A Guide To: Moveable Chord Shapes

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A guide to:MoveablechordshapesPart 1

Intr oduc tionChr omatic scal emajor sc al ePower chor dsOctavesMajor triads- DGB Major triads-GBE Major TriadsMinor triads- DGB Minor triads-GBE Minor TriadsMemorizin g th e fretboar dExercisesAppendix: ch or d th eory3456789101112-131415

I can remember staring blankly at his fingers. I knew the song. I knew what thechord progression was. But what were his fingers doing?As a beginning/intermediate guitarist everyone starts with the basics. For chords,this means open chords, the F and B form of barre chords, and power chords onthe E and A string. We learn how to use them and gain comfort and security inknowing when and where to play them. But today these are only a few of the toolsin my chord arsenal. And it’s certainly not what I saw that guitarist play all thoseyears ago.I’m sure that you have had a similar experience. After gaining a respectableamount of knowledge on the guitar, you watch a guitarist and are dumbfoundedby the chord shapes that he uses. They sound great. They look clean. Why didn’t Ilearn these?At this point, I’ve been a guitarist for half of my life. It has only been in the last fewyears with a lot of trial and error and reliance on my music training that I havestarted to use these chord shapes. Can you find these chords elsewhere? I’m surethat you can. I certainly didn’t invent these chord shapes. But, I haven’t found aresource yet that put them together in a clear easy to use format.As a guitar instructor, it is important for me to have new concepts groupedtogether logically and practically. When I introduce a concept to a student it needsto come across as well articulated and practical. In other words, he has tounderstand the concept and understand how, when, and why to use it.What this guide is not: An all-inclusive guide to everything guitar. Meant for beginners. You should have a decent grasp on chords. An instructional on how to play like a certain artist or genre. Packed with musical examples and playalongs.What this guide is: Meant for intermediate/advanced guitarists. A resource for understanding chord shapes and inversions. A tool to help you in any musical style that you choose. Meant to be understood and explored beyond the written examples.This is meant as a resource to help guitarists to understand where and how toplay different chord shapes and voicings up and down the neck of the guitar.Think of this guide as sampling of what chords and shapes are available on theguitar. It’s like an artist filling his palette with a multitude of colors so that he hasoptions when it comes time to paint.For simplicity, all examples will be written in the key of G. All chord forms will bewritten as G chords. Once you have mastered the chord shapes in the key of G,move them up or down the neck to try them in different keys.To fully understand chord shapes (as opposed to just memorizing patterns) youhave to know a little music theory.

Chromatic scaleChromatic Scale: A twelve note scale comprised of half steps that encompasses every note thatyou’ll ever play.E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D#I begin with E because the outer two strings on the guitar are E strings, butthe chromatic scale can begin on any note. There are 12 notes in thechromatic scale. Upon reaching the 12th note, you return to the first noteforming an endless sequence of notes.The musical alphabet consists of seven letters: A B C D E F and G. All ofthe white keys on a piano are one of these notes. There are also sharps (#)and flats (b) within the chromatic scale. These would be the black keys on apiano. There is no B# and no E# and there is no Cb or Fb.Here is the chromatic scale on the guitar fretboard:The above examples were written with sharps, but they could also bewritten with flats. F# and Gb are the same note with two different names.These are called enharmonics. Here is the chromatic Scale with flats:E F Gb G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb

The Major sca leMajor Scale: A seven note sequence of notes that serve as the building blocks for pretty mucheverything.The major scale is a seven-note sequence that follows an unchanging pattern.To understand the major scale we have to go back to the chromatic scale. Sinceall of the examples in this book are in the key of G, I’ll use a chromatic scalestarting on G to form the G major scale.G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F#The chromatic scale is built entirely on half-steps. A half-step is the distance fromone note to the note immediately preceding or proceeding it in the chromaticscale. On the guitar, a half-step is one fret. A whole-step is two half steps, or twofrets on the guitar. The major scale is made up of whole steps and half steps.The major scale formula hor“wuh-wuh-huh-wuh-wuh-wuh-huh”I like to put an “uh” after each letter to make it easier to say and remember. Let’stake that formula to the chromatic scale and make a major scale:.whole. .whole. .half. .whole. .whole. .whole. .half.G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# GSo, a G Major Scale is: G A B C D E F# G.Each note in the major scale is given a number which will be used to buildchords:12 345678G A B C D E F# GSpecifically, we will focus on four notes of the scale when we discuss chords:1Groot3Bthird58DGfifth octaveBuilding Chords158Power Chord1 8Octave1 3 5Major Chord1 b3 5Minor Chord

