Its a term that can be useful to understand how the tone curve works, but it can also be confusing. Let’s go through it in more detail:
The most obvious example is a quarter tone. It’s the frequency at which the note falls on the treble string, which is what people refer to as the treble. You will not play it as though it’s a sharp or a flat. Instead, you’ll usually play it as a semi tone (like this):
If you go into a jazz studio, you will often hear people playing this. In fact, it happens quite a lot in modern music, especially in the classical compositions. It’s a result of the bass playing all day at work, and the instruments just can’t keep the rest of the music together anymore. The tone curve will take the tension out of the second note, which has a tonal character (it’s an “F” or “B”, not an “F#”) and let the rest of the instruments sit on that. If you play this as a semi tone in guitar, you’ll play a lot of quarter notes on the downbeats.
The second type you might recognize is a quarter to minor second (or minor semitone). If you play a note as “F” or “B”, you’re a semitone down on the treble string (on the same string that your thumb touches). If you play this as a quarter, you’re a semitone to the downbeats. If you play it as a third, you are playing a minor second. If you play quarter notes as “F” or “B”, you are in the “F” part of the semitone cycle. These are all semi tones. When you play these in a band, you can’t play a full tune or note without a tonal change. You can play them in a song, but you’re better off playing single notes.
Another type of semi tone is inversion semi tones. A true semitone tone is completely inversion. Here’s a real life example. You can hear a great example by going here, which is written as an example of inversion semi tones. It’s not technically a semi tonal, but its not totally flat either. It starts as semi tone with a slightly inversion, then becomes a semi tonal with a slight tonal shift.
Lastly, there is some sort of double tone. Again, it’s not technically a true tonal, but
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