in the preceding few columns I’ve asked you to memorize all seven of these diatonic patterns. an ordering of seven musical notes. each one is really part of a wider musical fabric that spans the entire fretboard.

it proves an essential point. FIGURE 3 is an exercise to get you started. you can seamlessly shift from one pattern to the next without pausing. As you can see. or one octave.com/lessons/artists/0702. your next task is to practice moving laterally from one pattern to another. Figure 4 MP3 Keep in mind that you can play each diatonic pattern 12 frets.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson that each pattern overlaps the two below and above it and contains several of the same notes on the same strings. Once you can do this.delson.html (2 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:34:41] . If some of this seems obvious. by using finger slides. higher or lower than its http://guitarworld. Figure 2 MP3 Figure 3 MP3 Now that you have memorized each of the seven patterns individually. you’ll have the mobility necessary to be able to solo fluidly in a particular key up and down the entire fretboard without having to stop and jump from one stationary position to another.

For example: since Pattern 1 begins at the third fret.html (3 of 3) [28/07/2002 00:34:41] . this month’s column has helped you make some meaningful connections between the diatonic patterns we’ve been exploring. you can also play it an octave higher beginning at the 15th fret and still remain in the key of G major. as illustrated in FIGURE 4. play Pattern 1 an octave higher (Pattern 8). Next month.delson. Figure 5 MP3 Hopefully. I’ll show you how to use these patterns to play in any major key. Pattern 2 an octave higher (Pattern 9). All Rights Reserved. and continue soloing all the way up the neck until you run out of fretboard. Harris Publications.com/lessons/artists/0702. don’t think you have to stop once you get up to Pattern 7. © and ™ 2002. Consequently. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact http://guitarworld. and so on. Inc. Instead.Guitar World | Lessons | Brad Delson given position and remain in the same key. as in FIGURE 5.