Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:10 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

...delete if you like...

Please, let's NOT get into music theory in this thread. There's another thread for that. Having said that...

How does everyone practice their usage and knowledge of chords (aside from chord explorations)? What seems to give you the most bang for your buck? What caused you to feel like you were a musician rather than a wannabe-shredder?

Do you practice all your intervals playing them harmonically and melodically in all positions and keys?

Do you practice triads, and their inversions, using all 6 choose 3 = 20 string sets?

Do you take a single string set and run a chord and its inversions up and down the neck in all keys (e.g. set 632 and do R35, 35R and 5R3)?

Do you take a single inversion and play that formula diatonically within a single key (e.g. take 5R3 and run G, Am, Bm, etc.)?

How about with 4-, 5- and 6-part chords?

Or, is everyone just focusing on modules 1, 2 and 3 so they can shred?

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:03 pm
by student • 146 Posts

After reading this I realize I don't take threads seriously.

I am assuming by practicing intervals melodically, these become arpeggios ?

6 choose 3 ? I believe this may be a combinatorics theorem ? (which means, by shifting the notes around AND choosing 3 strings to pick.

My math works out a little different, I get 10 different fingering positions for just selecting 3 strings(A,C#,E). Then I would add 20 to this because by shifting the other 2 notes((C#, E, A), (E, A,C#)) , we get 20 more possibilities. So I am under the impression for an A major triad we end up with 30 different positions for just the first 12 frets. I am not sure, I just took a quick stab. For all I know assuming there are 30 different positions, I am not taking into account how many of these fingerings are realizable. I know my left hand can't fret the 1st fret and 11 fret at the same time... haha

Anyway, Thanks for the Thread !

Don't listen to me
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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:18 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

Take all threads seriously (although all of us contributing to all of them really isn't necessary)!

Harmonic interval = play both tones at the same time; Melodic interval = play each tone individually in sequence. I'm not sure if a melodic interval qualifies as a 2-note arpeggio in the official nomenclature, or whether an arpeggio needs to be a chord (3 or more tones) that is played melodically. I'd rather not stay sidetracked here either...

A "string set" is a collection of strings. To notate these, people commonly label the low-E string as 6, the A-string as 5, etc. This includes Pebber in his free PDFs. Here are the 20 ways in which one can select 3 strings from 6 (aka 6 choose 3).

654, 653, 652, 651, 643, 642, 641, 632, 631, 621
543, 542, 541, 532, 531, 521
432, 431, 421

Now, I'm definitely NOT saying all 20 of these are practical or even possible to use to play all chord formulas. Far from it actually. With a pen, paper and patience, you could easily convince yourself that even a simple major triad isn't practical on many of these string sets (at least without tapping and for a mortal like me).

A string set has nothing to do with the many different positions one can use to finger chords. String set = what strings are you going to use? Positions = what range of frets on the neck are you going to play? (The definition of positions could be changed slightly depending on the context; e.g. when saying "positions 1-14" in the context of scales, it's used as a label representing a range of frets.)

Finally, I haven't thought about trying to enumerate the ways one could finger an A major triad. If one considers all string sets, inversions, repeated tones, open strings, and positions I'd bet the number grows quite large. Again, haven't counted them.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:36 pm
by student • 146 Posts

wow, I meant chords not threads....fuck...my brain somedays. At work today I was working on multithreading with QT.

Thanks for your reply again and all of the clarifications dlraben!!

Don't listen to me
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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:52 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)

there's no sufficient way I can contribute to this thread without mentioning what some persons would consider "advanced music theory"...Stuff like figured base, chord function, N.C.T's, suspensions, and what-not, voiceleading, counter-point; so for fear of pissing anyone off...So instead of all of that, I shall restrain myself...Though I think if you were to ask the most professional of musicians, they would say that it is rather 101 level entry stuff.

I discussed the fingerings implications of the A Major chord in failry high depth in one of the videos I made and posted in the legato thread, but since no-one seemed to like it, I took it down.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:19 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)

I dont see why "shred" and "chords" have to be mutually exclussive...or mean sweep picking for that matter...what about if one were to decide that they were just to approach guitar playing in general (even single note playing mind you) as a moving set of snap-shots of what the shapes the fretting hand must mold itself to...I for instance have found in my own playing that I can go fastest when all fingers are kept pressed into the fret-board so that it looks as though I was always playing a chord...even just with single note voicing stuff...and most especially when using Sarod.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:32 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

No clue what you're talking about in your posts, but it's not what I'm after in this thread. Maybe just chill out and watch this thread develop? Assuming it ever does...

