~ chord voicings ~

~ evo chord shapes ~

how chords came about
voicing basics
open chords
power / barre chords
blues and jazz chords
chord melody voicings

'... those wonderfully in tune chunks of musical colors ...'

~

.

Hollywood chords. This is sort of a slang for uniquely voiced chords that jazz players love to impress one another with. At college, Dr. Miller would say, when reading through a song ... 'good spot right there for a Hollywood chord ol'e boy', pointing to spot on the chart. Then wow us with some octopus type looking chord who's sound defied reason back then. The few included here are ones that have stuck around over the decades (probably because I can still play them). Lucky, all of the included shapes are movable too, so they'll run up and down the neck as needed all the while retaining all of its qualities and magics. Here's a few, presented in order by when I first learned them.

The 'Elizabeth Reed.' As an young acolyte of The Allman Brothers, this firast Hollywood chord was unique in two ways. It was an 'A' minor chord 'somehow' and its shape was completely new and different from the open chords to barre chords array of triad voicings often with an added 7th. So, an A-9, in first inversion / no root pitch. Example 17.

Having spent my teens mostly listening tto late 60's through the late 70's early 70's The Allman Brothers. Example 10.

In a nutshell. How the pitches of any chord are chosen and then sounded really all depends on who is in the band when said chords are played. That said, for the forseeable future of the following discourse, we are thinking of everything from the root, thus root position chords, voicings, movable shapes whatever. Just easier to discuss and if we 'think from the root we'll never get lost.' Easier to hear also; for the roots of the chords become the bassline ya? Two for one, we love that :)

So a chord 'voicing' is a term we take from a regular chorus of voices. Lowest note of our chord, the root, is in the bass. Then the tenor,usually the 7th. Then the alto voice, usually the 3rd and then the soprano on top, a 5th, or melody note color tone.

next and on top the soprano. As our modern guitars of today have six strings and 12 plus frets, we've a good range of pitches to cover the four choral voices and still have some reserve.

Building chords is like a choir. Thanks to the evolution of how we've tuned our pitches over the last couple of thousand years or so, since the early 1500's or so we fretted 'string' players have enjoyed a rather stunning ability to stack up and sound pitches together ... all in tune, to create the chords to support our melodies, create storylines for songs and just get the house a rockin' ... don't bother knockin' ... just come on in' :) Check out these voicings for ones you know. Example 1.

Major 7 / 9 / #11th chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.
Partial chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

In a nutshell / triads / add 7

. Thanks to the evolution of how we've tuned our pitches over the last couple of thousand years or so, since the early 1500's or so we fretted 'string' players have enjoyed a rather stunning ability to stack up and sound pitches together ... all in tune, to create the chords to support our melodies, create storylines for songs and just get the house a rockin' ... don't bother knockin' ... just come on in' :) Check out these voicings for ones you know. Example 1.

agf

Watchower open voicings. Here's the central shape for the guitar method portion of this work. Have this under your fingers ?

Example 1.?

rockola

The superhoot riff. Here's the central shape for the guitar method portion of this work. Have this under your fingers ?

Example 1.?

rockola
1bass 2metal 3 1/2 open 5open 6bar 4no double

Find any you know? Click its link and off you go.

root / bass pitch / 1
root @ 5th / 2
beginner chords / 3
open chords / 5 and 6
barre chords / 6
no double / 4 and 5

Close interval voicings.

A chord's 'voicing' is simply the arrangement of its pitches. Any chord could be said to be voiced a certain way; root 3 5, root 5 3, root 5 7, root 7 3 5 etc. In Essentials, the pitches flow from the three lowest strings; low E, A and D. Chords are root position throughout with variations mostly as the music and style clearly allows.

For it's just way easier to understand the chord and sound correct with root position voicings. And in starting out, just lay off on the low notes a bit if there's a bass player in your group, for the rest of the chord still works fine. The theory discussions which follow prepare for when you need a chord's inversions to smooth out a progression or a certain top pitch for sounding a song's melody note.

