Lesson 11 Guitar Theory

 

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In this final lesson, we will go through some guitar theory that will add meaning to your playing.

 

11.1 Chord Theory

 

Chords are constructed by applying a particular chord pattern to the major scale.

 

They can be constructed using a 3-step process.

 

1. Find the notes in a major scale.

 

The notes in any major scale can be derived from this pattern:

 

          W W H W W W H

 

W : whole step (tone)
H : half step (semitone)

 

Example: G major scale

 

2. Number the notes (also known as scale tones)

 

G A B C D E F G A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

 

3. Apply chord pattern.

 

Chord Type Pattern Example
Major 1 3 5 G: G B D
Minor 1 b3 5 Gm: G Bb D
Dominant 7 1 3 5 b7 G7: G B D F
Major 7 1 3 5 7 Gmaj7: G B D F#
Minor 7 1 b3 5 b7 Gm7: G Bb D F
Add 9 1 3 5 9 Gadd9: G B D A
Suspended 4 1 4 5 Gsus4: G C D

 

Exercise 11A

 

Using the steps listed above, try constructing the following chords:

 

Cm, Cmaj7, Csus4, Cadd9

 

Cm : C Eb G (1 b3 5)

Cmaj7 : C E G B (1 3 5 7)

Csus4 : C F G (1 4 5)

Cadd9 : C E G D (1 3 5 9)

 

11.2 Slash Chords

 

Recall in Section 9.3, we learnt that the bass note of a chord is its root note.

 

In some instances, in order to add colour to the music, the bass note played is not the root note.

 

In this case, the bass note is indicated after the chord separated by a slash.

 

Example:

 

Chord Bass Note Fingering
C/E E
D/F# F#
G/B B

 

Slash chords are often used in progressions where the bass forms ascending or descending scale.

 

Example:

 

C → G/BAm7 → Am7/G

 

Bass descends from C → B → A → G

 

Dm7 → C/EFG

 

Bass ascends from D → E → F → G

 

11.3 Capo – Power Tool

 

A capo is a device that clamps down an entire fret.

 

Clamping the capo at fret x raises the pitch by x half steps.

 

Example: Placing the capo at the 2nd fret (Capo 2) raises the pitch of strings by 2 half steps.

 

Similarly, clamping the capo at fret x raises a particular chord by x half steps.

 

Example: With the capo placed at the 2nd fret (Capo 2), a C chord is transformed into a D chord (C→C#→D).

 

In contemporary guitar playing, the capo is the most powerful accessory around.

 

It allows many songs to be played with relatively simpler chords.

 

Example:

 

A song played to E Key will involve chords like E, B, C#m, F#m G#m.

 

By placing the capo on the 4th fret (C→C#→D→D#→E: 4 half-steps), the song can now be played in the C Key and will involve chords like C, G, Am, Dm, Em.

 

11.4 Complex Chords

 

Many guitarists are intimidated when they see complex chords e.g. Caug9, F7b5 etc.

 

There is really no need to be. Some may even have simpler fingerings than those chords that you can already play!

 

Just look up the fingering for the chord and treat it as just another chord with its own set of fingerings.

 

One excellent website that I use is http://chordbook.com/guitar-chords

 

11.5 Sustaining Motivation

 

Many aspiring guitarists fail because they give up when the going gets tough or after the initial enthusiasm fades off.

 

One strategy that I use to motivate and sustain the interest of my students is to get them to practise using their favourite songs.

 

You may wish to search for the chords to your favourite songs on my music blog: chords-haven.blogspot.com.

 

Do join me on facebook www.facebook.com/chords.haven to request for your favourite songs and receive chord updates!

 

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