A Little Music Theory. Part 2

This is a continuation of my first music theory lesson. I'll be going into more than just building chords, although that will still be in this lesson. You'll learn to build 7th chords and sus2 and sus4 chords. You'll also find out what makes a chord Major or minor or augmented or diminished. It's all really easy once you get used to it.

15
Ok, hopefully everyone learned something from my last lesson, if not, you're in big trouble here. Now, instead of working with the super simple power chords, we're going to go into full triads and 7th chords. So what's a Triad? A Triad is a 3 note chord. Like a power chord, it has the root(1) and the fifth(5), but it has something else to give it a little more spice: the third(3). So why in the world would we use a 3rd? We need something to make the chord major or minor. You can find the 3rd the exact same way you found the 5th. Let's do a full G chord. Start with the G major scale(i'll be using a 3 note per string pattern, don't freak out, it's hitting the same notes, just more of them)
-----------------------------------------------5--7--8--
--------------------------------------5--7--8-----------
-----------------------------4--5--7--------------------
--------------------4--5--7-----------------------------
-----------3--5--7--------------------------------------
--3--5--7-----------------------------------------------
Ok, now there's the full 3 note per string Ionian(Major scale) pattern. If you didn't memorize the conventional pattern in the previous lesson you'd better learn it here or you'll be in a lot of trouble. Here we go. Let's build a G Major Triad from this scale. Take the root which would be G. So that's the 3rd fret of the low E string. Then go down to the 3rd which would be 7th fret of the low E. Now we have a problem. You can't play two notes on the same string at the same time! Well let's work around that. You can take that note and find it somewhere else on the fretboard. In this case, you can move the 3rd up to the 2nd fret of the A string. Now that we have that taken care of, let's go to the 5th. This will be on the 5th fret of the A string. We once again run into the problem of 2 notes on 1 string. So we move it. The most logical thing to do is to play the D string open. Alrighty! Now we have our G Major Triad. G B D
-----------
-----------
-----------
--0--------
--2--------
--3--------
Now, you may have seen an extended form of this chord like this
--3-------
--3-------
--0-------
--0-------
--2-------
--3-------
Don't worry, it's still the same notes. Just like scales, chords can be extended as well. There are multiple fingerings for these chords called Inversions. An inversion is the exact same thing, just in a different order. So say you've got your standard 1 3 5 major triad. You can mix it up by putting the 3 in front like 3 1 5 or 3 5 1. This is called the First Inversion. The other inversion is when the 5 is in front like 5 1 3 or 5 3 1. This is called the Second inversion. 1 3 5 is the Root Inversion. It's easy to get Root and 1st Inversions confused. The mind tends to want to say that 1 3 5 is 1st inversion because the 1 is in front. By being in front, the 1, 3, or 5 is also the lowest note in the chord. All chords can be inverted, it can get very complicated when you're moving on to 13th chords(don't worry, I'm not going to torture you with those evil things, not yet anyway). Hope that didn't fry your brains too bad because we're moving on to minor chords now. A minor chord is the same thing as a major chord except for one difference: the 3rd. It is still a third, but the note is lowered by one half step. So instead of 1 3 5, it's 1 b3 5. You can take the G major triad and make it minor by lowering the 2nd note(B) in the chord. So instead of being G B D it'll be G Bb D(the lower case b represents the flat sign by the way! ). It's not that difficult to grasp once you think about it. I won't bother to tab it out because you need to be able to alter the chords by yourself. Just remember, you're only moving the 3rd and only by 1 fret. Make sure you lower it, not raise it! You'll want to move away from the body of the guitar. There are also chords called Augmented and Diminished triads. A diminished triad is similar to a minor chord, the only difference is that you'll have a lowered 5th, once again, only by one half step. It'll come out looking like this: 1 b3 b5. An augmented triad is just the opposite. It looks like this: 1 3 #5(the # stands for sharp). Hopefully that wasn't too confusing. Now that you know major and minors, we can talk about sus2 and sus4 chords. I won't spend too much time on these. A sus2 or sus4 is simply a triad with a 2 or 4 in the place of the 3rd. So instead of 1 3 5 you'll have 1 2 5 or 1 4 5. Easy enough to figure out. Just go through the same process with the major scale and work them out. 7th chords are not much more confusing. You've already learned your basic triad: 1 3 5. Well, couldn't you put more notes onto that? The answer is yes. You can add as many notes as you want, you just have to keep moving in 3rds. 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 etc. 13ths are the highest I have seen but theoratically you could put more notes in there if you wanted to(although you might run out of strings! ). But for now we're going to focus only on 7th chords. As I have just shown you, 7th chords are built like 1 3 5 7. You can figure them out the exact same way you figured out all of the other ones. Just because I'm a nice guy, I'll tab one out to get you started.
---------------------
--3------------------
--x------------------
--4------------------
--2------------------
--3------------------
This fingering may seem awkward at first but you'll learn to get used to awkward fingerings soon. Notice that I've muted the G string. Since this is a Gmaj7 chord, you don't have to mute that string, it would just be a doubled root. I just like the sound better with it muted. The 7th chords can also be major or minor. The same rules apply, just change the 3rd, don't worry about the 7. Now you know the basics of chord theory. Next lesson I post is going to be much more confusing. It's going to be more advanced. We're going to talk about cadences and progressions. I had hoped to get into progressions here but I think I'll just let all of this info set in. Hopefully it wasn't too difficult to understand but if you're confused about anything just message me and I'll answer your question to the best of my ability and if I can't answer your questions I'll find someone who can. Thanks so much for the support and kind words on my previous lesson. Hopefully this one is even better. Keep practicing and don't give up! Good luck!

