Warford here, Editorial Manager for Guitar Tips.
for taking the time to tune in this week as we take a look at the
chords that jazz is built from. You may be surprised at the simplicity
of the concept.
week we will pick up on our mini series revolving around jazz guitar.
In case you haven't been with us, we have been learning various
kinds of genres and the musical technique behind them.
out how the pros do business and learn how to build simple chords
that can take you a long way. We'll show you how to make them by
translating the musical language into something that everyone can
get a grasp on.
have some great tips to help you understand the rhythm of jazz and
we'll give you a taste of some interesting chords taken from an
actual chord scale.
always, we have our ever popular Feedback Booth where you can see
what your fellow subscribers have to say. Get updated on what's
further a due, let's get started!
chords are, in my opinion, the most beautiful and eloquent chords
available to guitarists. They are the true meaning of class. The
sound aside, these chords are a great way to build your chops up
and form you into a guitarist that knows their fretboard.
may know scales and understand how to connect them but chords add
a new element to this equation. In fact, we will be using scales
in our lesson today to build chords. One of the reasons so many
guitarists choose to learn jazz, whether they use it or not, is
simply due to the fact that you need to learn music theory in order
to use them properly.
won't be diving into the music theory of chords in this newsletter
but we will give you some neat ideas on how to make the connection
between chords and scales.
a quick prelude, I want to cover one thing that you might come across
when dealing with chords in the future: Roman Numerals. I highly
suggest that you check out this
site. Print off one of their charts and know all of your Roman
Numerals up to 24. You will find when reading and understanding
where chords are located on your fretboard, this is an essential
thing to know.
good news is you have some time to get acquainted with them as we
won't be including this numbering system in today's newsletter.
chord is technically defined as any three or more notes played simultaneously.
A triad is the most basic and simplistic of all chords and it consists
of three notes built up in thirds (more on that in a minute.) It
is essential to learn and master triads before moving onto larger,
more complex chords.
of the larger chords are actually built from triads, which makes
those chords easier to learn if you already know the basics of chords.
Do not underestimate these little bundles of sound! They will add
a whole new vocabulary to your chord voicings. In other words, you'll
have plenty to practice.
you freak out and start wondering, "What is all this theory
about?", I have some encouraging words for you: anyone can
learn this. Yes, knowing music theory helps but the way we're going
to tackle this challenge requires only one prerequisite... know
the notes on your fretboard (or at least the low E and A.) It is
an asset to any guitarist and you can get caught up by clicking
it or not, chords are actually created from scales. This explains
all of the build up in the last two months of our articles.
right, all of that work leads up to this very point in time where
I get to tell you that one of the reasons scales are so important
is because we create chords from them. Are you excited? You should
be because this is going to open up a new door for you.
start off by taking a look at the C Major scale, which is an extremely
easy scale to remember. In case you forgot, the order of notes goes
D E F G A B C
scale has a numbering system that indicates each note. This numbering
system is just as simple as the scale itself and goes like this:
D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8/1
scale numbering system is the same, it just has different notes.
Those numbers are called the degree of the scale. The most important
note of any scale, chord, or key is the 1st degree, which is in
this case is C.
first degree is almost always referred to as the "Root"
but its technical name is actually the "Tonic." We won't
be getting into the technical names of the degrees in this newsletter.
This note is always smooshed down on the bottom of any chord or
Now that we have some of the terminology under our belts, we'll
take a quick second to look at what we're about to learn. There
are four different kinds of triads and each has three different
ways to play it. The four different sounding forms of triads are:
your probably wondering how these chords are made and how you can
play them. The answer to both questions is simpler than you think.
build triads, we use the scale degrees. A Major triad is built from
the root (C), the third degree (E), and the fifth degree (G). We
refer to any Major triad from a Major scale as (R, 3, 5). It's the
quick reference for jazz musicians.
you say those numbers instead of the notes, every member of the
band knows exactly what you're talking about, even if their instrument
is tuned in a different key(because they'll just apply it the scale
that's in their own key.)
this new chord, we can shift around the notes to get different tones
but still have the same chord name. This little trick is known as
triad inversions. There are three different inversions for each
of the four chords. Why three? Because there are three notes in
a triad, allowing for three different combinations.
already know one inversion and that's the root position (R, 3, 5.)