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:40 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)

Probably the greatest benefit of keeping all fingers pressed into the fretboard as such...is that then your fingertips can feel each pickstroke as a signal of sorts...coming from the picking hand and running down the string and received up into the finger tips...I know that is what I rely on in order to keep the two hands talking to each other...I also think thats the secret to playing chords fast.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:57 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

I feel like I'm being tricked into responding to you here when I know I shouldn't, but I also feel compelled to reply since I'm hoping to not scare everyone away from this thread...

I don't care about playing chords fast. I know tons of chords. That is NOT the point of this thread at all. It's cool, I know you're trying to help. If others ultimately join in, let's really try to take in what they have to say. Maybe we'll learn something together.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:38 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)

As far as A major goes:


within the span of one octave...that is, within the closed position....these are the sets that you can break triads into...In other words...they can be classified based on whether they have have their lowest note on low E string, the A, the D, or the G string...so each falls under one of those 4 categories...the only other consideration is which triad member in in the bass...is it the root, the 3rd, or the 5th?..thats 3 possibilities...3x4=12 So at least for me, there are twelve "shapes" for the closed position triads and accordingly 12 for the minor (where just a half step has been zaped away for the 3rd)...Regardless of the # of octaves that run the span of ones fret-board these shapes are cyclical up the neck.

Open position triads are just the above shapes, but with the triad member who is normally the tenor voice and the member who is normally the soprano voice switched for one another.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:04 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Hey Nick,

I think Damon is talking about all possible string combos, where here you're assuming three adjacent strings. Other possibilities outside those you mention above would include 2nd fret B and G strings, and 5th fret low E string.

Damon - to answer your original question, I'm a would-be-shredder :). I must confess I don't (currently) explore any of this stuff.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:17 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)

Non adjacent strings like you mention by their very nature imply an open position triad voicing...you are right about the fact that my post didnt cover those...there Is a rather comprehensive formula for those which by happy coincidence deals with A Major in the PBguitar studio "daily practice" blog that I posted...And all of those involve using non adjacent strings...It was Eric Johnson that first made me "hip" to the idea of using those.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:28 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)

they are useful in sooooooo many ways when it comes to practicing them...I personally prefer playing them using a hybrid technique that has been my proverbial "bun in the oven" now for a long time...by picking the bass while ussing 2 of the 3 remaining non scalpaling fingers from the pick hand to play all non bass members of the chord...because for me...that is the way to play them that is most pleasing to my ear anyway...since the bass note is the most important member of the chord anyway, (remember that it the bass that determines the harmonic function of everything above it) I am ok with it sounding a bit stronger than the other members of the chord by getting the priveledge of being picked rather than plucked.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:39 pm
by RevHead • 3 Posts

Hi there dlraben,

"How does everyone practice their usage and knowledge of chords"

Me personally,I approach it this way.

I first take a simple triad major or minor, and play it on one string. Then I shift each note back in sequence.
This will give me two 2 string shapes and one 3 string shape. I look at all chords and scales in terms of intervals.

This means I only have one 3 string "shape' per inversion.I look at it as a modified shape when crossing the G B string pair. So 6 patterns total for the closed major and minor triads and their inversions.

For me, "seeing" these stacked shapes within your scales is when you start to get good at it.

For example, taking 3NPS scale pattern,starting anywhere and in any key, find all the triad arpeggios within that pattern. That will really open up your improvising capabilities. As an aside,when ever you pick out the triad from a diatonic scale, the notes left are a 7th chord. Eg. Playing in G Major, pick out the A minor arpeggio and the notes left are the G Dom 7 chord.

As I was saying before,I see chords and arpeggios as intervals,so I think of them in terms of 135 all the time.
Also any triad can take a different "colour" depending on the Bass note. A 135 G Major triad can become a 357
over an E bass (E minor 7)

Once you can pick out the closed voicing arpeggios within the scale patterns, the open voicing patterns will stand out for you.

