Chord Fragments

author: chris flatley date: 10/09/2008 category: chords
rating: 6.3 / votes: 4 

Chord Fragments

Chord fragments are a nice way to play chords further up the fret board without having to wrestle with cumbersome barres. This essentially means playing only what's important, and not duplicating notes that are already represented. It can also mean getting rid of notes that are less important to the 'colour' of the chord, e.g, the root or fifth.

Technique

To make these chords you need to play some of the strings while muting the others. This means laying your finger across the strings that you don't want to sound. For example to play this E7 frag: 7x67xx, you will need to play the 7th fret of the E string with your second finger whilst simultaneously muting the A string with the same finger. You need to play the 6th fret of the D string with your first finger whilst at the same time muting the B and high E string with the same (first) finger. You play the 7th fret of the G string with you third finger. This takes a bit of practise to get right. If this doesn't make sense to you then just finger the chord and then try to stop the open strings from ringing out while allowing the fretted notes to sound clearly. Remember to get right through all six strings with the strum rather than just trying to play the ones you're fretting (this is after all why it's important to mute the open strings).

Common Chord Fragments

These chords are based around the key of G but because they contain no open strings they are all movable and can be used for any key.
GM7    Am7    Bm7/f#  CM7    D7/a   Em7/b
3x443x 5x55xx 2xx23x  x3545x 5x45xx x2xx33

GM9    Am9    Bm9    CM9    D9/a   Em9
3x423x 5x55x7 x2x22x x3x43x 5x4555 xx2x32

GM11   Am11   Bm11/f# CM11   D11/a  Em11
3x453x 5x553x 2x223x  x3546x 5x45x3 x7x775

GM13   Am13   Bmb13  CM13   D13/a  Emb13
3x445x 5x557x x2x233 x354x5 5x4557 x7x778
Other Useful Frags:
G7     G9/b   G11    G13    G6     G6/d   G7#9   Gdim7
3x343x x2323x 323x1x 3x345x 3x243x x5545x 3233xx xx5656

Daug   D7b9/a Dbdim7 
X543xx 5x454x x4535x
Obviously there are lots more examples in the key of G alone but I can't list them all. I just want to give you a good idea of how frags work, so you can start making your own. All you need is a good grasp of keys and how to build chords. If you need to go to a chord book to find out how to play an AM9 then you'll have to learn a bit more about music theory before you can start fragmenting stuff. Also, beginners may find these chords don't sound too good. Trust me, they do if you have an in-tune guitar and the technique to pull them off. Here's an example of a blues sequence using frags in G:
 G7      F#7 G7           C9/g   B9/f# C9/g
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
|4---4-4---3-4---4-4-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|2---2-2---1-2---2-2-----|
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x-----|x---x-x---x-x---x-x-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |

 G7      F#7 G7   F#7G7Ab7G7      F#7 G7   Db9/Ab
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x-x-x-|x---x-x---x-x-----4-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-2-3-4-|3---3-3---2-3-----4-----|
|4---4-4---3-4---4-3-4-5-|4---4-4---3-4-----4-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-2-3-4-|3---3-3---2-3-----3-----|
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x-x-x-|x---x-x---x-x-----x-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-2-3-4-|3---3-3---2-4-----4-----|
 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |

 C9/g     B9 C9/g                  B9 C9/g
|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
|2---2-2---1-2---2-2-----|2---2-2---1-2---2-2-----|
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x-----|x---x-x---x-x---x-x-----|
|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|3---3-3---2-3---3-3-----|
 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |

 G6          D9/a         G/b         Eb7/Bb
|x---x-x-----x---x-x-----|x---x-x-----x---x-x-----|
|3---3-3-----5---5-5-----|x---x-x-----x---x-x-----|
|4---4-4-----5---5-5-----|7---7-7-----6---6-6-----|
|2---2-2-----4---4-4-----|5---5-5-----5---5-5-----|
|x---x-x-----x---x-x-----|x---x-x-----x---x-x-----|
|3---3-3-----5---5-5-----|7---7-7-----6---6-6-----|
 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |

 D7/a                 Eb7 D7/a              F#6
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x--/x-|x---x-x---x-x-----x----|
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x--/x-|x---x-x---x-x-----2-----|
|5---5-5---5-5---5-5--/6-|5---5-5---5-5-----3-----|
|4---4-4---4-4---4-4--/5-|4---4-4---4-4-----1-----|
|x---x-x---x-x---x-x--/x-|x---x-x---x-x-----x-----|
|5---5-5---5-5---5-5--/6-|5---5-5---5-5-----2-----|
 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |

 G6          C7    Dbdim7 G6/d Eb7   D7/a          G6/d
|x---x-x-----x-----x-----|x-----x----x------------|x---|
|3---3-3-----5-----5-----|5-----x----x------------|5---|
|4---4-4-----3-----3-----|4-----6----5------------|4---|
|2---2-2-----5-----5-----|5-----5----4------------|5---|
|x---x-x-----3-----4-----|5-----x----x------------|5---|
|3---3-3-----x-----x-----|x-----6----5------------|x---|
 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - |
It's worth pointing out that although the above sequence works well on it's own, most frags really need a bass laying down the groundwork. For example the Bm9/f# frag: 2xx22x contains exactly the same notes as the F#m frag: 2xx22x. If you had a bass playing a line based on a Bm triad then it would sound a Bm9. And if the bass were playing a F#m line it would sound an F#m.
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