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    AlphaBlackheart
    Another great lesson! The way you describe it is much easier to understand than most of what I've read. I've been playing for around 12 years and have always wanted to learn theory, but all the books I've ever had were confusing. Thanks again!
    ironwolg
    12jfrey wrote: dude, ur lessons r lyk a bible 2 me! i hope u post more soon! finding altenate places to finger the notes is my only problem. im probably just thinkin 2 hard.
    it just takes time and practice. you'll git it with time, if you practice scales and modes you'll really start to find more convinient fingerings. i'm not really sure what kind of lesson to put up next, any ideas?
    12jfrey
    dude, ur lessons r lyk a bible 2 me! i hope u post more soon! finding altenate places to finger the notes is my only problem. im probably just thinkin 2 hard.
    ironwolg
    AlphaBlackheart wrote: Another great lesson! The way you describe it is much easier to understand than most of what I've read. I've been playing for around 12 years and have always wanted to learn theory, but all the books I've ever had were confusing. Thanks again!
    try the complete idiot's guide to music theory(please don't take offence at the title, it's very helpful!)it helped me understand everything better. and if you ever have questions, just message me
    Tidy Max
    I am a beginner who has learnt the Gmaj scale (conventional) what i don't understand is, if your building chords using the 1,3,5 method etc, why can you just add a note in to make it the (Gmaj 3 note method) and the chord still be the same? Hope i haven't missed something painfully obvious, which there is a high chance of! Thanks for the lessen though, just as good as your other ones, if not a bit more confusing haha.
    DomPedro101
    Thanks once again. At the risk of repeating the comment I made on the first lesson, its good to see it written out in plain english and with difficult jargon properly explained
    ironwolg
    Tidy Max wrote: I am a beginner who has learnt the Gmaj scale (conventional) what i don't understand is, if your building chords using the 1,3,5 method etc, why can you just add a note in to make it the (Gmaj 3 note method) and the chord still be the same? Hope i haven't missed something painfully obvious, which there is a high chance of! Thanks for the lessen though, just as good as your other ones, if not a bit more confusing haha.
    i'm not exactly sure what you're asking, are you asking why you can't just take the first three notes of the scale to make a chord? you can try it but i doubt you'll like it lol
    ironwolg
    Garce wrote: Garce wrote: Aren't major scales supposed to be only normal notes, no sharps or flats (Except that C is Bb and B is C# and E is Fb and F is E#)? If so, again your scales are wrong. I'm new to guitar, not even two weeks i've played, so I'm not sure, but... Gotta keep it precise! It's bad if you learn something wrong from the start. Allright! I was totally wrong. Read all about the step pattern from your other lesson, missed it earlier. So, the only Major scale that has only "normal" notes is the C-scale. Thank you very much for these great lessons. This helped me alot. Now that I have the theory, I can start practicing!
    haha no worries, but you should work on technique first! knowing theory is great, but it's almost useless if you can't pull of what you've learned on the instrument. oh, and just a terminology tip, the "normal" notes are called natural notes. learning theory takes a while, i reccomend going to a Community College and taking a Music Theory course. it shouldn't cost too much but you'll get a great education. that's how i learned about chords and chord progressions(although i still need to read up on progressions). most of my scalear knowledge comes from the Guitar Grimoire books along with random google searches haha. good luck and message me any time you have questions
    Garce
    Garce wrote: Aren't major scales supposed to be only normal notes, no sharps or flats (Except that C is Bb and B is C# and E is Fb and F is E#)? If so, again your scales are wrong. I'm new to guitar, not even two weeks i've played, so I'm not sure, but... Gotta keep it precise! It's bad if you learn something wrong from the start.
    Allright! I was totally wrong. Read all about the step pattern from your other lesson, missed it earlier. So, the only Major scale that has only "normal" notes is the C-scale. Thank you very much for these great lessons. This helped me alot. Now that I have the theory, I can start practicing!
    ultrasonic
    im not sure about the scale, its like a mix of a couple of scales its nothing like the major scale though, more like the minor and blues. e||-----2-3-2- B||-----3-5-----5-3- G||-----2-4-5----- 5-4-2- D||-----2-4-5-----5-4-2- A||-----2-3-5-----5-3-2- E||--3-5----- -----5-3-
    ironwolg
    ultrasonic wrote: im not sure about the scale, its like a mix of a couple of scales its nothing like the major scale though, more like the minor and blues. e||-----2-3-2- B||-----3-5-----5-3- G||-----2-4-5----- 5-4-2- D||-----2-4-5-----5-4-2- A||-----2-3-5-----5-3-2- E||--3-5----- -----5-3-
    no it's the major scale, it's just an extended pattern. try not to think in terms of the shapes, just the notes. of course, thinking about shapes will help you learn scales easier, but those lessons are comming up later
    BMP
    E----- B---3----12-- G---4----11-- D---4----12-- A---X-- --10-- E---3----- THose are 2 shapes for Gmaj7 idk remember what you had but yea
    Garce
    Aren't major scales supposed to be only normal notes, no sharps or flats (Except that C is Bb and B is C# and E is Fb and F is E#)? If so, again your scales are wrong. I'm new to guitar, not even two weeks i've played, so I'm not sure, but... Gotta keep it precise! It's bad if you learn something wrong from the start.
    ironwolg
    looking back on this, i'm not so sure that's a major 7th chord. it's a 7th chord alright, but idk about major. maybe, maybe not. they're posting my lessons a little later than i had hoped and then i learn something and realize that i made a mistake in the lesson right when it's accepted. well, if i'm wrong, i apologize to everyone. at least you will understand more about building chords.