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 5-درس انجليزيGuitar chord theory basics

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maryatchi
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مُساهمةموضوع: 5-درس انجليزيGuitar chord theory basics   الخميس ديسمبر 10, 2009 12:25 pm

Guitar chord theory basics

First off, we need to look at the major scale and how you can create major and minor chords from it. Yes, minor chords are also constructed in relation to notes from the major scale.
There's a page you need to see before you start learning guitar chord theory - visit the major scale page before moving on (it opens in a new window so you can reference it during this lesson).
You need to know and learn that scale - to start with learn it in the E "boxed" and A "boxed" positions (you'll know what I mean by visiting the major scale page above). That'll do for now.
The chords we're building in these first few lessons will be based around these basic "boxed" scale shapes. We'll then come to the other "out-of-box" scale shapes later on. One step at a time with this stuff!
So first up, triads. Triads are chords that contain three notes...



Guitar chord theory - major triads

A Major triad uses 3 notes from the major scale, the Root (1), the 3rd (3) and the 5th (5). These notes make up a major chord in its "purest form".



The "root" (1) is always the note the chord is labelled with (letters A through to G - see the fretboard lessons for more info on root notes and where they lie on your fretboard) Now, if you look on the "boxed" E string major scale (see it here), the first occurance of the 3rd and 5th lie on the same string, so to create a chord where all 3 notes can ring out, we need to use the higher 3rd on the G string.
Here's how a standard barre chord uses the notes from the major scale to create a major chord...



Barring your index finger across and fretting the A D and G strings in the places shown have included the notes of the major scale. That's created a G chord, or G major in full - a major triad (R 3 5) is always labelled simply with the letter of the note used for the root (note 1 in its scale). The root appears 3 times, the 5th twice and the 3rd once - but as you can see, the major chord still only has 3 main notes.
The Major scale starting on the A string...
Again, lets just create a simple R 3 5 major barre chord with the root on the A string (the A string "boxed" scale shape - see it here)
Like before, we're taking those 3 notes from the corresponding major scale shape for that chord shape (A string, or A barre shape).




So again, although there are more than 3 strings being played, there is still only the Root, 3rd and 5th making up the chord. That's simply a B chord, or B major in full. Remember, don't limit yourself to E and A string barre chords just because they fit nicely around the scale pattern on your guitar - try and find the same notes elsewhere on the fretboard for lower or higher 3rd or 5th voicings in different shapes. We'll look at chords built around more "out-of-the-box" scale shapes in a later guitar chord theory lesson. You can always get a head start and learn all the important major scale shapes and positions right here (opens in new window for you).
If you also want to know where all the root notes lie on the fretboard (very useful as part of your guitar chord theory), take the guitar fretboard lessons here
Now lets look at building minor chords



Minor triads

We're still using the major scale for this, because chords are always labelled in relation to this natural scale.
So, the major triad was Root, 3rd and 5th
The minor triad is Root, flat 3rd and 5th



So if you refer back to the E string "boxed" major scale for E shape barre chords, all that we change for minor triads is flatten the 3rd 1 half step - move it down one fret. If we play an E string barre chord like before, but as a flat-3rd minor, we get something like this...



See how that 3rd has been flattened and moved down 1 fret from its original place in the major scale? That example above has G as the root (E string, 3rd fret is a G) so it's Gm or G minor in full. Remember, the letter used when writing chords is always the root note! And with an A string barre chord? Referring back to the A string "boxed" scale, take just the root, 5th and flatten the 3rd from that and you get...



Bm or B minor in full because the root note lies on a B (A string, 2nd fret is a B). OK, I think you get the picture now!



Suspended (sus) chords

Suspended or "sus" chords refer to when the 3rd is replaced by another note. When I say replaced, I mean the 3rd gets omitted from the chord.
Below are the elements of a "sus4" chord (e.g. Gsus4)


So basically, the 3rd is replaced by the 4th note in the major scale.


