#1
Hey guys, been playing for 4 years now self taught and so because of that I didn't know any chords, I know nothing about scales or arpeggios but that isn't what I want to discuss. I just want to discuss chords. I know a couple chord positions, I do not remember their names but anyways...

How are chords used in a song?

There are so many chords and chord names, how do you people who know chords, remember them all?

I really just play what sounds good to my ear, what would chords do, to make my songs much more beneficial?

How do you know which ones to play?
#2
Well, if you know no theory at all, then remembering all the chords is gonna be more difficult. Theory and chords go hand in hand... Discussing solely chords and nothing else in my opinion wont help you in understanding them.
#3
One way to really simplify how chords are made is that they are all made of only 12 different notes. Sure, you have different octaves as well, but same notes in different octaves are said to have the same 'colour' if that makes any sense. Just try playing the open 6th string, then the 2nd fret on the 4th and finally the open 1st string. In standard tuning they are all E notes and have the same 'feel' to them. Hopefully that made some sense. You can have any or all of these E notes in an E chord and according to theory you're not wrong. The order these notes appear (where you're fretting them) doesn't really matter as long as an E note is called for in whatever chord you're talking about. Actually, you can have any number of E, Ab, B notes in any E major chord and as long as at least one of each note is there it is legit. In case you didn't know, your standard open E chord is:

0 (E)
0 (B)
1 (Ab or G#)
2 (E)
2 (B)
0 (E)

Next, if you don't already know your intervals you're in for one hell of a ride so make sure you know that. For example, if I asked you what a perfect fifth above the C note was you should be able to figure out that it is a G note. If you see a chord formula like 1, b3, 5 you should recognize it as the formula for minor triads. The point is that it isn't so much about memorizing a whole bunch of different chords (except for your open chords lol) as it is about knowing the conventions behind them and understanding how deliberate they are.

I'm no expert on this, actually I just started learning about progressions myself, but I try to keep everything in one key so all the chords in whatever progression use the same 8 notes.

If you don't know the major and minor scale and how to notate them, you're pretty lost for figuring out chords TBH. Lots of good information about this on this site and Wikipedia.
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Last edited by JimDawson at Mar 20, 2012,
#4
Well, to simplify all of this...

There are 7 notes in a major or minor scale. Lets say C major for the example:

C D E F G A B C

The C repeats again at the end making 8 notes, but we call the C scale degree 1. D is 2, E is 3, etc.

Think of your C chord as I, your F chord as IV, and your G chord as V (roman numerals for 1, 4, and 5)

This makes more sense if you think in the key of E and use E A and B as your chords for your I IV V.

Google common chord progressions, and they will all be symbolized like I've just illustrated above.
#5
Quote by JimDawson

If you don't know the major and minor scale and how to notate them, you're pretty lost for figuring out chords TBH. Lots of good information about this on this site and Wikipedia.

I don't know any scales. Major and minor is greek to me... would there have to be a letter in front of it? like E major or E minor scale?

There is a lot of good information but when I have question I can't get an answer because they are set information not for responding or the lessons on here are littered with comments that do not get responses and I need personal responding, quick ones too. NOT to mention, there are many lessons, I don't have the slightest clue as to where to start or what difficulty it is or at what stage I should be learning those lessons.

I'm pretty good on guitar, but I just don't feel like I'm getting better and that I am being limited in skill by not learning how to play properly. I need to walk first before I can run.
#6
Post 4 knows what he's talking about. I'm just going to post this and edit it immediately after just to get that across right away.

Going from the open string notes on your guitar (EADGBE) there are sharps and flats between every note except for between E & F and B & C. So E goes directly to F one fret over just as B goes directly to C. If you need a visual aid, look up a fretboard diagram on Google and you'll see what I mean. It's a very linear pattern to figure out any individual note on the fretboard. Next, to make any use of this you'll need to know your scale degrees.

Scale Degrees:

There is a set terminology for this, but I'm just going to show you the numerical notation for now. Lets start with C Major because it is a simpler scale with no sharps or flats to worry about. C Major contains the following notes:

CDEFGABC
12345678

So if I asked you what the first degree (root) of C Major was you should know that it is C. If I asked you what the fourth degree was, you should know that it's F etc.

