I remember the visualization lesson well. Ted pointed out that as keyboard players learn their triads, for instance, they tend to learn them by spelling as well as chord name. When a keyboard player learns an Eb major chord, they also learn it as an [Eb G Bb] combination simultaneous with the name Eb. Guitarists generally don’t. We have a little extra homework to do to get our mind around our instrument:
The first goal is to VERY FIRMLY learn the close voice triads, their spelling & position & degree on all 4 string sets. Start with the key of C, and:
1. Spell the key, ascending AND DESCENDING repeatedly with just the note names until it is an automatic response. Then do it again, also adding the Roman Numeral (Degree) before naming the note.
2. Now do it again, adding the diatonic qualities, e.g., C, Dminor, Eminor, F, etc.
3. Starting with the lowest string set, “see” the I chord, and spell it…C E G , again “visualizing” the C on 8th fret/6th string, E on 7th fret/5th string, G on 5th fret/4th string, THINKING the names of the notes at the same time and also the fret numbers of each note. Then visualize it up an octave on the same set of strings, up at the 17 position, (with C at the 20th fret, E at the 19th) Then transfer to the next string set over, both at the open position( 3rd, 2nd, open), and at the 12th position (15th, 14th, 12th). Then over to the next set at the 8th position (10th, 9th , 8th). And then the last set on the top 3 strings, at the 3rd position & again up an 8va at the 15th .
4. Then do the same with the ii chord, likewise the iii, and follow the rest of the scale.
5. Now do this again, only descending order this time.
6. Now do this in F, and proceed through the cycle of 4ths. After you have done the key of Gb, then do F#…the sounds of the notes will of course be the same, but it is critically important that you become equally familiar with the THINKING of the two differently named keys.
7. Do likewise with the first inversion, and then the 2nd inversion. Then the open voice triads, in their various forms, and then on to the Systematic Inversions, starting with the small density, then medium, and large. This would today be named V2, etc.
I should mention here that step 6 is actually a compromise Ted made, as I balked about learning the key of Cb, and for that matter, C# too(C# minor makes perfect sense, but C# major?). Ted understood, and admitted that for a long time he himself refused to try to think in Cb, but that through time he came around, and hoped that I eventually would too.
While discussing the phenomenon of key signatures, Ted asked me a trivia question, which I shall put out here, just for fun:
How many names are there for the all the notes, and why? (I didn’t have the correct answer, but the answer is a bit of a kick !)