That's Gsus4 - the 3rd's been moved up a half step (1 fret) to the position of the 4th. It's common to use sus4 chords as tension chords as they have an unresolved feeling attached to them. You can also have sus2 chords where the 3rd is again removed and the 2nd note in the major scale is used instead.
Just think of "suspended" or "sus" as meaning "the 3rd is not present". This means suspended chords are neither major nor minor.
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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: 5-درس انجليزيGuitar chord theory basics   الخميس ديسمبر 10, 2009 12:26 pm

Augmented chords

Augmented chords/triads are used a lot in jazz and blues. They sound quite unstable and tense when used in a chord progression so they must be used wisely and appropriately to fit into the melody.
Let's take a look at the major scale again, like in part 1, starting with the E string root...




We learned about those numbered intervals in part 1. Augmented triads are basically major chords with a sharp 5th which means you take the 5th note of the major scale above and shift it one half step (one fret) up.




So if we form an augmented chord with the E string as the root, we get something like this...



That's G augmented or Gaug. Note, that it's only necessary to include the 3 notes in the triad - in the example above we've included a second root (1) as an octave higher, but this isn't necessary. Keep this in mind when you're forming chords around the neck and you want a particular voicing that can't accomodate more than 3 or 4 strings on the guitar.
__________________
Side note: get a head start and learn the major scale in 8 patterns and positions on the fretboard go here (opens in new window for you).
__________________
Let's also look at an augmented shape with the A string as the root. First, the major scale starting on the A string...





Note: there are obviously more than two positions/patterns for the major scale - the two we've been referencing up to now are built around the E-shape and A-shape barre chords. Later, we'll look at the major scale in numerous different patterns and shapes. So using the scale above, we'll create Baug by sharpening that 5th...




The important thing is to visualize and memorize the original major scale position of the Root, 3rd and 5th and then you'll find sharpening or flattening notes much easier to picture. Also remember that this scale is movable depending on the root note of the chord. As the root note changes position/fret, the scale shifts with it, still maintaining its interval pattern. Now for diminished triads...



Diminished chords

Diminished triads are basically minor chords with a flattened 5th
Simply remember: Aug = major, sharp 5th Dim = minor, flat 5th
Let's look at a diminished chord built around the E-shape (E string root note)




That's Gdim - see how the 5th has been flattened from its original scale position. And on the A string...
B diminished, or Bdim, that one.


Again, there are more than just two positions for the major scale (more about that on this page, but if you can find (for example) the 3rd and 5th notes for the chord you want, then you can see where they also lie on other strings via the gift of the ears...! E.g. the 3rd of C major (E) lies on the B string at fret 5 and the D string at fret 2 to name just a couple. Experiment and investigate where corresponding notes lie in the major scale. Hey, you can always use this diagram...



Pfft, definitely not. Try this step by step lesson instead.

So if you can find the 3rd and 5th for a particular scale on the diagram above and assign the note letter to it (let's say the G major scale, starting on the E string, 3rd fret), you should be able to learn its other positions. In the next guitar chord theory lesson we'll cover 7th chords including minor 7, major 7, dominant 7 and diminished 7 variations. Use the links below...
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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: 5-درس انجليزيGuitar chord theory basics   الخميس ديسمبر 10, 2009 12:29 pm

Major 7 chords


Major 7 chords are used a lot in jazz (in fact all the 7th chords have a jazzy/bluesy feel to them).

Remember that a major triad was simply the Root, 3rd and 5th notes from the major scale? Well a Major 7 chord is just that with the added 7th note from the major scale...


Now, if you haven't done so already, I strongly advise you go back to this page and learn the major scale patterns as they appear on your fretboard, both on the E string and A string to start with. Later, we'll look at the major scale and corresponding chord shapes in different shapes and positions, but it's all on that page if you want a head start Wink
Once you've learned the major scale pattern, you should be able to pick the Root (1), 3rd (3), 5th (5) and 7th (7) from it to form the Major 7 chord...




That's G Major 7 or Gmaj7 because the root note is at the 3rd fret on the E string making it a G.
Notice how it just uses those 4 notes, unmoved from the major scale. Remember, you don't have to include a second root or 5th, but you can make the chord sound fuller by doing so.

See if you can find the major 7 chord on the A string as well. It can be anywhere as these are movable chords.



