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Old 08-04-2020, 12:31 PM
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Huskyman Huskyman is offline
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I had no clue as to where to put this so if it needs to be moved, please move.

Somewhere I have heard that sheet music written for guitar has the melody written a full octave higher than it really is. I have had a hard time understanding this. So when I pull out my Beatles song book and I am looking at the vocal line and I see a few notes that are played on guitar as high e string open does that mean that the note is actually being sung an octave lower which would be the e note on the 2nd fret of the D string?

Just a bit confused. Thanks.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:29 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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Originally Posted by Huskyman View Post
I had no clue as to where to put this so if it needs to be moved, please move.

Somewhere I have heard that sheet music written for guitar has the melody written a full octave higher than it really is. I have had a hard time understanding this. So when I pull out my Beatles song book and I am looking at the vocal line and I see a few notes that are played on guitar as high e string open does that mean that the note is actually being sung an octave lower which would be the e note on the 2nd fret of the D string?

Just a bit confused. Thanks.


The standard modern acoustic guitar is a fairly low pitched instrument. The open high E string, which is shown in sheet music like yours in the space just below the top line of the staff, actually plays the note that standard notation would show as the note on the bottom line of the staff.
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Last edited by frankmcr; 08-04-2020 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 08-04-2020, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Huskyman View Post
I had no clue as to where to put this so if it needs to be moved, please move.

Somewhere I have heard that sheet music written for guitar has the melody written a full octave higher than it really is. I have had a hard time understanding this. So when I pull out my Beatles song book and I am looking at the vocal line and I see a few notes that are played on guitar as high e string open does that mean that the note is actually being sung an octave lower which would be the e note on the 2nd fret of the D string?

Just a bit confused. Thanks.
Hi H-man
Most transcriptions are done on piano, and if a song melody seems to be in the wrong octave, then pitch it where it's comfortable for you to sing and transpose the chords to fit the new key.

Doug Young (forum member) transcribes guitar scores for others, and he can give you a definitive answer.



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Old 08-04-2020, 09:10 PM
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The guitar is what is known as a "transposing instrument". You can read about the general meaning of that here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transposing_instrument

For us, it just means that the guitar sounds an octave lower that the notes are written. It's convenient, because otherwise, you'd have to read two staves (bass and treble clefs). Pianists do it, so no real problem, but it's easier for us that the music fits on one staff! Most notation programs take of this for you automatically if you declare a staff to be a guitar staff.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:32 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by Huskyman View Post
I had no clue as to where to put this so if it needs to be moved, please move.

Somewhere I have heard that sheet music written for guitar has the melody written a full octave higher than it really is. I have had a hard time understanding this. So when I pull out my Beatles song book and I am looking at the vocal line and I see a few notes that are played on guitar as high e string open does that mean that the note is actually being sung an octave lower which would be the e note on the 2nd fret of the D string?
Both guitar music and vocals are typically written an octave higher than "concert pitch". Or, conversely, the staff is lowered.

I.e., it's not about what the notes "actually are", just about certain notation conventions.

"Concert pitch" means middle C is written on the ledger line below treble clef, or the ledger line above bass clef.
"Middle C" is so-called for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's clearly right in the middle of piano double-stave notation. Secondly, it's the C nearest the centre of the piano keyboard (not the exact centre of a full 88-note keyboard, which is the E above, but C is considered a more important note). Middle C is also roughly central in human vocal ranges. In fact, the whole reason we select the range of musical pitches we do (represented by the piano's 88 keys) is because of our frequency sensitivity. We can distinguish different pitches most easily around the frequencies of our voices - and then beyond that by around 2-3 octaves below and above.

Guitar is a mid-range instrument. In fact its range exactly encompasses all the classical vocal ranges, from bottom of bass (open 6th string) to top of soprano (C, fret 20 on 1st string).

But when we notate guitar, we only use one staff. Concert treble clef is too high - most of what we play would be off the bottom of the staff. So we lower the treble cleff until it straddles middle C. Middle C is written in the 3rd space up.

This is the same for vocals, and for the same reason. Most male vocals could actually be written in concert bass clef, quite well. Tenors would need several ledger lines above the staff, but baritones and basses (i.e., the majority of men) would be fine.
But the vocal tradition is to use treble clef. So, again, we lower the staff so middle C appears in the 3rd space. Male vocals may then sometimes need ledger lines below, and female vocals need ledger lines above, but generally it averages out pretty well.

So - in short! - the E on top space of vocal notation is the same E as top space on guitar notation. The open 1st string, a major 3rd above middle C.

BTW - technical jargon point (if you're interested!) - "treble" means high register, so strictly speaking only refers to that staff in concert pitch. When we lower the staff by an octave for guitar and voice, it becomes a "tenor" staff. The clef itself is actually a "G" clef, because it marks the 2nd line up as G. (And bass clef is an F clef.) In concert, the G clef is a "treble" clef (piano right hand, violin, flute, mandolin, etc etc). An octave lower it's a "tenor G clef" (or "octave G clef"), and sometimes you see this marked by a little "8" attached to the bottom of the clef - but it isn't strictly necessary, because we know to assume that transposition anyway.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:44 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huskyman View Post
I had no clue as to where to put this so if it needs to be moved, please move.

Somewhere I have heard that sheet music written for guitar has the melody written a full octave higher than it really is. I have had a hard time understanding this. So when I pull out my Beatles song book and I am looking at the vocal line and I see a few notes that are played on guitar as high e string open does that mean that the note is actually being sung an octave lower which would be the e note on the 2nd fret of the D string?

Just a bit confused. Thanks.
Hi, I know noting about notation, but this seems to be an example where it tends to get in the way.
If yuo know the key of the piece, surely you can sing the melody line from theroot, 3rd or fifth (basic harmony) in any octave you wish?
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Old 08-05-2020, 09:51 AM
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Thanks everyone. I think I have it now or at least it's a lot clearer to me. I appreciate the responses.
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