Music Theory: Intervals


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Alright…I’m back from my hiatus!!!  So lets get to this and let’s start talking about Intervals.  From our last lesson, we talked about moving up and down “semitones” and getting to know what “sharps” and “flats” were. We talked that your guitar has frets and each fret you move, you move a “semitones’.

Now, here is where intervals comes into play.  Let’s start with the full musical notes scale I talked about from our last lesson:

A – A# – B – C – C# – D – D# – E  – F – F# – G – G# – A

It is normally called the “Chromatic Scale”.  Simple, right!!  All the notes are chromatically in order.  No need to memorize it right now for this lesson, since you eventually will learn it over time…..but don’t deny it.

Intervals are defined as the distance between two pitches.  I’ll try to simplify Intervals and avoid all the theory behind it, because it can get confusing (which I will show you at the end of this lesson just for shit’s and giggles).  Here is what a standard guitarist needs to learn:

Move one semitone = Half-Step
Move two semitones – Whole-Step

Applies when moving up or down the neck of the guitar from fret to fret.  So, looking at the scale above, if you play an “A” note and move a half-step up, you are playing “A#”.  If you play an “A” note and move a whole-step up, you are playing a “B” note.  In music theory, you will see whole-steps labeled as an “W” and half-steps as a “H”.  See image below to see what a “W” and “H” are on the chromatic scale.

So, Intervals are the distance between two pitches….Half-step is the distance from one note to a second note that is 1 fret higher or lower than the first on the guitar.  Whole-steps is the distance of 2 frets on the guitar from the original fret.

There….That it!!….Intervals!!!  So why do we care about Intervals.  Well, first off, you have to learn them and second, this is how you better understand how scales and chords are created.

In our next lesson, I will use Intervals to create the scales every guitarist should know…The Major and Minor scales.  So keep coming back and comments on the pages.


Here is the reason why learning theory is so tough for people that just want to play and learn theory to better themselves.  Google this stuff if you are into it…because I’m not.  Here are the names of the steps if you like to memorize them:

  • 0 Half-step = 0 frets = Unison
  • 1 Half-step = 1 fret = Minor Second
  • 2 Half-steps = 2 frets = Major Second
  • 3 Half-steps = 3 frets = Minor Third
  • 4 Half-steps = 4 frets = Major Third
  • 5 Half-steps = 5 frets = Perfect Fourth
  • 6 Half-steps = 6 frets = Diminished Fifth/Augmented Fourth
  • 7 Half-steps = 7 fret = Perfect Fifth/Augmented Fifth
  • and so on…and so one…and so on!!

Fun Facts…..and Back from Hiatus!!!


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WOW!!! Its been a while and my hiatus is over.  Back to work!!  Here are some fun facts to start your day:

Beetles taste like apples, wasps like pine nuts, and worms  like fried bacon
In 1386, a pig in France was executed by public hanging for the murder of a child
Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete
You can’t kill yourself by holding your breath
– Honey is the only food that does not spoil
Coca-Cola would be green if colouring weren’t added to it.
The placement of a donkey’seyes in its’ heads enables it to see all four feet at all times
Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people

Music Theory: Sharps and Flats


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This lesson I am quickly going to talk about sharps (#) and flats (b).  Here are all 12 notes for a standard guitarist again:

(Option 1) – using sharp symbols
A – A# – B – C – C# – D – D# – E  – F – F# – G – G#

(Obtion 2) – using flats symbols
A – Bb – B – C – Db – D – Eb – E – F – Gb – G – Ab

After G# (or Ab), the notes repeat themselves.  So it goes back to the “A” note and starts all over.  When you play an “A” note and play another note 12 notes higher on your guitar, you are playing an octave of the original “A”.

Now lets explain “sharps” and “flats”. For me, sharps and flats are the notes with symbols, in between the notes that don’t have symbols.  Its that simple.  That’s how I learn them.  Theoretically, a sharp moves a note a “semitone” up and a flat moves the notes a “semitone” down.  A “semitone” is just movement up or down from the original note you played based on the 12 notes above.  For example, referencing the 12 notes above, if you play a “D” note and move a “semitone” down, you are flatting the note to a Db (D flat).  If you move a “semitone” up, you are sharping the note to a D# (D sharp).

