"Fretboard Decoder, Part 1"


Page 1. The World On A String presents "Fretboard Decoder." A guitarist's guide to learning melodies by ear, featuring Dot. A comic strip by Ken. Cover image is of Dot, in quadruplicate, crossing the road in an homage to Abbey Road by the Beatles.

Page 2. Image is of Dot rocking out with a guitar and amp, over a stylized "Fretboard Decoder" logo. Text reads, "Learn melodies. Lots of them! It trains your brain to think more musically and less in rote patterns. It can bust you out of that rut where your improvisation starts to sound just like your practice routines. The purpose of this comic book is to clarify and streamline the process of learning melodies on the guitar.

Page 3. Part 1. An image of two TVs, vertically stacked on a shelf. On the upper TV, Dot is in evening dress, holding a guitar.

Page 4. Dot is turning up the volume knob on one of the TVs. Out comes the first bar of the melody of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," transcribed in standard notation. She says, "Pick a melody and listen to the notes. Start simple, just for now."

Page 5. The next bar of the melody, this time in both standard notation and tablature. The root notes and major thirds are circled. Dot says, "Hmm. Everything resolves around D. It has a major 3rd. Might be D major!"

Page 6. Dot points at the melody and names each scale degree in turn. She says, "What scale degree does each note represent? 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd..."

Page 7. Block diagram of a D major scale at the 7th position of a standard-tuned guitar. The root note is circled, along with the notes that are included in the melody. Dot says, "Next, grab your guitar. Visualize the appropriate scale shape on the neck."

Page 8. The melody, in standard notation, hovers above a guitar fretboard with the block diagram superimposed on it. The notes fall off the staff onto their corresponding locations within the diagram. Dot says, "Pridict where the notes from the melody would fall."

Page 9. A reprise of Dot rocking out with the guitar. She says, "Play the sequence!"

Page 10. And don't give up. The more you do it, the more naturally it will come to you. In the best of circumstances, you'll only have to listen to a melody once and be able to replicate the notes on the guitar without any further ado. The more scales you know, the simpler this process will be.

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