View Full Version : Octave?

10-05-2003, 04:52 PM
If a guitar sounds an octave lower than the music is wrtten in, then to play the melody, do I re-write the notes, moving them up an octave?
I'm probably tottaly wrong here...just really bad when it comes to music theory.

Bongo Boy
10-05-2003, 06:14 PM
I think this depends on the sheet music you're looking at. If the music itself is written for guitar, then I believe the intent is that the notes have already been transposed--as in the case of music accompanied by TAB. That is, if you TAB 1st fret, 2nd string, TAB software will show the note as C natural above middle C, when in fact the pitch actually produced is middle C.

If the music doesn't specify guitar, but includes the melody as intended for say piano or voice, then I THINK there are actually two answers for you. You can move everything up one octave 'on paper' and play the transposed music as you normally would on the guitar (so your actual notes correspond to the original music). OR, you can simply leave the music the way it is, but move your fingering on the fretboard up one octave.

A third answer, I suppose, is that you are always free to just play the melody an octave lower than written, depending on what else is going on with your ensemble.

I'm confident this is correct...but at the same time I'm using this reply to check my own understanding as well. In this way it's what I call 'internet knowledge'...it make look and sound all authoritative, but can still be total crap. :D

10-05-2003, 08:44 PM
Even if the music is written for guitar, it sounds one octave lower than written, like say you play the F on the 1st fret of the 1st string, for us guitarists that's the F on the 5th line of the staff (trebble cleff) while for everyone else it is the F on the first space on the staff (trebble cleff).

I hope this clarifies things.


Bongo Boy
10-05-2003, 10:16 PM
Yes. I guess what I meant when I said it depends on the music is this: if it's written for guitar, it's intended that the actually played notes are one octave lower than written, as you said.

However, if the music is NOT written for guitar, then you can either transpose (as LIChick was thinking) and then play as if it were for guitar, OR, you simply play it on the guitar an octave higher than if it were a guitar lead sheet.

I guess I'd like to hear some thoughts on why it matters. This issue came up when I was [trying to] learn Autumn Leaves. At the time, Guni was trying to get this idea across to me, and it confused me for some time. There were also a couple of posts were folks got 'higher' and 'lower' switched around in a particular context, and that dorked-up my brain too.

So anyway, I conclude the answer to LIChick's question is, "Yes, that's a valid way to do it."

10-05-2003, 10:47 PM
Interesting BongoBoy...and I thought I was coming out of left field. I'm pretty proud of myself for this hypothesis...though it seems likea tedious task to do all that transposing.

Bongo Boy
10-08-2003, 01:53 AM
Yes. I kinda doubt anyone would bother. Just move up the neck and play it there. In fact...I personally think it would be a useful exercise to play it first at the most physically comforable place on the neck..say in the 9th or even 12th fret area. Then, after you can play it thru accurately, then go for proper tempo. Then, move down the neck, say in the 5th fret position and learn it all over again there, where it may be a bit more challenging on the fingers.

Just an idea. The ability to do this is one of the few things about the instrument that I feel compensates for some of the misery it brings to my life. :D