#1
Hey all,

Recently I've been trying to expand my chord vocabulary. I know how chord construction works and I know the formulas for a lot of chords, but I'm having a hard time coming up with a system for practicing and learning new chords.

The obvious answer is "exercise progressions", but I want some ideas on how to structure these progressions. Anybody care to comment?
#2
The best way to memorize voicings for chords on the fretboard, and to help your fingers adjust to them, is do one of two things for each chord:

1) Find a song you like that uses it and practice it.

2) Write a song that uses it and practice.

Just practicing the chord over and over again is pretty boring IMO.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#3
memorise the shapes/inversions of the chords. then just find the root note on the fretboard and play the shape.
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#4
We are in total agreement there.

The only problem with this is that a lot of the chords I want to learn are stuff like sixths, ninths, and extensions you hear a lot in jazz, but not really in the music that I usually listen to. I think, anyways. That's the other problem - I can't aurally identify these chords very well.

Still, thanks for the advice and I'll give it a go. I think Minus the Bear uses a lot of jazz chords, but that's just a guess on my part.
#5
Minus the Bear, as far as I can hear, rely mostly on simple chords, with lots of different melodies for texture. I haven't seen many tabs though.

You could write songs that have the extensions you want.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#6
Quote by STONESHAKER
We are in total agreement there.

The only problem with this is that a lot of the chords I want to learn are stuff like sixths, ninths, and extensions you hear a lot in jazz, but not really in the music that I usually listen to. I think, anyways. That's the other problem - I can't aurally identify these chords very well.

Still, thanks for the advice and I'll give it a go. I think Minus the Bear uses a lot of jazz chords, but that's just a guess on my part.

Then why do you want to learn them so much?

Really though, there's no need to memorise chords at all. Simply concentrate on familiarising yourself with the major scale and chord construction...with a little work and effort you'll be constructing chords on the fly, it's actually a lot easier to do it that way than it is to try and memorise all those shapes.

If you want to play a 6th chord simply work out where the 6th is in relation to the root and add it to the chord, same goes for 9ths and indeed any chord extension or inversion.
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#7
I don't really 'learn' chords.

If I write a song and If I don't know the name/formula for a chord I use then I find out. but I don't just learn pages of chords for no reason.
#8
Once you're familiar with finding all your intervals around the fretboard, the most important thing to do is get creative with chord extensions. Know what you're playing but don't worry about memorizing fingerings. There are so many fingerings that it would be best to get better at finding chords naturally than trying to memorize an unlimited number of options.
Oh yeah.

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A minor is the saddest of all keys.

EDIT: D minor is the saddest of all keys.
#9
How I learned:

I learned the old fashioned way. I found a few chords, self taught and tried them to songs that went through the same chords, and took a long time with them till I had about 8-9 of the common ones down...takes a while.

How I teach:

Beginners, similar to how I learned but more structured, and with songs as practices.

Those who know their basics:

I teach them how to identify/find every note on the neck, and then how to name the notes in every known chord, to where they can do it in about 4-5 seconds (For example D Minor 9th = D F A C E - that took me half a second). Then they put the chord together however they wish, using the fretboard.

Best,

Sean
#10
Aha. Good advice guys.

RE above: I want to learn these chords because I'm bored with the run of the mill triads and sevenths. I want it all (hey~yeah~)

Anyways, this is what I decided on.

1. As I continue to build my repertoire, I'll write transcribe chord progressions I really like into a chord book and notate what degree and chord each one is so I'm familiar with how different progressions and chords sound.

2. I'll continue to memorize the fretboard (I "know" all the notes, but I don't know them well enough to locate them as fast as I need to) and spend a little time every day coming up with chord voicings that I think sound cool.

That's it. The first point is key for me though... I realized that it's a lot harder to think of how a chord sounds if you can't hear a context for it in your head, thus learning from music.
#11
The way I learned new chords is to compare them to their original shapes. For instance:
E13 (76779) with the root at the seventh fret, A string, is just a variation of E9 (76777). That C# on top is just a new note thrown on top of that chord to give it that hip jazzy extension. Or another great one is Emaj7 (2444), which is just one note of difference between a regular E Triad shape (2454) or (76454).

That's really how lots of new chords come about. That is as manipulations of existing chords. But I agree with the other guys who've responded so far. Definitely learn how to use them in a progression and a real song. Another tip is to transpose these chords to new keys, like Emaj7 can become Gmaj7 by moving it to (5777).

I threw a lot of theory at you so let me know if you got any followup questions.
#12
Nope, that makes sense and that is something I picked up on as well from doing the #1 thing I mentioned above for the last couple days. I'm finding that I know a lot more chords than I think I do.
#13
take parts of songs (chord progressions, not recorded parts) you know and like. learn them in all 12 keys with a specific group of chords, then begin exploring other harmonic possiblities (thinking of notes in common and using your ear and smooth voice leading).
#14
i would leanr the CAGED patterns, play their respective chord and use notes form the scale to make different chords and find the patterns most comfortable for you
#15
My method might not be the best or most ideal, but I never really 'learn' chords. Instead, I learned how to construct them and going from that, I figure out the notes from whatever I want to play.
It's not so great for having, say, a Eminor added 9 ready the moment you need it, but on the other hand it means that the possible chords I can play arent limited to what I memorised or on standard shapes.. It's kinda cool when you can use all kinds of experimental fingerings with open strings and the like.

