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.
Understanding the parallel minor or major:
For players who are still relatively new to the instrument, the term itself can be pretty intimidating, but the good news is that it's just fancy talk for saying that it's just a major or minor version of a chord. To clarify, take a look at the examples provided below:
Ex. 1 Applying the parallel minor/major concept:
C maj. = C min.
A maj. = A min.
G maj. = G min.
E maj. = E min.
D maj. = D min.
*Now you can really impress your friends by using official music theory terminology.
Locating the thirds:
In covering the basics of chord construction, we touched upon the topic of the third interval and it's importance in creating either a "happy" or "somber" tonality. Look over the examples provided below and see if you can spot any minor differences:
wGreat work! Under close inspection, you can see that each chord was converted into a minor chord by flattening the third interval by one semi-tone.
You may be asking: "But why are there additional dots highlighted in red for the C min. and G min. chords if it only requires flattening the third interval?" Very perceptive!
Because of the way the that the guitar is tuned, fingerings for G and C minor chords require a little strategic planning.
*In the case of C minor, the changed notes translate to flattening the third interval on the 4th (D) string, and since there's no more room to flatten a note on the 1st (high e) - which would otherwise create the octave of the third interval - we can instead resort to creating the octave of the fifth interval.
*In the case of G minor, the changed notes translate to flattening the third interval on the 5th (A) string, and with no more room to flatten notes on the 2nd (B) and 1st (high e) strings, we can instead resort to playing the octaves of the root and fifth intervals.
Tip: Since the C min. and G min. shapes illustrated above are pretty challenging to fret, it is perfectly acceptable to resort to omitting the 1st (high e) and/or 2nd (B) strings in their formation.
Practicing your musical ear while increasing dexterity:
Now that you know how to switch between the parallel major and minor chord shapes, compare and contrast the tonalities that you get from each. For example, strum and/or arpeggiate a C maj., the, C min.; A maj., then A min., and so on. The benefits of this exercise are two-fold, as this allows you to develop your musical ear and hand fretting-hand dexterity. And now that you're familiar with major and minor "cowboy chords", have fun with them - see if you make any musical discoveries like a true cowboy/cowgirl.
Oh, and one more thing: These concepts can be confusing at first, but don't worry. It will all make sense soon - I promise - as we will locate each of the intervals of the chords in a later post.