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Music Theory: Music Notes Explained


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Today, I am going to talk about Music Notes!!  A very basic one, but still essential and applies to all instruments.  You will be surprised of how many guitarists and bassist I know that really don’t know this and just play what they memorized. I believe it’s the basics of music theory and even though you might think its worthless to know this, my other lessons will make sense if you learn this.  Also, you don’t need to learn this all right away, since time will allow this, but try to grasp it and you will be rewarded.

OK, now musical notes!!  What EXACTLY are notes?  Well, take this advice……who cares right now!!  Just know that musical notes are frequencies determined by a system developed, not that long ago, by a committee of a bunch of old musicians.  Believe it or not, back in the day, there was no standard to tune an “A” or a “C” note.  You pretty much picked a pitch with a tuning fork and tune the rest of the instrument relative to that pitch.  Problem was, when someone wrote a song in Germany, it sounded different in France. Continue reading

Learning how to read Spanish: Have you read a entire book in Spanish?


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Has there been anything in your life that you wanted to do, but kept putting it off? First, for fear of failure and second, for insecurities!!  For me, it has been to be able to read a book in Spanish.

Growing up in the struggling neighborhoods of Los Angeles, with immigrant parents from Sinaloa, Mexico, all my family spoke Spanish, which by nature, made my first language Spanish.  In one of the blocks I grew up in South Central, we were the only few Latinos in a block mainly made up of African Americans families.  I learned English mainly from my older sister and the kids around me.  I still speak Spanish pretty well, but never really ever learned how to write or read Spanish.  I was always told, “You read it as it sounds” but it is not always as easy as it seems.  Long story short, after years in school and college, my Spanish seemed to slowly lose its grip within me and started noticing the decline in my vocabulary.

So as a challenge, I said to myself…..”Self, I am going to learn how to read Spanish and make it my goal to read an entire book in Spanish, from beginning to end”.  It was tough and took me about 3-4 months, but I finally did!  So I decided to write about the book I read.

First advice, READ WHAT YOU ARE INTERESTED IN OR LIKE!!  For me, I just love reading about history and military accounts.  I like reading about things from the past and imagining what it was like being there.  The book I read is called “La Conquista de México” (“The Conquest of Mexico”).  I received this book as a gift from my parents after one of their visits to Mexico.  The book sat on my shelf for years until this challenge.

The book is based off the “Verdadera Historia de la Conquista de la Nueva España” (The Truthful History of the Conquest of New Spain), a book written as a first person narrative by Captain Bernal Díaz del Castillo, who was there during the conquest of the Aztec Empire.  It is said that this book was possibly completed around 1568, but that it sat lost in a Madrid library until 1632 when it was published.  Bernal was a 16th century conquistador and settler who served three expedition to Yucatán.  The last expedition was with Hernán Cortéz, which is most of what the book is about.  Bernal was 23 years old during the Aztec expeditions, but didn’t complete the book until he was in his late 70’s or early 80’s.  I don’t know about you, but after 50+ years of an event, its hard to remember what exactly happened, so I recommend to not take these personal accounts as hardcore facts.

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Music Lesson: Confidence in Learning Guitar and Music


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I’m going to start my first lessons with a lesson in working your attitude…your mind…your confidence to learn music & guitar.  Let me give you some good news….ANYONE CAN LEARN MUSIC AND GUITAR!!!  It’s true!! Hear me out…..

You will always hear people say….”You need talent to play music.”, or “I wish I was talented to be able to play guitar”.  Well, REMOVE THAT FROM YOU MIND!!!  Learning music and playing guitar is a SKILL, not a talent.  A skill is something you learn, like being able to sew, being a chef, or carpenter.  You excel in a skill from learning techniques and practice.  You can’t say things like “I can never be a guitarist”.  That is the same as saying “I can’t be a carpenter-ist”, “I wish I was a sew-isian”, or “I can never be a chef-ist”.  All these areas of expertise are skills and occupations that are learned over time.  When you have someone teaching you these skills, you learn faster.  That is where I hope I come in…to be your mentor, your teacher!!

