Go Back   UG Community @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com > Instruments > Guitar Techniques
User Name  
Password
Search:

Reply
Old 03-28-2013, 11:52 PM   #1
dragnet99
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
How to Learn/Practice/Retain "Advanced" Chords

I have two questions on this topic, and for the sake of this thread, allow me to group chords into the following:

1) Open chords, generally in the first position.
2) Barre chords, played on the 6th or 5th string with the index finger usually doing the barring.
3) "Movable" chords, let's say 3- or 4-string chords that can be moved around the neck but don't require barring.

I've learned something like 35-40 open chords, I've learned maybe 15 barre chords between the 6th and 5th string, and I'm just now starting to learn triads. So...

Question #1: Is this a truly superior way to play?

I've read in various places, especially from guitarists who claim to be highly trained or technical (jazz, studio musicians, etc.) that truly advanced players tend to rely less on barre and open chords and more on 3- or 4-string movable chords. This makes some sense, of course, since these lend themselves to voice leading and a more precise sound (since there's no note doubling).

But do you agree that this is necessarily a more advanced way to play? In other words, should I look at movable chords as ultimately superior to open/barre chords? Or is this just guitar snobbery? For the record, I know the ultimate answer is "just do whatever sounds best for you", but I'm more asking in terms of my progression and growth as a player--should I "aspire" to this?

Question #2: How are these generally practiced/retained?

Learning all three inversions of major, minor, diminished and augmented triads is a pretty hefty task that requires a lot of time and patience (as I'm in the process of experiencing first hand). But this problem gets way more complex for 4-note chords, since there are now four total positions/inversions. And there are so many more variations; maj7, dom7, min7, dom7b9, etc. etc. And ALL of them come in four varieties.

I haven't done the arithmetic, but there must be close to 100 of these 4-string shapes among just the two top string groups. Is this really something a well-rounded guitarist should be expected to know and practice regularly?

If you were to line up 10 "advanced" guitarists, the kind who make regular use of these 4-string movable chords, what do you think the average practice routine between them would look like? Are they drilling themselves on hundreds of chords a day or what?

I apologize for the length of this post, so tl;dr:

1) Are 4-string movable chords the next natural step from open/barre playing? Is this a superior way to play expected of all "advanced" players? Or is it just a niche subject mostly aimed at jazz guitarists and the super-technical types?

2) How many of these hundreds of shapes do most of these "advanced" guitarists learn/practice/use on a regular basis?

Last edited by dragnet99 : 03-28-2013 at 11:53 PM.
dragnet99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 03:35 AM   #2
Dreamdancer11
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Mate my suggestion to.....all that you are asking is to learn your intervals like the back of you hand(maybe better).This way you wont have to memorize millions of chords and their inversion but you would be able to construct them on the fly.For example the situation calls for a minor 7 flat 5 chord? All you need to know that you can build them using the root,the flat third the flat fifth and the flat seventh.If you know you intervals you can do it right then and there .
Dreamdancer11 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 03:54 AM   #3
dragnet99
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
I've heard this a lot, but I've never understood this advice. I actually do know enough about music theory to either recall or "derive" chord formulas without having to look them up, but turning that information into a fingering pattern at the speed of real music is a totally different task. That's really just a question of muscle memory and all the theory in the world can't give that to you without the practice. Plus, each of these grips are going to involve specific strategies for muting unwanted strings, and it's not like the chord formula is going to tell you that too.

I mean, I "knew" what a G-major open chord was the first day I picked up a guitar, but to this day I practice the actual fingering just to make sure I'm fast, accurate and precise when actually performing.
dragnet99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 04:22 AM   #4
Dreamdancer11
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragnet99
I've heard this a lot, but I've never understood this advice. I actually do know enough about music theory to either recall or "derive" chord formulas without having to look them up, but turning that information into a fingering pattern at the speed of real music is a totally different task. That's really just a question of muscle memory and all the theory in the world can't give that to you without the practice. Plus, each of these grips are going to involve specific strategies for muting unwanted strings, and it's not like the chord formula is going to tell you that too.