The next inversion is called the first inversion (3, 5. R.) See
how it shakes up the order a little bit? The last of the possible
combination is called the Second Inversion (5, R, 3.) No matter
the order, they are all considered to be a C Major triad.
we move onto the other chords that we mentioned. I will save you
the stress and technical lingo of how they came about and give you
the degrees instead. They are as follows for each chord:
Major triad (R, 3, 5)
minor triad (R, b3, 5)
augmented triad (R, 3, #5)
diminished triad (R, b3, b5)
If you see a "b" or a "#" before any
of the degrees, it means that the note is either a flat (b)
or sharp(3). For instance, the minor triad consist of the notes
C, bE (E flat), and G.
of those chords follow the same inversion rules. This allows you
to manipulate them into the sounds that you like and construct them
to fit around the space in which you are playing on the fretboard.
we can get to the actual application of triads. The beauty of these
simple yet effective chords is how easily accessible they are. You
only need to remember the shapes of the four different chords and
you can move them all around the fretboard with ease.
can learn the shapes for playing on different strings as well, which
can give you up to 288 different chord choices on a 24 fret guitar!
Let's start with the shapes found on the low E string:
With triads, you only play the notes that you are fingering. In
other words, there are no open strings or it's technically not a
true triad anymore.
shapes that you see above can move around to any note on the low
E string or A string and it will form the "root" of the
chord you want to hear. Pretty cool stuff eh?
below are the shapes for any triad with a root on the fourth string:
but not least, here are all of the triad shapes with the root on
the third string:
you learn these basic shapes, you can move into their inversions
and start to build your own triads. Due to the large number of notes,
you can create some pretty cool triads that form outside of the
bounds of what we just covered.
strumming them without hitting other strings and get used to picking
out each individual note. Triads are usually used for rhythm/solo
combinations in jazz guitar so having the proper technique to be
able to both strum triads and pick them is essential.
chords can either make you cry or simply want to get up and dance.
However, the chord is only as good as the right hand that is strumming
it. Having a feel for the music is essential to being able to produce
a product that sounds good and fits that genre of music.
playing jazz rhythm, guitarists usually use a very fast tempo in
conjunction with accented beats. Translated, they play fast music
and really hit the strings at certain times. Mind you, this isn't
used for every kind of rhythm played in jazz, just one subtype.
could write a book on the various kinds of rhythms a jazz guitarist
can use for different moods and still not cover everything!
our purposes today, we're going to look through the basics of building
a solid jazz rhythm.
you need a pattern to work from. You can make it as simple or as
complicated as you want. Practice it slowly so you don't miss any
strums and work your way up to a reasonably fast tempo.
you listen to fast jazz, there are a lot of chord changes that take
place in a short amount of time. If you're not used to switching
chords with that kind of intensity, I recommend that you run through
your major chords until you can manage a switch time of 1-2 seconds.
won't happen over night but is easily attainable if you work towards
it and get comfortable with the chords. In the past, I have heard
stories of guitarists who practice in the dark. They say this allows
them to know their chords so well that they can focus on the sound
that they want to produce. It might just be the trick to get you
more comfortable with your instrument.
strumming, don't be afraid to mix it up by accenting different beats.
This can be done by hitting the strings slightly harder on the beats.
You can do this on an upstrum or a downstrum... it doesn't really
you have fingers that aren't in use, you can use them to mute strings,
or use them to add to the beat. They can actually serve as a great
percussive tool to add to your arsenal of effects.
out the notes is also very useful when playing jazz. Don't be afraid
to slide around your fingers and make sudden stops, so long as it
fits with the music.
neat little trick is to lightly lift your fingers off the fretboard
every so often just as you hit the strings. It makes the music sound
more percussive and put together. Here is an example of what a fast
jazz rhythm can sound like:
I'm doing is simply holding down the first three (sometimes four)
strings with my first finger and letting the rhythm do the rest
of the work. Every now and then I'll place my third finger three
frets up and do a hammer on or pull off for effect. You can do this
it won't sound like the above example at first but as always, with
time and practice you too will sound as good as any musician out
it into practice...
that we have the basics covered, it wouldn't be complete without
some more classic jazz chords for you to play and enjoy.
are some of the nice classic sounds and an example of them in action.
Do not play your low or high E strings for any of the above chords.
sound clip of them in use with a wah wah pedal:
always a pleasure to get the chance to read through all of the emails
that many of your take the time to send in. It's also encouraging
to see that many of you pay close attention to the articles and
today's emails are centered on that. Let's take a look at what your
fellow subscribers had to say since our last newsletter:
email comes to us from an Anonymous Aussie:
of all let me just say that your newsletter is probably one of the
most helpful and useful ones floating around the internet today.
