Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chord Relationships and Substitutions (Keep your options open)

We have been learning to play chords for quite some time. Many of you are really smoothing out the transition from chord to chord, exploring your favorite music or even writing your own ideas (Great!)

At some point we have to deal with the issue of what is in these chords we are playing and why do we play them when we do in music. So here is where we start the conversation and lay out some chord construction theory and the idea of substitution.

First lets look at the major building block of harmony and that is the Major scale:

The scale shown above is the C Major scale. You've heard this scale many times... Do, Re, Mi, etc.

When we build chords we create what are know as triads. Triads are 3 note chords that are based on the Major scale. We simply start stacking notes on top of each other by the interval (distance) of a third. In practical terms you place notes on the next line or space based on where your first note is located. (see example)

These stacked up thirds or triads are the fundamental harmonies of Western music. On the guitar you may notice we play more than three notes. Sometime we strum four to six strings. In those cases we are doubling notes of the triad. If a C chord has the notes C, E, and G, we might play C, E, G, C, and E (as is the case with an open position C chord.)

When we play the triads in a Major scale, these are the qualities (major, minor diminished) of the resulting chords:

When we spell the notes of the chords they look like this:
C= C, E, G
Dm= D, F, A
Em= E, G, B
F= F, A, C
G= G, B, D
Am= A, C, E
Bdim= B, D, F

When you see the notes of the chords, you can hopefully see some relationships that connect them.
For instance, a C chord has the notes C, E, G while the Am chord has the notes A, C, E. These chords have two notes in common and one that is only a step away. These chords are often substituted for each other. It is a great way to vary the sound of what you are playing and sometimes inspires new ideas and new approaches to a chord progression or a song. Here are a list of some of our basic chords and chords that can sometimes work as substitutes. Keep in mind that your ear will ultimately tell you whether the chord works or not as a substitute.

Chord                        Possible Substitutions
C                                Am, Em
F                                 Dm, Am
G                                Em, Bm
D                                F#m, Bm
E                                 G#m, C#m
A                                C#m, F#m

This relationship works inversely as well. You can substitute C for Am as easily as you can substitute Am for C. This can sometime be helpful when working on a song. Having trouble with that pesky C#m chord? Try an E chord and see if you are satisfied with the sound.

Keep strumming!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Diminished Chord: The Joy of Parallel Movement (Repost)

...This is a post that has information about diminished chords. In Guitar 2 we have been discussing diminished chords. This post should help you understand why and how we can use them...

A while back we had a post called "You Too Can Write Your Own Song..."

In that post I displayed a chart that showed a chord matrix. In this matrix, we showed chords by family.

One chord that was greyed out on the chart was an interesting one called the diminished chord.

Here is the chart again for reference:

You'll notice the final chords in the matrix for the key of G, D, A, and E are all diminished chords (dim).

These are great sounding chords that have a special quality. The notes in the chords create a parallel relationship. That means that you can move these chord shapes up and/or down by 3 frets and you will get basically the same chord (just higher or lower).

Here is a diagram of a diminished shape.

You can form a C diminished chord by placing your pinky on the 8th fret of the first string. Other diminished chords can be found in the same way. Wherever your pinky falls on the first string, you have that diminished chord.

Here are the notes on the First String (E String):

Two other common Diminished chord shapes use the 6th string and 5th string to determine the naming note:
               6th string                                                                  5th string

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rock Ballad Strum

A classic strum pattern for slow to moderately slow rock and folk songs is the Rock Ballad Strum.

This is what the pattern looks like in music notation...

Once you can say the pattern (down, down, down, downup, downup, down, down, down) over and over, try getting your strumming hand to do that with an basic chord of your choosing. 

You will soon be applying this pattern over all sorts of chord progressions and songs.

The songs linked on the pedal chord post are great examples of songs that can use the rock ballad strum.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Banana Song - A bminor chord banana opus!

This song sprang from a discussion in Guitar 1about songwriting, bminor chords and bananas.

Banana Song  Chords/Lyrics by S. Trombley


Chiquita, Chiquita 
So happy to meet ya
My little yellow friend
             Am                    D
With a tough protective skin

Chiquita, Chiquita
You pointy saffron creature
Peel me a dozen
Am                    D
Six for me and six for my cousin


Bm                                    Cadd9
I brought one home and I tried it
     Bm.                          Cadd9
It was a bit mushy so I cried it out and then I said...


Chiquita, Chiquita 
You're my favorite fruity feature
I love those yellow bunches 
      Am                      D
I'll always want you that what my hunch is


Bm                                           Cadd9
While I watch some M. Night Shamalan
Bm                          Cadd9
I will be eating a banana man

Banana Song Audio Clip

GHS Guitar: You Too Can Write Your Own Song! (or, at the very ...

GHS Guitar: You Too Can Write Your Own Song! (or, at the very ...: Beginning Guitar You Too Can Write Your Own Song! At this point you should all have the basic skill sets for writing your own music. ...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Bminor Bar Chord: A Popular Choice in Bar Chords

As you begin to explore the use of bar chords you will see the bminor bar chord (bm) come up quite frequently. Many of you are searching out songs by chords and lyrics and you see that pesky bm chord again and again. It is no coincidence. It has to do with the keys of these songs and the chord choices of the songwriters.

First, the chord shapes...

The first bar chord shape is a 5-string bar chord shape that is formed at the 2nd fret on the guitar.

The second shape is a 6-string bar chord shape formed at the 7th fret.

When we look at a few of the popular keys that guitarists like to use, you will see the bminor chord popping up.

Key of G Chords:
I    ii    iii   IV  V  vi
G Am Bm C    D  Em

Key of D Chords:
I    ii    iii     IV  V  vi
D  Em F#m G   A  Bm

Key of A Chords:
I    ii     iii     IV  V  vi
A  Bm C#m D    E  F#m

Have fun with our Bminor friend!