I mean, I "knew" what a G-major open chord was the first day I picked up a guitar, but to this day I practice the actual fingering just to make sure I'm fast, accurate and precise when actually performing.


Mate you have to practise it just like any other thing.Choose a chord progression,choose a place on the neck to play it, and try to do it staying just in that place.That ll force you to look at intervals and not fixed memory chord positions.That ll also teach you about voice leading etc etc etc.

Take for example the A note 10th fret on the b string.Play a diatonic chord progression of the A major scale lets say 1,6,2,5,1.Now do it using only the three higher strings and without moving more than two frets from the A note position....do things like that(maybe do the same progression but with 7th chords for instance) and you ll see how effortless it ll become.

Iam telling you that cause you asked about "advanced" chord strategies.So now you have a choice either memorizing block chord shapes or actually learning your fretboard inside out.Both require effort but you get a lot more mileage out of the second option....
Dreamdancer11 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 11:29 AM   #5
Sickz
Jazz Musician
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Alright, as everyone has different opinions when it comes to this kind of stuff, i am going to list mine as well.

1) They are not "superior" to barre chords and open chords, but in my opinion they are more practical.

I use open chords and barre chords myself, but rarely as much as i use other types of voiceings. For example, in my experience these 3-4 note chords are better at making a very tight and nice flowing chord progression on guitar.

Öets say we have a chord progression like C - F - Am - G, very common. Instead of making a chord progression where i move everything around (all the intervalls in the chords switch place and such) i can try to make the smallest changes possible.

Like if im playing C major chord with a fingering of C on the 10th fret D string, E on the 9th fret G string and G on the 8th fret B string, to make that into a F chord i could keep the C note, i could move up E to F (10th fret) i could move up G to A (10 fret). Then going to A minor i could keep C again, move F down to E again (9th fret) and keep A on the 10 fret still.

It's not superior, it's a different kind of sound. And the reason why many people use it is cause it's no big movements in switching chords, most of the time you are just changing one or two notes by a half/whole step.

2)

What i personally did when learning all these chords was to memorize what intervalls the chords consisted of.

Like a major seventh chord is (1 3 5 7), a dominant seventh is (1 3 5 b7) and a minor seventh is (1 b3 5 b7). Then if you know a chord shape for a major seventh chord, you can just drop down the seventh a half step and get a dominant seventh chord, and then the third to get a minor seventh chord.

So basically you are not memorizing every chord shape, you might just learn 5 major chord shapes and then altering them so they turn into other types of chords.

Hope that helped in any way. Keep practicing, cheers!
__________________
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Sickz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 02:39 PM   #6
robertwilliam9
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2012
I agree with Dreamdancer, in that you'd be better off setting yourself up to bring those chords in on the fly, as you need them.

I definitely don't think that there are "superior" chords. It's really more so related to what kind of music and style you want to play. If you're into simple bar and power chords, you can be as good at those as you want to be.

As far as learning all the numerous chords out there, I've learned a bunch, yet only use 15-20 (including moveable - non open chords) with any regularity.

Just get good at what you enjoy, and let the rest fall into place. That would be my advice anyways.
__________________
Paul Reed Smith CE-24 2005 and Santana SE with Seymour Duncan pickups.
Line 6 Amplifiers
Boss Effects and Steve Vai's Wah Pedal
Dunlop Picks and Elixir Strings .48


WEBSITE
guitarchalk.com
robertwilliam9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 02:56 PM   #7
dragnet99
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Thanks guys, I really appreciate all the insight.

The one thing I keep getting stuck on, though, is this idea of chord formula theory somehow allowing for "real time" chord playing. I apologize if I sound like I'm being stubborn, but I'm genuinely confused by this one point.

As an example, I'm also learning some beginner-level piano. Triads on the piano are extremely simple, both in terms of theory and technique, and shifting a major triad into a minor triad (in root position, let's say) is as easy as shifting your middle finger one key down, flatting the 3rd. Simple, right? However, I still have to practice this CONSTANTLY in order to sound decent. I may understand exactly how these chords are derived, but playing them quickly and accurately isn't a matter of theoretical understanding, it's a matter of well-trained fingers.

