Friday, February 26, 2016

The G7 Chord and "Borrowed" Chord Progressions

The new chord of the day is the G7 chord. Like the B7 chord, this one has some tension built into it. Unlike the B7 chord, it doesn't take 4 fingers to play even though the chord is made up of 4 different notes.

Here is a great chord progression and a couple of songs that use the G7 chord.

G         D        Em     G7       C        C         G    
[/ / / /] [/ / / /] [/ / / /] [/ / / /] [/ / / /] [/ / / /] [/ / / /]

This chord progression is used by Green Day for the verses of the song, "When September Ends".

Before them, The Beatles used this progression a little differently for the verses of the song, "In My Life". In the Beatle's case, they played each chord for just two beats instead of four.

G    D    Em  G7  C    C    G    
[/ /] [/ /] [/ /] [/ /] [/ /] [/ /] [/ /]

Listen to the two songs and and compare the sound of the chord progression. See if you can hear the similarities and/ or the differences. Both songs use a chord we have yet to learn (Cm) over the second measure of C so, while not perfect, you will get the basic "flavor" of the songs. In this case the Beatles used this chord progression "first" but it is common practice to find new ways to use the same chords over and over by other groups and composers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Theory Behind Chord Families

I have spoken in class about how certain chords belong together because they are in the same family. Well, by family I am talking about the key in which these chords reside.
 Let's look at three chords: G, C, and D

These three chords get played together a lot. We call these chords the I (G), IV (C) and V (D) in the key of G.

When you look at the Key of G and how the scale in that key is constructed, you will see the pattern of chords that live within the key of G. This pattern is the same in every Major scale (Do, Re, Mi...etc.)

Notice how the I, IV and V are upper case or Major chords. We call those the Primary Chords in the key. Hundreds and hundreds of songs have been written based on these primary chords alone. At this point, you already know the primary chords and a couple of secondary chords (Am, Em) in the key of G so you are well on your way to playing, and creating some great music.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Thoughts on beginning chords



With each chord, please listen and observe these characteristics:
  • Clarity- with practice, each note within the chord should ring clearly. If the notes buzz or sound muffled it might be because:
    • your thumb is not positioned correctly behind the neck
    • Your callouses are still developing on your fingertips
    • Your fingers are lying flat and not arching over the strings
  • Motion- Once you are happy with the sound of the chords the next challenge is to move smoothly from one to the other
    • try to be economical with your hand movement- find the shortest path and move directly without wasted hand or finger movement
    • move slowly with your strumming patterns. Only move as fast as your weakest chord change. This will help develop consistency between chords.
  • Strumming- The most advanced strums are basically combinations of up and down strokes. When we have trouble with strums it generally is a result of the following:
    • keep your wrist relaxed so there is a natural flow on the up and down strokes.
    • Try to sync your hand motion with the rise and fall of your tapping foot. This will help you play more consistently in time.
    • Say the strumming pattern in your head as you play until it becomes second nature. (syncopated = "down  down-up  up-down-up"), etc.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The B7 Chord and Hallelujah

In class we discussed the B7 chord. We looked at the open position fingering of the chord and mentioned it's relationship to E chords (specifically Em).

Well here is that chord in blog format...
Here are the chord changes to the very popular song "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen.
The B7 chord (in this key) only makes one appearance in the form of the song, but the impact is striking. It is easily the most memorable chord in the song. The fact is the B7 chord doesn't actually belong in the the key of the song (G). It is borrowed form another key and that is why it is such a special sound.

G                                 Em
I've heard there was a secret chord
        G                              Em
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
       C                        D                    G         D
But you don't really care for music, do you?    
It goes like this
        C              D
The fourth, the fifth
        Em                 C
The minor fall, the major lift
       D                         B7               Em
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
         C               G
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

         C               G    D    G
Hallelujah, Halleluuuuuujah

Lather, Rinse, Repeat...