The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music


What is tone?

In the Big Print songbook, it refers to tone. I'm afraid I just don't understand. Is this the beat with emphasis or? For players, singers, bass? We're not familiar with the term. Thanks.

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The word “tone” has several definitions. As used in music it usually refers to the quality, or timbre, of the sound an instrument or voice produces. For example, on a stringed instrument, if you pluck a given string at a point near the bridge you get a twangy, nasal sort of sound. Pluck the same string further toward the middle of the string and you get a mellower, sweeter sound. Numerous other factors affect tone, such as how the instrument is made. It's the sound that enables you to distinguish one instrument, or one person's voice, from another. The sound of a banjo is much different from a ukulele or guitar, for example, because of its tone. Don't confuse “tone” with “intonation”, which has to do with pitch or tuning accuracy. Playing or singing out of tune is a result of poor intonation.

Edited 2 times; last edited Jul 2, 2017 by Rex Kirkland
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I don't know the context in the songbook, but tone can also be a unit of measure. For instance, a D is a full tone higher than C, but an F is only half a tone above E.

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Oh, yeah. I forgot about that usage. I also don't know the context in the songbook, but this is more likely to be what is meant. The difference in pitch between two adjacent frets on a fretted instrument is a half-step, or half tone, as in E to F, as you said. Thanks.

Edited Jul 2, 2017 by Rex Kirkland
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It shows what I assume is a beat number, like 3 in a 4/4 or 1. Says it's the tone.

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I don't know the context in the songbook, but tone can also be a unit of measure. For instance, a D is a full tone higher than C, but an F is only half a tone above E.

When you play music by ear, as humans have done for 50,000 years at least, you are listening to the difference in pitch (frequency) between various tones (discrete sounds). That is the meaning we refer to, not to differences in quality or strength of a sound.

The word “note” became more in vogue once people began to write musical scores… a 'recent' innovation by the way. The ToneWay Method attempts to help people return to the more ancient ancestral play-music-by-ear approach.

The numbers refer to the relative difference between pitches, e.g., 1=the root tone, 2= the second, 3=the third, 5=the fifth, 6= the sixth. Those 5 discrete pitches make up the pentatonic scale.

Pentatonic scales are very common and are found all over the world. Having a sense of them allows one to play in any key by ear without transposing note and such.

As a untalented guy who always wished and struggled to play music for decades, I found this approach to be intuitive, simple, and took the mystery out of music. yay! :-)

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Thanks. I got it now. A misunderstanding of “names” on my part.

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