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Keep A Practice log. Take the things you are working on and break them into groups written as a list. Even if you can only practice 1/2 hr a day you can spend a little time on each. When you have more time then spend hours on 1 thing. Stock up on tab paper to write all your ideas down!

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Chord Theory



Triads

Chords are groups of 3 or more notes. Basic Triad chords are 3 notes. 2 groups of 3rds.
Here is an explanation of 3rds::

Take our C major scale:

C D E F G A B C

The first note (C) to the 3rd note (E) is a major 3rd. That is 2 Whole steps.
Next we start on the E note and go forward 3 more notes to G. That is still a 3rd but it is only 1 Whole step and 1 Half step. that is called a minor 3rd.

When a major 3rd is stacked on a minor 3rd like that it is called a Major Chord or Major Triad. An even easier way to view it is simply take the 1, 3, 5 from the major scale.

That 1, 3, 5, formula can be altered in a few ways to make different triads.

Lower the third one half step, called b3, is a minor chord/triad.
Lower the 5 (b5) and the 3 (b3) and it's a diminished triad.
Raise the 5th up 1/2 step (#5) it's an augmented triad.

So:

1, 3, 5 = Major Chord C, E, G

1, b3, 5 = Minor Chord C, Eb, G

1, b3, b5 = Diminished Chord C, Eb, Gb

1, 3, #5 = Augmented Chord C, E, G#


Tensions

Except for the 7th note of the scale the remaining notes of the scale are called tensions. The 7 turns a chord into a Seventh Chord, that's for later. The 2, 4, and 6 are leftover.

Since the octave is also called the "8" the 2 will be called "9", 4 will be "11" and 6 is "13" depending on the situation.

The only time 2 and 4 will be used is if it will be replacing the 3rd in the chord. Usually 2 and 4 are added to the chord and the 3rd is kept also. So they will be called 9/11 in that case.

The 6/13 is called either one. Usually if you add it to a seventh chord it's called "13". If added to a triad (1, 3, 5) then it can be called "6".

So here are some more formulas:

MAJOR

1, 3, 5, 9 = Add 9

1, 3, 5, 6 = 6 (C6)

1, 3, 5, 11 = Add 11

1, 4, 5 = Sus4 - Suspended 4 - 3rd gets kicked out.

1, 3, 5, 6, 9 = C Add6/9

1, 3, #5 = Augmented

MINOR

1, b3, 5 = Minor

1, b3, 5, 9 = Minor Add 9

1, b3, 5, 6 = Minor Add 6 or Add 13

1, b3, 5, 11 = Minor Add 11

1, b3, 5, 6, 9 = Minor Add 6/9

1, b3, 5, 6, 9, 11 = Minor Add 6/9/11

1, b3, b5 = Diminished


Seventh Chords

Take our major chord and add the seven (B) it becomes - C, E, G, B or 1, 3, 5, 7 a Major Seven chord.
So the basic seventh chord is formed by taking every other note in the scale. That is a group of three 3rds stacked on top of each other.
The basic seventh chords are:

1, 3, 5, 7 = Major 7 - C, E, G, B

1, 3, 5, b7 = Dominant 7 - C, E, G, Bb

1, b3, 5, b7 = Minor 7 - C, Eb, G, Bb

1, b3, b5, b7 = Minor 7 b5 - C, Eb, Gb, Bb

1, b3, b5, bb7 = Diminished 7 (yes double flat) - C, Eb, G, Bbb(A)

1, 3, #5, b7 = Augmented 7 - C, E, G#, Bb

1, b3, 5, 7 = Minor/Major 7 - C, Eb, G, B

1, 3, b5, b7 = Dom 7 b5 - C, E, Gb, Bb

1, 3, #5, b7 = Dom 7 #5 - C, E, G#, Bb

1, 3, b5, 7 = Major 7 b5 - C, E, Gb, B

1, 3, #5, 7 = Major 7 #5 - C, E, G#, B



Tensions 9, 11, 13 can be added to any seventh chords

Outside Tensions b9, #9, #4/b5, #5 can be added also.

1, 3, 5, 7, 9 = Major 9 - C, E, G, B, D

1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 13, = Major 13 - C, E, G, B, D, A

1, 3, 5, 7, #11 = Major 7 #11 - C, E, G, B, F#

1, 3, 5, b7, 9 = Dom 7/9 - C, E, G, Bb, D

1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 13 = Dom13 - C, E, G, Bb, A

1, 3, 5, b7, #11 = Dom 7 #11 - C, E, G, Bb, F#

1, 4, 5, b7, = Dom 7 sus4 - C, F, G, Bb,

1, 3, 5, b7, 11 = Dom 7 add 11 - C, E, G, Bb, F

1, 3, 5, b7, b9 = Dom 7 b9 - C, E, G, Bb, Db

1, 3, 5, b7, #9 = Dom 7 #9 - C, E, G, Bb, D#

1, 3, #5, b7, #11 = Dom7 #5/#11, Aug 7 #11 - C, E, G#, Bb, F#

1, 3, 5, b7, b9, #9, #11 = Dom 7 b9/#9/#11 C, E, G, Bb, Db, D#, F#

1, b3, 5, b7, 9 = Min 9 - C, Eb, G, Bb, D

1, b3, 5, b7, 11 = Min 11 - C, E, G, Bb, F

1, b3, 5, b7,13 = Min13 - C, E, G, Bb, A

1, b3, 5, b7, 9, 11, 13 = Min 13, Min 9 add 11/13 - C, E, G, Bb, D, F, A

1, b3, 5, 7 = Min/Maj 7 - C, Eb, G, B,

1, b3, 5, 7, 9 = Min/Maj 9 - C, Eb, G, B, D


Notes in a chord do not have to be played in order. Notes in a chord can be repeated more than once. On guitar often the 5th is left out to make room for other notes. That works well because the 3rd and 7th usually define what type of chord it isThe natural 3rd means major chord, flat 3rd means minor, natural 7th means major seven, flat seven means dominant seven.

If any note besides the root is played as the lowest note that is sometimes called a Slash Chord. If a C Add 9 chord was played with the E in the bass (lowest note in the chord) - E, C, G, C, D that would be a shash chord and written like: C/E.
Any other note in the scale could also be put in the bass such as the 6/13 (A), that would look like - C/A. Notice however that is the same as an A Minor chord. Depends on the situation.

If an out of key note is used in the bass it is often called a Poly Chord. A "C" chord with Ab in the bass might be written as a polychord - C/Ab - Ab, C, E, G. Notice here that one is the same as Ab Maj7 #5 - Ab, C, E, G - 1, 3, #5, 7

The slash chords are written correctly here but the poly chords are usually stacked on top of each other with the line separating them. I don't know how to type that.


Seventh Chords will be covered in depth in the Jazz section. Basic triads will be examined in the "triadic improv" section.

Because there is so much information available on chords online, I'm focusing these lessons mostly on scales and improv. I will explain my chord system for Jazz comping in the jazz section.

Here are some Chord charts of easy to advanced chords.

Basic Chords

Bar Chords

Jazz Chords

Tensions



Next - Diatonic Chord Theory


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