Now, if I asked you what notes were in a C Major Chord how would you figure that out? Hint: the formula for a major chord (triad) is 1, 3, 5.
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Last edited by JimDawson at Mar 20, 2012,
#7
The importance of chords cant be understated.

The notes (that the chords are built off of) go in a set order - C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B (C). Each of these notes are a fret apart on your guitar. There are 12 notes, although in most songs only seven are mainly used (the seven notes chosen by a scale formula, the simplest scale would be CDEFGABC (no sharp notes)). The note that the scale is built on (in this case C) is what determines the key of the song. The key could be described as the chord where the song sounds 'resolved'. Chords are built from a sequence of notes starting on a note in the scale, for example the G major chord is just the notes G B D. In any key it is easy to work out what chords fit and sound good (for example in E major the E major, A major and Bmajor chords will sound good; in G major the G major, C major and D major chords will sound good; in F major the F major, Bb major and Cmajor chords will sound good - there extremely simple examples and it can get quite complex).


I dont imagine all that read too easily, but Im sure this guide will explain simple theory in a much more understandable way. Take your time and let it all sink in, and try apply what you learn to your guitar and to music (for example learn common chord progressions in several keys) to make it clearer.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#8
Quote by Roybordom
Well, to simplify all of this...
Google common chord progressions, and they will all be symbolized like I've just illustrated above.

Dude I don't even know what chord progression means... Me trying to google them would just be the same as me reading a book in spanish

For the 4yrs I have been playing I have a bunch of times tried to look or google chords, chord info... etc. but it's all sooo confusing so I just give up, and this time I'm just sick of not knowing what 12 yr olds know... I just sit here and wonder how you all understood what they were and how they work.
Last edited by Who Sh0t Ya HxO at Mar 20, 2012,
#9
Quote by Who Sh0t Ya HxO
Dude I don't even know what chord progression means... Me trying to google them would just be the same as me reading a book in spanish

For the 4yrs I have been playing I have a bunch of times tried to look or google chords, chord info... etc. but it's all sooo confusing so I just give up, and this time I'm just sick of not knowing what 12 yr olds know... I just sit here and wonder how you all understood what they were and how they work.


Generally people get forced into learning it through school or through guitar lessons. Not many people have the willpower to just sit down at home and study guitar theory. I for one make my guitar teacher drill theory into my brain, and it's very difficult to keep myself on track but i pretty much force myself to because i know it's essential to playing the guitar.
#10
learn what scales/keys are first.
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#11
Got something for you at post 6. I'll check back in about ten minutes and I'm not giving up until you understand this so just bear with me okay?
Quote by Jesus
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#12
Quote by Who Sh0t Ya HxO
Dude I don't even know what chord progression means... Me trying to google them would just be the same as me reading a book in spanish


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI89tkALqI8&feature=related

See in that video, after he plays the melody thing for the first 14 seconds, see how he strums a bunch of notes (15 - 21 seconds), those bunches of notes are called chords. There were four different chords there, each with different names (the name is the note that the chord is built up from, eg G). He plays the chords G, C, G, then D - this is the chord progression. He plays each chord for four beats. In the song (and later in that video) throughout the verses and choruses the progression of |: G - C - G - D :| is repeated and repeated and repeated until the song ends. Watch that video and learn the chords.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Mar 20, 2012,
#13
Ty all for now, I did read every post and I'm going to try and get this, I hope you guys continue to work with me later on, but for right now I'm going to bed, it's 4:30 am.
#14
This girl has a lot of fideos that show the chord progressions of songs, and show diagrams and names of the chords used.

And work your way through the Beginners Course on this site. Great tuition and for free. He should explain all this chord nonsense to you.

Bear in mind that chords are not a phenomenon only found in happy pop songs or acoustic stuff, it just happens that strummy acoustic stuff is the easy to teach and learn so its a good foundation.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Mar 20, 2012,
#15
It's just notes. Lots of them.

