Finding notes in the Classic tuning
I get a lot of questions from students about how to find notes on the board, so I though this might help some of you who use the Classic tuning. Much of the inspiration for it comes from Emmett's own Free Hands
book, where the wonders of Touchboard geometry were first brought to light. The Matched Reciprocal tuning seems easier to me to identify from the nut and octave nodes, more like a guitar fretboard.
Any suggestions, complaints or observations are always more than welcome.
FINDING NOTES ON THE CLASSIC™ TUNING
a few tips from Greg Howard
Sometimes students ask me how to find notes more easily on the Stick. Often, they are used to counting up from the nut to find notes if they are coming from a guitar or bass background. If they are coming from keyboard, then they are used to seeing black and white keys.
From my perspective, The Stick is best viewed as a two-dimensional surface with reference only to the pattern of inlays and the grid of string and frets that overlays it.
Looking at the fretboard this way, I find the Classic tuning the easiest to navigate in terms of pitches and their relationship to the inlay markers.
Here are four charts that show the 10-string Classic tuning. The first shows how the bass strings at the first and second inlay markers are the same pitches as the melody strings at the third and fourth inlay markers.
These are common playing areas of both string sets, with the left hand usually playing just below and just above this range on the bass strings and the right hand playing just below and just above this range on the melody strings, much of the time.
This second chart shows a the pattern of E minor pentatonic. Note how the patterns of notes have the same relationship to the inlays on both sets of strings.
This third chart shows the notes in a C major scale (or A minor scale) on both sets of strings, extending just beyond the fret range for the E minor pentatonic pattern we had in diagram #2.
The last chart show the most important visual relationship for the geometry of 4ths and inverted 5ths, the unison/octave triangle. Notice how any given pitch offsets by one string as you move five frets in either direction. With linear inlays especially, this relationship is easy to see, as each note is clearly visible in relation to the fret where the inlay lies, instead of a point in the center of the board. Hint, if you don't have linear inlays, you can create your own using violin fingerboard tape
Initially, you don't need to learn all of the notes on all of the strings. For example, if you learn the lowest three bass strings and then the octave shapes, then you can easily name the notes on the higher bass strings.
Another strategy is to learn all the notes at a given group of frets, and then shift them up and down the board by five frets.
Melody fret 10: C, G, D, A, E (and bass X fret on 36" scale Sticks)
Melody fret 12: D, A, E, B, F# (and bass fret 2)
Melody fret 13: Eb, Bb, F, C, G (this one is really important to know on the melody, I think)
Melody fret 15: F, C, G, D, A (and bass fret 5, probably the most important bass fret to know by heart beyond the inlays)
with the unison/octave triangles, you can easily find other notes outside of this six fret span.
FOR GRAND STICK
The same general principles apply to the Grand Stick tuning, the inlays match up, but there is an extra string at the end of each sequence, a low melody string and a high bass string.