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Old 12-28-2012, 08:14 AM   #1
midnightBlack
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Why play more than 3 notes in major chords?

Ok, I am learning some theory, I understand how you construct chords (major) is that you take the root note (e.g.) C and apply the major interval pattern to it

ABCDEFGABCDEFG

Where C is 1, E is 3 and G is 5.

Now, what I don't get is why do you play 5 strings for the C chord (simple open chord) when all you want to play are the 3 notes that make up the chord?

I.e. you play CEGCE if I'm not mistaken. What am I missing??



Or for example;

D Major chord consists of (if I'm not mistaken) D, F# and A. So then why we need to play DADF#?


Last edited by midnightBlack : 12-28-2012 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:17 AM   #2
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You are only playing 3 notes. C, E and G.

Including some of those notes twice doesn't mean you're playing 5 notes, it just repeats a couple of those notes to provide a fuller sound.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryBillington
You are only playing 3 notes. C, E and G.

Including some of those notes twice doesn't mean you're playing 5 notes, it just repeats a couple of those notes to provide a fuller sound.


But isn't the "second" note you are playing for the C chord in the next octave?

I mean; of the CEGCE, isn't the C and E in the next octave?

And if we do play the notes in the next octave, then why do we not play the G of the first octave?

Last edited by midnightBlack : 12-28-2012 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:27 AM   #4
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voicing_%28music%29

Have a look here.

The open chords are voiced in a way that gives them the fullest sound while being strummed on a guitar. For example, you could strum out a basic E major triad, but it probably wouldn't sound as powerful as an open E major chord.

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Old 12-28-2012, 08:37 AM   #5
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It comes down to preference, tradition, and musical relevance...and a plethora of other considerations.

When you started out on guitar you probably learned to play a lot of simple songs using open chords. You'll notice that those voicings on the guitar sound "full". If you were to reduce those chords to 3 note voicings you'd immediately notice the loss of "density" in the arrangement.

It's all about the musical situation.

If you're singing with an acoustic guitar, you probably want a dense-widely voiced to fill out the space. Whereas, if you're playing chord stabs in an alt. rock song over a distorted rhythm guitar you may want really barebone 3-note or 2-note voicings.

If you sit down and play around with inverting triads, doubling specific notes, and spreading the voicing out over multiple octaves you'll immediately start to notice a distinct difference in each sonority's inherent characteristics and possible uses.

I remember years ago when I started learning how to build chords. One of my first questions was related to how the notes above the root were ordered. The simple fact is that a chord doesn't need to be laid out on the staff or on your instrument the way it's conceptualized on paper.

Just because C major is spelt: C E G, doesn't mean that you have to play a close voiced C major chord in one octave. You could play C G E, C G E C, C E C G...there are limitless options, and they're mostly related to voice leading (how chords move between one another) and what density you're looking for in a musical situation.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:26 AM   #6
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Because a guitar has 6 strings, therefore we can

There's little point constructing an instrument that's capable of playing 6 notes simultaneously otherwise.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:31 AM   #7
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I think there are things called 3 note chords if you do not like the sound of the whole chord.

The added notes give he chord a "whole" sound by the way. You can also modify the "extra octave" notes if you wish to add notes like making it a 7 chord or something to change the voicig (style you play).

Last edited by Matteu02 : 12-28-2012 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:25 PM   #8
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You can play the notes in whatever order and it's still C major chord. You can also play C major chord in many different positions. Sometimes it sounds best when E is the highest note. Sometimes you want C or G to be the highest note.

Let's look at it this way: In a pop group there are three instruments (guitar, bass and piano) playing at the same time. By your logic every instrument could only play one note.

You can leave some notes out of the chord. I sometimes don't play full chords and mute some of the notes of the basic open chords. It depends on what sound I'm looking for. For example I don't like playing the major third in open G major chord. I play it like this 3x0033 because I like it that way. That chord isn't a major chord, it's only a power chord but I prefer its sound to 320033 or 320003.

You can try finding chords with only three notes. For example F major: xx321x. But it won't sound as full as 133211. Or C major: x320xx.

I usually listen to the melody and try to have the note in the melody as the highest note in my chord. You can use other positions for the chords than just the open position.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:17 PM   #9
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You don't have to do anything. You can just use the 3-note voicing if you want. Or, you could do a full 6 string voicing: 3 3 2 0 1 0 or 8 10 10 9 8 8. Or anything in between. You could even omit notes, and it'll still be that chord if the context suggests it.

Just experiment with different voicings to hear how the different doublings affect the sound. It's all preference and depends on the context.