Twelve, to be exact.
"If you're looking for me,
you better check under the sea,
because that's where you'll find me..."
#16
You've gotta be f****n kidding me. I just spent over an hour typing up this brilliant explanation for all of this, copying it every now and then so I don't lose the whole thing. Then, after proofreading it and adding a bit of clarification here and there I highlight all the text, right click and copy. Okay, it's all good.

Then I hit "Submit reply" and my browser f***s up. I'm all like "S***! F***!" so I open up notepad to paste all the text there. Saved right?

Nope. I hit paste in notepad and NOTHING HAPPENS EVEN THOUGH I COPIED THE GOD DAMNED THING AND IT RECOGNIZED IT!!!! Why have you failed me, clipboard?


Stupid hard drive standby, I'm sure that was what screwed over my browser.
Quote by Jesus
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#17
Whatever, there's no way in hell I'm typing all of that again, sorry about that. What I will do is give you a link to a page where you can check out a table of your intervals.

THIS WILL TAKE STUDYING!!!! Don't expect to know all of this by the end of tomorrow, that would be unrealistic. You'll get this with time, and it's only a few things to memorize. Get a pen and a paper to write these things out; it makes the counting and studying of these FAR easier.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_(music)

UG loves butchering links, so be sure to remove any spaces from it and it will work fine.

Read the introduction bit at the top, to know what you're looking at and then click on "2 Main Intervals" from the contents menu.

Ignore what the table tells you for the "chromatic intervals" and just study the column on "diatonic intervals".

I would write diminished fifth as b5 and augmented fourth as #4 instead of what they have there, but I'm not Wikipedia I guess. Who even writes augmented fourth intervals as A4 anyway? I thought A4 was 440 Hz... BS if you ask me.

Memorize (and write down) that table (but not d5 and A4, it's misleading trust me! It should be b5 and #4 respectively) and you'll be on your way to getting this. The "root" (or your P1... no just leave it at 1, the P is a redundant waste of ink) is the note you are deriving all these intervals from. Wikipedia does it slightly different than I would; forget about the capital M's for the major intervals (i.e. M2 changes to just 2) and substitute all the lower case m's for b's (the flat symbol). Anytime you raise a scale degree you should add a sharp (#) beside it instead of making it look like an A note...

You need to know how to count up musical notes. There are no sharps/flats between E & F and B & C, so B goes directly to C and E goes directly to F.

A chromatic scale starting on C would be: C,Db,D,Eb,E,F,Gb,G,Ab,A,Bb,B,C. Notice no sharps/flats between B & C and E & F.

Now, once you have figured out that table of intervals figure out the C Major scale using the following formula:

12345678

Hint: No sharps or flats at all in this scale, but count it out for yourself.

After you figured out that it's CDEFGABC, let's figure out some chords. The formula for the major scale is: 1,3,5. So, that is your root, major third and perfect fifth to make up a major chord. What individual notes make up a C Major chord? (what notes are the 1,3,5 of C major?)

C (1), E (3), G (5).

It is important to note that a major scale is dependant on the intervals involved and not the same old set of notes (i.e. not CDEFGABC for every major scale.)

Once you can figure out major chords and scales, move on to minor chords. Minor chords use the formula: 1,b3,5.

(C minor chord is C,Eb,G)

After you get that, here is the formula for the minor scale: 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7,8.

Another way to make sense of making scales is by using pattern of whole steps (2 fret jumps) and half steps (going one fret over, the one right next to the last).

Starting from playing any string open, you follow this pattern:

WWHWWWH for major scales:

On the 0-2-4-5-7-9-11-12 frets respectively (the note of the 0 being what key you're in, i.e. E major for the 1st and 6th string)

WHWWHWW for minor scales:

0-2-3-5-7-8-10-12

After (and ONLY AFTER) you have got all of this down, figure out the notes of the C Major scale and the A minor scale. (Hint: they have all the exact same notes, the only difference is that A minor starts on the 6th degree of C Major and C major starts on the 3rd degree of A minor. This is because C Major and A minor are what we call "relative keys".

