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Basic Chords for Guitar Owen M. Gurry

Š Owen Gurry 2008


Basic Chords for Guitar Owen M. Gurry

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London, UK. visit www.eBooksForGuitar.com

visit www.OwenGurry.com

ISBN 978-1-906695-04-0 Copyright Š Owen Gurry 2008 All Rights Reserved.

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Basic Chords There is a lot of material in this lesson so take your time. You will be learning some of the most widely used chords, how to play them, spell/construct them, and sequence them. • • •

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We will begin by looking at open position (that is positions using open strings, played near the nut) chords. Then we will cover open position major 7, minor 7, and dominant 7 chords. We will wrap things up with major and minor barre chords. How To Use This Lesson When we introduce a new chord we will use a fretbox, with coloured/numbered dots to show you where your fingers should go: The grey circles represent the name of the chord. A green note represents the root of the chord. The root is the note that gives the chord its name, for example the root of C Major is C. Sometimes the root will be on an ‘open’ string. This is represented by a green ‘O’ to the left of that string. Red dots represent notes that are not the root. Again, an open string that is not the root is represented by a red ‘O’ to the left of that string. If there is an ‘X’ to the left of a string, then you shouldn’t play that string The numbers in the circles are what finger you should use to play that note. The fingers are labelled like this:

Chord Construction Once you’re comfortable with where to put your fingers, look at the construction of the chord i.e. what scale notes are used to make the chords sound that way. Chords are constructed from the same notes that make up scales so when we talk about chord construction we describe the role of a note in relation to its place in a scale. Use the key below to understand the fretboxes on the right-hand side of the following pages.

This key is at the bottom of each page. The bracketed numbers are known as tensions and we will cover these in later lessons. Understanding the role of each note to the sound of a chord will become increasingly important. If this looks like too much to tackle right now, don’t panic! Start by learning where your fingers go and understand that each note in the chord has a different contribution to its sound. You can re-visit the more technical information later.

© Owen Gurry 2008


Major R35

A triad is the simplest type of chord. As the name implies, a triad contains 3 notes. A major triad is made up of a root, 3rd and 5th notes of a major scale. The major sound is often described as bright or happy. 0

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Tip: make sure you can hear each note in the chord ring clearly. If you cannot, adjust your fingers.

Š Owen Gurry 2008


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There is knack to playing all the notes in this chord with one finger and keeping the high e string open to ring clearly. Tip: try playing each note of the chords, saying the note name as you go. This will really help you learn the notes on the fretboard and how chords are spelled/constructed.

Š Owen Gurry 2008


• • • •

A minor triad has a root, a flattened 3rd (b3) and a 5th. A minor triad sounds “sadder” than a major. The most common symbols for a min chord are “-” or “min” Compare these minor chords to the major chords you have learned. What notes have changed?

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© Owen Gurry 2008


• • • •

Chord Sequences Now that you’ve learned some chords you can make them more musical by playing a few in a row. Try the chord sequences below. Concentrate on making fluid changes between each chord. This takes some time to get to grips with so take it easy and be sure not to strain your hand. Use a metronome to keep your timing neat but experiment with the tempo, style and rhythm.

Start with this four chord exercise. The symbols at the start and end of the section (one thick line and one thin with 2 dots) are repeat markings; when you get to the repeat go back to the start of the section and repeat.

4 4

C

Emin

F

G

This exercise is in the key of F; note the key signature (see lesson on key signatures for more information).

4 4

F

Dmin

© Owen Gurry 2008

Amin

C


Major 7 R357

Major 7 chords are built by taking a major triad and adding a 7th. Spend some time getting your ears used to how this chord type sounds.

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The 3rd and 7th (pink and dark blue respectively) are know as guide tones and are the most important notes to the sound of a chord.

Š Owen Gurry 2008


A minor 7 chord is built by taking a minor triad and adding a flattened 7 (b7). Again, spend some time getting your ears around the sound of this chord type. Sometimes this E minor 7 can sound “muddy� so try just playing the lower strings.

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Dominant 7 chords are built by taking a major triad and adding a flattened 7 (b7). The instability of this chord makes it an important feature of contemporary music, particulatly blues and jazz. 0

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Š Owen Gurry 2008


Open position dominant chords continued...

*

* This note is an optional alternative to playing the open B string

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0 3 1 2

Š Owen Gurry 2008


Chord Progression Exercises Having learned some more chords we are going to put them into action...

This exercise is in E major. Note how the unstable sound of the B7 leads the ear back to the E chord. Each chord lasts for one bar (count “ 1, 2, 3, 4” with a steady beat).

The key signature for this exercise shows no sharps or flats (accidentals) so it is in the key of C major.

4 4

Cmaj7

E-7

© Owen Gurry 2008

Dmin

G7

G


• • •

Barre Chords Barre chords involve using a finger (often the index) to play notes on more than one string. This can take some time to get the hang of so take care not to strain your hand. They have the advantage of being chromatic/movable. The examples below are of A major and A minor.

Major R35

Minor R b3 5

© Owen Gurry 2008


This final chord progression is in the key of A major. Use your movable barre chord positions to tackle this one...

4 4

A

C#min

F#

D

Tips for learning these chords: • Find songs with these chords in to practice them in a musical context. These chords are everywhere so you are bound to be able to find songs that use them. • Gradually build up strength and fluency when changing between chords. Be sure not to strain anything. • Think about how many different ways you could play those songs. Are you going to use an open position or barre chord? Most of the time your decision will be based on 2 factors: 1. What sounds best - open chords sound subtly different to barre chords 2. Economy of motion - you should be efficient when you move around the fretboard so try to choose the chord shape that requires the least movement to get to from the previous chord position. What next? • Basic 6 and 7 barre chords • Common jazz chord voicings

© Owen Gurry 2008


Basic Chords for Guitar In this bumper-size lesson we will cover open position major, minor, minor 7, major 7, and dominant 7th chords as well as major and minor barre positions. With these chords in your chord vocabulary you’ll be able to play most pop/rock songs. Colour-coded fretboxes, TAB, and standard notation are used to help you gain a full understanding, including how to play the chords and how they are built.

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Basic Chords for Guitar