Dominant 7 chords


This is where it gets a little weird. A dominant 7 chord actually includes a flattened 7th note from the major scale. The 7th in this flattened position becomes dominant. Again, make sure you've learned the major scale pattern on the A string to make sense of the chord below...






That's C Dominant 7 or just C7. The dominant note in a chord always over-rides any other numbers - if we see C7 we can assume it also includes the 3rd and 5th.



Minor 7 chords


Minor 7 chords are just the same as dominant 7 chords, but the 3rd has also been flattened, making it a minor. You'll have learned that a minor triad is Root, flat 3rd (b3), 5th - well all a minor 7 chord is that with an added flat 7th.






That's G minor 7 or Gm7.
Just the same as a regular minor triad, but with an added flat 7th note!



Augmented 7 chords


I think you see where we're going with this now - in part 2, we looked at Augmented triads, well an augmented 7 chord is exactly that with an added flat 7...






That's C Augmented 7 or Caug7 for short.
The aug part refers to the sharpened 5th, and the 7 stands for the flattened 7th note from the major scale.



Half diminished chords


Half diminished? Well, you'll know from part 2 what a regular diminished triad is, but half diminished is a bit of a confusing thing to call the one from the 7th family of chords.

Just remember a half diminished chord is part of the family of 4 note 7th chords and includes Root, flat 3rd and flat 5th just like a regular diminished triad, but with an added flat 7th...




Another thing to note is we don't write half diminished chords as the name suggests, but rather with the symbolic components of the chord - see below...



That's G Half diminished or Gm7b5 (G minor 7 flat 5)
So really, it's just a minor 7 chord with a flattened 5th! Yet it gets a name like "half diminished"...hmmm - there are different schools of thought on why it's called that so I'll just stay out of it for now!



Diminished 7 chords


Now, this one you CAN relate the name to the chord's components. If you think of the regular diminished triad, it has a flat 5th, and that's what diminished means, to "lessen" or "weaken" and in music, that's the 5th being "lessened" a half step. Now, think of a diminished 7 as "double" diminished, because with these chords the 5th is flattened as with regular diminished, but also the 7th is flattened twice.




You may be thinking "well, that double flatted 7th is now in the position of the 6th note in the major scale" - well you're absolutely right, but in this context with the 5th being flattened into a diminished position, the rules of music take over to highlight the context, a double-flatted 7th note, a diminished 7th in relation to the natural dominant 7th position (which was a flat 7th to begin with!)



So that's C diminished 7 or Cdim7 for short.
As I said at the beginning, don't worry yourself over why some of these chord names sound a bit misrepresentative, just know what notes they involve and how you take those notes from the major scale and sharpen or flatten them.

That dim7 one is kind of irregular though, so just make it sink in as flat 5 and double flatted 7th or flat 5 and added 6th.

It's your brain after all! You'll find your own strange ways to make this guitar chord theory sink in.


Right, you should now have a good idea about how to construct 7th chords. These chords, if you play them, are very colorful in chord progressions and you should definitely experiment to see if a 7th chord would get the emotion across better than a regular triad would. Experimentation is the key.
In the next guitar chord theory lesson we'll cover chord tensions and extensions such as added 6ths and 9ths and creating "13th chords". Not as complicated as a lot of websites make it out to be as long as you learn the "order of chord tones".
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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: 5-درس انجليزيGuitar chord theory basics   الخميس ديسمبر 10, 2009 12:34 pm

Guitar Chord Theory
Part 4 - Extended Chords
So what about chords that have more than 3 or 4 notes? Further notes can be added to triads and 7th chords to create fuller, extended chords, or as I prefer, "more interesting chords!"
The only problem is, when we delve into this kind of guitar chord theory, we begin to realise how inconsistent the rules are when it comes to noting chord elements. This is one thing you have to be clear of now: sometimes you'll see a chord written one way, other times you'll see it written another.

Hopefully this lesson will provide you with a good knowledge base to help you see how more complex chords are constructed on guitar.

Make sure you've learned the major scale in both E and A shape positions (E and A string root notes) - this page has these (and 6 more scale positions) mapped out for you. We'll look at the other major scale patterns (e.g. the descending, ascending and D string major scale positions) in the next guitar chord theory lesson when we look at voicings.



