For chord notation of individual songs, look at tablature
Chords are based on harmony, using every second note in a dominant scale, starting with the root note. The dominant scale is the same as the major scale, except the 7th note which is a semitone flatter. The table below shows the notes of the dominant scale, with examples in the key of C and A. Every second note in the scale is shown in red:
(R is the root note)
Notes in chords are referred to by their note number, so that a single scheme can be used, regardless of the chord's root note, or the key and scale you're using. In the above examples, the 5th note is G for a C chord, and E for an A chord.
Selecting every 2nd note in the dominant scale gives us:
the root note, the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th
Each of these notes may be:
From Chords Simplified
- included as-is
- flattened (1 semitone lower)
- raised (1 semitone higher)
- omitted (deliberately or for convenience)
What is a Barre Chord?
A barre chord takes its name from the role of the 1st finger of your left hand. This finger acts as a "bar" across
the fingerboard, depressing all six strings and replacing the nut (the ivory piece at the top of the neck). By using
your first finger as a "bar," you can move many of the open chords you have learned up and down on the
See also: What's the correct way to form barre chords?
To understand this, first grab your guitar and play an E chord as shown. Note in order for the first finger to
be used as a barre, the fingering has to be changed slightly; use your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers instead of the
usual 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers. Now move the chord up one fret and lay your 1st finger across the 1st fret,
covering all six strings. You are now holding your first barre chord, F.
||This is essentially the same as the F chord
you have learned in the open chords section, only the 1st finger barres all six strings instead of just the 1st and
2nd strings. In the same manner, move this F chord up two frets, 1st finger barring the 3rd fret and maintaining
the E chord shape. You now have an alternative way to play an G chord
|from Guitar Chords and Accompaniment, Chapter 3
A powerchord is a chord which contains no 3rd (suspended chords, and chords containing 3 or more notes exempted). Technically, a powerchord is not really a true "chord" because, by definition, a "chord" has to have a minumum of 3 notes. Powerchords are also called "5" chords, notated as C 5.
Powerchords are neither minor or major and therefore either scale can be used over top of them. Only when a scale is used over them, is a major or minor tonality implied to the listener. Therefore, one can easily alternate between being in a major key or minor key (thus using chords which are derived from either number system).
| Notes of power chord||Chord Name |
| C G||C 5 (or C power chord) |
| G D||G 5 (or G power chord) |
| E B E||E 5 (or E power chord) |
The following chord progression illustrates this:
C 5, F Major, G Dom 7, C5, Bb Major, Eb Major
When examined, the first three chords of this progression, are derived from the key of C Major, while the last three chords are derived from C minor, for C Maj, F Maj and G Dom 7 are the I, IV and V chords of C *Major*, while C Min, Bb Maj and Eb Maj are the i, VII and III chords of the key of C *Minor*.
The blues scale works very well over these types of progressions being that it contains both the minor and major third in it. A blues scale contains both the Eb of C minor and E of C major. One could also simply play the C major scale over the first 3 chords, and then transition to the C minor scale for the last 3 chords.
Power chords are especially popular among rock and blues music. The power chord is used a lot by guitar players because the guitar's standard tuning and the distortion's effect upon the sound of the major third.
Read more on Power Chords and general Chord Theory
More on Power Chords
my new teacher is teaching me about 20 chords. He says it will help me find my way around the fretboard better. It does seem to be helping. Why?
Because most music is chord based. If you were able to analyse your pieces
at your present state of learning you would probably find that the structures
consist of the notes of chords or parts of chords. The notes can be either in
the original order of the chord or in any other order or combination. It is
possible to "see" these shapes both on the guitar neck or on a keyboard and
even on the music as basic patterns or shapes which are constant.
For example a basic major chord consists of notes 1,3,5 of the major scale. A
minor chord of notes 1, b3,5 and a diminished chord of 1 .b3 ,b5.
If you carefully analyse the distance apart of the notes of those chords you will
find that they are built either of notes 2 tones apart (4 frets) or notes 1 1/2
tones apart (3 frets). 2 tone notes are called major thirds and 1 1/2 tone ones
are minor thirds.
Now write a C major scale vertically with a C major chord acrosss the top. The
second two notes of the C major chord now form the basis of two more columns
which become a series of vertically arranged chords.
