Today we’ll talk about perhaps one of the most tools in every guitarist’s bundle – chords and the ability to play them.
Look – chords will let you play pretty much any song imaginable. Sounds like a good enough reason to learn them as soon as possible.
Surprisingly, music school tend to take their time when it comes to teaching their students chords.
The professors and musicians there teach you how to read music, play sheet music, and all that.
While I can’t stress how vital the above-mentioned skills are, you are better off learning them after you can play a couple of your favourite songs.
It will give you the motivation to get better and spice up the boring theory.
After all, who wants to go to a music school for a year and not learning a single song.
Here we go with chord formation.
Most chord books would take the time at this point to attempt to break down the basics of music theory so that an understanding of chord construction could be gained.
When you are ready for music theory, you should study music theory.
If you want to learn to play an F minor seventh chord without necessarily needing to know that it spans seven diatonic scale degrees, then we should continue.
Remember Jimi (google “Jimi guitarist” if you have no clue who I am talking about, which would be a shame)?
I don’t think he ever got around to studying it and things worked out alright for him.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 8 open chord forms. There will be 5 major chord forms introduced and 3 minor chord forms introduced.
These will be the building blocks upon which an entire chord vocabulary will begin to be built. One of the most important concepts that I failed to see early on in my learning is the movement of chords (as I said, music school aren’t the best at teaching chords).
This concept is the key to the breakthrough that I had that put it all together for me.
Remember that in one of the articles I told you that there are 12 notes that all music is derived from?
Taking that reality a step further, there are also 12 chords available for any given type of chord.
From this form of the chord type, you should know how to play the 11 other chords of this type that are named for each note of the chromatic scale up and down the fretboard.
Mobility, or the ability of chords to move along the fretboard, is true of most any type of chord you will use.
The exceptions begin to occur with advanced chord forms that are not movable because of the unavailability of fingers.
When a chord requires the fifth finger in order to move it on the fretboard, it is no longer a movable chord.
If you actually have five fingers on your fretting hand (“thumbs” don’t count) then disregard this last comment.
We won’t be studying them. They’re no fun. Once you learn the 8 chords in this article and can play them comfortably, things will really start to get exciting!
You will discover how to take the 8 chords and move them along the fretboard producing 96 chords in all.
This is enough information to play the highest percentage of all songs ever written!
The first five chord forms (major chord forms) I will teach you are, by far, the single most important five chords you will ever be introduced to. E
verything I will teach you in this blog is derived from these chords, including the second set of three-chord forms (minor chord forms) that I will show you in this blog post.
Study them, learn them, play them until your fingers bleed (okay, don’t go this far).
Before we look at the major chord forms, let me first make sure you have a grasp of some important terminology. Remember this diagram from the previous article?
Here’s what you need to know about it:
- First, the root is designated by the first letter of the chord name. In this case, it is “E.” The type describes the chord itself. It’s also a major (Maj) chord.
- The chord name is comprised of both the root and the type together. The name of this chord is “E major.” When I speak of a chord’s form, I am talking about the shape of the chord — more on this in a moment.
- Keep in mind that major chords are the only chord types that may not be referred to symbolically by a chord type at all. In other words, a major chord may not be spelled out as such with the abbreviation Maj as I have done.
- Instead, it is permissible and therefore assumed that when a single root is listed as the only identifying tag for a given chord, that chord type is major.
- For example, if you see a chord chart that calls for G#min, B and E chords, the two latter chords are major chords because their type is not listed.
Actually, you should be pretty familiar with it already. It’s the E major chord shown above. Now, you can work on playing it.
Try fretting it just as it is written out while making sure that, in your strumming, you are allowing all six strings to ring clearly. However, before you get too comfortable playing it this way, I want to change up the fingering just a bit.
But first, another comment about forms.
In the example of E major, you are looking at the form, or shape of the chord.
When this chord is moved up the fretboard from the open position, its basic shape doesn’t change.
In fact, as soon as it is moved out of the open position, the chord form is identical in every position the rest of the way up.
Simply slide the form up (or back down) to the desired root.
Hang in there.
Now, here’s how I want you to try to fret this chord. This fingering will be more awkward than the way it was previously written.
Here is a video with the 8 chords that will make your life incredibly easy!
But, as you will see in the next article, it will also be far more practical when it becomes time to move this chord out of the open position than the first listed fingering would be.
Liked this tutorial? There is a ton more here at Blue Buzz Music. Feel free to look around the site – there are quite a few gems that are awaiting for you!