The order of chord tones


Ok, so you hopefully know the sequence of tones that make up the major scale. There's something else you should know though! Below is their natural order when it comes to constructing chords and knowing which tone takes precedence when you write a chord...




A few things to note here, when writing chord symbols...
- The 4th is the same as the 11th
- The 6th is the same as the 13th

The latter, larger numbers are to represent that tone's position in the "priority" list when it comes to noting down the tones in a chord. So, in actuality the 6th comes after the 9th because in chord theory it's the 13th.

A major triad which is symbolized by just the root's letter (e.g. G) suggests there is a 3rd and 5th added to the root.

A dominant 7th chord which is the root's letter followed by a "7" (e.g. G7) suggests there is a 3rd, 5th and flat 7th (see part 3 if you're confused) added to the root.

A major 7th chord which is the root's letter followed by "maj7" (e.g. Gmaj7) suggests there is a 3rd, 5th and major 7th (7th in its natural position in the major scale) added to the root.

The highest number/note in the chord is the number you use in the chord symbol - AS LONG AS - the notes/numbers preceding it are also included!

So we're just stacking the tones up, from the root, to higher levels for fuller chords.

Let's look at a practical example:

Below are the notes involved in a Maj9 chord...




So because the Maj9 (Major 9th) chord includes all the notes up to the 9th, the 9 becomes the dominant number for the chord symbol. Without the 9, it would be Maj7 because all the chord tones up to the 7th would be included.
Below is an example of a Major 9 chord (but I've left out the 5th so I can get the other notes in - this is fine)...




If you find that you can't include all the notes in the chord for the fingering you've chosen, you can usually leave out the 5th from the chord and it won't destroy it (or the bassist could play the root note and you could finger the chord from the 5th upwards).
So what happens if not all the tones that precede the highest tone in a chord are present?

Then we get "add" chords (e.g. Gadd6, Gadd9)

Let's look at the notes in an add9 chord...




Now, there's one note missing from that lot - the 7th
Therefore, if any tones/numbers preceding that highest number (the 9th in this case) are left out of the chord, it becomes an add chord! Think of it like a gap in the order of chord tones up to the highest tone - if there's a gap, it becomes an "add" chord.




That's Gadd9 above - notice how there's no 7th involved.
If there was a 7th involved it would just be G9, because all the notes preceding the highest note, the 9th, would be present...

C9 - R, 3, 5, b7 (dominant 7), 9




You could just write this as C7add9 to avoid any confusion as to what tones are in the chord!
Same thing applies with adding the 6th - because, remember, the 6th is in fact the 13th when it comes to the order of chord tones. So if any notes preceding the 13th are missing, we can note the chord as add6 (e.g. Gadd6 - R, 3, 5, 13).

What if we have both the 9th and 6th notes added to a chord? - good question! In this case the highest note would be the 13th (6th), but if there's no 7th included, then the notes are R, 3, 5, 9, 13.

We could write this as add6/9, or add9/6 (e.g. Gadd9/6). The slash is like saying "and also add..."

A bit later in the lesson, it'll become clear as to why the highest number "rule" is important...



11th and 13th extended chords



Here's the order of chord tones again for non-scrolling reference!




So, you can hopefully imagine what an A11 chord (remember, the 11th is also the 4th) should include...
Yes, every note UP TO the 11th in the order of chord tones

However, this is where it gets inconsistent - If...

a) You are unable to play every note in the chord (not enough strings/fingers etc.)

or

b) a particular note that's meant to be in there doesn't sound "right" or particularly harmonious with the other tones...

...you just have to leave that tone out. A pianist would be able to get all the notes of A11 in, but the 3rd is not possible on a standard tuned guitar...




That's A11 without the 3rd (where the red X is).
Because of certain physical limitations humans have, we still get to call it A11, because leaving the 3rd out doesn't really take away from the chord's "message" in a progression, as the 11th (4th) becomes a dominant note.

With a lot of chords, it's common to leave out the 5th when you get into these tricky fingerings, because leaving the 5th out in most cases doesn't take away from the chord's overall feel.

