Why Learn the Fretboard? (6-23-2012)

I learned touch typing in high school and have used it intensively all my life. My dream is to enable my fingers to find the notes they need on the fretboard as automatically and unconsciously as they find the letters they need on the keyboard. I feel certain that sublimely accomplished guitarists such as Sharon Isbin and Pepe Romero have this facility, cultivated from early youth and refined over a lifetime of practice.

For this Johnny-come-lately to serious musicianship it’s a pipe dream. Nevertheless, something can be achieved. The effort to improve my grasp and practice of music on the guitar provides good thoughts when I go to sleep and a motive for getting up in the morning.

My chief goal in learning the fretboard notes is to become fluently conversant with chord anatomy. When I’m fingering a chord I want to know at a glance which finger is playing what interval of the chord: the first, the third, the fifth, the seventh, a suspended fourth, whatever.

(By the way, in music talk a “suspended” note is one that’s played, not one that’s left out. I can never get used to this. One writer says a suspended note creates melodic “suspense” calling for resolution. I buy that, but I would call it a “suspending” note if I were inventing musicology.)

If I’m building a chord I want to know where my alternatives are. You can’t finger a chord just anywhere. I can perform this analysis now, but more laboriously than I would like. I often drift off into idle song as a result of the mental fatigue incurred, and have to wrench my brain back to the task at hand.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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