POWER CHORDSPower Chord: A moveable chord consisting of the Root, Fifth, and Octave of any given key.Power chords are the foundation of rock music as we know it. By omitting thethird, it removes the harmonic distinction of major/minor and gives the chord afull, powerful sound. A power chord can be substituted for any major or minorchord.E String Power ChordA String Power ChordD String Power ChordG String Power Chord

OCTAVESOctave: Two notes that share the same letter name and are 8 notes apart; the first and lastnotes of a power chord.An octave is the interval of eight notes. In any given major key the first note andlast note of an eight note scale will be an octave apart. To simplify, an octavemeans to play the same note only higher or lower. So, a G and a higher orlower G.In the basic power chord shapes, an octave is the first and last notes. You willnotice that the octave shapes below are identical to their corresponding powerchord shapes. The only distinction is that they are missing the middle note.E String OctaveA String OctaveD String OctaveG String Octave

MAJOR TRIADSMAJOR TRIAD – A moveable chord consisting of the root, third, and fifth note of any givenkey.A major triad consists of three distinct notes: The root, the third, and the fifth.These notes can be in any order and are still considered a triad. The placementof notes on the E and A strings makes playing triads difficult and the lowfrequencies of these strings give the triads a muddy sound. For that reason wewill focus on DGB string triads and GBE string triads.Each triad can be formed in three positions on each string. We can start on theroot of the triad (first position), start on the third of the triad (second position), orstart on the fifth of the triad (third position).DGB MAJOR TRIADSDGB Major Triad – First PositionDGB Major Triad – Second PositionDGB Major Triad – Third Position

GBE MAJOR TRIADSGBE Major Triad – First PositionGBE Major Triad – Second PositionGBE Major Triad – Third Position

MINOR TRIADSMINOR TRIAD – A moveable chord consisting of the root, flat third, and fifth note of any givenkey.A minor triad consists of three distinct notes: The root, the flat third, and the fifth.These notes can be in any order and are still considered a triad. The onlydifference between a major triad and a minor triad is the middle note(third major, flat third minor). To get the “flat third” simply play the third of thetriad one fret lower.The placement of notes on the E and A strings makes playing triads difficult andthe low frequencies of these strings give the triads a muddy sound. For thatreason we will focus on DGB string triads and GBE string triads.Each triad can be formed in three positions on each string. We can start on theroot of the triad (first position), start on the flat third of the triad (second position),or start on the fifth of the triad (third position).DGB MINOR TRIADSDGB Minor Triads – First PositionDGB Minor Triads – Second PositionDGB Minor Triads – Third Position

GBE Minor TriadsGBE Minor Triad – First PositionGBE Minor Triad – Second PositionGBE Minor Triad – Third Position

Memorizing the fretboardBy now you have played power chords, triads, and octaves using the G chord. But what ifyou need to play an A power chord? Or a D major triad? How can you find these chords?You could be sure to always carry around the fretboard diagram found at the beginning ofthis guide. Or you could draw all of the notes on the back of the neck of your guitar. Ifyou’re really dedicated you could tattoo the fretboard diagram on your forearm ok,there’s got to be a better way. It’s time to memorize the fretboard.Here’s the good news. By using octaves and the relationships between strings we onlyhave to memorize 3 strings, not 6! Also, each string follows the exact same chromaticpattern that we learned earlier.Step 1: Memorize the String NamesHopefully you’ve already done this. From the largest string (6th string) to the smalleststring (1st string) the string names are: E A D G B E. To learn the notes on the entirefretboard, you’ve got to at least know where to start on each string.Step 2: Memorize the Chromatic ScaleAs a guitarist, I normally start the Chromatic scale on E since both of the outer strings onthe guitar are E. The scale works it way alphabetically until arriving again at E: E F G AB C D E. In between most notes are sharps and flats. You can notate these as F#/Gb oryou can simply write them as sharps and remember that they can also be called by theirflat names. Every note has a sharp except for E and B. Likewise, every note has a flatexcept for C and F. So, our chromatic scale is E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D#.Step 3: Memorize the E string up to the 12th fretIf you successfully completed step 2 than you have also completed step 3. That wasn’t sohard, was it? The twelfth fret is the octave (E). Therefore the 13th fret (F) will be the sameas the 1st fret (F), only an octave higher. The 14th fret will be the same as the 2nd fret, andso on. By memorizing the E string you have actually killed three birds with one stone (Ican adapt that metaphor, right?). Both outer strings on the guitar are E strings. Bam! Twoout of six strings down! But, we can also find any note on the D string by using octaves.In this case, let’s look at the above example. We know that the third fret on the E string isG (because we’ve already memorized the E string, right?). To find the octave from the Estring to the D string, we go over two frets and down two strings. So, from our third fretG we go to frets over two frets to the fifth fret and then down two strings to the D string.This is our octave. So the fifth fret on the D string is also a G, like it’s octave friend onthe third fret of the E string. You can find any octave relationship on the E an D string bystarting on the E string and using this “two frets over, two strings down” method.

