“What Is A Guitar Chord?” Great question! A guitar chord is likely one of the most common topics your mind will jump to when thinking about the guitar. Notes are the building blocks of scales and Chords, and scales and Chords are the building blocks of songs. Simple right?
Three or more musical notes played simultaneously are called a Chord. A chord is named according to the first note of the chord. So, for example, the first note of an A Major Chord is an A Note. Nothing too hard there.
One thing worth noting is that there are many combinations that can be employed in music. I will try to cover as much as I can but it is possible that I have missed something. If that is the case please feel free to ask or tell in the comments section.
Easy Explanation Of Chords – The Best Kind!
Your Guitar Strings are all team players! They like to work together to produce beautiful sounds, that what we call music. A chord is a group of notes which are all played at the same time. So practically, if you place your finger on the A string, 2nd fret and then pick the A string that is one note (B note if you were wondering).
If you keep your finger there and add another finger directly below it on the D string,2nd fret (E note) and then say you were to strum across all six of your guitar strings, you would have just played an E minor Chord! Great Job! An important aspect of chords is that all the notes are played and heard simultaneously. That is why they are strummed.
Often when you are learning chords, you will be taught that you should play the notes as close to the fret as possible. The reason for this is because when you fret a note, you are actually pressing the string down into the fret. This is how you change the string tension (pitch) and play different notes on a single string.
You should try to do this but it isn’t always possible especially when playing a stretched out chord but try it anyways!
Where Do They Come From – A Galaxy Not So Far Away!
Chords are not just magical entities that present themselves with no explanation. They have a set structure and formula giving them their own distinctive sound. An example of this formula is the A Major chord. The formula for a Major chord is:
These are notes derived from the Major Scale. The 1st note is also called the first scale degree or the Tonic ( no gin included :)). Every note after this is referenced to the tonic. So the 3rd scale degree is 3 positions above the tonic in the Major scale. The 5th note is 5 scale positions above the tonic in the Major Scale.
If this is a bit confusing for you, do not worry! Take it slow and try to understand rather than just remember. This will set you up to learn more complex concepts a lot quicker and for longer than just trying to remember all this stuff (and trust me there is a lot!)
Types of Guitar Chords – Simple breakdown.
The fact that chords have formulae makes it easier to understand them. I have included chord spellings (the notes that make up the chord). To refresh your mind a flat note is one fret to the left of the original note and a sharp note is one fret to the right of the original note.
A triad is simply three notes played together (tri means three, tri-cycle, triangle, triglyceride etc.) This will help you understand how chords are built up.
The Chords you can get are:
- 5th(Power Chord) (1, 5)
- Major (1. 3. 5)
- Suspended 4th (1, 4, 5)
- Minor (1, b3, 5)
- Augmented (1, 3, 5#)
- Diminished Triad (1, b3, b5)
- Major 6th (1, 3, 5, 6)
- Major 7th (1, 3, 5, 7)
- Major Add 9th (1, 3, 5, 9)
- Dominant 7th sus4 (1, 4, 5, b7)
- Dominant 7th (1, 3, 5, b7)
- Minor 6th (1, b3, 5, 6)
- Minor 7th (1, b3, 5, b7)
- Diminished 7th (1, b3, b5, bb7)
- Major 9th (1, 3, 5, 7, 9)
- Major 6th Add 9 (1, 3, 5, 6, 9)
- Dominant 9th (1, 3, 5, b7, 9)
- Minor 9th (1, b3, 5, b7, 9)
- Dominant 11th (1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 11)
- Dominant 13th (1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 13)
If you are wondering why there are no examples her it is because I am putting together a Chord Library so you can see all the examples you mind can handle! If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be! Just take it one chord at a time.
Open Chords vs Bar Chords – Adding Variety To Your Diet!
For simplicity let us define these terms as follows:
- Open Chords: Chords which have one or more notes which are not fretted (no fingers pressed down to play the note).
- Bar Chords: Chords which require one finger to fret multiple notes simultaneously (this is the bar).
Beginners usually learn Open Chord first as they are generally easier for untrained hands (bar chords require a bit of finger strength). While this may be the case for some, I think many would find Bar Chords quite easy as well. Once your hands have adjusted to the strength level required, you can simply shift the same Bar Chord Shapes along the neck.
This means it will be easier to play different chords by simply sliding the Bar Chord shape up or down the neck without having to change finger positions (which can be difficult for beginners who are not comfortable with the Open Chord shapes).
“What Is A Guitar Chord?” This question is now less intimidating to you because you have read the (brilliant :)) post above. My hope is that you will now be more comfortable when learning chords because you understand more about them. This is by no means an extensive look at chords but should be enough to get you going.
Chords are fundamental to songs so it is always nice to learn as many as you can. I find that understanding how they are built can help you remember them a lot better. I truly hope this helps you out!
Please feel free to comment below with any thoughts or questions.