Overview. The idea of voicing a chord follows along with the voices in a vocal choir. And with six strings and pitches generally available, we guitarists usually have choices in how to stack up our pitches. So just like a regular choir of singers, we too have 'sections' that combine to make the whole sound. From the lowest bass pitches and up through tenor, alto to soprano on top.

the American chromatic
the wayback machine

So just what is a chord voicing? A chord's 'voicing' is simply the arrangement of its pitches. Any chord could be said to be voiced a certain way; root 3 5, root 5 3, root 5 7, root 7 3 5 etc. In Essentials, the pitches flow from the three lowest strings; low E, A and D. Chords are root position throughout with variations mostly as the music and style clearly allows.

For it's just way easier to understand the chord and sound correct with root position voicings. And in starting out, just lay off on the low notes a bit if there's a bass player in your group, for the rest of the chord still works fine. The theory discussions which follow prepare for when you need a chord's inversions to smooth out a progression or a certain top pitch for sounding a song's melody note.

Voices. bass / tenor / alto / soprano

... are there chords with just one pitch? No. There can't be. The very idea of this whole tamale is sounding pitches together in harmony. Can Pythagoras and his group's theory ideas help?Ah, the perfect octaves then perfect fifths ... and voilà !

nofive

Chord voicings ~ no fifth. So ... are there chords with just one pitch? No. There can't be. The very idea of this whole tamale is sounding pitches together in harmony. Can Pythagoras and his group's theory ideas help?Ah, the perfect octaves then perfect fifths ... and voilà !

String sets. So ... are there chords with just one pitch? No. There can't be. The very idea of this whole tamale is sounding pitches together in harmony. Can Pythagoras and his group's theory ideas help?Ah, the perfect octaves then perfect fifths ... and voilà !

Movable chords. A chord's 'voicing' is simply the arrangement of its pitches. Any chord could be said to be voiced a certain way; root 3 5, root 5 3, root 5 7, root 7 3 5 etc. In Essentials, the pitches flow from the three lowest strings; low E, A and D. Chords are root position throughout with variations mostly as the m

'Sus' chords. So ... are there chords with just one pitch? No. There can't be. The very idea of this whole tamale is sounding pitches together in harmony. Can Pythagoras and his group's theory ideas help?Ah, the perfect octaves then perfect fifths ... and voilà !

The evolution of power chords. Now here's an interesting evolution of how the development of music technology influenced the direction of the music. And now as theorists we can track this evolution with the pitches. Might this be a similar pathway as the rise of equal temper tuning and its incorporation into the piano? Or the change in tuning to the brighter 440? Well us history hindsighters can surely knit it all together anyway we want n'est-ce pas?

chord's 'voicing' is simply the arrangement of its pitches. Any chord could be said to be voiced a certain way; root 3 5, root 5 3, root 5 7, root 7 3 5 etc. In Essentials, the pitches flow from the three lowest strings; low E, A and D. Chords are root position throughout with variations mostly as the music and style clearly allows.

For it's just way easier to understand the chord and sound correct with root position voicings. And in starting out, just lay off on the low notes a bit if there's a bass player in your group, for the rest of the chord still works fine. The theory discussions which follow prepare for when you need a chord's inversions to smooth out a progression or a certain top pitch for sounding a song's melody note.

So where to start? So ... are there chords with just one pitch? No. There can't be. The very idea of this whole tamale is sounding pitches together in harmony. Can Pythagoras and his group's theory ideas help?Ah, the perfect octaves then perfect fifths ... and voilà !

The fifth's of metal. From Pythaogras we know the interval of the perfect fifth is perfect for any kind of 'metal thing' we might be doing today. From Sabbath forward there's been a trending in sound and fury towards the two pitch '5th's of today's shredder. For anytime the distortion in the signal path gets beyond that certain point, two pitches works quite fine. Any more and we run the risk of real sound chaos. Example 1.

'Beginner' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 2.

