Numerical Notation and the 3rds Tuning for 7-String Guitar

I’m unfortunately averaging a post a month at the moment as I’ve had to prioritize finding more gainful employment (29 hrs/wk @ min. wage would do it), also Japanese class, which I could see myself teaching. But what about music? Never even considered teaching music. And yet I’m kinda doing it. For free. Oops. Well, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

But there’s not much of a market for a completely ground-level reinvention of musical notation. It just seems crazy. However, inventing this system has allowed me to teach myself how to explain regular music to myself, which really is crazy…..IS. IT. SO. “CRAZY”? Not really it’s all pretty boring, I’m just trying to be dramatic to keep your interest. You can give up now. It’s not interesting. It’s pretty dumb. But let me ask you a question: how do you feel about sleep? I’m ambivalent about the whole thing. I mean after work, looking for more work, and the occasional video game, sleep can really put a dent in the ol’ blog schedule.

Where was I? Oh right, proving the inferiority of an unjustly ingrained, non-intuitive note naming system. Here ya go:

I’ve been thinking about getting a 7-string for a while and using the 3rds tuning on it. The extra string not on;y offsets the loss of range with the tuning, it creates a something perfectly even and symmetrical. Which is just nice, it’s got nothing to do with anything. It’s just that with traditional 4ths tuning, to get the top string and bottom string 2 octaves apart, you throw in that 3rd. And that does make some chords easier to play, but it’s always bugged me. It’s tricky to name the notes in any particular chord right off the top of your head. (Which is real easy on the piano.) Playing the chords and scales is almost all about memorization, which is why so few guitarists use alternate tunings, even when the instrument is so easy to tune and retune to almost anything. The proof is right above. I did not do this on purpose, but I just wrote out this chart real quick, and I did it to show other guitarists so I’m using regular letter notes, and “steps”. Several guitarists (and one professional cellist!) saw the post and liked it with no comment. Later I noticed the number of steps I’m saying to move up or down is wrong in multiple places. This is because it’s not a standard number of steps that neither I or most guitarists have memorized.

Most common example is taking the E string a step down to a Dropped D tuning. But taking E up to F is only a half step. Because there is no E#. (There is, E#=F.) Likewise for B#. This should of course also be memorized to the point of not having to think about at all. But that’s not the same thing as an intuitive system. It’s the illusion of one. Create an unusual case that never comes up and even pros (even proams on the internet, who live to point out mistakes like this) can be fooled at first glance. (Which is the only glance most things on the internet get anymore.)

Instead, numerically:

Standard 7-string tuning (low to high):

2 7 0 5 2 7

3rds tuning starting on A:

0 4 8 0 4 8 0

3rds tuning starting on C#/Db:

4 8 0 4 8 0 4

You can immediately see the number of half steps you need to move then without barely even thinking about it and get some goddamn sleep already. %

, , , ,

No Comments

Numerical Notation for Saxophones Revisited

Been thinking about getting back into the sax. I could never be a great player, especially after taking so many years off, but it’s fun to play the horn, any horn, even if you are just making noise. I’d was thinking about getting a C Melody because I’ve just been working with guitar, bass and piano for several years and now I’ve got an ear for the real note values (not the Bb or Eb values) that I don’t want to mess up. I turns out the C melody sounds an octave lower than concert pitch. What I really want then is a C soprano, the only sax that plays the exact concert notes.

Except I don’t want to do that. Look, it doesn’t matter what I want. I’m kinda tired right now. But I haven’t posted in month and I need to keep going here. It was a nice break. But no one else really cares about this project at the moment, so it’s all me. And this has been bugging me. So I made some index cards like before, but less half-assed. (Have I mentioned repeatedly a major strength of numerical notation is the ease with which you can write it on ordinary index cards? It’s just something I noticed is handy.)

So I just went through the main saxes (including the C ones nobody really uses) and located middle C & A440. It’s as much for myself as anyone who is interested. (Which is maybe nobody. But maybe you. It’s only you… Did you know A440 is the highest regular note on a bari sax, if it has the extra key? I didn’t.) Here you go, and I hope it is helpful:



, , ,


Shonen Knife | Overdrive


So I was listening to this record thinking about how it moves past the usual heavy Ramones influence when the news came about the passing of Tommy Ramone. Just a bummer that has to be acknowledged. But this album starts off with the theme of overcoming bad luck, jinxes and the like. Coincidence? Yes. But what can you do with a Bad Luck Song? The Bad Luck Song might be my good luck song, and so on. Relative bummers continue on this album, with the next track Black Crow and later Robots From Hell. These songs might be a surprise if you haven’t been paying that close attention. That could be some people, right? It’s 2014, perfect time to jump on the SK train. Seriously, why not. You could’ve get hooked on the cute stuff, of which there’s plenty, but they’ve also got some regular good Rock songs. About Rock stuff. Darkness, yeah. And of course, cats, food, shopping and tennis. It’s a very typical Shonen Knife record. I don’t have to praise or defend it too much, because it seems like everyone knows what SK is about and likes them. People must exist that do not like them, but they don’t seem to say anything about it. It almost bothers me. Which is why I’m glad they’ve got some non-cute stuff on this one. This is my favorite one since, I dunno…the last several have had some standout tracks but the rest is forgettable. This one is maybe not a new top tenner, but it’s solid.

Slight disappointment in the fine print (great font, btw) is that the songs sung by Ritsuko and Etsuko (Ramen Rock and Green Tea, respectively) have no shared songwriting credit. Thought the new girls were contributing the lyrics at lyrics at least. They seem a little different then the usual Naoko songs, simpler. She just writes with them in mind apparently. And differently than the last album, Pop Tune. (Which I did not review but talked about how those songs went down live). Things are more stripped down, straight up Rock here, but not simply the typical Ramones worship, but other 70s Rock. No real specific influence comes through anymore; the last few years with a stable line-up seems to have ended a bit of an identity crisis for the band. %

Amazon has the mp3 & CD, of course. Or get it direct from Good Charamel Or get the Purple/Green version on vinyl from Damnably

, , , , , ,