Start learning your chords the right way by mastering all of the natural notes on a string at once – this will give you maximum flexibility later when switching power chords from shape to shape.
Each box on a chord chart represents a fret, while its numbers indicate which fingers to place there: index finger, middle finger and ring finger respectively.
Triads are composed of three notes taken from one scale, making it easy to determine their chords with knowledge of major, harmonic minor and melodic minor scales. Written music often notates these triads with an icon above the staff to indicate which piece contains them.
Based on its quality (major, minor, diminished or augmented), each triad can sound uniquely. A minor 4 chord may evoke sadness while an augmented triad may provide an enchanting atmosphere.
On the guitar, triad shapes are ubiquitous and can be found all across the fretboard. Most typically comprised of a root, major third, and perfect fifth invariances but can also be played using various fingerings and inversions – therefore making practice of these triad shapes as well as learning their variations imperative in order to develop greater versatility when playing them.
Once you’ve mastered major triad shapes, the same concept applies when creating minor triads. One simple method for doing so is starting from the tonic note of a minor scale and selecting its third and fifth notes as needed; just keep in mind that building with minor scales affects how your chord sounds overall.
Minor triads in music theory consist of three notes – the root note, minor third and perfect fifth (together making an interval of three semitones). Much like major triads learned earlier, minor chords can either be closed or open voicings; closed voicings use notation with lower case m (for instance C minor), while open voiced ones vary by raising one note up an octave, creating various tones within a chord.
Chords are composed of thirds, and when an extra note (called a seventh note or major seven in English) is added on top of a regular scale (three plus five), this chord becomes known as a major seven.
Cmaj7 chords add the note B to a C major triad (3 + 5). This extra note creates tension or relief depending on context and can alter its character significantly.
There are various ways of building major sevens on guitar. Most require twisty chord shapes, but one simple way is known as drop 2 voicing; this allows you to play many major sevens open position with only two fingers – also providing great thumb exercise! An excellent place to give this technique a try is America’s timeless tune ‘Tin Man’.
Add a minor seventh chord to any chord to add some flare and create a truly captivating sound – this technique works great in almost all genres, particularly blues and soul music.
To create a minor seven chord, take the root of any major triad and add two semitones below it as a minor seventh, creating Cm7 for Cmaj7, Gmaj7 for Gm7 and Dmaj7 respectively.
Chords featuring extensions like flat elevens and sharp thirteens may not be common, but they can add an intriguing jazzy flavour to any chord progression. To use these chords effectively and quickly, practice playing them thoroughly until they come naturally to you.
Listening to songs featuring chords will also give you a good understanding of their use in songwriting, which will enable you to incorporate them more seamlessly into your own compositions when the time comes.