#1
This is my first post at ultimate-guitar and i'd like to start off by saying hello!

Anyway, i've learned all kinds of different chords - barre chords, 7ths, 9ths, etc. but i simply cannot figure out how to use them and in what context each one is best utilized. It baffles me to watch some of my favorite guitar players string these chords together all over the neck and create beautiful music, but i don't know where to even begin in terms of doing the same. I know that there has to be a chord progression, but when I sit down and try to apply the chords i know, they either sound wrong, or everything sounds boring / the same. Can somebody please point me in the right direction?

I would love to understand chords enough that i could play an mp3 track of one of my favorite bands and have a general idea of when and where to apply what chords without having to first learn the TAB online. That would be the dream.

Thank you all very much in advance! And sorry if this question has been asked before - I've done a thousand searches online and have never been able to find the answers i'm looking for.
#2
First off, Welcome! A couple things; have you tried a capo? That way you can limit the amount of barre chords you use. Second, practice is always important, it could just be a matter of not enough practice. You can be the best player in the world, but we all need to practice. If you have any other questions, pm me.
#3
the other guys here are better at theory than i am. maybe i can help a little before they turn up.

there are only really a couple of different chord types, and everything else is more or less an embellishment on that.

Major (1, 3, 5)
Minor (1, b3, 5)
Dominant (1, 3, 5, b7)

Depending on which books you read, some people seem to consider diminished and augmented to be a different type, some consider them to be almost a form of dominant (in fact i'm sure i saw one book which didn't consider dominant to be a type, but for guitar anyway it normally is).

Anyway.

If you have a major chord progression, it goes like this

I ii iii IV V7 (dominant) vi vii (diminished)

Capital letters mean major chords, small letters are minor chords (and the V is dominant, the vii is diminished).

In the key of C Major (C D E F G A B), that leads to chords of

C major (C E G)
D minor (D F A)
E minor (E G B)
F major (F A C)
G7 (dominant) (G B D F)
A minor (A C E)
B diminished (B D F)

There are several fairly common chord progressions- I IV V is about the most common. In the key of C major, that would mean playing C Major, F Major and then G7.

If you want to play in a minor key you do the same thing but just start from vi. So A is now I, and you just count upwards from there (with the same chords minor and major as before).

Regarding the embellishments- they're used more often in some types of music than others. You can more or less just use your ears. You can often substitute a major 7th chord for a major, or a minor 7th for a minor etc. etc.

That's just the very basics. I'm not sure how well I explained that, I was trying to keep it as short as possible so you weren't overwhelmed with text.

EDIT: I think the big thing is, don't overcomplicate it. Even the more complex stuff is often little more than common sense, and if you try to relate everything back to the basics, you won't go too far wrong.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Dec 8, 2013,
#5
^

Other thing I meant to put in there is that you can only substitute chords of the same type (at least until you get into more complex jazz chord substitution, which is well beyond my pay grade)- so, you can substitute C major 7 or C major 9 for C (major) a lot of the time, but you wouldn't substitute C minor 7.

And also when I said "different types of music" the fancier chords tend to only be used regularly in jazz. they come up occasionally in other types of music, but not all that often.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#7
i=iii=vi

ii=IV

V=vii

Intervals
Major scale
Harmonise major scale
Blues progression


That is all.
#8
I'd like to add to Dave's post:

Dominant:
9 : 1 3 5 b7 9
11: 1 3 5 b7 (9) 11
13: 1 3 5 b7 (9) (11) 13


maj9 : 1 3 5 7 9
maj11: 1 3 5 7 (9) 11
maj13: 1 3 5 7 (9) (11) 13

min9 : 1 b3 5 b7 9
min11: 1 b3 5 b7 (9) 11
min13: 1 b3 5 b7 (9) (11) 13

A diminished chord can't be a dominant chord because as a seventh chord, the seventh is double-flat. In a dominant seventh there is one flat. Augmented, on the other hand:

+7: 1 3 #5 b7
+9 : 1 3 #5 b7 9
+11 : 1 3 #5 b7 (9) 11
+13 : 1 3 #5 b7 (9) (11) 13

I have no argument and couldn't care less.


TS, don't get too caught up in how some progressions are already there. You can play a ii-V-I all day and have fun... But I've found out a whole other world of possibilities just screwing around. ie: Using the same root note for the chords but using altered chords as well as major and minor in one progression. Idk...
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#9
Quote by metal4all

A diminished chord can't be a dominant chord because as a seventh chord, the seventh is double-flat. In a dominant seventh there is one flat.


good point. maybe i was thinking of the half-diminished one?
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#11
Quote by metal4all
A diminished chord can't be a dominant chord because as a seventh chord, the seventh is double-flat. In a dominant seventh there is one flat.


What do you mean by this? Diminished and dominant chords get similar functions in a chord progression. You could look at diminished 7th chord as a rootless dom7b9 chord. The minor seventh doesn't make the chord dominant - I mean, not every chord with a minor seventh is a dominant chord.

For example:

G7b9: G B D F Ab
Bdim7: B D F Ab

They sound really similar and function pretty similarly.

Same with half diminished vs dominant 7th. You could look at half diminished as a rootless dominant 9 chord.

For example:

G9: G B D F A
Bm7b5: B D F A

Again, they sound really similar.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#12
Quote by Gelatinbeartrap

Anyway, i've learned all kinds of different chords - barre chords, 7ths, 9ths, etc. but i simply cannot figure out how to use them and in what context each one is best utilized. It baffles me to watch some of my favorite guitar players string these chords together all over the neck and create beautiful music, but i don't know where to even begin in terms of doing the same. I know that there has to be a chord progression, but when I sit down and try to apply the chords i know, they either sound wrong, or everything sounds boring / the same. Can somebody please point me in the right direction?

I would love to understand chords enough that i could play an mp3 track of one of my favorite bands and have a general idea of when and where to apply what chords without having to first learn the TAB online. That would be the dream.


The answer is ear training.

The music you create will reflect the music you can hear. If you can't hear 7ths chords in practice, you'll struggle to create with them.

A lot of people misunderstand theory. They think theory tells you how to compose. This is a mistake. Theory helps you talk about music, but it also defines concepts so that you can learn how to hear them. Any theory which you are not capable of hearing in practice is not theory that you really know - you only know it when you can hear it in practice.

So most people start off with basic chords - the majors and minors - and then gradually adds 7ths and other extensions, as well as inversions.

That being said, to train your ear, you don't start with chords. You start with melodies. Practice transcribing simple melodies that you already know by heart (nursery rhymes, christmas carols, etc). Use the functional ear trainer (a free download at miles.be). Once you've got that stuff down, get a book like "Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Wyatt et al, which will take you through more complicated progressions.

Ear training is hard work. You can learn the academic side of theory in a week - but to train your ear to hear it, you need to work on it multiple times a week. You will eventually get to the point where you hear sounds in your head and know how to find them on the fretboard.
#14
Start with the more basic progressions.

G-C-D
E-A-B
E-F#-A
D-A-B-G (Mark Tremonti, all day long)
D-A-G
F-Bb-C

Tons of songs are made up of these simple chord progressions or others that are similar. Once you've gotten familiar with the changes, start learning to listen for chord changes in a song.

Once you can hear where those changes take place and start to identify chords with your ear, you'll have an easier time playing along with an MP3.

Hope that helps!
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