Now, with 13th chords we leave out the 11th (also known as the 4th) because it clashes and sounds unharmonious as part of the chord (and it's hard to find enough strings and finger positions to include all these notes anyway). These are the inconsistencies you have to work around.





So with a G13, the "13" (also known as the 6th) suggests that all the notes preceding that number are included (except the 11th for reasons above). Incidentally the 13th is the highest note in the order of chord tones.



So that's G13 above. It would also be G13 with the 11th to complete it fully, but the reasons above explain.
Stacking up extended minor chords

For minor extended chords, such as Am11 and Gm13, it's just the same, except we flatten the 3rd, because a flat 3rd (b3) makes it a minor chord.

So where a major 13th chord will include: R, 3, 5, b7 (dominant 7), 9, (11), 13

...its minor version will include: R, b3, 5, b7, 9, (11), 13 (however, the 11th/4th is not possible in standard tuning whilst also fingering the other notes in the chord).





Delving even deeper into chord theory...


We often refer to extended chords as "stacked" because what we are doing with chords like 13th chords is stacking 3rds. Count the 3rd intervals on the major scale like this...

Root - 3rd = 3rd interval
3rd - 5th = 3rd interval
5th - 7th = 3rd interval
7th - 9th = 3rd interval
9th - 11th = *exception* remember, we leave out the 11th in 13th chords! However, still count this 3rd interval in.
11th - 13th = 3rd interval

So we're stacking 3rds to get the extended 13th chord.

You can also "stack 4ths" to create jazzy sounding fourth chords.



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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: 5-درس انجليزيGuitar chord theory basics   الخميس ديسمبر 10, 2009 12:38 pm

Guitar Chord Theory
Part 5 - Chord Voicings



Now you need to focus on how to construct chords, using your chord theory knowledge, all over the fretboard to create alternate voicings. This allows you to experiment with a wider choice of chord tones, adding more color to your songwriting (in...theory anyway!)
So in this lesson we'll look at using the major scale and its scale tones in different positions to build chords around those initial shapes.

Have you learned the major scale in 8 different positions? If not, go here (opens in a new window so you can switch to and from it for reference) to find out more.

I will, however, reference those scale shapes with clickable pop-ups (the helpful, non-annoying kind!) during this lesson.

Try out these chord positions below...



13th chords


In part 4 we looked at major 13th chords and how they included the root, 3rd, 5th, dominant 7th (b7), 9th and 13th (also the 6th) from the major scale of tones. The 11th is left out because it clashes with the rest of the chord as dissonant.

Below are a couple of ways, voicings, you could play the chord A13...

From the "boxed" major scale shape on the E string (click here for reference)





See how this is taken from the standard "E shape" barre chord, using the appropriate tones from the major scale to create the 13th. (remember, no 11th (4th) included because it doesn't sound too harmonious - this is an exception)

From the "descending" major scale shape on the E string (click here for reference)





Note, the 5th is left out of this only because the 4 fingered human would not be able to get the 5th in there!

Although the same chord, A13, this is taken from the "G shape" barre chord and modified appropriately. The descending E string major scale pattern should help you find the right tones for this chord voicing.

Now, compare the two...

The only difference is:

- a lower voiced "9th" in the descending G shape!

But it gives it a different voicing nevertheless. I actually prefer that lower sounding 9th, but this is where your creative side comes in - what do you want to hear?

If you're confused, let's look at another couple of chord voicings to see if we can straighten things out...



Major 7th chords (Maj7)


Back in part 3 we looked at 7th chords - 4 note chords built from the major scale.

If you followed that lesson, you'll know that a maj7 chord basically included all the scale tones up to the 7th - Root, 3rd, 5th and 7th.

So, let's look at a couple of different voicings for the same Gmaj7 chord...

From the "boxed" major scale shape on the E string (click here for reference)



Standard E shape voicing for Gmaj7 there. But if you want a higher voicing, you'll need that second root note from the boxed major scale as a starting point, so one option is to have the chord built around the...

"Descending" major scale shape on the D string (click here for reference)



Notice how the root note of the second voicing is in the same position as the octave root note from the first voicing's scale pattern (here) - this means we can stack up the chord from that higher voiced root note into the descending D string major scale, meaning we get an overall higher voiced Gmaj7!

