Learning Notes, Harmonics, Perfect Pitch
This chapter describes the ways in which Virtualoso Guitar teaches and tests you on notes, natural harmonics and perfect pitch. The basic idea is that you are given either, sound in the case of perfect pitch, or sound and music notation in the case of the learning notes and harmonics. You must then enter the corresponding fret for this sound or notation into the Virtualoso Guitar fretboard window.
When you first start learning these concepts, make sure to set the key signature to "C Major...a minor". As one of your first goals, you should learn all of the notes on the Guitar up to fret XII in C Major. This is accomplished via the "Learn Notes" Mode, under the "Mode" menu item. (If you don't want to hear the sound associated with the notation, you can turn sound off via the Virtualoso Guitar fretboard window's "Sound" menu.) When you are done with this mode, you can thoroughly drill yourself on the equivalent locations of notes on the fretboard via the "Play Tunes Anywhere" mode, found in the chapter on "Learning to Master the Fretboard".
Learning the natural harmonics on the guitar is done with the "Learn Harmonics" mode. (If you'd like to work on perfect pitch with natural harmonics as well, simply minimize the notation window, or move it somewhere on your screen where you can't see it.) You may use any key signature with this testing. Learning the natural harmonics up and down the length of the fretboard completes your mastery of pitch notation.
Perfect pitch is the ability to hear a single pitch, and determine its corresponding equivalent representations as per Chapter I. Perfect pitch is something that we believe all people can develop with training. It can be intimidating at first. If you just keep working on it, eventually you will hear notes, regardless of their octave, as having a certain "feel" or "color". Basically, it has to do with forming a "memory" of the pitches, similar to memorizing the name "red" for something that we see as being red. Since there are only 12 different notes in an octave, you essentially only have to learn 12 different colors. If you are trying to learn perfect pitch, we find that it is critical to tune your guitar to concert pitch (A above middle C=440Hz) every time before you play. (Remember that the guitar is a transposed instrument, with all sheet music notation being transposed up an octave so that it fits nicely onto a single staff. Therefore the A we are mentioning is on the first string at the fifth fret.)
Perfect pitch has advantages and disadvantages over what is known as "Relative Pitch". People that rely exclusively on perfect pitch can be rather difficult to play with, since they think everything sounds "bad" unless tuned to concert pitch (A=440). We believe that it is actually more important to have and rely on "Relative Pitch", i.e., given a note, the ability to perceive another note a relative interval away. With tonal music, the main pitch that the other notes relate to is the tonic of the key that you are playing in, the music travels away from and returns to this central note. In college level music theory courses in the United States, you actually sing (in front of the whole class), the scale degrees of the notes on the sheet music, e.g., "One Three Five One Four Six Five Sev Two Four One...", etc., where "One" corresponds to the tonic and the other numbers are sung with a relatively higher or lower pitch. In Europe, an absolute system is used whereby the note names are used in singing, as opposed to the relative scale degrees. No matter what you're thinking about when you play or sing a note, the most important thing is the sound that you produce.
You may also click on the "Show Lesson" button, in order to see what notes you are going to be tested on and where they are on the Sheet Music and Virtualoso Guitar fretboard windows. The software doesn't keep track of your answers until you select "QUIZ..." on all six strings at once. Select the "Progress Report..." menu item under the "File" menu to review your progress.