That's the basics of chord/scale assembly from the basic major/minor formulas and interval notation. I'm going too far with this, so that's all for tonight!

There you go, I lied and typed (most of) it again. You best read it or I think I might kill myself because of the effort I put in to this. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the daytime; I'm just in a crappy mood ATM because of the ordeal I have put myself through for the past few hours.

You may find this useful too:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_and_minor
Quote by Jesus
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#18
instead of whining how you don't understand theory.
Google `beginner music theory lessons` perhaps?
You know no theory, so learning about chords is trying to perhaps walk quickly- before you can even crawl.
Look for some online lessons and guides to the very basics of theory, and go from there!
#19
Quote by Evilllamas
instead of whining how you don't understand theory.
Google `beginner music theory lessons` perhaps?
You know no theory, so learning about chords is trying to perhaps walk quickly- before you can even crawl.
Look for some online lessons and guides to the very basics of theory, and go from there!

I didn't whine about not understanding theory, I explained how I don't understand chords and asked for help, is that so wrong?. I wouldn't even know what the first thing to learn would be so how would I know what to Google? because you said "perhaps" as if it was a given to know what to Google.
#20
Who Sh0t Ya HxO, how much further in your understanding and application of chords?

If you have read the responses in this thread, started working your way through that guide that I linked to in my first post here and have watched and learned from any of the various video and tutorial sources that have been linked to in this thread then I can see no reason why shouldn't be on your way to making significant improvements (assuming you have an hour or two to study and practice daily). We have provided you with explanations, examples and links to sites that we think highly of - the rest is up to you.

So, how are you progressing?
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Mar 20, 2012,
#21
Quote by Hydra150
Who Sh0t Ya HxO, how much further in your understanding and application of chords?

If you have read the responses in this thread, started working your way through that guide that I linked to in my first post here and have watched and learned from any of the various video and tutorial sources that have been linked to in this thread then I can see no reason why shouldn't be on your way to making significant improvements (assuming you have an hour or two to study and practice daily). We have provided you with explanations, examples and links to sites that we think highly of - the rest is up to you.

So, how are you progressing?


Honestly, I have not picked up my guitar and read through some of the guides and watched through some of the video at all today, but I am however currently reading "that guide" you linked.

There is a lot of information you guys, it's kind of overwhelming, but don't think that what I said made you waste your time posting all the info, I WILL read through and watch through what you guys post, it's just not going to be immediately, mainly on my days off from work I will look at the information and late at night if I have time.

EDIT: I feel like I would need to read through all the crusade articles before learning chords, which I don't mind because the guy that creates these articles makes it entertaining.
Last edited by Who Sh0t Ya HxO at Mar 20, 2012,
#22
I can't understand "The Crusade" series. Even though he is starting out with newby/basic topics, he still throws in chords as if I know them already. For example, in Part 3 he wants to use intervals in the note of C... immediately puts a brick wall in my learning as he didn't teach what "C" is or any notes for that matter. It just makes me want to exit the page.
#23


That is a fretboard. See how at the third fret on the A string there is a circle with the letter C? That shows that if you pluck the third fret on the A string the sound produced will be what we call a C note.

Also, that image is a link to a page which explains some of the basics of theory, give it a read.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#25
Quote by Who Sh0t Ya HxO
How the hell am I going to remember what every note on every fret of every string is?

practice.

seriously just keep practicing and you'll learn it.
Quote by Dirk Gently
Some pieces are only meant to be played by people with six fingers on their fretting hand. Sorry.
#26
Quote by Who Sh0t Ya HxO
How the hell am I going to remember what every note on every fret of every string is?

Guitar is a musical instrument

For every other musical instrument out there the very first thing people learn is what notes are available to them and where to find them...it only seems to be guitar players that view it as merely an option.

Just as you can't learn to spell words unless you know the alphabet, you can't learn anything about theory unless you know the notes you're using - besides, you learned the alphabet when you were 3 or 4 years old.

