Color notation of notes or intervals is a concept developed by guitare-et-couleurs.com.
consists in using colors to "make simple what appeared complex".
Colors enables to learn or pratice guitar (or any other
instrument) much easier and faster than in black and white.
Using colors unveils a lot of information, and understanding notions
that often remain vague for many guitarist becomes obvious.
And when understanding is here, learning and improvement become easier
and faster, like a train that only has to follow the track.
You will find below a quick explanation of this concept.
For more information, you can download "Les
grands principes de guitare-et-couleurs" (in French only) from this
page (or by clicking this
This booklet shows that, thanks to an original creative and educational
concept based on colors, you can learn then improve more easily and
more durably the miscellaneous essential notions a guitarist needs to
master, regardless of their style.
If you haven't any background, you might not size up what such a
concept can bring you. But if you already tried to learn guitar from
scratch, or wished to improve your knowledge, or tried to
compose, improvise, or reproduce a tune by ear, you will undoubtedly perceive
Doing better, faster and easier is eventually our common goal, isn't it?
Depending of the kind of target you aim,
two color codes can be used: the absolute or relative color code.
The absolute color code
Because each note matches one and only color:
C in red
D in brown
E in salmon-pink
F in light-green
G in light-blue
A in purple
B in pink
Thus, in any key signature, these colors will always be
related to the same notes:
This code is especially useful for those who widh to
learn notes on the guitar neck, or locate them instantly.
Is it actually of use? Not necessarily, some will say, because
tablatures let us avoid to match the guitar neck and the classic staff.
Certainly. But there are however some benefits to know note names (or
at least to know how to retrieve them easily), especially those of the
three bass strings...
For instance to know where to move a
(especially a barre) so that its root note match a given note. If you
don't know that the G is in 3rd cell of the E string, you won't know
that the F barre chord can be moved to this location. Or you will have
to learn by heart all the possible chord positions!
The relative color code
This is the most used because its applications are
It draws inspiration from the colors used in the "Dadi's ruler", an
actual guitar-dedicated slide-rule, almost unobtainable nowadays, that
enables (among other useful features) to find and view in colors all
the possible guitar scales or chords.
In this color code, called "relative", colors don't
match a specific note (C, D, E, etc) but its interval from the rootnote (third, fifth, etc.).
For instance, a major third (two tones interval) will be
colored in burgundy, a perfect fifth (3 tones and a half) in orange...
If necessary, the "+" or "-" symbol will be added. For
instance, "-" will be added to specify a minor third
This relative color code will be
preferentially used when displaying chords, scales, arpeggios, etc,
because it oferr much more capabilities than the absolute colors.
Because the note that matches a given interval is not always the same:
it is relative to the current key
For instance, in C major, the root note is C. The note
located at a perfect fifth interval is G, displayed in orange. But if
we change the key signature to E major, the perfect fifth, still
orange, won't be G anymore but B.
This relative nature is extremely useful, because it
enables to keep the same code for any
key signature. So if you know where the third, fifth or 7th are
in a chord or a scale for a given key signature, you'll also know it
when you change the key signature.
It is the same spirit as the the Nashville notation,
Here is the map of "relative
The root note is always black
The 2nd / 9th is light-green,
a "-" symbol if minor
The third is burgundy,
a "-" symbol if minor
The forth is plain blue.
The fifth is orange,
a "-" symbol if diminished, and "+" if augmented.
Here is a map, that also highlight the fact that some intervals can
have "synonymous" colors.
For instance the interval of augmented 2nd (2+) is 1
tone and a half, like the minor third (3-). And you can view, on the
same comumn, its octave doubling (9+).
Fingering on chord diagram can be displayed in black, absolute or
relative color. This can be set up in the global setup, "Appearance"
Color chord diagrams
For instance, here is the C# major chord in relative colors:
You can spot immediately the root note (black), the thirds (burgundy)
and the fifth (orange)
This coloring can be useful, as well educationally as for creation.
For instance, it's much more interesting to learn this chord while
being aware of its intervals. Not only we understand immediately its
"architecture" but moreover, we can modify it to create new chords from
a single one..
If you want to transform the above chord to a minor chord (C#m), you know that
all the thirds have to be lowered by one semitone (Cf interval map
above). So, all burgundy notes will be shifted toward the top of the
neck and displayed with a "-" symbol:
Conversely, if you wish to transform the original chord in C#sus4, you will add one semitone to
the thirds, which boils down to replace them by fourths (blue):
Here, the 4th on the D string would be too difficult to play so we
Please note that colors are also present when editing chord diagrams
("Configuration > Edit chord diagrams" menu option)
You will probably find numerous other applications to this chord
coloring, either in absolute or relative colors.