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Three chord tricks

Ian Hendrie 18 Mar 09 - 03:04 PM
open mike 18 Mar 09 - 03:10 PM
bubblyrat 18 Mar 09 - 03:18 PM
MarkS 18 Mar 09 - 03:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 09 - 03:24 PM
Don Firth 18 Mar 09 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 18 Mar 09 - 03:55 PM
Austin P 18 Mar 09 - 04:08 PM
Ian Hendrie 18 Mar 09 - 04:13 PM
Mavis Enderby 18 Mar 09 - 04:26 PM
Peter T. 18 Mar 09 - 04:31 PM
John P 18 Mar 09 - 04:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 09 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Mar 09 - 07:35 PM
Nick 18 Mar 09 - 08:40 PM
Bobert 18 Mar 09 - 09:21 PM
M.Ted 18 Mar 09 - 10:59 PM
Amos 18 Mar 09 - 11:29 PM
Mudlark 19 Mar 09 - 01:59 AM
Will Fly 19 Mar 09 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Mar 09 - 03:51 AM
Nick 19 Mar 09 - 06:22 AM
Nick 19 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 09 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,KP 19 Mar 09 - 08:31 AM
GUEST,donmeixner 19 Mar 09 - 08:54 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 09 - 09:42 AM
Nick 19 Mar 09 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,leeneia 19 Mar 09 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Don Meixner 19 Mar 09 - 10:08 AM
Bert 19 Mar 09 - 10:18 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM
M.Ted 19 Mar 09 - 10:56 AM
Piers Plowman 19 Mar 09 - 01:16 PM
Ian Hendrie 21 Mar 09 - 09:32 AM
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Subject: Three chord tricks
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:04 PM

As someone just eligible for a bus-pass who has picked up his guitar after decades of neglect I am in need of some advice. Though not limited to just three chords I have managed with only slightly more and a capo for some time. The trouble is that I have written a few songs (sung so far mainly to friends and sympathetic listeners) and now that they have reached double figures I have two problems. One, they are beginning to sound similar to each other and, two, I am hesitant about performing them in a singaround situation with musicians who have been playing (and improving) for years.

I tend to use a finger-picking style which has not been learnt from a book but by 'messing around on the guitar' until it sounds right. Again, this is beginning to sound a bit 'samey' on some of the songs.

I think I am past learning how to play the guitar 'properly' so I am in need of some 'cheats'. Are there any little tricks or modifications to the common three chord progression which can make it seem more interesting?

Any advice would be welcome.

Ian


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: open mike
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:10 PM

probably not really what you want...
but when it comes to three chords
most are the I the IV and the V of
the scale...and i use my hand to
"count" the fingers...to tell
which chord will be the one, four and five.
this helps when transposing...


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: bubblyrat
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:18 PM

You are NOT past learning properly !! I had plonked around on the guitar for about 30 -odd years ,reaching a similar level to yourself,until a partner,about 7 or 8 years ago,started playing Mandola and spurred me to start getting to grips,and improving dramatically,in order to accompany her.I am now nearly 62,and have reached a standard that I never would have thought possible---I can now play happily in a " band" situation,either accompanying traditional English/Irish/Continental dance music or songs, or playing more modern "Easy Listening" material. I have already done two "Gigs" this week, with another one this Friday ! So---you are NEVER too old to learn, you just need the right stimulus !( Sex sure helps !).But you could try learning a modal or open tuning,where the chords A) can sound more interesting,and B) you use fewer fingers !I wouldn't go for DADGAD right away, but Dropped -D and Double -Dropped-D offer some exciting possibilities.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: MarkS
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:22 PM

Try to bump things up to four chords. I am thinking about a
C - Am - F - G progression as a starter. These chords made Bob Dylan and Rioky Nelson famous!
Mark


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:24 PM

Try making up the tunes without the guitar, and only when you have it fixed in your head pick up the guitar and work out what chords to use. The guitar is there to accompany the voice, not the other way round.