So what is talent?  According to the dictionary, it is “a special natural ability and aptitude”.  Sure, there are people that will pick up a guitar and be playing solos within 1-2 weeks.  But if you are going to be kicking yourself because you are not playing solos in 1 month, forget it.  ALL YOU NEED IS HEART….THE LOVE FOR MUSIC….AMBITION!!  I truly believe anyone can learn to play guitar and write music….that it does take talent to create great fricken songs and have beautiful tone on your guitar.  I came to realize years ago that I am no Eddie Van Halen,  Andrés Segovia, or Slash…and probably will never get to be at their level……THOSE GUYS HAVE TALENT!!  I just know to kick-ass on guitar and rock out on stage.

So I hope you take any negative feelings out of your mind and stop beating yourself because your goal is to have your own style.  When some of the most famous guitarist first played shows, a lot of people criticized on how they played and that they weren’t doing it right….But they had their own style.   Don’t put yourself down before you even start.  Keep your style and don’t change if you like how it sounds.  Never say “I can’t do that”.  Say things like “I’ve never done it, but I’m going to try” or “It’s going to suck, but I’m sticking with it”.

So that is your first lesson.  Remove any negativity and find some heart and ambition.  The most important thing is that gleam in your eye and “can do” attitude.

Come back soon for my next lesson….this time with some music theory and some guitar exercises.  If you are new, you need to get some dexterity exercises to loosen the hands and play chords.  It will be fun.  Subscribe and let your friends know about me. See you soon!!!!

Music Theory: Guitar Lesson Introduction


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I have been playing music for many years…I believe it has been like 22 years.  DAMN!!!  I learned to play many instruments during this time, but I mainly concentrated on guitar.  I dabbled with the kazoo for a while!!  I never had a music instructor or took lessons, but everything I know, I learned from books and experimenting.  Lately, with the plethora of YouTube videos, it has help me demystify some of the things books and videos couldn’t teach me.  I am no guitar virtuoso or shredder, but I can teach you damn good basics to be a good musician and songwriter.

In my quest for music knowledge, I have never been able to find a book, video, or instructor that will give me all the knowledge I seek, at the time I needed it.  Books are pre-printed and videos are pre-recorded.  You can’t ask a book or video to explain something in more detail.  As for music instructors, it is almost impossible to find a good  instructor that cares more about you learning the concept, than you coming back again to pay for another lesson.  I understand it’s their business and need to make money, but that’s just not for me.  Some people learn at a much faster pace than others.  A lot of music instructors only give you enough information to get you by until the next lesson.

So I am going to try to create music lessons for people who don’t have a college degree in music or have a family legacy of successful musicians surrounding them.  I am going to talk about music lessons in the way that I learned them…simple as possible and to the point.

I am going to gear these lessons for people who want to learn guitar and already have some basic musical knowledge.  You got to know things like sharps and flats, half-steps/whole-steps…..simple things like that.  I have to throw in some music theory lessons on piano, here and there,  to let you better understand certain concepts, so don’t be hating.

I hope you like these upcoming series of lessons geared for guitar players and please leave me comments and suggestions.  Feel free to send me a message if you want better explanations on these lessons.  Subscribe to my blog to get my latest post.  Enjoy!!!

First Post of the YEAR!!!

I am the “Can’t Stand Still Engineer”!!!  My motto has been that if human hands did that, I can do it too!!  Call it cheap or narcissistic, but I can’t settle not having the challenge of trying to figure something out, be inventive, and free.  If I break it, then its my fault…but if you pay someone to do it and they break it….it makes it 10 times worse.

Why follow this blog….well, I am knowledgeable on many things, but an expert at none!!  Music theory, oil painting, guitar, home improvement, weird history knowledge, audio recording, 1969 Chevelles, Chevy Camaros, gardening, etc….

So here is the history of the creation of “The Can’t Stand Still Engineer”:  After a conversation with my brother about blogs and the future of this economy, we started discussing how information flows to people now a days and how some people make money with online videos.  After all this, I have done numerous searches for “How-to” videos and certain interests of mine (music theory, oil painting, changing brakes on car, etc).  But at times, I can’t find what I’m looking for and I just take the dive and start doing, without any knowledge of the outcome.  I eventually figure it out and go on my way.

So after this conversation, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I document all this and create a blog of my interests”!  So here we are.  I hope you like and I will try to update as much info as my life allows….