In terms of three-note full voicings, you could do any of the following (and more): x 3 2 0 x x -- x x x 0 1 0 -- 8 7 5 x x x -- x x x 9 8 8 -- 8 10 x 9 x x -- x 10 10 9 x x -- x 3 5 x 5 x -- x x 5 5 5 x
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:39 PM   #10
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It's also good to know all the different voicings. That way you have more sounds to choose from, not just the basic open chord positions, and your playing becomes more interesting to listen to.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midnightBlack

Now, what I don't get is why do you play 5 strings for the C chord (simple open chord) when all you want to play are the 3 notes that make up the chord?
I.e. you play CEGCE if I'm not mistaken. What am I missing??


You're missing the most important part: listening.

CEG sounds different from CEGCE.

Sometimes people don't play all the notes. A lot of heavy-metal chugging is just playing on the bottom three strings (although still doubling a note once).

You don't "need" DADF#, but it sounds different from D F# A or D A F#.

Listen. Playing more notes gives you a fuller harmony, takes up more space. That's not always what you want but it's a good place to start from.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:12 PM   #12
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Why say "crimson" when you mean "red". Yes you are playing the same three notes, but different orders (voicings) give a different feel
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:17 PM   #13
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Why say "crimson" when you mean "red". Yes you are playing the same three notes, but different orders (voicings) give a different feel
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:01 PM   #14
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That's like asking why some bands have 2 guitarists. If you put in more than the bare minimum, you get more in return. If you just play the 3 notes needed to make the chord, it sounds pretty weak in comparison to doubling some of the notes.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:10 PM   #15
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Why say "crimson" when you mean "red". Yes you are playing the same three notes, but different orders (voicings) give a different feel
Crimson is kind of like REDmaj7.

/womanposting

Steven gave the right answer: because we can. That's not a flippant response, either. Piano players can hit notes with all ten fingers; ergo they tend to add in bass notes and do more than just the "basic triad". (The standard E chord that was the first chord you learned is a triad, despite using all six strings. By "basic triad", I mean something with just three strings for exactly three notes, none of which are repeated or repeated in other octaves.)

Sometimes the bare minimum is what sounds good, though. Everyone has been trying to convince you to play more than just the "basic triad" and with good reason. Don't let that keep you from doing the basic triad in an appropriate context (which you determine), though.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:05 AM   #16
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The Who's "Substitute", is a classic example of mixing 3 note triads, a bunch of open chords, and some chugging on the bottom end at the open position.
There's really only 4 chords in the songs, but they're played at different positions.

The descending chords in the intro, (D,A,G,D, I believe), are all 3 notes, descending down the neck, very stinging and trebly. Then he kinda just bangs on some open chords, and chugs with some bass riffs in the open position.

As to your example of C major being 5 notes in the open position, for me it's 6 notes. I include the G on E-6 also. When you finger the chord that way, it leaves you to easily work in what they used to call a, "break the monotony bass line", going up the scale, from the G to the C on the A-5 string, (or vice-versa).

And yes boys and girls, the same bass run in reverse C, B, A, (sans the G), is the famous riff from, "Stairway to Heaven". It tracks the bass note in the chord change which is, C, Em, Am.

So, what's the problem with using all the strings you have at your disposal?

The low E on the guitar is about 83 Hz, so basically you're playing your own bass accompaniment, with your 3 note chords above it.

Your example of D major open can also be fingered thus:

e-1 X
B-2 3
G-3 2
D-4 0
A-5 0
E-6 2 (!!)

It's oftentimes fingered this way to introduce a descending bass line, G, F#, E), in the chord progression G, D, Em. It nets a common bass pattern, G (root of G Maj), F# (3rd of D Maj), and E (root of Em).

Last edited by Captaincranky : 12-29-2012 at 06:22 AM.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steven seagull
Because a guitar has 6 strings, therefore we can

There's little point constructing an instrument that's capable of playing 6 notes simultaneously otherwise.


You know, using that logic, pianists should play all 88 keys at the same time, because otherwise there would be no point in making an 88-phonic (or whatever) instrument.

(The author of this post is really enjoying his trolling... )
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:19 PM   #18
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You know, using that logic, pianists should play all 88 keys at the same time, because otherwise there would be no point in making an 88-phonic (or whatever) instrument.

(The author of this post is really enjoying his trolling... )


Ah, but we can play all 6 strings at once with the average number of limbs and digits the average human posseses

And we can play 10 notes on a piano if we feel like it.

Of course on both instruments there's more notes we could be playing, but that doesn't change what we can play, and on a guitar 6 notes at once is absolutely something we can all play if we choose
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:25 PM   #19
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no those extra notes are just safeties.

like your only supposed to hit the last 3 strings on the d chord but the guy that invented guitar made it so that if you hit the fourth string by accident it's still ok.

but don't do it too often or you lose points.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:43 PM   #20
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people talk about how notes/chords have "colors". different voicings (doubled or octave chord tones, omitting notes, different inversions, different positions on the neck, etc) are different shades of those colors. one way to look at it.
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