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Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques Discussions on Theory, member submitted lessons, practice regimens and everything else.

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Unread 07-22-2012, 10:29 AM   #1
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Getting into playing chords

I feel lately like I've been stuck in this rut of just using power chords when it comes to trying to write stuff. I'm finding this pretty limiting and I'm wanting to try and get more complex chord progressions going in my music.

Especially since learning about the diatonic modes I feel like there is so much more i could be achieving if i was using full chords.

This is probably the point where you might say "well go play some chords then" and that's what i intend to do.

But what I'm really wondering is if any of you can recommend any decent exercises/materials for getting my chord changes up to scratch?

Thanks
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Unread 07-22-2012, 10:53 AM   #2
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Use 7th chords and become a jazz wizard
Something that helped me was learning jazz songs (easy ones). There are certain chords here and there that you can take out and use for other stuff.
I do suggest you learn basic theory. Knowing intervals will save your ass.
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Unread 07-22-2012, 01:39 PM   #3
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Definitely learn the structure of chords. There are only four types of triads – major, minor, diminished, and augmented – and they are put together in a rather logical manner. It's a good place to start. Thing is that there are many ways to voice out a single triad on the guitar, so the most effective way to get a handle on that is to learn the theory behind it and especially getting a handle on intervals. This website can get you thinking about intervals in an effective way: musictheory.net

The CAGED method gets a lot of praise, but I don't really see a need for it if you know how to find a third and a fifth from any given note.
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Unread 07-22-2012, 03:18 PM   #4
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Like SW said, just start by learning how to construct the four types of tertian triads. One way to get tons of voicings is to write out a triad and both of its inversions one-note-per-string. Then just take three or more consecutive strings in any of the three patterns and you have a voicing for the chord.

Then you can go on to constructing 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, etc. chords. Or you can get out of the tertian stuff and construct other types of chords. I actually just got done construcing one-note-per-string and arpeggio sweeping patterns for every three-note chord that exists on the guitar.
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Unread 07-22-2012, 03:53 PM   #5
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Schecterwhore beat me to it and then some.

If you check out musictheory.net(and I hope you do)-take notes, and apply the things you are learning ASAP. Have a guitar in your hand while going through the lessons.

In addition to musictheory.net you may want to check out a couple books. If you're really new to the layout of a guitar and don't know how to find any note/interval/etc on the fretboard check out the Guitar Fretboard Workbook. It's not a magic bullet and it's nothing you couldn't figure out yourself but I used it years ago and it helped me get beyond the scale shape and chord chart phase. It may help you get to where applying music theory concepts is much easier.

Solodini's book is also good for learning some theory basics and really encourages applying the things you learn and advocates creativity.
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Unread 07-22-2012, 05:49 PM   #6
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Sorry but my post was maybe a little unclear cause i started rambling a bit, but I was looking more for some examples/exercises or bands that play using chords as opposed to just power chords.

Just something that would help me increase the fluidity of moving between the shapes and introduce some more advanced shapes. I'm talking in general barring or more exotic shapes, cause i know the general theory behind chord construction.

I just never get to play them cause a lot of the bands i listen to just use power chords all the time.

Im trying to improve the technical side to my playing more.

Thanks
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Unread 07-22-2012, 06:27 PM   #7
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I'm not following.

If you already know how to build chords, the best thing to do to improve the technical side of playing chords is to play chords. Switch between chords a lot and work on putting all fingers down at the same time.

If the problem is that all the music you listen to has nothing but power chords then listen to/learn other music.
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Unread 07-22-2012, 06:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texshred777 View Post
If the problem is that all the music you listen to has nothing but power chords then listen to/learn other music.
I understand this is the obvious route, but i was just wondering if anyone had any examples of pieces or exercises that had helped them in particular in this respect.
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Unread 07-22-2012, 06:44 PM   #9
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Download some Fakebooks and have a go at playing some jazz standards.

PM SchecterWhore, I'm sure he has some links to some.



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Unread 07-22-2012, 06:50 PM   #10
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All I can suggest is to find some easy jazz standards and make up your own chord voicings. I did that for Autumn Leaves in E, voicing them high and trying out voice leading. I found that I prefer to order my intervals widely, as close to fourths as possible.

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Unread 07-22-2012, 08:07 PM   #11
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I don't know, dude. I think most of us just learn songs. There's no real exercise for, uh, chording. You could play the chords of whatever key you're in up and down the neck in root position, first inversion, second inversion, then do it in another key. I don't agree with some of the things this guy says (particularly his use of the words "jazz" and "laws of theory", and "the bass player gets the roots"), but this should give you some direction:



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Unread 07-22-2012, 08:07 PM   #12
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I would start with A string chords.

Learn power chords followed by these barre chords

major
minor

Learn 7th chords in this order:
major 7
dominant 7
minor 7
minor 7 b5
diminished 7

Reason to learn them in this order is you only need to change one note to get to the next chord.
Apply the same idea with the arpeggios as well. Learn them in the same position and up octaves.

Learn the formulas
1 3 5 maj
1 b3 5 min
1 3 5 7 maj 7
1 3 5 b7 dom 7
1 b3 5 b7 min 7
1 b3 b5 b7 min 7 b5
1 b3 b5 bb7 dim 7

That will be a good start, by this point you should be able to "see" the intervals.

Then experiment with chord construction, for example "play a C major 7 sharp5". I dont have a sharp key on here. Then work out the arpeggio.

This is an excellent exercise that I do with my students.

Badly written? Yes. You're welcome.
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Unread 07-22-2012, 08:10 PM   #13
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I've personally found it rewarding to work out drop 2 chords on the highest four strings and experiment a bit with smooth voice leadings. It's a good exercise to work it all out yourself, of course, but this lesson should clarify what I'm talking about.
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Unread 07-23-2012, 10:11 AM   #14
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Try playing some polyphonic stuff; some James Taylor or the like. In a lot of cases you'll find that chafes of grip are necessary to keep track of the movement in each part.

Similarly, some piano music arranged for guitar should help.


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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:55 AM   #15
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You could cheat and use an open tuning.
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Unread 07-26-2012, 01:19 PM   #16
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So you can play one chord, or one type of chord? If you tune to open G, you're still going to need to learn how to play a C minor chord.
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Unread 07-26-2012, 02:09 PM   #17
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You could get a googleplex necked guitar and tune each neck to a different chord.



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Unread 07-26-2012, 02:38 PM   #18
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It's sad that my spell check has "Google" but not "googol". No longer. Anyway, "chord guitar" will now be added to the pantheon of instruments such as autoharp and chord harmonica.
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