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What is the music slide rule good for? - Examples
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The slide rule helps you to:

- analyse music, e.g. to find out what scales you can play on a chord progession.
- figure out intervals, scales and chords
- make your own chords
- transpose music to another key
- figure out a couple of chords that fit one scale (for composing)
- locate a note, a scale or a chord on the fretboard
- "decode" staff music (trebel and bass clef)
- to do whatever has to do with notes.
- it is definately cool to have one in music classes :)

Example #1:


You have the chord progression Bm7,Em7,Am7,D7 and you want to figure out a scale that you can play over those chords.

The slide has 4 rows. The 1st and second shows the intervals related to a root note. That will not help us in this case. Row 3 and 4 are the more interesting ones. They show chords that belong to one family. Row 3 are the chords based on the (Ionian = normal) major scale. Row 4 are the chords that can be derived from a harmonic minor scale (this is another important group of chords).

What you have to do is to move the slide to a position that shows a m7 under A, B and E and a 7 under D.

The picture shows this position. You can see that you can play the G major scale over those chords and that it is a IIIm7, VIm7, IIm7, V7 chord progression, which is pretty common in jazz music.

On the other hand you can use the slide rule to figure out the IIIm7, VIm7, IIm7, V7 chord progression in a certain key. Just move the Imaj7 under the note (key) you want to play and read (write down) the chords that you find over (under) the IIIm7, VIm7, IIm7, V7 position.

Example #2:


You want to find out the E dorian minor scale.

You already know that the doriam minor scale consists of the notes 1,2,b3,4,5,6,7 (related to a root note. If you don't know yet, just turn the slide rule and have a look at it's back side. There you will find this information.

What you have to do to figure out the notes is to move the "1" under the "E" (the key you want) and read the notes over 2,b3,4,5,6 and 7. The E dorian scale consists out of the notes E, F#, G,A,B,C#, and D.

Pretty simple, huh? and you can do that in every key now. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that you usually don't mix flats and sharps in the same scale. Therefore The upmost row on the front side of the slide rule are sharps and the lowest row are flats.

In case you find a scale that contains something like F and F# or C and C# at the same time, you should reanme the F to E# and the C to B# respectively (A C is one semitone higher than a B so you could call it a B#). If you are working with scales that contain flat notes and your result contains something like Eb and E at the same time, but no F, then rename the E to Fb.

Example #3:


You want to find out the notes which an E7/b9 chord is made from.

Well, what you need to know is that that are the notes 1,3,5,7 and b9. If you don't know that yet, you'll find this information on the back of the slide rule.

What you have to do to figure out the notes is to move the "1" under the "E" (the key you want) and read the notes over 3,5,7 and b9. E7/b9 consists out of the notes E, G#, B, D and F.

The 2nd row of the slide shows the higher chord options like 9, 11 and 13.

You can use this information to figure out how that chord is fretted. Just write down the notes, locate them on the fretboard (the fretboard map on the back of the slide rule might help you) and figure out one or two or more "natural" (possible) ways to fret that notes.

Another thing you can do is to find out which chord you see on a staff line (if the name isn't written over it). Read the notes from the staff line (if you can't, flip the slide rule and you will find the treble and bass clef and the notes on the lines named "clearly").

Just move around the slide til you fins something that makes sense (that contains something like 1,3,5, etc.).

Example #4:


This is about transposing music. E.g. you want to transpose a piece that is made of the chords C7, F7 and G7 (hey, that's a blues in C) from C to Eb.

Just pull out the slide, flip it over to it's back side and push it into the slide rule again. Now the slide rule can be used for transposing.

Just move the slide so that the C is over the Eb and read the corresponding note names. The C7 becomes a Eb7, the F7 is a Ab7 now and the G7 corresponds with the Bb7.

The back of the slide rule:


Some useful information you will find on the back side of the slide rule:
- The circle of the fifth (find out about it here).
- Notes of the most common chords related to their root note.
- A map of the guitar fretboard.
- A map of the staff line (treble and bass clef)
- The modes (and their corresponding chords)
- The notes of some important scales related to their root note.

[Next] How to build your own music slide rule in 10 minutes.
[Up] Theory made simple - the music slide rule
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Last modified on Friday, 2. January 2009