Yes it takes time, but that's just how it is - you can only get so far in guitar by simply parroting stuff from visual references like tabs. Tabs are instant gratification, you see the note on the piece of paper, you put your finger in the same place...boom, done. And I can understand that you're used to guitar working that way, but as you've discovered you're not really learning much, yes you're learning how to play songs but you're not learning much that you can carry across and use elsewhere, each song is like an isolated exercise in memorisation, you're not going to see much that connects them together.

Once you reach the point where you actually want to start understanding things then there's noavoiding the fact that you're going to have to do a bit of old fashioned studying.
Actually called Mark!

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#27
Its not like the note names are random, its a sequence of seven letters and five accidentals ((flats/sharps that go in between the letters - its easy to remember that the notes that dont have an accidental in between them are B-C and E-F, all other notes are seperated by an accidental eg A-A#/Bb-B)).

The letters go in alphabetical order, up to G, then repeat. I find that knowing how to find octaves makes learning the notes easier - if I know where one 'A' is I can deduce where the others are (eg two frets and two strings higher).
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Apr 3, 2012,
#28
Quote by Hydra150


That is a fretboard. See how at the third fret on the A string there is a circle with the letter C? That shows that if you pluck the third fret on the A string the sound produced will be what we call a C note.

Also, that image is a link to a page which explains some of the basics of theory, give it a read.


That is a good diagram of the fretboard. Bookmarked site as well.

To OP, I am in same boat, but it takes actual studying to get this. I have a guitar music theory book and sometimes I have to read a chapter several times and find additional resources, such as the fine folks here, to comprehend something.
Listen to these guys... Do what they suggest. Trust me. They have helped me so much already.
#29
Troll???

Anyhoo...To start with learn a simple song that uses chords and learn the names of those chords. That'll be a good starting point. Then come back here and tell us what chords you now know. Then we can start to break it down to you without giving you a shit-ton of information to wade through.
#30
TS, if you don't know any theory, don't know any scales, and don't know any chords, have you been doing with the guitar for 4 years?

It really sounds like you should consider lessons, and not expect a university survey course in musical theory in a forum setting...
#31
Quote by Captaincranky
TS, if you don't know any theory, don't know any scales, and don't know any chords, have you been doing with the guitar for 4 years?

It really sounds like you should consider lessons, and not expect a university survey course in musical theory in a forum setting...


lol I've been doing what any other self taught guitarist would do without lessons. Tabs and also just play what sounds good. My job doesn't allow me time for lessons, not to mention I don't get paid a lot either.

@Hydra

" Its not like the note names are random, its a sequence of seven letters and five accidentals ((flats/sharps that go in between the letters - its easy to remember that the notes that dont have an accidental in between them are B-C and E-F, all other notes are seperated by an accidental eg A-A#/Bb-B)).

The letters go in alphabetical order, up to G, then repeat. I find that knowing how to find octaves makes learning the notes easier - if I know where one 'A' is I can deduce where the others are (eg two frets and two strings higher).
"

The part where where B-C and E-F do not have sharps and flats between them helped because I just thought the sharps and flats were in between all majors, but I couldn't understand why they weren't in between E-F. I didn't even notice B-C.

Okay sure I have to learn every note on each string. But is there an easier way to learn them or do I just have to memorize the picture?
#32
There are several ways to memorize the notes. Some people like to work at it one string at a time, some like to do a few frets at a time, and I personally like Fretboard Warrior. It's a free program designed to teach you where the notes are. I found it extremely helpful.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#33
What about when I switch to a different tuning, the notes would be different wouldn't they? thus confusing me all over again, or would they just move up a fret for each half step tuned up or down?
#34
Once you get to know the fretboard in standard tuning extremely well, alternate tunings are nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#35
Erock is probably my favorite youtube/non-famous guitar player. The Sea of Lies cameo he has in it just makes me want to learn guitar so much more and faster! I get motivated to play whenever I watch any of his videos.

Game of Thrones Meets Metal

I know the video is unrelated but I'm just saying how it motivates me to learn chords, theory, notes, etc... and to partially give him the recognition he deserves if anyone doesn't already know about him.