#1
So I'm a self taught player of 14 or so years who, until the last year or so, never bothered to learn "theory" (or really even proper technique), I just played from tabs kr played what I though sounded good when it came to original stuff, but I never knew how or why the stuff was played how it was or sounded the way it did. So this past year I've devoted most of my spare time to guitar again and just learning as much as I can to make up for all the years wasted not really progressing as a player. I've been really into blues/jammy stuff lately, playing over backing tracks that are minus lead guitar. That lead to a renewed interest in acoustic which brings me to my question:

From what I've gathered, a chord gets its name from its root note, and a root note is just the first note in the chord, correct? Like an E is called an E because open 6th string (low E) the the first one hit and that's an E note, and so on. But I'm wondering why when alternate strumming (DDUUDU for example) is it still all the same chord when transcribed, because technically you're hitting a different note first on the up strums?

I'm not sure if I'm explaining what I mean we'll enough or not so I'll try with an example:

Take Green Day's "Good Riddance...." song (for no other reason than it's stuck in my head). The intro/verse is G, Cadd9, D if I remember correctly. On the G chord both "first notes" on the down and up strums happen to be Gs so my question doesn't apply there (lol, bad song example I guess), but the Cadd9, the first note on the up strum is a G (3rd fret high E string), and on D the first note of the up strum is Gb(F#). So if the first note is the root note, and the root note names the chord, why wouldn't that be transcribed as:

(DDUUDU rhythm)

Cadd9, G, Cadd9, G

Or

Cadd9, Cadd9, G, G, Cadd9, G

D, Gb, D, Gb
D, D, Gb, Gb, D, Gb

What makes the chord stay what it is despite hitting a different note on up strums?

So sorry if that is a confusing jumble, I was trying my best to convey what I'm thinking in detail lol.
#2
Easy answer for you. Chords always take their names from the lowest bass note. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but this is good enough for now.
#3
Quote by Agent51
So I'm a self taught player of 14 or so years who, until the last year or so, never bothered to learn "theory" (or really even proper technique), I just played from tabs kr played what I though sounded good when it came to original stuff, but I never knew how or why the stuff was played how it was or sounded the way it did. So this past year I've devoted most of my spare time to guitar again and just learning as much as I can to make up for all the years wasted not really progressing as a player. I've been really into blues/jammy stuff lately, playing over backing tracks that are minus lead guitar. That lead to a renewed interest in acoustic which brings me to my question:

From what I've gathered, a chord gets its name from its root note, and a root note is just the first note in the chord, correct? Like an E is called an E because open 6th string (low E) the the first one hit and that's an E note, and so on. But I'm wondering why when alternate strumming (DDUUDU for example) is it still all the same chord when transcribed, because technically you're hitting a different note first on the up strums?

I'm not sure if I'm explaining what I mean we'll enough



Oh I think you did okay. The chord is the chord, no matter how the notes of that chord are distributed, strummed or played. For example, a C consists of 3 notes in the triad: C E G. The function of that chord is C, no matter if it was G C E or C G E or whatever, the quality of that chord or the name of it doesnt change. If the bass note changes to a different note in that chord it's known as an inversion, but functionally it's still a C.

So the name of the chord is derived from a specific order of notes (alphabetically), and knowing your theory would help a lot there, it's NOT just the root note, but it's other notes as well which give it its quality or type of chord as well. They are specific notes, and again, a decision to study theory might be a good one for you at some point, so that you can become a knowledgeable musician, as well as a functional one.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Jan 28, 2012,
#4
Chord naming is dependant on both the notes in the chords, either implied or not, and the function of the chord. Just because the lowest note is an E, it doesn't automatically mean that that chord is some form of E chord. In the progression Em-Am-Bm, I could have the following progression:

|--------|
|-8-10-7-|
|-9-9--7-|
|-9-10-9-|
|-7-7--9-|
|--------|


Now, the first one is clearly Em (E-G-B). I have written the second one to function as an Am (A-C-E), but I have an E in the bass (E-C-E-A) making it an Am/E. The third chord functions as a Bm (B-D-F#), but in this case I have the F# in the bass (F#-B-D-F#).

As said, when naming a chord, the lowest note is not necessarily the root of the chord. For example, I wouldn't call this progression Em-Esus4(#5)-F#sus4(#5), because that's just stupid. It takes a certain amount of common sense in naming chords, but once you know the core ideas, and you practice, it'll become easier.
#5
Thanks everyone for the great answers. I think I'm getting it now. I'm really regretting not learning any sort of theory and such early on. Now I'm scrambling to catch up and I think I'm trying to learn too much at once. Like instead of starting somewhere and then progressive in a flow I'm scattered all over trying to learn many different things at once and just getting overwhelmed. Where should I start as a base for it all? Like what part of theory should I focus on first and foremost, the core basic importance I guess?

I should probably give some idea of skill level here lol. Not that I really know how to describe skill level but I'll try.

Basically I can play things but I don't really know how or why. For example I can play most all the chords, and types (open, barre, 5th/power) and know what ones sound good together and such, but I don't know what makes them sound good together, or why they're named what they are (well that one I kind of understand now, thanks lol). Like the terminology of it all, or the fact that chords are made by this note and that note combining to make this sound, etc. even in the explanations above, I have a general idea now, but not Faulk understanding because a lot of the terminology sounded foreign to me (third triads sounds like a Chinatown gang not a musical phrase lol). Where should I start for the core theory knowledge that will then allow me to understand what I'm reading about with other lessons?
#6
Agent51, http://www.musictheory.net/ is an excellent source for theory, especially beginners.

