WARNING: Article is 4ths tuning specific. The Major Scale Code: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | x | The above diagram is a major scale, with each box or "x" representing a single semitone, or fret. As you can see, the major scale is W, W, H, W, W, W H, with a half step only between the 3 and 4, and the 7 and 1. Chords (and by extension, arpeggios) are all built from and described by their relation to the major scale. The major scale is, in fact, the basis of all western music theory. The scale of C major (in the key of C) looks like this: Code: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | C | | D | | E | F | | G | | A | | B | C | | D | | E | Intervals An interval is the distance between two notes. Each interval has a special name given, once again, in relation to the major scale. Code: | 1 | ROOT or TONIC | 1 | b2| MINOR 2nd (1 fret) | 1 | | 2 | MAJOR 2nd (2 frets) | 1 | | 2 | b3| MINOR 3rd (3 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | MAJOR 3rd (4 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | PERFECT 4th (5 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | b5| DIMINISHED 5th (6 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | PERFECT 5th (7 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | b6| MINOR 6th (8 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | MAJOR 6th (9 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | b7| MINOR 7th (10 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | MAJOR 7th (11 frets) | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | 1 | OCTAVE (12 frets) Fourths tuning, which is what this lesson is concerned with, is composed of having all seven strings arranged in 4ths, generally starting from B. From low to high, the strings would then be BEADGCF. This is also known as the circle of fourths and has other uses in music theory. A useful mnemonic for remembering this is The mnemonic works equally well in reverse, in which case it would be Chords & Arpeggios A chord is 3 or more notes played simultaneously. Chords are usually composed of minor 3rds and major 3rds stacked on top of eachother, or equivalently, by taking a scale and skipping every other note starting from the tonic. Such chords are called tertian, although this is very unimportant to remember. An arpeggio is a chord where the notes are not played simultaneously -- instead, they are usually played in sequence, but not always. Inversions An inversion of a chord is a chord with a bass note other than the root. For example, if you have a chord of a 1, 3, and 5, the chord has two inversions -- 3, 5, 1, and 5, 1, 3. A chord will have one less inversion than it has notes. A four note chord can be inverted 3 times, but if you invert it again, you will be in root position an octave down. It's helpful to remember that when inverting intervals, the two intervals together will always add up to 9, and the name will be opposite. For example, the inversion of a minor third is a major 6th -- 3 + 6 = 9, and the opposite of minor is major. Given this, you can find that 2nd become 7ths, 3rds become 6ths, and 4ths become 5ths. Minor becomes major, augmented becomes diminished, and perfect intervals remain perfect. If you stack an interval and its inversion together, you will have gone up an octave. For example, a minor third on top of a major 6th together sum to an octave, a perfect fourth and perfect fifth do as well. Power Chords Power chords aren't chords in the truest sense, because there are only two notes in a power chord, but to tell anyone that would be pedantic. A power chord is made up of a root (1) and perfect fifth (5), which would be C and G for a C power chord. You will sometimes see a power chord notated as for example, C5. Code: | 1 | | | | | | | 5 | | | | | 1 | | C | | | | | | | G | | | | | C | P5th P4th A power chord can be played by putting your first finger on any fret, and your third finger one string down and two frets above it, as seen below. You can also double up on the octave, and even double the fifth. Power chords have only one inversion, the perfect 4th. Power chords are the only chords that don't sound dissonant under heavy distortion, and it's no accident. They're composed of only "perfect" intervals, so the amplified overtones don't clash. Even if you were to add a major 3rd, the next most stable interval, under heavy gain it would sound dissonant. Major Chords & Arpeggios Major chords are made by playing the root (1), major third (3) and perfect fifth (5) simultaneously, or by stacking a minor third on top of a major third. A C major chord would be C-E-G as seen in the following diagram. Code: | 1 | | | | 3 | | | 5 | | | | | 1 | | C | | | | E | | | G | | | | | C | M3rd m3rd P4th Major chords are very stable, very consonant, and have a characteristic bright, cheery sound. As with all chord shapes here, the following can be played anywhere on the neck. Following is how to play a single string, one octave major arpeggio, along with its inversions. Next is a seven string, four octave major arpeggio and its inversions. As with all the multiple string arpeggios here, there is a single pattern that repeats. And finally, a seven string three octave + root major arpeggio and its inversions. Minor Chords & Arpeggios A minor chord is made by playing the root (1), minor third (b3), and perfect fifth (5) together. Alternatively, you can think of it as stacking a minor third on top of the root, and a major third on top of that. A C minor chord would be C-Eb-G as seen in the following diagram. Code: | 1 | | | b3| | | | 5 | | | | | 1 | | C | | | Eb| | | | G | | | | | C | m3rd M3rd P4th Minor chords are also very stable and consonant, and have a characteristic sad or melancholy sound. Following is how to play a single string, one octave minor arpeggio. Next is a seven string, four octave minor arpeggio. And finally, a seven string three octave + root minor arpeggio. COMING SOON 7th, 9th, diminished, and sus2/sus4 chords Scales/modes Chord progressions & Analysis Suggestions welcome. EDIT: Mods may want to add to the title somewhere that this is written with all 4ths tuning in mind.