C 2 E 1 1/2 G Major chord (major 3rd + minor 3rd
D 1 1/2 F 2 A Minor chord (minor third + major 3rd)
E 1 1/2 G 2 B Minor chord
F 2 A 1 1/2 C Major chord
G 2 B 1 1/2 D Major chord
A 1 1/2 C 2 E Minor chord
B 1 1/2 D 1 1/2 F Diminished chord (minor 3rd+minor 3rd)
This system is called a harmonised scale and the 3 note chords are called
triads. A tune can be given chords to fill it out using this system which gives
rise to the wealth of "pieces"that we play on our various harmony instuments
such as guitar and piano. These three note chords if played as above are said
to be in root position and when they are played out of order they follow this
C E G Tonic triad or root position triad
E G C First inversion
G C E Second inversion.
On the staff then arranged upwards
Root Position = 3 adjacent lines or spaces
1st inversion = 2 lines and 1 space or 2 spaces and 1 line
2 nd inversion = 1 line and and 2 spaces or 1 space and 2 lines
There are many variations and permutations to the above system but these are
the building blocks of basic harmony. There is also a system called the three
chord trick where a piece can be harmonised using chords 1 4 and 5 i.e. C F
and G (often made a seventh chord) chords in the key or scale of C major.
Seventh chords are found by adding a further 4th column of notes which give
rise to so called dominant seventh, minor seventh and natural or major seventh
chords and another special chord the diminished seventh with its own set of
comment by Phil Read from cguitar-digest Digest V98 #257 25 Sep 1998
Want to learn chords without reading music?
More Useful Info on Chords:
Free, fast Chord Finder I've built my own guitar chord finder, which currently holds a little over 750 guitar chords. Visitors can scroll through my chords database and - instantly - see the finger settings for it graphically displayed, including finger numbering, optional notes to play, names of the notes, etc.
Tips, Tricks & Licks utilizes Real Audio in a library of lessons geared to both the beginner & experienced player. Country, Jazz, Rock, Classical. Good theory lessons, including "The Dreaded Hendrix Chord"
Want to learn chords without reading music?
WS64 Guitar Chords
Graphical display of chord shapes, including 6ths, 9ths and other jazz chords. All chords available as MIDI-files.
Chord Chart text file covers: Ab, Abm... to Gdim, Gaug
Denzo Chord List
over than 30,000 chords for guitar and mandolin. Easy access and easy search. Some new every week... ask for yours!
Guitar Chords and Accompaniment Learn Guitar Chords and Various Accompaniment Styles Step By Step!
See also Tuition
Guitar 101's Chord Finder great java program
OGRE (Online Guitare) - A web implementation of the Guitare program, that generates ASCII fretboard diagrams of whatever chord you specify. It can also generate a variety of scales (major, minor, dorian, lydian, etc.)
The InterChart - A Java applet that will display scales, arpeggios, and chords, with plenty of options.
Interactive Chord Dictionary - A Java based chord utility.
Super Guitar Chord Finder - A java applet that displays chords in several voicings (for both righty and lefty players.)
Greg Jones' Music Theory Page
On Line Chord Directory (or a mirror site). Fretboard diagrams for chords (Requires Java).
Tim's Online Guitar Archive includes a chord finder, as well as many tabs!
Giving life to the chromatic scale Definitely the most boring exercise ever invented! A lot of players tend to skip this exercise, missing out on the wonderful things that it can do for your technique
For chord notation of individual songs, look at the TABLATURE section of this site
On-Line Guitar Archive (OLGA) - OLGA is an enormous archive of 22,000+ tablature, chords, lessons and lyrics for guitar (and bass guitar). The site also includes links to other guitar related resources.
Guitar Chord of the Minute This page is updated every minute, or sooner!
Three Chord Symphony Archives
- comprehensive tablature
Sharon's Guitar Music Centre Lyrics with Chords
Greg's Music Theory Page for info on intervals, naming chords, triads, inversions, polychords, powerchords, slash chords and more!
Guitar.net This archive of guitar chords, chord theory and anecdotes used to be called the Official Guitar-Chord-Of-The-Week. Due to the author's increasingly busy schedule the site has been renamed and reformatted to make it easier to navigate.
ChordPro Manager Chord Pro Manager allows you to create, edit, display and print song lyrics in a useful and high quality fashion,
including the associated guitar or piano chords in a graphical representation. The source files for Chord Pro
Manager are in ChordPro format and it is possible to find thousand of these files on the OLGA site
See more Music Software links
How To Play Guitar - Links to Text File Resources,
including 30 guitar lessons, bass lessons, chords, warmup exercises, licks...
don't miss this great text resource!
For chord notation of individual songs, look at tablature
The German H Chord
For the latest updates, check the entries in the 2000 Guitars Database
or exact phrase
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