Some things may be difficult to grasp. At least, I know they were for me--until I took guitar/music classes. Having someone experienced in the field physically showing you how and why music works, I would certainly argue, is the best method.

Also, more than a handful of people in this forum have been around the block more than once. You're always likely to get good responses here, just make sure you review your question well and make it clear.

Good luck to you! Theory is a tough but rewarding journey.
Quote by Trowzaa
I wish I was American.

~ A Rolling Potato Gathers No Moss ~
#7
Quote by KG6_Steven
Easy answer for you. Chords always take their names from the lowest bass note. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but this is good enough for now.


This is how guitarists come up with ridiculous chord names like Gmaj13(no3rd)11(no5).
#8
Quote by eGraham
Agent51, http://www.musictheory.net/ is an excellent source for theory, especially beginners.

Some things may be difficult to grasp. At least, I know they were for me--until I took guitar/music classes. Having someone experienced in the field physically showing you how and why music works, I would certainly argue, is the best method.

Also, more than a handful of people in this forum have been around the block more than once. You're always likely to get good responses here, just make sure you review your question well and make it clear.

Good luck to you! Theory is a tough but rewarding journey.


Thanks

I'm learning pretty quick it's not an EASY journey lol. The amount of knowledge is a bit overwhelming but I'm keeping at it. My playing has advanced 20-fold just in the past year. Previously I just learned tabs so I could play my favorite songs. That led to a standstill because just playing other peoples music gets boring, so I went through a 5-6 year period where I hardly played. But then I picked it up again and just started learning everything I could and started practicing the right way, learning scale patterns and playing all the chords over and over until I could switch between them all easily and consistently. Those 2 things alone have opened up a whole new world for my playing because now I can improv riffs/solos and even whole chord progression on the fly without thinking. Previously I was limited to power chords and a few open chords so my attempts at original stuff where very basic and plain and boring.

So now that I have the ability to play the guitar with ease I want to learn the theory stuff to better understand it all, and also advance my playing more. not saying I'm a master lol, I just mean I'm not struggling to hit certain notes or chords anymore, and I don't have to stare at the fretboard when playing. I can just pick it up and play what I want without slowing way down to focus on chord switches and such. Right now I just play what I think sounds good, but I don't know why it does or what makes certain chords/notes sound good with others and all that. Or how chords are built (in terms of why those certain notes are part of the chord) or why a scale has this note or that note, etc. My current explaination (the self taught one lol) is "because it sounds 'right'", but I don't know the "rule", or reason, or terminology, for WHY it sounds right. Or like that example of chord naming in the post above. Gmaj is the only part I understand in that lol. I dont know what the 5ths, 3rds, the add9, sus, etc, I don't know what any of that means.

And I try to be as descriptive as possible when asking questions here. I feel like the more info I provide in the original post the less other users have to make posts that just ask more info on my question. Unfortunately I'm a very descriptive person so my posts end up being super long, which is a message board "no-no" lol and sometimes instead of help I get the "too long didn't read" type comments. That's always funny to me because it's a MESSAGE BOARD, you know, a place you go to with the sole purpose of READING lol.

But thanks everyone in here for all the help, it's definately given me a good starting point.
#9
You said you were curious about chord/scale structures? You'll be happy to know that that is a concept covered fairly early on in theory--at least for major and minor scales and chords, and augmented (aug) and suspended (sus4, for example) chords. Chords are formed through triads.. but I'll let you read up on that yourself :P.

Good luck once again.
Quote by Trowzaa
I wish I was American.

~ A Rolling Potato Gathers No Moss ~
#10
Quote by Sean0913
Oh I think you did okay. The chord is the chord, no matter how the notes of that chord are distributed, strummed or played.

I don't really agree on this.
You might confuse OP that a C6 with the 6th as lowest note is still a C6 but it doesn't function that way.
#11
Quote by liampje
I don't really agree on this.
You might confuse OP that a C6 with the 6th as lowest note is still a C6 but it doesn't function that way.


A C E G It's an Am7

You wouldn't REALLY play a C6 with the A in the bass and call it a C6, would you?

Unless you're suggesting that we omit the 5 ---> C E A to A C E....either way, Liam, be quiet, you're gonna make me regret being "proud of you". :P



Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Jan 29, 2012,
#12
Quote by Sean0913
A C E G It's an Am7

You wouldn't REALLY play a C6 with the A in the bass and call it a C6, would you?

Unless you're suggesting that we omit the 5 ---> C E A to A C E....either way, Liam, be quiet, you're gonna make me regret being "proud of you". :P



Best,

Sean

I don't say what you said wasn't true, but the way you brought it might get the confusion of having an Am7 and calling it C6 just by mistake.
I used to have that confusion when I learned how to name chords.
No-one told me that if an add is in the bassit wouldn't have that root
#13
The above 3 posts are exactly why I need to learn theory and terminology lmao, I'm lost on what that "argument" was even about haha.
#14
Quote by griffRG7321
This is how guitarists come up with ridiculous chord names like Gmaj13(no3rd)11(no5).

Oh I do luv the W-H scale, lol.