Chords are the basis for western harmony. Other cultures may take a different approach, but in the west, the chord is king.
The most basic chord is called a TRIAD. There are four possible triads:
major: R – 3 – 5
minor: R – b3 – 5
augmented: R – 3 – #5
diminished: R – b3 – b5
Triads derive their name from the fact that each one contains only three intervals and the fact that the intervals in each are a 3rd apart:
major: 3 + b3
minor: b3 + 3
diminished: b3 + b3
augmented: 3 + 3
What this 3 + b3 stuff means is that if you were to start on a root note (C for example), and build a major triad, the second note in the triad (E) would be a 3rd higher than the root, and the third note of the triad (G) would be a b3rd higher than the second note (E). This “stacking thirds” concept is very important when it comes to chords, so make sure you understand this part.
When it comes to playing triads on the guitar, you will encounter what is called CLOSE VOICING, and OPEN VOICING.
Close voicing means that all three notes of the triad are within the same octave. Open voicing (not the same thing as open position) means that one or more notes of the triad are outside of an octave.
It is also common practice to double one or more of the notes in a triad. This produces a fuller sounding chord.
Octave doubled (close voicing):
Triads form the basis for all other chords (except for sus chords which are covered in another lesson). No matter what the chord is, you will find a triad hiding inside of it. Take every chord that you know, and identify the triad that the chord is built upon.
Another good practice is to pick a root note and build each of the four triads off of that root note.
You should also take a each triad and search out every possible location that the triad can be played on your guitar.
- Guitar Theory
- Know Your Notes
- The Major Scale
- The Circle of Fifths
- Triad Inversions
- The Chord Scale
- Relative Major and Minor
- Pentatonic Scales
- 7th Chords
- Fingerboard Organization
- Melodic Patterns
- Guitar Theory