- the 5th is higher in the second voicing
- the 7th is also higher in the second voicing

So, same chord, two very different voicings that only you know which one will fit best in your song/chord progression.

-------Side note-------

Go back and look at the second Gmaj7 and also play the open A string, unfretted, you get a nice addition to the chord - it becomes Gmaj7/A!



Minor add9 chords


We looked at "add" chords in part 4. Basically, the number symbolized in the chord name after the "add" is the highest tone from the major scale used in the chord. But because not all the tones below that are also used, it becomes an "add" chord.

So to recap, an add9 chord includes Root, 3rd, 5th and 9th - no dominant 7th, otherwise it would have included all the tones up to the 9th and would be just a "9" chord (e.g. G9)

Let's look at a couple of voicings of the Emadd9 chord...

"Ascending" major scale shape on the A string (click here for reference)





Using the ascending scale shape the 9th gets added (with a bit of a stretch from your pinky finger!)

This is quite a high voicing of this chord, so let's use the descending major scale on the same string to see what we can come up with...

"Descending" major scale shape on the A string (click here for reference)



- Higher 5th in the second voicing
- Lower flat 3rd (b3) in the second voicing (the b3 is what makes it a minor)

The 9th stays the same pitch though, because the B string at fret 7 (in the second voicing above) is the same as the G string at fret 11 (in the first voicing above).

-------Side note-------

It's useful to look at these relationships between strings with the same note - in the example above, the G string at fret 11 is 4 frets higher than the same note on the B string.



More chord voicings to experiment with


A good way to try this by yourself at first, while you're still learning the relationships between strings and notes etc. is to learn at least where all the root notes lie for the E, A and D string based major scale shapes.

Now, If you play a standard E shape barre chord and you see that the root note lies on "A", you can find "A" on the other strings and try to build that chord around the major scale patterns on that string (learn the major scale patterns for the E A and D strings here). This is just what we've been doing above in this lesson.

Try some of these...

Dadd9




So the root note is on the A string, and it descends using that C shape barre from the open position C chord.

If you have learned the major scale shapes, see if you can build Cadd9 (Root, 3rd, 5th, 9th) in the ascending position and on the E string in both ascending and descending positions

HINTS: the E string shapes for this chord involve blocking out a string, using just 5 strings. You get a higher sounding 5th with the descending E string position for Dadd9.

Now finger this chord on the D string, both ascending and descending

HINT: for the ascending, you can use the open D string for the root and build the chord up within the first 5 frets.

Next!...

Fadd6





That's Fadd6 in the D string "boxed" voicing - see if you can build it up from other positions on the fretboard using the different major scale shapes. First, find the Fs on the fretboard and build the chords up from those root note positions.



Want to cheat?

Use this Chord Finder! Click on the note that the root lies on, and then the type of chord you want to build from it (e.g. "maj9") and then click "variations" to see where it can be played.

If you're going to use this, you big cheat (sorry, only joking), then at least try and figure out how these positions derive from the major scale in that shape. It's good to understand how these chords are built.



And to finish this lesson - a weird one


What on earth is this jazzy-bluesy chord (you can always trust jazz to throw up strange chords)?...





It's probably not what you thought - Ebaug7#9 - eep, what a mouthful. A big stretch as well.

Let's just try to deconstruct this to understand it more before we go...



  • Root note is on Eb (A string, 6th fret)

  • Built from the descending A string major scale

  • The flat 3rd (b3) is actually the sharp 9 (#9) because if you already use the major 3rd (3) then you can't also have the minor 3rd so it needs to be noted as a #9 (a sharp 9th is in the same spot as a flat 3 anyway!) - Also, the dominant chord in this is Ebaug7 because from the root you have the 3rd, sharpened 5th (#5) and dominant 7th (b7) - therefore, it takes major precedence so you can't write the flat 3 in as minor, it's an added note so it becomes an unobstructing sharp 9th!

Phew! Hope that made sense. More tense chords like this in the jazz section and how to use them effectively in chord progressions. Sounds quite harsh just on its own...



