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Chords, Part: 2

In this lesson we'll take a look at constructing different chord shapes to add colour to our playing, and enable us to play in different keys. We'll also start to incorporate some minor chord shapes into these patterns and play along with a tune.

Three Chord Trick - I IV V

The three chords of G, C and D that we looked at in the previous lesson enable us to accompany tunes in the key of G Major, which is a good starting point for learning to accompany tunes in G. The order of these three chords is applicable to different keys as it follows a pattern sometimes referred to as the 'three chord trick'. This means the first chord establishes the key, the second chord leads us on, and the third chord establishes tension which then resolves back at the tonic and we start over again. Many songs and tunes follow this general principle, and even share exactly the same chord progressions. What's useful is we can apply this to accompany tunes in different keys by building a larger vocabulary of chords, which follow this same pattern and principle.

TUNE EXAMPLE

 

For example let's now look at the key of D Major:

D

1               2

G

           1   2

A

1   1  3   4

Two of the chords here are in common with the key of G, with the addition of an A chord which bars your first finger across the second fret, and uses the fourth finger on the fifth fret. This is a tricky chord when starting out, but opens up the potential for playing chords all over the neck so is worth getting used to. Practise these changes now:

1           2           3           4

1           2           3           4

1           2           3           4

1           2           3           4

D

G

1           2           3           4

1           2           3           4

1           2           3           4

1           2           3           4

A

D

Now we'll add on two more common sets of chords, in A Major and C Major:

A

1   1  3   4

C

     1   2

D

1               2

F

1               2

E

2   1   1   3

G

           1   2

Chord Theory

These shapes are all good starting points for learning new chords, but we can increase the repertoire of possibilities open to us. Let's briefly take a look at some chord theory. In order to construct most chords they need to include some or all of three notes; the root/tonic, third and fifth. So a G Major chord would include the notes G, B and D, a C Major chord the notes  C, E, G and a D Major chord D, F#, A. They don't need to be positioned in this order, so for example here's where they are placed in the first chords we already looked at:

G

           1   2

G  D  B  G

C

     1   2

G  E   C  E

D

1               2

A   D   A  F#

These shapes are all good starting points for learning new chords, but we can increase the repertoire of possibilities open to us. Let's briefly take a look at some chord theory. In order to construct most chords they need to include some or all of three notes; the root/tonic, third and fifth. So a G Major chord would include the notes G, B and D, a C Major chord the notes  C, E, G and a D Major chord D, F#, A. They don't need to be positioned in this order, so for example here's where they are placed in the first chords we already looked at: