Last week I had lunch with a classmate who was a close friend during my growing up years. I was reminded of how much an inspiration he was to me after I first heard him play at elementary school. And reminiscing about our journey as kids trying to learn how to play guitar, I remembered how excited I was to figure out a top 40 hit or a riff from some player I really liked. As a raw beginner, it was so challenging to try and understand how the song went, not to mention the difficulty of figuring out the chord voicing and whether or not a capo was being used, or if the guitar was de-tuned, or even something more foreign to my fledgling ears. [Read more…]
Whether it’s leading chords, passing chords, or transition chords… all are designed to take us on an indirect path to another chord to make the transition sound more musical. This skill is most useful in these scenarios:
- Writing songs
- Changing keys (in the same song or another song)
- In a live set, transitioning to another song, no matter what key
So, we’ve already talked about being on a certain chord and wanting to ‘land’ on another chord. We already know that we can stop playing the current chord and then just start playing the new chord; it may not sound pretty, but we can certainly do it that way.
But assuming we want to take a more creative musical path to the new chord, let’s try using some tools that we already have to help us do it more easily. [Read more…]
In my experience playing live, sometimes I want to continue the music as I change keys for the next song. And it’s not always clear what to do in the space between them. I’ve memorized some things over the years, but there actually is a way to think through this and put a few methods in place to help with chord transitions from one key to another. In this article we’ll start by talking about “leading chords” to help us build this technique.
In a progression, the leading chord will pull the listener’s ear toward the root of the next chord. Most of the time we’ll use the ‘five’ chord or dominant chord in the chord scale to accomplish this. There can be varying degrees of “pull”, but to keep the idea fairly comprehensive and easy to apply, let’s explore this idea using leading tones. [Read more…]
“I just learned this really cool chord, but I’m not sure what it is. How do you name cool chords that don’t look like they fit into the group of chords that I already know?”
Most of the time, if you’re just playing for your own enjoyment, the actual name of the chord doesn’t seem to matter that much. But if you are sharing notation or a chord chart with your band mates or a publisher, you probably need to come up with the chord name for this new discovery you’ve made. [Read more…]
The CAGED System gives us a lot of benefits when playing, the most significant of which is getting us out of the ‘open’ position. It’s not that playing in the open position is bad, it’s actually really good. There’s just plenty more to discover beyond the 5th fret. And I think the chord forms sound unique and different when played up high.
You can try this by throwing on a capo at the 5th fret and playing these open chords. The way that they sound in that register, adds a lot to the potential for creativity. Many songs have been written, using a capo. But , I’m off the subject slightly. [Read more…]