And don't assume that the chords you use just be the "three chords", play around with other chords you know   Even if you do stick to three chords, that's not such a limitation, and it doesn't mean the tunes have to all sound the same - the only reason people can talk about "the three chord trick" is because with three chords, in one sequence or another, it's possible to play an incredible number of widely different tunes.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:47 PM

My oldest guitar student some years ago was in his seventies. He'd never played a guitar before, but now that he had retired, he wanted to learn.

Currently, my oldest student is a 56-year-old health care worker. She has a nice singing voice and wanted to accompany songs, but she also wanted to learn some classical. We've been at it for a couple of years now, and she can play several of the Fernando Sor studies, a Bach piece, and a couple of pieces (anonymous) written for the lute. Also, she has a pretty good knowledge of chords (not just the three primary chords in any key, but the secodary chords as well) and she has pretty fair knowledge of what's where on the fingerboard.

Never too late to learn "properly." In fact, if you feel your time is limited, "properly" is the fasted way to learn.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:55 PM

I agree with Don that it is never too late, nor too time consuming, to learn proper technique and theory. But here's a suggestion anyway.
Get hold of a songbook or two that contains songs you like, either folk standards or album books from a favorite performer. Bash your way through the things, learning the necessary new chords as needed. You won't necessarily sound good doing it (who does when they are pushing their personal limits?) but you will begin to get a sense of how more sophisticated progressions are put together, what they sound like, and how they go along with various melodic bits.
I suspect it is not your ability to play other chords that is limiting you so much as a very small musical "vocabulary." Studying how others have used a broader vocabulary will help you tremendously.
But be careful, you might start down the slippery slope to jazz chords ;-)
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Austin P
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:08 PM

You don't say whether the 3 chords are in the same key ... i.e. in the Key of C: C,G,F (and Em Am etc).

If you do tend to play in one key, try learning the same song in a different key, e.g. transpose from C to D or even G, and learn that set of chords. The same song will sound interestingly different even using the same fingerstyle technique.

Another trick is modifying the chord slightly - add a top G to a C chord, add a top D to a G chord and so on.

AP


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I will certainly consider learning 'properly' but retirement seems to take up more time than actually working.

Austin, I basically play in the keys of C, D and G with associated minor chords and use a capo to alter them slightly to fit in with a rather limited vocal range. I will try modifying chords slightly. Any more suggestions?

Ian


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:26 PM

Can you get much variation in your fingerpicking technique? Might be a better area to concentrate on rather than trying to learn millions of chords.

By the way - in my opinion "messing around on the guitar until it sounds right" is just as valid as learning the guitar "properly"

Good luck,

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Peter T.
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:31 PM

As a sometime player, I would echo the suggestion of trying an open tuning (D is the easiest), for three reasons: (1) they are pretty easy; (2) you immediately change the sound of what you are doing (one reason why accompaniests often are in an open tuning while the main guy is in standard tuning); and if you are playing a whole sequence of songs, the tuning change gives everyone, including yourself, a change of pace; (3) you can play blues (for example, if you have never tried using a slide, that can completely change your life, and it is only three chords too!)


yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: John P
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:37 PM

Chord substitutions. Try putting in an Em instead of a G. Or an F instead of an Am. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't, it depends on the melody.

All basic chords share two notes with a couple of different chords. G is G-B-D. Em is E-G-B. They share the G and B. Bm is B-F#-D, again sharing two notes with the G chord. If the melody uses one of shared notes, the substitution might work (you still have to try it to make sure it sounds OK). Am is A-C-E and F is F-A-C. They share the A and C. The C chord is C-E-G, sharing two notes with Am. And so forth.

Putting in the substitutions can change the mood of a phrase or verse by changing a minor for a major. When you get into using 7th chords, the available substitutions become quite numerous. A song that has a G in the melody with a G chord in the accompaniment might work quite well with an A7 (A-C#-E-G) for the chord. Or it might not, you really have to make sure it still sounds right.