Good lesson - you should now be fairly confident about finding alternate chord voicings up and down the fretboard. Soon, if you really get to know the major scale shapes you'll be able to experiment like this without referring to a scale diagram.

You'll eventually know where the "6th/13th" lies in relation to the "5th" on more than one string.

Investigate the fretboard.

We're gonna be doing this in more depth in the next (and last) lesson for more advanced chord voicings and chord inversions, where the root isn't the lowest note in the chord!

Come back in your own time, when you're ready.
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عدد الرسائل : 250
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تاريخ التسجيل : 30/08/2009

مُساهمةموضوع: رد: 5-درس انجليزيGuitar chord theory basics   الخميس ديسمبر 10, 2009 12:41 pm

Guitar Chord Theory
Part 6 - More Advanced Chord Voicings

We ended up using chord voicings based around ascending and descending chord shapes from their subsequent scale shapes in the same position - these chord shapes are the E, A, C, D and G shape movable barre chords.
In this lesson we're pushing this to another level and looking at chord inversions where the root note is not necessarily the lowest sounding note in a chord. Although the root is still there, it can take on the octave position and actually be higher voiced than the 3rd, added 6th, 9th etc.

This often means we build the chord as usual around the root note and chord shape (e.g. ascending or descending), but we can also "borrow" tones from another shape of major scale nearby, allowing us to get a lower voiced 3rd, for example.

Let's look at some examples...



Interesting major triad shapes


You know that a major triad consists of the Root, 3rd and 5th tones from the major scale. Good!

Now, the standard way to play a major triad is with an open position chord (including open root and other open strings) or barre chord, which is a movable version of the open position chord. These types of chords can start to sound a bit...overused after a while, so it's good to hunt down some unusual voicings to spice them up a bit in a chord progression.

We can do this by simply swapping, or inverting the order of notes, so the root no longer sits as the lowest sounding note in the chord (careful: don't get confused between "lowest note" meaning the lowest note in the order of scale tones, and "lowest sounding note" which is in reference to pitch - how high or low the note sounds)

Try the chord below... (Bb major, but it's obviously movable!)





So, a standard R 3 5 Bb major triad there, but the order of notes on the fretboard has changed...
Usually if you play, for example, an E shape barre chord for a major triad, the order of notes on your fretboard appears as R 5 3 - Root on the E string, 5th next up on the A string and finally the 3rd on the G string.

In the variation of Bb major triad above, the order has changed to 3 R 5 giving the chord a very different flavor. It adds tension (an "unresolved" feeling).

The 3rd is now the lowest sounding note in the chord!

We can also see that this is part of the full G-shape major barre chord with the lowest root and other strings left out, so it's a thinner chord voicing.

We know it's from this G-shape position because look at where the 3rd is - if you see the 3rd on the A, D or G string, the root lies on the next string down, one fret right of it...

Take a look at the G-shape (descending) major scale here and you'll see what I mean (it opens in a seperate window for you)...

See how that chord above has been pulled straight from that scale...

This is how you can construct chords like this by yourself, without diagrams - by learning the 8 major scale shapes!

I've kept stressing this like a broken record, but hopefully you now see why these visual fretboard patterns are so important.

What about if we now take that descending G shape major scale and make the 5th the first note in the triad?

We have to include the root and 3rd somewhere to make it a major triad.

That should get us a high alternate voicing of the Bb major chord because we're starting the chord further up the scale...




So that's the same Bb major triad but with the 5th as the lowest note in the chord.
Another thing to notice here - scales overlap!

The descending E string major scale shape includes positions also in the ascending A string scale shape.

Above, the 5th, root and 3rd on the D, G and B strings are positions also used in the A string ascending scale shape - try it, apply the A string acending major scale starting on the Bb A string root - it ascends right up into the descending E string territory!

This is so valuable to investigate - the relationships and links between the major scale positions and their intervals - this way, you'll see "key overlapping notes" quicker and know the different positions a chord can be played.





Sorry, I'm going off at a tangent here. If you string all the major scale shapes together, and play their subsequent chord shapes for the same chord, you get the following order...