To sum it up, my chordal and arpeggio practice all ways goes hand in hand with scalar practice.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:40 am
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Hmmn. Well I find that first of all, knowing all of the notes in a given chord, triad or otherwise is handy. So, since I know that, my tendency is to NOT just practice them as up and down stuff in one key (All though if I do, I'll at least wail 'em off in cycle of 4ths or something)

What I really like to do is practice from a Jazz tune in the Real Book (Egad, actual tunes??!! lol) and decide whether it's grips I want to work on, what string sets, just triads, rhythmic subdivision, voice leading, harmonize under the melody, etc and do that. Transposition is also good practice, play the same song in all 12 keys sort of thing... I find I gain a lot doing this, and I'm never left feeling like I 'conquered it' There's always more to explore...

It usually kills about 50 birds with one stone, plus it sounds cool so that's what I do! lol my .02


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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:31 am
by pebberbrown • 926 Posts

I dont know if any real world professional guitarists still call the chord voices Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass anymore. Thats something entirely from a Junior College class on music theory from 17th century harmonic practice. Likewise we dont use the terms "Cadence" and "Non-Harmonic Tones" anynmore exept in stuffy academic classes with classically trained ivory tower people. Even world renowned composer and Professor Dr. Peter Boyer says "Progression" not Cadence. Its really good to know all that stuff only if you want to take music theory classes at a Junior College and pass the exams.

The recording studio is really only wheer it matters anymore though and mostly you hear chord progressions discussed as numeric chords like III IV and V and chords are usually considered as a base of 7th chords and 9th chords. Beyond 9th chords most keyboard players and orchestrators refer to what are called "polychords" and "slash chords" which are two different things. Figured Bass is an ancient historical practice that even Arnold Schoenberg stated was an "obsolete and useless" harmonic practice. All of this early harmonic theory is fine to know as an entry level - but its not advanced, and its really not used anymore in commercial music and contemporary music applications.

Its a starting point though, and of course its taught in most all first and second year curriculum in college courses across the country - but really more Jazz theory is appropriate for commercial music and modern harmonic practice.

Go to Amazon or Ebay and pick up Mark Levine's book of theory, Paul Schmeling's books from Berklee Press and also Mark Harrison's books on theory for a much greater understanding. Stay away from traditional college course books such as Kostka, Payne, Bruce Benward, Robert Ottman, Walter Piston, Ralph Turek. They are quite unneccessarily wordy with not much information on chords beyond triads and "chords of the seventh" like 7th chords are some new miracle revelation.

Mark Harrison was a former DIck Grove instructor and his books cover everything very step by step. Mark Levine's book is a very thick one volume set and its also very complete. The best of course is Dick Grove's 20 volume set on Theory. His original book "Modern Harmonic Relationships" was probably the best one of all but its sadly out of print. I of course have 4-5 copies!

There are 2 really good books that are available easily that I think are excellent for beginners - 1 Music theory for Complete Idiots 2nd edition by Michael Miller (This one I use in my entry level musicianship 101 course I teach at the University of La Verne) and the next one is "Edly's Music Theory for Practical people" available for $40 from his website in both PDF and they ship you a hard copy as well a week later from Edlys

I know Dr. Gratz is using Edlys book now for his Harmony 1 classes at La Verne and he's been disgusted with Turek, Kostka, Benward and Piston for 20 years now! Those books all suck and they only teach you up to TRIADS. We have had a half dozen meetings already to figure out a (much) better way and I think Michael Miller's Complete Idiots 2nd edition and Edlys are the best resources to use until you get to the Mark Levine level of understanding. Mark Harrison's and Complete Idiots books are ultra cheap used on ebay and amazon!!!

Berklee Press has some badass incredible books as well. Paul Schmeling teaches teh harmony courses there and online.

Alfred Publications has a great 3 book series (also available as one thick volume) on harmony and musicianship.

I am still trying to figure out what the hell Hal Leonard is offering thats any good... The book they sell
from Musician's Institute (MI Press) is pretty damned good, as well as a few other intro level books by
one of their instructors Tom Kolb. Maybe too basic though.