But that is my basic philosophy when it comes to learning music.. I try to not use rote learning when possible, and instead try to learn the principle behind things and work from that.
#16
I like to build it up from something basic to something complex, figure out how any why it works, and apply it first to a simple song, then to some more of increasing difficulty.
Step by step to make it easy:

1. Choose a key to work in. If you were just beginning you'd probably use C, then E, then whatever you like.

2. Create a 12 bar blues (sorry if you're not into this style but it's a simple one). I'll use some musical technical words here that I don't really know what they mean, but I know examples to explain them, so bear with it
Divide your twelve bars into 3 lines of 4 bars each, to make it easier to follow visually. The first line, do four straight bars of tonic chords (the tonic chord is the same as the key, eg if it's the key of C, the tonic chord is the C). On the second line, the first 2 bars are the sub-dominant chord (in the key of C, that's F). The last 2 bars of that line are the tonic again.
On the third line, each bar is different. The first is the dominant chord (in the key of C, that's G). The second is the subdominant chord (again that's an F in the key of C). The third bar is the tonic again. The fourth bar of the final line is the dominant chord again (the G).
So visually, it looks like this, if UG lays it out nicely...

C---C---C---C---
F---F---C---C---
G---F---C---C---

ok that's not so great looking The dashes represent a quarter note each and so does each letter, and there's a letter every bar.

3. Practice them slowly with even eighths, and speed up a bit as you get it. Then if you like try a swing, or some other rhythm, but I don't know if that's got much to do with the actual chords. At first, only do it once, then take a few seconds to digest it and think it through, but after a while you can go straight back to the start without pausing and do as many repetitions as you need.

4. Now substitute the final bar of the first line, and the first and last bars of the third line, with some other chords that share the same root. A good one to start with it a 7 chord, so in my example it'd change the C to a C7 and the Gs to G7s. Practice those ones the same way you did the first lot.

5. Now you can substitute some more chords, in other places, or the same ones, wherever. 5ths or something. make them more complex as you go, maybe use a chord book or just UG, or learn some theory so you can figure out what to put where.

6. Change it so that instead of playing one chord for an entire bar, you might play two or three or four within the one bar.

7. Throw in some single string licks, so that you have to switch between lead and rhythm parts a bit, I thought it was pretty tricky getting from licks around the nut to bar chords further up, or from licks around the 12th fret to open chords further down, or any other switching in general. If you're not really aiming to develop your leads then they don't have to be too complicated I guess. Using triplets and stuff that need heavier syncopation is good as well, because then you've got to step in and out of the rhythm fluently.

8. Now go and find some songs that use some of the chords. Start with simple ones and then more complicated. I went through heaps of CCR songs because they lend themselves to the simple stuff. I put this as the last step but really, before you step up the difficulty of the 12-bar, learn some simple songs first.

man I feel like a ****ing smart-ass know all doing it all step by step and that. :P: it's all similar to the way my teacher taught me. i made it sound a bit boring i think but you can do so much stuff with it and you don't have to be so strict about how you do it so it's good fun
#18
Quote by Sean0913
How I learned:

I learned the old fashioned way. I found a few chords, self taught and tried them to songs that went through the same chords, and took a long time with them till I had about 8-9 of the common ones down...takes a while.

How I teach:

Beginners, similar to how I learned but more structured, and with songs as practices.

Those who know their basics:

I teach them how to identify/find every note on the neck, and then how to name the notes in every known chord, to where they can do it in about 4-5 seconds (For example D Minor 9th = D F A C E - that took me half a second). Then they put the chord together however they wish, using the fretboard.

Best,

Sean


I like the way you teach.

For beginners, it's best for them just to memorize chord shapes, regardless of whether they know how it works. The reason for that is conditioning their fingers. Learning chords as a beginner also helped me feel like I was really getting somewhere. They may not have been a song, but they sounded nice.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#19
I'm going through this same exact thing right now. I started by just trying to memorize where the chords were and what they looked like. But I've since realized that it makes it much easier if I know each note on the fret board on at least the 6th, 5th, and 4th string. I figure if I can find the root note, the rest will fall in line.

I'm sure some experienced players may look at this and say "yeah well DUH", and they should. If you don't know where the chord starts and you're learning simply by sight, you're not really learning anything at all.
#20
It's amazing how many chord books are out there that just list every possible chord, when you could just learn some formulas and make any chord you want, anywhere on the fretboard.
#21
Quote by Eastwinn
The best way to memorize voicings for chords on the fretboard, and to help your fingers adjust to them, is do one of two things for each chord:

1) Find a song you like that uses it and practice it.

2) Write a song that uses it and practice.

Just practicing the chord over and over again is pretty boring IMO.


I know all the notes on the neck of the guitar, and so that allows me to apply any knowledge I have to the guitar and use it or create with in instantly, and make up chords any way I see fit.

I know how to name any chord instantly, so that allows me to go to my knowledge of notes on the neck and make that chord.

I also know music theory so I have a catalog of possibilities and therefore when I'm deciding something, I understand how it fits in the bigger picture, via harmonic principles, diatonic harmony, understanding voice leading and using my ear to decide what I want to do with it.

Best,

Sean
#22
^ Did you quote me by accident? I'm not sure how that's responding to my post.
i don't know why i feel so dry