Anyone, this is a simple way to add more chords to a three chord song.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 07:10 PM

Variety in songs and tunes are a good thing. But that doesn't have to mean lots of chords. As few chords as you can get away with was Woody Guthrie's rule of thumb, and I think it's a good one. (Like all rules you need to break it when that seems a good idea, but it's still a good rule.)


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 07:35 PM

I was in much the same position as you, Ian, when I went to hear Martin Wyndham Read and saw his thumbpick, which is used to pluck the lowest strings. It adds resonance and interest with very little effort.

I have a friend who tried it and didn't like it, but I love it. It's well worth the 50 cents to try it.

I feel that if you are writing original songs, you needn't worry too much about the guitar. There may be 200 guitarists in this world for every composer.

I agree with whoever said to compose first and figure out the chords later. An instrument seems to dampen originality as the fingers fall into familiar patterns.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Nick
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 08:40 PM

As you play in D and know the chords try dropping the bottom string to D. Then try playing some of the chords slightly differently eg (finger positions on frets on strings low to high from left to right - so 3 2 0 0 0 3 is a G chord and x 3 2 0 1 0 is a C)

0 0 0 2 3 0 for D or 0 0 0 7 7 5 or 4 0 0 2 3 2 or 4 0 0 2 3 5
x 0 6 5 0 0 for A or x 0 0 9 10 9 or x 0 2 2 0 0
5 x 0 0 0 7 for G or 5 x 0 7 8 7 or x 10 9 0 8 0 or 5 x 0 0 3 3
2 x 4 0 3 0 is nice as is 2 2 4 0 0 0 as a change from Em

Just gives a slightly different sound without changing much. Change the root notes of the chords (like on the two D chords that start with F# or do one with and one without etc)

Progressions like
0 0 0 2 3 2   2 2 2 0 0 0 4 0 0 2 3 2 5 x 0 0 3 3 to move from D to G sound nice (Richard Thompson likes them too!) and the G without a B is a nice change from the standard one

etc etc


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Bobert
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 09:21 PM

I have no music theory and don't understand tabs and stuff but...

If you take yer major 1st position chords you will find sweet spots all around them... I think this is called garnishing...

Okay, make a 1st postion D chord, for insatnce and now slide yer pinky up to the 5th fret... That is a simple "garnishment"... I haven't bothered to count 'um but there are at least 3 garnishments for every major chord...

Okay, "garnishment" may not be a musical term but I been playin' for, goosh, I ain't tellin' and I've learned whewre all thosxe spots are and you can, too...

Migbht of fact, I don't play nuthin' but droped D and open tunings these days but I can still play the heck outta standard tunin' if I have to...

B~


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 10:59 PM

What you want to do, though you haven't quite put a name on it, is to "arrange". --The reason that you are in a rut is that you use the same arrangement for every song. Now the problem is this--you can't explain how to do it in a couple lines--for one thing, to a great degree, what you do or don't do is a matter of personal taste. For another, every "arranger"(yep, that's what you are) has a somewhat different bag of tricks.

Try this--make a list of all the parts of a song--the introduction, the chord progression, the strums, the rhythm, the solo, the ending, the ornaments at the end of each phrase, etc. Then make a list of all the different things that you know how to do that fit into each part.

On the basic level, it is really just mix and match.

Not sure what all the parts are? Just listen to any song, by any artist, and break it down--How does it start? What is the rhythm, what does the bass do, what happens at the end of a phrase, and on and on--the thing is, the more you do this, the easy it gets, and the more you learn.

Guitar is a pretty good instrument for arranging, because there are so many ways to do things--there are different places to play each chord, different sort of bass runs that fall out of each chord fingering, and of course, different ornaments, what Bobert calls "Garnishments" that fall out of each fingering. Also different scales.

First thing to do is to learn to play scales out of each chord position that you know. Come to think of it, in a sense, that is all you need to do--of course you'll be at it the rest of your life, because there are a lot of possibilities--


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Amos
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 11:29 PM

Using youor basic triad, in any key, and additional relative minors (for example, C, Am, Em, Dm, F, and g) you can accomplish a huge amount.