Schoenberg and HIndemith have some pretty hardcore books on Music theory - I Love Schoenberg's book and I absolutely love his "Fuck you" attitude - thats very dear to my heart and inspires me deeply... When I studied with Pat Martino back in the 70's he had us pick up Paul HIndemeth's book "Elementary Training For Musicians" as well as "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda! I spent the whole summer with Yogananda's book! now that some intense shit man!!!!

Last edited Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:10 am | Scroll up


RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:00 am
by dlraben • 278 Posts

Thanks for the responses Pebber, et. al.

Pebber might know this already, and I don't think I explained myself well enough to the others. My understanding of chords is well ahead of my practical ability to play them in a musical context. I don't need help understanding chord formulas, or which chords fit in what chord scales (at least until my hands catch up with my head). What I lack is the ability to take this theoretical understanding and to apply it PRACTICALLY.

For scale practice, one runs them ad nauseum to train the fingers to move through them without thinking in tons of ways. What is the preferred analog for chord practice?

Edit: And the answer could be in some of those books; which I'll try to track down.

Last edited Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:00 am | Scroll up


RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:07 am
by pebberbrown • 926 Posts

One word - REALBOOK.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:45 am
by dlraben • 278 Posts

I finally got the Real Book, but the version I have doesn't show the chord voicings. I get that this is where the musician adds their flavor to the tune, but learning and then selecting voicings that sound good is quite challenging for me. To help with that I got and just finished reading Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry and Modern Chord Progressions. Playing well a lot of what's in those books is still way ahead of me, but I learned quite a bit from the prose on how/why one can go about finding and selecting voicings when just presented with the changes. I also learned quite a bit on how/why one might want to alter the changes.

If only hand learning came as quickly as head learning...

Perhaps I'm looking too far ahead. Perhaps doing this (very slowly) is just around the corner. I guess I won't know until I spend time trying.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:55 am
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)

The ted greene book features some very interesting and innovative ways of looking at chords and actually playing them...but many or rather most of them involve non adjacent strings...which means one must use left hand muting for strumming them...or start using a hybrid approach to playing them...I think the later is a big part of getting to the point where you have a fast enough right hand engine to use these chords in a musical context where you can play themperfectly in time, and hold each for the full duration (rather than cutting off a chord prematurely so that you can get your hands ready for the next chord change) But for developing such a hybrid i think its best to be patient with chord pplaying and to come up with a module 1 equivalent for developing ones hybrid.

Last edited Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:58 am | Scroll up


RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:07 am
by dlraben • 278 Posts

The right hand isn't my impediment when playing open voicings. It's my fretting hand and my head. I'm comfortable using hybrid picking or playing fingerstyle.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:01 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

So is the attached PDF step 1? Meaning are we to run these chord scales, in all keys, until we can pick out any chord on any string set in real time? Just making sure before I dump more time into these forms as well as steps 2-100, which are chord scales based on other all the others: Mel M, Harm M, Nat M, Dorian, Phrygian, ... , etc., etc.

PS. I don't intend to have these look professional so I'm likely to ignore any complaints along those lines. I just make my own PDFs because I prefer it over sharpies when I want things to look neat.

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Chord_Scales_Step_1.pdf Chord_Scales_Step_1.pdf
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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:38 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

PPS, in case it wasn't obvious, steps 2-100 also would include 4+ tone chords and not just triads.

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RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:13 pm
by John567 • 156 Posts

... as always, Pebber provides a killer reading/study list. I'll be busy for some time to come with a list like this:

Paul Hindemeth
Berklee Press
Mark Levine

I familiar with the Levine piano book. It's all great stuff... and yes, I'm still working through the Real Book Volumes... Pebber pulls no punches!!!!

Since this is a thread regarding Chords I figure I'll throw my two cents in. Here's a little intro to chord voicings for those who are interested. Again, my sarod sucks and is still a work in progress....


This is just the drop 2 on string sets 4-1 and 5-2. And its only the dominant 7 form. There's also other chords too! Ma7, m7, m7b5, dim7, alt7, ect.... lots of fun!!! What about other voicings, eh? Lots of fun.... there's more than just scales, there's chords too!!!!

Last edited Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:18 pm | Scroll up


RE: Chord Thread

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:17 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

Yeah man, bust out your favorite looper and get the sounds ingrained! Thanks John. I spend about half my chord time memorizing and half of it playing progressions in various voicings. I suppose I should pick one a night and play over it to pull it all together.

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