I was just wondering if you're planning on putting up links to the
other articles that were published after Looking At
Your Sound, The Other Way Around... since I found those issues particularly
you do plan on putting them back online my suggestion is that you
have subpages for your archives, such as keeping the archive page
that you have now and adding another one for those published in
2006, 2007, etc. or some other form of categorization that would
be easier for you and other subscribers. Cheers and rock on! --
An Anonymous Aussie."
archive has been updated and is ready to role for all of you to
enjoy. All of our 2005 lessons are on there with the exception of
our rock guitar lesson which is down temporarily due to a technical
issue. It will be back online shortly.
emailed me with this correction on the last issue:
Jordan (and others), First, let me tell you that I've been enjoying
your newsletter immensely. I've been playing for about 45 years
(well, we won't get into my age, but I started as a teenager...),
but I always find there's more to learn (I'm mostly self-taught),
and your newsletters give me a lot of food for thought.
has been a slow day at work, so I've been working through your article,
"The Art of Jazz Guitar." It's quite thoughtful in the way it explains
modes, which I've never been able to totally wrap my brain around.
Your article certainly helps!
I think I found one little error. It has to do with this section
of the article:
say I was playing my F Major (Ionian) scale in its third position.
However, we want to change keys and play the E Major (Ionian) scale
in its third position. All we do is simply move down (or up depending
on what key you want) from the key we are currently on.
we are on the fifth fret, we go down two spaces and land on our
E Major scale which is on the third fret. We can keep the same fingering
and pattern, just move it all down two frets. Then you have your
E Major scale in its third position. "
Now, correct me if I'm wrong (and I could well be!), but I believe
one moves from playing F Major (Ionian) in its third position to
playing E major (Ionian) in its third position by moving the pattern
down one fret, not two.
it's true that every fret is equal to a semitone and there are two
semitones between each whole tone, enharmonic spellings aside, there's
really only one semitone difference between E major and F major.
Moving down to the third fret would give you Eb Major (Ionian) in
its third position.
I hope this helps -- and if I'm all wet, please feel free to tell
me so! And keep up the good work -- little mistakes are just that,
and your newsletter is a big help.
is absolutely correct and that error has been fixed. As Tom mentioned,
we all make little mistakes and I must of had a brain lapse when
writing that section. Thanks to all of you who sent me a kind email
to notify us of this error and my sincere apologies to all of you
who memorized the scale under a different name.
sent us this email with a request:
have been playing guitar for quite a bit now and getting pretty
good. Recently, I have been buying the Guitar One magazines and
the discs that come with them. I have taken a liking to Metallica
since the first time I heard them I was wondering if you could give
me some reliable tabs by Metallica."
receive many requests for tablature but unfortunately due to copyright
restrictions, we cannot distribute any songs that we do not have
the legal right to. However, many individual guitarists tab out
their songs and post them online for all to see and some of them
are quite good.
suggest that you check out one of the following sites:
those three sites we'll keep many of you going. We published them
in one of our newsletter a few months ago but seeing as time flies,
it's always good to get a reminder of what is out there. Just be
on the lookout for inaccurate tabs.
Lay sent us along this video with a brand new idea that he wants
to share with all of you!
How much of a problem is it for players? Is hanging on to a pick
a major problem? It was for me. I say was because I have found the
solution. I am a new player at age 62. I may have waited too late
in life to try and learn to play, but I enjoy trying. Anyhow; as
I said, I've found the solution for the pick problem if in fact
there is one.
don't have a patent for the idea, and I'm not sure if I could even
get one. At this point I just hope to make life a bit easier for
as many pickers as I can. Especially the beginners like me who just
can't hold on to a pick. This will take care of the problem!
is Elmer's tack Tabs. It made by the makers of Elmer's Glue. Just
a very small pinch pressed onto your pick does the trick. For less
than $2.00 you can get enough to last for years. I've already tried
other brands, and the don't seem to work as well as Elmer's. Great
stuff! Feel free to use this information in any way that may help
someone else. Here it is in action:"
job Roy! Hopefully this will be able to help some of you along.
It's a cheap alternative to some of the more expensive picks that
can actually stick to your finger like a suction cup. Either way,
some pretty cool gadget ideas are coming straight from our own subscribers!
hope you took something from this lesson that will aid you on your
voyage to excellence. Triads lay the foundation to further music
theory and chord building. While we may not have time to go in depth
on the theory behind building chords, it is a great learning tool
to know and understand.
provide a refreshing array of options to us as guitarists and I
recommend you practice them through each day. Try playing some of
the more spaced out triads to build your finger and hand strength.
we combine triads into jazz and soloing, a beautiful thing happens:
We begin to understand how the fretboard is connected. Scales and
chords are one in the same... You just need to know what your looking
hope you join us next week as we continue to learn more genres of
next time, keep on picking!
BY GUITAR TIPS
If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but
never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days
and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want!