1) C shape barre chord - descending A string scale
2) A shape barre chord - boxed & ascending A string scales
3) G shape barre chord - descending E string scale
4) E shape barre chord - boxed & ascending E string scales
5) D shape barre chord - boxed & ascending D string scale

They're in this order because if you start on the C shape, the A shape is the next closest shape of that same chord, followed by the G shape etc.

Also, the final D shape in the list links on to the C shape - the cycle begins again an octave higher!




Wow, we've sidetracked a bit here (well, I have!), but all in good cause.

Now onto fuller chords...



Add9 chords - alternate positions


We learned in part 4 that add9 chords are made up of the root, 3rd, 5th and an added 9th.

Again, the standard barre chord voicings can lose their freshness after years of playing, so you'll eventually want to investigate a bit, like we did with the Bb chord above, but this time we obviously need to include the 9th...

Aadd9




Quite a standard voicing there actually, but see how the notes of the chord descend from the first root note on the E string - that means it's taken from the G-shape (descending) major scale.
All you're doing is leaving a few notes out of what could be a fuller G-shape barred voicing - this thins the chord and creates a sharper, punchier voicing. Perfect for finger picking/plucking.

Learn to be resourceful and free up your fingers for outside or anticipated movement by only fretting the strings needed for the chord! Doubling up tones doesn't always sound great.

Let's look at an alternate voicing for Aadd9






Now, the 3rd is the lowest sounding note in this chord voicing, but if you're up on your scales you should have picked out that


  • There is a root note on the D string

  • Most of the chord lies in the D shape barre position

  • The low 3rd has been "borrowed" from another scale...

Which major scale shape has a 3rd on the E string?

The acsending E string major scale!

The acsending E string scale and the D string scale both overlap.

The D string scale is just the top end of the E string scale.

So what's my point?!

If you can build a chord on any root note, and you know how the major scale shapes overlap, you can "borrow" notes from nearby "scale overlaps" like in the example above!

Another voicing of Aadd9





This has been taken straight from the "boxed" E string major scale shape (view)
The low root note has been removed, and the first occurance of the 3rd in the scale has been used as the lowest note in the chord!

---------Side note---------------------

A good point to raise here is to sometimes let the bassist in your band (if you have one) sort out the firm root notes - this allows you to free up your fingers because restrictions come with every note you fret. If you can do without a note somehow (e.g. a bassist can cover the root) you'll have an extra finger to create more interesting chords.

----------------------------------------

Finger economics - wonderful!



Full chord inversions


So what happens if the root note becomes the highest sounding note in the chord?...




That's Badd6 completely inverted!
Play it and you will notice something very peculiar...

Sounds like a minor chord!!

Yes, it technically is - this is what inverted chords to this degree do - the chord tones end up overlapping with the relative minor of the chord.

All major chords have a minor equivalent 3 frets below or if we're using strict terminology here: 1 and a half steps lower.

In Badd6's case, its relative minor is Abm7

That's what that chord above is, on its own, but this is where a bassist comes in - in a progression, if your bassist plants the root firmly on "B" then you playing that inverted chord above will create the desired Badd6

A typical progression example would be - C#m7 F#7 Badd6

It's all about context - if you used that chord above at the start of a progression (for example) it would be in the context of Abm7.

Notice also how it's adopted the D barre shape position for minor 7 chords.



I know this can all be a complete head f**k, but the best way to get it to sink in is to keep working on it, investigating how scale shapes work around equivalent chord shapes, borrowing chord tones from nearby scales (of the same key of course) and knowing what notes each type of chord includes. This is all in the theory section on this site!!
Stick with it - here are some more interesting chords to play around with. Remember, all these chords are movable (no open strings) so you can play in different keys.
Try and think about which scale/chord shapes these chords originate from and if they borrow tones from other scale shapes nearby...



Fmaj7 - R 3 5 7






Bmaj9 - R 3 5 7 9









Badd6 - R 3 5 6 (6 also = 13)







This stuff takes time to learn, but it's so, so rewarding to accomplish whether you want to improvise or really sit down and write a song. Knowing the different chord voicings gives you more of an outlet and a more accurate expression for whatever you want to "say" with your guitar - yeh it sounds corny, but isn't that what all this is about?!
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