The trick to making your songs stand alone is to be fully immersed in the story of that particular song.

"Down in the Valley" or "The Streets of Laredo"could arguably be said to sound an awful lot like "Here Lies a Poor Duffer Below", but sung with full immersion, they present entriely different tales.

As far as technique is concerned, learn to throw in some couplets--two strings played in harmonic intervals up a scale. Or throw in a chord like the "D" formation on the seventh fret, sounding "G", or playing the C7th formation on the fifth fret, sounding an E7. (That is, the "C" note is sitting on the fifth fret, not the barre.) Two strings played in couplets can add a whole dimension to a song...and these are just some techniques which add color and depth. Bass runs are another example.

You have a wonderful future expanding your music.


A


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Mudlark
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 01:59 AM

And as another know-nothing mess around type guitar player, I've found that often you can take a finger off a string, for emphasis, A becomes what in chord books is called I think A2 if you take your finger off the B string. (Heart uses this a lot, ditto D) If playing rhythm take all your fingers off on the up or down beat....as long as you don't linger the dissonance is not noticeable. Figure out runs between the chords you use often (then don't use them all the time!); sometimes, like at the start of a song, play single note melody for 2-4 beats, especially useful if the chord doesn't clearly give you a good starting place.

Figure out good chords to slide....B7, for instance works well in several places on the fret board, as does D, even an A, slide up one fret gives a very Flamenco sound. Get creative w/barre chords...play only the strings that you can easily manage....sliding an Am up 2 frets gives you a very servicable Bm in most cases but w/o the barre (thank you, Amos, for that timely tip!).

And I agree....if you are accompanying yourself, the guitar is in service to to the song...make the song strong, and it doesn't take much to create a charming accompaniment....just a matter of working it out.

You are obviously enjoying the process of making music....me too. A guitar is a great friend.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 03:31 AM

There has been a similar discussion recently on the Larrivee Forum, and members were asked to record their take on the chord sequence: G-D-C-G - just to show what could be done with this simple sequence as a spur to a novice guitarist.

I offer you my take on that at: Variations on G-D-C-G.

I also offer you some simple guidance on fingerpicking which may help you to vary how you play basic chords: Rough Guide To Fingerpicking.

You may think you can't play, for example, Davy Graham's "Angi". I would finally offer you this guide to playing it - which beginner guitarists have found useful - to help break the deadlock: How To Play Davy Graham's "Angi".

I should add that this is not "shameless promotion" on my part - just that many other people have said how useful they've found the videos, and they're offered here in that spirit.

Will


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 03:51 AM

Simplest - pick the tune and strum the chorus (down up for one - up down for another) add a frail to another - hammer-on and hammer-off in another.

HAVE Fun. It appears you are.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

(Also - six lessons won't hurt you or your pocket-book, boredom and complacency quickly rob the joy)


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Nick
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 06:22 AM

This is a terribly old fashioned thing to suggest in these internet days but there is a wonderful book by Eric Roche called "The Acoustic Guitar Handbook" (with 2 CDs) which would make a lovely present.

It has oodles of stuff in it and is lovely to dip in and out of. It covers everything from basic playing to a better standard than most people I know and sparks off all sorts of ideas and techniques (including different voicings of chords, harp harmonics, using the guitar as a percussion box, altered tunings, chord theory, hints on harmonising tunes, double handed tapping etc).

When he talks about triads and chords he points out the following. Given the 22 (or so) frets of a guitar there are something like 1000 ways of playing different variations of chords and triads of (say) G. Of those perhaps 100 are playable unless you are an octopus. So in a chord sequence of G Em C D there are something like 100x100x100x100 (10 million) different ways to play that sequence of which perhaps 0.1% might be practical. That's 10,000 different ways.
Given that (and I'm sure we can argue about the numbers) it's remarkable how many people do play them exactly the same way each time.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Nick
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM

£14.99 (or £12.23) from Amazon.

