Terminology can oftentimes be overwhelming to understand especially when one is new to the subject of music and music theory. In this article, I’ll be sharing some terminology that will continue to help you on the way to be not only more proficient but also develop a greater understanding of the subject at hand. This will be part 2 of a 3 part glossary.


Alternate Picking: Strumming in alternate directions such as down, up down up… Up, down, up down… Down, down, up, down… Up, up down, up or any combination thereof.

Arpeggios: Chords that are broken up into individual notes so that they are played one at a time in a particular given pattern. Arpeggios can be done with the note playing hand or the picking hand using either a guitar pick or various fingerpicking techniques and even chicken pickin’ where both a guitar pick and the middle and/or ring finger(s) is used.


Barres/Measures: These two terms are defined as how many times a given pattern is being played. A good example of this is twelve barre blues where G is played four times, C is played twice, G is played twice, D is played once, C is played once and G is played two final times resulting in us having played twelve barres.

Barre Chords: Chords where either some or all of the notes are pressed down with the index finger. Anything less than a full barre is known as a half barre and can be played with either the index or pinky finger.


Chicken Picking: This technique is primarily used in Country music and was also used by Metal guitarist Vinnie Vincent. There is a bit of right-hand muting or muffling of the strings that some players like to add in, but for the most part all there is to doing it is using a guitar pick as most player normally would and then plucking a given string(s) with the middle finger, ring finger can also be used where appropriate.

Chord Sequence: Chord progression.

Chord Voicings: Any combination of two or more notes.

Chromatic: A series of halftones that are oftentimes referred to as half steps. Think of it in terms of using all four fingers of your note-playing hand and doing a 1, 2, 3, 4 fingering on frets 1, 2, 3 and 4. This should be practiced using both single strings and also in an ascending and descending fashion on all six strings.

Closed Notes: Notes where one or more fingers are pressing down a string at a given fret.


Double Stops: Upon first hearing this, one might think that they have to stop twice, but what actually happens is that two notes from a C major scale are played simultaneously in the format of a scale. Note, the preceding scale is only one of several that can be used to produce double stops.


Economy-of-Motion: In terms of playing guitar, economy-of-motion has to do with not making unnecessary movements. In the picking hand, whether you are using a pick or fingerpicking, keep the pick or thumb-fingers as close to the strings as you can without disrupting the ringing out of the chords/notes. Similarly, with note- playing hand keep your fingers as close to the fretboard as you can, and use the most logical fingerings for all chords, scales, and arpeggios, etc.


Glascendo: sliding up or down from one tone to another or smoothly bending up a note a half step or whole step higher in pitch.


Hammer-ons: If we play a D note on the fifth string fifth fret with the index finger and then let the ring finger strike down forcefully on the E note on the fifth string and the seventh fret, we are then doing a hammer-on. Note, hammer-ons can be done with any combination of fingers from the note playing -hand.

Harmonics: One can play harmonics by lightly placing the ring or pinky finger on top of the fret wires of frets 5, 7, 9 and 12.


Intervals: Also known as scale degrees, intervals are simply the distance between two notes. Two examples of this are D to E which is a major second when starting with D, and E to F which is a minor second when starting with E.


Jam: To improvise, concoct or create a piece of music particularly with regard to rock, jazz etc.


Keynote: The first note of a scale or key.

Key Signature: The group of natural, sharps or flats that appear at the beginning of a staff. This will indicate which key to play in.


Ladder Riffs: Two or more notes played up and down the guitar neck. Arpeggios as well as hammer-ons and pull-offs done on string one and/or two going up and down the fretboard are known as ladder riffs.

Licks: Guitar licks are patterns in their own right and are made up of parts of a scale, hammer-ons, pull-offs, single string bends, unison bends, note coiling, two-note chords, reverse bends.

To Be Continued ….


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