That's why I'm still stuck on how exactly one practices these 4-string chords. There are so many different variations, from different chord types to inversions to string groups, that you could easily get into the hundreds. But I can't imagine that anyone is playing lightning-fast jazz (as an example) because they understand how to generate a chord based on their harmonic needs in some theoretical sense. A jazz player on stage zipping along with the rest of the band simply must have those chords memorized in a purely muscular way as well, or else there's just no way he's going to be able to keep up.

This is the part I keep misunderstanding. I totally appreciate the theoretical insight, I just still don't get how that translates into fast, accurate real-time playing.

PS - Let me be very clear here as well, so I don't sound like the typical brash newbie: I'm not at all dismissing the value of the theory behind all this (which I spend a lot of time studying along side the instrument itself). I'm specifically talking about how to train yourself to play in a physical sense, in addition to the theoretical understanding behind it.

Last edited by dragnet99 : 03-29-2013 at 02:58 PM.
dragnet99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 03:26 PM   #8
Sickz
Jazz Musician
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
I completely agree with you on the point that it's not a matter of knowing all these ways of forming chords that make you awesome at playing all kinds of inversions and such, it's just raw practice and muscle memory. I'm just saying that knowing how to do this will make mastering all these chords and inversions much easier. It will still be a huge task, but it will be easier. I would not use it in "real time" playing though, but if at a band practice it's really handy.

Anyway, i thought i could share how i practice my 4 note chords + inversions of them then, as you say that's your biggest problem. Just note that the way that works for me might not work for you, but i'm going to share it anyway.

Basically how i practice four note chords are in 3 sets, with the lowest note on the E/A or D string. So firstly i practice through all the root positions using the CAGED system. If you are not familiar with the CAGED system, it's basically using the "shapes" of the open position chords and moving them up the fretboard (most likely using the index finger to bar the frets so you get the right notes that used to be open strings). These can be adapted to 7th/9th (etc) chords.

Then after going through the CAGED i start with the inversions, and then it's basically finding the 3 remaining chord tones on these 3 strings and building the chords from them. So what i end up with is the CAGED shapes, thats 5 shapes, plus 3 shapes per string i'm forming the chords from, thats that's 9 more. So in a total i have to know 14 "shapes" for 1 single chord type, like a major seventh.

THIS is when the intervallic system comes in handy. Cause now i can just use the same 14 "shapes" and just flatten 1 note, and i got 14 dominant seventh chords. Flatten the 3rd, got 14 minor 7th chord. Knowing what notes are in a key, and what chord type is on each degree of scale is also very helpful. Cause then you know that the ii chord is always a minor chord, and then V chord is always a dominant chord.

From here it's just a matter of practice. I usually go through one/two chord families per day. So one day i might do maj7 or maj 9 chords, the next day will do dominant chords (7th, 9th 13, altered), then next minor, the next diminished. I often just go through the circle of fourths or the circle of fifths while practicing this, but occasionally i will use some form of key generator app to just give me a set of random keys and i will practice through them in that order.

Then it's just practice time. Slow, focused, accurate, relaxed practice.

I'm sorry if this didn't answer your question in the way you ment, i tried!
__________________
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Sickz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 04:02 PM   #9
dragnet99
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
YES! This is EXACTLY the kind of information I was looking for. Thanks so much!

I'm going to go over your post in a bit more detail when I have the time, and of course your methods might not suit me exactly, but thanks again for posting precisely the kind of insight I was looking for. This sheds a lot of light on how exactly to break up practicing that volume of chords in practical terms.
dragnet99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2013, 04:51 PM   #10
Sickz
Jazz Musician
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
No worries man, if there is anything you need a second opinion on or are uncertain of. Just throw me a message and i'll do my best to help. Good luck, and keep practicing!
__________________
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Sickz is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:16 PM.

Forum Archives / About / Terms of Use / Advertise / Contact / Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2014
Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.