Another place I learned a lot from was John McGann's Canyon Moonrise. It's a favourite tune that we play. The chords and voicings at the bottom of the page got me experimenting with all sorts of things.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 07:18 AM

make a diagram of your finger board ,you will find you have more than one inversion of d major,e7, a minor,a major,c major and many others.
to work out what the notes of a chord are[in its simplest form] ,you need root third and fifth,for d major that d f# and a.for passing notes or added notes,experiment first with added sixths and ninths,either as bass notes or as passing treble notes,for d major these are e and b.
find out about the pentatonic major scale ,d major pentatonic is d e f# a b,g major pentatonic is gabde.http: //www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 08:31 AM

Three suggestions:
1. Capo up to the fifth fret. Now to play in the key of G (chords G, C D7) you will finger chords in the D (D, G, A7) which will sound in the key of G. However the inversions will be different and the whole sound of the guitar will change as you capo.

2. Some nice chords. To sound a bit more folky explore suspended chords. These take out the the major/minor third and put in the second or fourth note instead. Some simple examples. Leave the E string unfretted on a D chord - that's a Dsus2. Put your little finger on the G note instead of the F sharp (2nd to 3 fret on the E string). That's a Dsus4. Slide a C chord up a whole 2 frets, leaving the G open on the 3rd string. That's a Dsus4 as well (a favourite sound!) Finger a G chord with your second, third and fourth strings, and put your first finger on the C on the second string. Thats a Gsus4. Take your first finger offthe second string in an Aminor chord and it becomes an Asus2.

3. Don't panic about 3 chords. 'Blowing in the wind' only has three, so does 'Dark End of the Street', 'Grand Coulee Dam' and 'Sloop John B'......

cheers
KP


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: GUEST,donmeixner
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 08:54 AM

You have probably already heard this but it is good to review.

Learn to play the 7th of the chord which names the key(Tonic) and add that in the beats to the 4th chord. In the key of C the 4th is F.

If you play only in C if you learn one more chord , a D it allows you now to play in the key of G as well. Some might say an easier key to play 1, 4, 5's in. If you sing only in C capo at the fifth fret and play your G shapes and you will be able to sing in the key of C because a G chord sounds in C at the fifth fret.

Joan Baez played this picking pattern for a long time and did well with it: On any for adjacent strings the heaviest being 1 and the lightest being 4 play 1 - 3 - 2 - 4 Either with a flat pick or fingers. You can finger pick that pattern with two fingers but three will be more versatile when you go exploring, and you will.

Don


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 09:42 AM

Learn to play the 7th of the chord which names the key(Tonic) and add that in the beats to the 4th chord. In the key of C the 4th is F.
Sorry ,but this is not clear,can you explain again.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Nick
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 09:49 AM

To set you off in another direction...

Most of the thread so far has been about the fretting hand. One of the things that I immediately notice in a guitarist is what they do with their picking / strumming hand. I reckon you could ask a room full of guitarists to play a 'normal' G C D strum with the same chords fingered the same way and you'd know who played the guitar well and who didn't. Some would have rhythm and some wouldn't. Some the chords would sound beautiful and some they would sound horrible. You could then get everyone to switch guitars (just in case it was that) and you'd still know.

I played with probably the best guitarist I have ever played with last year. I knew how good he was within about 4 seconds of him picking up the guitar and he strummed a few simple chords. Easy things sound good. It's in time. It's solid. And each note is cared for and all are in the right place. Touch. You know it when you hear it but it's very hard to do and comes with a lot of practice.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 10:07 AM

This thread has an amazing amount of information in it. Thanks to all who've contributed.

So much info can be overwhelming, so anyone interested should consider printing out the intriguing parts and working on them separately and at a helpful pace.

Will Fly, I especially like your video on picking patterns. I'm going to write them down and practice them.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: GUEST,Don Meixner
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 10:08 AM

Sorry Capt.

