Tag Archives: basic chords

Chord of the week – Could there be a cooler triad than the C major?

The chord that you’ll find in almost every evergreen is the C major. This basic triad is an absolute must for any guitar player to master. That’s why the C is our ‘chord of the week’. Check our Instagram for more Chordify frenzy.

Yes nice huh, finally a chord that’s central to the piano’s tonal spectrum, as the E is for the guitar. Where the E forms the basis for the guitar, the C plays a similar role on the black and white keys of your Steinway or Bösendorfer. An octave on a piano does not go from E to E, but from C to C. This is a great opportunity to try Chordify out on a piano if you have the chance.

Skinny Love – Bon Iver

A song that completely embraces the key of C is the track Skinny Love from indie rocker Bon Iver. To simulate his specific sound on your own guitar, you’ll need to tune the instrument to an open C tuning. That means you’ll have to tune the strings from low to high as follows: C, G, E, G, C, C. If you do not want too much hustle and you still want to include this song in your jam set, just play it in the standard E tuning.

The chord progression is not very special. You can quickly see that there are five basic chords and a somewhat unusual triad. The Gsus4 is a barre chord in which the tone G and the tone C appear double in octave form. That is how they reinforce each other. This is no coincidence, because the G is the fifth step in the C scale. The harmony between the root and the fifth is better known as a power chord. In this case it’s a double power chord.

Wind of Change – Scorpions

Scorpions – that we’ve gotten acquainted with in our historical album of the month Tokyo Tapes – wrote a song in C that would later become the anthem of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Wind of Change is not very difficult when it comes to chord progression, but it is certainly not easy either.

The difficulty is the timing and although the chords themselves are not too difficult, you do have to deal with a Dm and an F that follow each other. Since this is not a standard transition, it takes some practice to reposition your fingers in quick succession. Practice makes perfect. The same applies to the whistling part, by the way.

The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey

Enough of the old folks’ music! It’s time for a fresh breeze, again from Germany. The Middle by the German producer Zedd in collaboration with singer Maren Morris and the music duo Grey has been in the Billboard charts for months now. Although we are talking about electropop here, the chords in the song are perfect for practicing your basics.

If you want to practice the most important chords of the pop industry at the top of your guitar neck, this is your track. Just check out the progression which takes you from D to G, C, Em, A, Am all the way to the E. All this at a fairly easy pace. See it as jogging on the guitar. It improves your stamina, your strength and your reflexes.

Never be the Same – Camila Cabello

Fun fact: singer Camila Cabello also auditioned for The Middle. After the rejection, Cabello knew she would Never be the Same again. Apart from all the craziness this Billboard-high-scoring-hit, just like the one mentioned above, is an ideal opportunity to practice the basics of chord progression.

Unlike the track by Zedd, here we see a number of chords that also belong to the basics, but are used less often. The Dm and the F, for example. The bridge of the song contains an A#, a Cm and a Gm. With these barre chords it is a matter of practicing strength and suppleness of your fingers in order to play the triad clearly.

Everything Now – Arcade Fire

The idea that everything resembles each other and is not very innovative is reflected in the lyrics of Everything Now by Arcade Fire. Of course this could be seen as justified criticism, but somehow we always know how to produce new-sounding tracks with a few chords. So it’s a bit true and a bit untrue.

This final song is a great exercise for the advanced guitar player to quickly grab easy and trickier chords in a row. The song itself has a laid-back feel and is therefore a fine addition to your jam. It even has a groovy ABBA riff on the piano, so if your piano keys are within reach don’t be afraid to tryout this track. Happy jamming!

How to learn basic chord build up

This article is about the basic theory of chords and how to read chord charts.

So let’s talk about chords. A chord is a combination of notes forming a magical harmony, which lies at the basis of Western popular music. Ever asked yourself why we call an E-major an E-major, or why the note B is so important? Maybe it sounds a lot like difficult mumbo jumbo at the moment, but believe me, at the end of this article you’ll be going: well, is that all there is to it?!

Basic chord build up

Before we get started, go and grab your guitar. It’s going to make things a lot easier to explain and you’ll learn faster, if you put theory straight into practice. But if you’re reading this during working hours with no axe in sight, no worries. Just try to picture the guitar neck in your hand and you’ll be fine. All set? Let’s get this party started.

All good things come in threes, or so they say. This definitely applies to the theory of chords. The most frequently encountered chords are triads, so called because they consist of three distinct notes: the root note, and intervals of a third and a fifth above the root note.

Changing major into minor

Let’s start with that E-chord we mentioned earlier. Does our E have an uplifting vibe or does it sound a bit down; major or minor? That’s all up to the moody third. To help yourself understand this better, grab your guitar and position your fingers on the open E-major chord as shown on the chord chart below. Give it a ring. Oh yeah, that’s an E-major alright.

If correctly positioned, the lower E-string is open, this is your root note. Your middle finger is on the second fret of the A-string, right next to the ring finger on D. Your index is holding down the G-string on the first fret. Now that’s the moody third.

The moody third

Why do we call it moody? Release the G-string with your index finger. Now that’s a G-note. Give the whole chord a firm strike. Sounds a bit down, doesn’t it? You just changed your E-major to an E-minor by switching between thirds. Feeling a bit confused? Don’t worry. For now it’s important to remember that the difference between a major chord and a minor chord is just one fret away. Or better put: one blue note.

So, why do we call a third a third? Good question. Here’s an extremely simplified answer. Forget the guitar for a minute and picture a piano keyboard instead. The octave, or the distance from one E to the other, is exactly eight whole notes; eight white keys. If the root note E is our first key, then the second is an F followed by the third, a G.

The octave

If you want to sharpen that G hit the adjacent black key. Unlike the white ones, a black key is half-tone. There are no black keys on the guitar neck, that’s why you switched from major third to minor third by going up or down a fret. Similar to what you would do on a piano keyboard. Makes sense, right?

To add a little bit more body to our E-chord we use the octave. As explained above, this is the same note played eight tones higher or lower. In this case your ring finger is holding down a higher E. If your guitar is tuned in E, striking the chord will sound very powerful. You’re hearing three different octaves: the open lower and open upper E-string, plus the E-note under your ring finger.

The fifth is your muscle

So let’s talk about that middle finger holding down the B-note on the second fret of the A-string. This is what we call the fifth. The root note combined with the fifth creates a solid sound. Adding a fifth is like adding some muscle to the chord. The combination of these two notes is also known as the power chord.

In short: a basic chord consists of a root note, an octave, a third and a fifth. That’s all there is to it. And here comes the fun part: you can apply these rules for any chord. Let’s put this knowledge into practice. Move your E-major one note up, which is one fret down the guitar neck. Your fingers are still in the same position, placed on different frets. Check out the chord chart below.

Going down the guitar neck

Yes, this is an F-major. Because you moved up a note all the strings open in E-major are now covered by your index finger. Remember, that’s one key on the piano keyboard and one fret on your guitar neck. If you move this position one fret down the guitar neck and strike the strings, the chord you’re hearing is a sharp F-major. Another fret down you’ll hear a G-major. And so on.

Every time you release your middle finger (a.k.a. the moody third) you change the chord into a minor. It’s as easy as that. The only thing you have to do is practice your grip. Yeah, I know, it hurts like hell. For now. But if you go down that guitar neck in this position once a day, by the end of the week your fingers will get used to it.