'Open' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

The two 'barre' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

'Easy' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

Major bossa nova and samba chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Minor bossa nova and samba chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Blues chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Reggae chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Jazz chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

#11 chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

 

Inversions of chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Color tones. Once we've our triads in place, the stage is set to add some extra coloring to our chords. Often termed as the colortones, tensions or upper structure tensions or pitches, we simply select additional pitches to add to the triads. As we've 12 to begin with and need three for making triads, the seven remaining pitches each have a special way alone or in combination to harmonize our ideas. It's a super vast array of harmony colors.

The following table has selective links for the pitches. Split into diatonic and non diatonic, the discussions go where they need to go and only follow the Essential's golden rule of music theory; that number of pitches helps us locate the most common elements for creating our most core American music styles.

diatonic color tones
6
7
9
11
13
non-diatonic color tones
b5
#5
b7
b9
#11

Folk and children's songs. Grouped together as their elements are quite similar, 'three chords and the truth' rules the day here as the story being told is the focus.

Time and tempo.

Melodies.

Arpeggios.

Chords.

Form.

Color tones.

Improv.

6th chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

6 / 9 chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Major 7th chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Major 9th chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Jazz chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Augmented chords / V7+5. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Diminished chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Color tones. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

In today's music, while it's near impossible to hear any difference in pitches or tunings, the duality of our pitches enables the blue melodic magic weave over stable, closely tuned chord pitches. Just how central this relationship might be is more about one's own art directions but surely lives at the stylistic heart of Americana guitar. The bend-able string / pitch ability over precisely tuned chords is the basis of our guitar arts.

blue notes
a wide array of chords

Hollywood chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known."

Pete Seeger

Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music, p. 10. W.W.Norton and Company Inc. New York, 1960.

 

Aebersold, James and Slone, Ken. Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978. I know this is a troubling stand to take but I felt I had to and as jazz player, I based it on Charlie Parker's compositions in the Omnibook. Find a copy, count the number of tunes, then compare the number of major key to minor key songs. Any real book of popular American song, by a mix of composers, will follow along similar lines in this regard.regard.

So why a perfect 11th? Simply in that this is the same pitch above our root as the perfect fourth, just now moved up an octave. Again we bump into the idea that with the colortones, the music theory of the natural diatonic 11th is usually more about chords than melody. Thus, having an 11th usually implies that we also have some sort of 9th in our chord. And having a 9th implies we've a 7th in the chord as well. 'The finger bone's connected to the hand bone, the hand bone's connected to the wrist bone' ... all in a perfectly closed loop. Ex. 1.

color tones
chords
melody
loops of pitches
numerical scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
two octave C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
.
3
.
5
.
7
.
9
.
11
.
.
.
15
C major arpeggio
C
.
E
.
G
.
B
.
D
.
F
.
.
.
C

'A half step above our tonic pitch.'

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation
theory ~ tuning
by the numbers
melody ~ harmony
bass lines
time / rhythms
1
#1 / b2
2
#2 / b3
art
I
#i
the octave
4
#4 / b5
5
#5 / b6
songs
ii
#ii
loops of pitches
6
b7
7
8
styles
iii
IV
major ~ minor
b9
9
#9
10
method
#IV
V
groups of pitches
11
#11
12
b13
lessons
#V
vi
arpeggios
13
b14
14
15
sequence
bIIV
VII
chords
#15 and beyond
phrasing
Americana
chord type
( 2 5 1 )
chord substitution
form in music
interval studies
colortones
s.t.c.g
improv
modal ~ modes
Superhoot
glossary
compose

half step
music notation

~ chord voicings ~

~ chord melody ~

~ open chords ~

~ G, C and D / E-, A- and B- ~

~ power chords / barre chords ~

~ blues & jazz chords ~

 

chord shapes

open / power / blues / jump

bossa

blues

by style

how chords came about
who's in the band
voicing basics
open chords
barre chords
chord melody voicings

how chords came about

voicing basics
open chords
barre chords
who's in the band
voicings by musical style
two guitars in the band
have a solid bass player
have bass and keyboard in band
chord melody voicings
'... those wonderfully in tune chunks of musical colors ...'

 

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