My theory knowledge is shaky. I am not sure of the technically correct terms so I will explain them as they make sense to me and let those who know theory to sort out the bodies.

C to F is a common change in the key of C by adding C7 in between the C and F you add a little spice to the change. Look at it this way

C / / / / F becomes C //C7 / F. The transition has a nice sound to it.

The chords in a typical western folk scale run. There is name for this but I don't know it.   When you hear some one say play a 1, 4, 5. They are talking about the first fourth and fifth chords in the commonly used western music major scale.


C Dm Em F G Am B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1

in G maj it would be

G C D
1 4 5

in D major it would be

D G A
1 4 5

I hope that clears things up a bit. And I may have confused the issue further.

Don


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Bert
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 10:18 AM

...they are beginning to sound similar to each other...

I have this problem all the time.

What I am doing now to help get out of that rut is to steal a tune from another song and change it around a bit until I can't recognize the original.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM

ok,instead of always playing the dominant 7,in c thats g7,try subbing,or partially subbing a chord based,on the fifth of dom 7,for g it would be a d minor chord,whether it works depends on the melody note,or a dominant 11 can sometimes work instead of dom 7,so for g7,g 11,play your normal g major shape but add a c at the top[ist fret second string],and sometimes you have to avoid playing the b note in the bass[5 string] ,g 11 is more likely to work,when the melody is a g note.
but the best thing is to let your ears be the judge.
Don, I understand you now.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 10:56 AM

Nick pointed out that there are about 10,000 ways to play your basic chord progression--if we all posted even 10% of that, it would create enough confusion to last into the next decade.

The thing is that as far as most audiences go, one way of playing it is indistinguishable from another, so you're just doing it to please yourself--


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 01:16 PM

Subject: Three chord tricks
From: Ian Hendrie - PM
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:04 PM

"I think I am past learning how to play the guitar 'properly' so I am in need of some 'cheats'. Are there any little tricks or modifications to the common three chord progression which can make it seem more interesting?"

No, there are no tricks that will work.

In any major key, there are seven seventh chords that "belong" to the key. For example, in C maj., the seventh chords are C maj. 7, Dm7, Em7, F maj. 7, G dominant 7, Am7 and B half-diminished 7 a.k.a. B m 7 b5. By a strange coincidence, these are also the chords in the key of A minor, _except_ that one uses E7 (= E dominant 7) instead of or in addition to Em7, in order to be able to resolve to Am as follows: E7 --> Am. The difference is G# instead of G.

It can get a bit boring staying in the same key all the time, so composers have come up with ways of breaking up the monotony. There are many "idioms" one can find in popular songs, if one looks. Some are common, such as using the dominant of the dominant, e.g., D7 --> G7 --> C in C maj. It can be very helpful and interesting to look at the chord changes (a.k.a. harmonies) of popular songs. If a chord (or sequence of chords) isn't in the key of the song, one can try to figure out why it's being used. I particularly recommend songs by George Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim for doing this, because they were especially creative in this respect. I can't always find an answer for why Jobim, in particular, uses certain harmonies. (I believe that ultimately, the answer lies in the "voice leading", but that's another whole can of worms).

"Modulation" is one way of getting from one key to another (without being too abrubt). Modulation often takes the form of a ii - V - I sequence of chords, e.g., Dm7 --> G7 --> C maj. 7 to modulate to C maj. (from somewhere). One might be in G maj. and play a D7, then lower the F# to an F and Voila! you've got your Dm7. Whether it sounds good or not depends on the melody (and the voice leading).

If you care to go this route, you will have plenty to occupy yourself on those cold winter nights.


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Subject: RE: Three chord tricks
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 09:32 AM

Wow! - what a response! Thanks to all those people above who have given me advice. Having spent the last two days having no internet connection after a series of computer-based calamities, it will take me a little while to read all these messages and take all this advice on board.

Sincere thanks to all who have taken the time to help.

Ian


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