In the beginning stage of your playing, you've probably come across certain terms that at first glance seem confusing or intimidating, but I assure that a bulk of the music theory concepts that you'll encounter are actually deceptively simple; it's just a matter of finding order in all the chaos. To show you what I mean, we will cover (cue dramatic music: Dun-dun-DUNN!) chord inversions.
When you begin your journey on the instrument, it can be quite an exciting time. There is a whole new world that quite literally is available at your fingertips, and since some of the fundamental techniques place less emphasis on speed, they can become quite boring to practice. I can't even begin to tell you how many players I've encountered who can play fast, but not necessarily cleanly. This tells me that a bulk of their practice time was used to increase speed, and, as a consequence, their playing lacks clarity. I often think of music as a language, and the guitar as a means of communicating that language. Even if you have an expanded vocabulary, an impediment to your speech can confuse the message, or, in terms of the guitar, can make it less enjoyable for the listener. This is especially a shame, because music tends to be a language that transcends typical lingual and cultural (and even generational) barriers. It is for this reason that we will discuss muting, bending/vibrato, and playing dynamics - the trifecta of emotive guitar playing (which are often neglected by rock guitarists).
In our previous discussion, we covered the basics of chord construction, and I left you with the task of playing the major chords in the open position (CAGED chords). At this point, you should be able to switch between each of the open chord shapes with relative ease, if you still find some difficulty, it is still possible to continue on as we are going to cover each chord's parallel minor by changing one simple (and important) interval - the third.
In continuation of our previous discussion regarding chord construction, we will cover a simplified approach to what is known as the "CAGED System" At this point, you should have practiced each of the chord fingerings and switching between them. If you can't yet switch seamlessly between each shape, you may still continue on, as this discussion will cover the vices and virtues of the CAGED system.
Chord Building 101
Ah, now we're getting to the good stuff!
A chord is simply just an arrangement of intervals from a scale, and are often played together at once, creating its own distinct sound through what's known as "harmonization."
Like the major scale, chords can also be reduced down to a formula, and is as follows:
"First," "Root" or "Tonic"
Root = First note of a scale
Third = Third note of a scale
Fifth = Fifth note of a scale
Introduction to Intervals and the Major Scale
Essentially an interval is the distance between two pitches, and is the foundation of all music.
Starting from the open string, or "open position" on the low E string, you can press on the first fret, and the distance between the two pitches is known as a "half-step" or "semi-tone" (think: the main motif of the "Jaws" theme). And if you press on the second fret from the open string, that's known as a "full-step" or "tone." This can be continued all the way down guitar neck, on to the 11th fret before you hit what's known as an "octave," at the 12 fret (an octave is simply the same note, but at a higher pitch frequency) - this is what's known as the "chromatic scale."
A scale is composed of a series of intervals, and the best way to begin is by learning what's known as the "major scale" as all intervalic descriptors are in reference to it--think of the major scale as a default setting when building scales and chords.
Congratulations and welcome to Shredible.com!
As this blog casts off on its maiden voyage, we are going to cover the following topics:
- How to Hold the Pick (Like a Pro)
- Tuning and String Names
Now, let's take a breath and continue on. We'll get through this together, I promise.