Step 4: Memorize the A String up to the 12th fretThis step will be identical to step three. Begin your chromatic scale on A and work yourway through the fretboard to the 12th fret. You will also be able to learn the notes on theG string using octaves.In this case, the 10th fret on the A string is a G. If we go down two frets to the twelfth fretand down two strings to the G string, we can see that the 12th fret on the G string is also aG.Step 5: Memorize the B string up to the 12th fret.This one stands on its own, but by now you should have a pretty good feel for how thechromatic scale works.At this point you should have the fretboard memorized. It may still take you a second tofigure out the note, but you shouldn’t have to look it up on the diagram anymore. Thismay be something you can accomplish in an afternoon or it may be something that takesmuch longer. Don’t rush this. Take your time and make sure that you have a really goodgrasp on the notes on the fretboard. Having all of these chord patterns learned andmemorized is worthless if you have no idea what you’re playing.

ExercisesIt’s time to see if you’ve really got a grasp on this material. Some of these exercises willbe written, while others will require you to play through it on your guitar. These exercisesare not meant to be a ‘play it once and check it off’ type of test. This is something thatyou should take your time with and return to frequently looking to gain speed andapprehension each time you play through the examples.Name the note:Write the correct note name in the blank.E string, 3rd FretG string, 8th FretD string, 11rd FretB string, 4th FretE string, 7rd FretA string, 9th FretG string, 2nd Fret.B string, 12th FretA string, 17th FretG string, 14th FretE string, 15th FretD string, 14th FretB string, 13th FretE string, 16th Fret.Play the note:1. Play every “C” on the fretboard.2. Play every “C#/Db” on the fretboard.3. Play every “D” on the fretboard.4. Play every “D#/Eb” on the fretboard.5. Play every “E” on the fretboard.6. Play every “F” on the fretboard.7. etc Chord shapes:1. Play every “C” power chord.2. Play every set of “C” octaves.3. Play every “C” major triad.4. Play every “C” minor triad.5. Play all chord shapes in every key (C#, D, D#, E, F ).Position playing:1. Pick a “G” on the E, A, D, or G string and play a G power chord.2. Play the closest C and D power chords that you can find on adjacent strings.3. Repeat with A, D, and E.4. Repeat with C, F, and G.5. Repeat with D, G, and A.6. Repeat in every key, using all different chord shapes and types.

Appendix: Chord theoryIn the same way that scales are built on patterns there is a pattern ofchord types within each major scale. Each major scale will have threemajor chords (not including the octave note in the scale), three minorchords, and a diminished chord. As this is meant to be an introresource and not a theory textbook, we won’t elaborate on the theorybehind each chord but rest assured that every scale follows this samepattern regarding chords. The chords are notated with romannumerals and will often be referred to as “I chords”, “IV chords”, IIEF#Gminor *diminished MajorWhat this means for you as a guitaristMost songs today and in recent history are written with 3-4 chords.The most commonly used chords are the I chord, the IV chord, the Vchord, and the vi chord. Remember that every sharp can also bewritten as a flat (F# Gb, etc). The chart below is a list of these fourchords in every key. Use this chart to practice playing the chordshapes that you have already #ABbBCDbDEbEFF#AmA#mBmCmC#mDmEbmEmFmF#mGmG#m

Power Chord: A moveable chord consisting of the Root, Fifth, and Octave of any given key. Power chords are the foundation of rock music as we know it. By omitting the third, it removes the harmonic distinction of major/minor and gives the chord a full, powerful sound. A power chord can be substituted for any major or minor chord. E String Power .