IFR blog > Student questions > Why do you call it note 6

Why do you call it note 6?

Hi David,

I've only watched the free videos on your YouTube channel but I have found them very interesting to say the least. I have a question about how you talk about minor keys. When a song is in a minor key, I noticed that you call the root "note 6" instead of "note 1". Why wouldn't we call it note 1?

I am used to calling the root of a minor key "note 1" and I'm curious about why you do it the other way. They both make sense in my opinion, but I just wondered why you call it note 6. I'm guessing it has to do with knowing the minor sound in relationship to the "one" of a major tonal center, but im still a bit confused.

Thank you,

David's response:

Hi Lucas,

Great question! In IFR we actually learn both points of view, and many others as well. There is no conflict between them. It's good to appreciate how each new tonal center functions like a new note 1. But we don't want to lose sight of where we actually are within the overall key of the music.

As improvisers we always want to see the "big picture" of where all of these sounds are actually located. If you call each new tonal center a new "note 1", then you lose sight of where you are in the overall key of the music. You also add a lot of unnecessary complexity because you are constantly performing mental key changes when in fact the key of the music isn't even changing.

Where this tonal point of view really pays off is when you begin to work with chord progressions. In IFR Jam Tracks Level 2: Pure Harmony Essentials, you'll be improvising over a wide variety of chord progressions. And using the tonal point of view that we teaching IFR Exercise 3: Pure Harmony Essentials, you'll be able to weave your own melodies effortlessly across these chord progressions.

To see a demonstration of what it feels like to have this bird's eye view of the harmony, here's a great video lesson on the IFR exercise Melody Paths.

In IFR, we are always maintaining this "big picture" view of the harmony. We want to see the entire harmonic flow at a glance so that we can improvise over the entire song form with complete freedom. And of course we also want to see very clearly where WE happen to be on our tonal map at all times, because this is what enables us to express the sounds we imagine.

Thanks for the great question!