Tag Archives: chords

Chord of the week – Could there be a cooler triad then 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!

Six songs, three chords, how hard can it be?

Occasionally you will need to add some new songs to your jam. Now this doesn’t always have to be difficult. As we like to say: keep it simple so nothing can go wrong. That’s why we’ve selected six songs that are built up from a maximum of three chords per track. This way you can keep it simple.

Evergreens always do well around the campfire. And a lot of golden songs are not too difficult to play either. Below you will find six tracks, all of them can be played with only three chords. Not all the chords of the songs below are the same of course, we don’t want you to get bored.

Satisfaction – Rolling Stones

Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones is the classic example of a three-chord song. It follows the traditional blues progression in which the verse consists of two chords, and the chorus uses a third one. In this case it is the pure basis of E, D, and A. And yes, there is a B7 in the song. So technically speaking there are four chords in this track. But the role of the B7 is so insignificant that you can neglect it and play an E instead.

All Apologies – Nirvana

All Apologies of the nineties heroes Nirvana is written in a drop D tuning. That means you’ll have to tune the lower E string of your guitar one tone down to a D. That’s why the chords you see are a bit strange. Fortunately, there is wonderful tool called the capo. When you put a capo on the fourth fret, the chord progression changes into the familiar basic triads A, D, and E.

Wicked Games – Chris Isaak

When it comes to powerful songs, Wicked Games by Chris Isaak is definitely such a track. The ambiguous text, the ever-increasing tension and the sultry desire that the track radiates fits into any jam. The chords are also super basic, namely Bm, A, and E. Okay, Bm might indeed be a bar chord, but it really isn’t that much different from the B major.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. T.I, Pharrell

It doesn’t get easier than Robin Thicke’s hit with Pharrell. The song consists mainly of the chords D and G. The most important is the strumming pattern, which is essentially that you play the chord on the first beat of the bar only. In the transition to the chorus you hear a bass lick that starts on the C note and works its way up to the D. Here you can just play a C. That’s all you need to know for playing Blurred Lines.

Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a must in a campfire jam. Just because the guy is classical rock hero. Like All Apologies, his song Nebraska has a somewhat challenging chord scheme, that is, until you put the capo on fourth fret. Try it for yourself and watch how suddenly everything changes to the basic E, A, and D.

Walk of Life – Dire Straits

For the grand finale we have a really timeless song. Even if you don’t know the Dire Straits, you know this tune. Walk of Life is one of the most famous songs the band ever made. Again, this track consists of only three chords. The E, B, and A are again combined in a success formula. Now all you have to do is practice the vocal line. Check our Campfire Essentials channel for more songs to spice up your setlist. Happy jamming!

Historic album of the month – Live Killers by Queen

One of the world’s most influential bands release their first live album at the apex of their musical abilities. This, we think, describes a more than suitable candidate for a glance into rock history’s rearview mirror. That’s why this month we shine a light on the celebrated Live Killers by Queen. This record has, since its release in 1979, changed the definition of a rock show.

Thirty nine years ago in June, one of the world’s most extravagant acts released their first live album. At that time they had already recorded seven studio albums over a span of nine years. Live Killers is a compilation of a multitude of shows that the band played during their tour in Europe at the beginning of 1979.

Queen

Before we zoom in on this historical record, let’s travel back in time to the year 1970. The year that the band Smile falls apart and its young guitarist Brian May, then midway through his doctorate in astrology at London’s Imperial College, wants to be a full time musician. May and Roger Taylor, drummer and dentistry student, decide to find a singer to accompany them. A good friend and fan of Smile catches their eye, Farrokh Bulsara, born between the palm trees of Zanzibar. Bulsara’s itching to start his career as the frontman of a rock band.

As an art student he conceptualizes the band’s image from the get go as full of grandeur, provocation, art and a thick guitar sound. The name of the band should catch this in one stroke. In this starting period Bulsara and May are separately working on tracks, one called March of the Black Queen, the other White Queen. All three artists agree that the word ‘queen’ has the powerful feel that they’re looking for.

Freddie Mercury

After joining the band Bulsara immediately changes his name. He was looking for something more in line with a band that’s called Queen. Chris Smith, keyboard player for  Smile remembers it well. In the documentary Days of Our Lives (2011) he recollects how, one night, his buddy Farrokh sits in a bar with his hands covering his face.

‘I asked him if something was the matter’, says Smith. ‘He looks at me and tragically announces that he can’t be a popstar anymore.’ Upon asking ‘why’ Farrokh stands up and shouts out: ‘Because I, Freddie Mercury, will be a legend!’ The keyboard player grins. ‘No one took Freddie serious back then.’

Bombastic glam rock

The rock ‘n roll guitar riffs by Brian May, the stringent drumming by Roger Taylor and the exceptional vocal reach of Freddie Mercury, all fall right into place from start. When the group is complemented by bass guitarist John Deacon in 1971, who also appears to have a voice of gold, Queen is ready for liftoff.

With songs like Seven Seas of Rhye, Now I’m Here, Love My Life and of course Bohemian Rhapsody of their first three albums the band is creating a whole new sound. It’s rock, but with some new flavors, a special sauce of opera, theater and ballet. The different layers in the vocals sound like Brian Wilson’s wall of sound on steroids. In the instrumental pieces the piano and guitar are on a par with each other, which in most rock music is unheard-of at that time.

Punk era

At the end of the seventies the band’s popularity is receding, because they cannot connect with the younger audiences. The media also doesn’t hold the band in high regard anymore, on the contrary they print (extremely) critical articles and reviews. For example when Freddie Mercury muses about a combination of rock ‘n roll and ballet, this becomes the pinnacle for a negative article with the telling title: “Is This Man a Prat?”

It’s a period that’s characterized by a growing popularity for punk rock in the United Kingdom. Bands like the Sex Pistols and black Flag are slowly moving into the mainstream. Queen’s bombastic rock is not the pleasure trove it once was for the big audience. Nevertheless there is a big faithful group of fans that keep supporting the band.

In a reaction to these developments Freddie Mercury and Brian May are each working on a song that will immortalize them and make them into legends. We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You are going to be Queen’s answer to the changing musical landscape of the western world. Both songs have gathered a larger than life status over the years, and they have intrinsically altered rock music.

Stadium rockers

At the end of the seventies the act has grown so popular that they standardly perform for a sold-out stadium. This is when the usage of the term stadium rock comes into full swing. Their whole show and performance are adapted to the grandeur of the stadium. Everything is bigger, more bombastic, and has more extravagance. From the lighting to the outfits and the way Freddie addresses the public.

Along the way Mercury learns not be fazed by the huge audiences that move like waves in front of him. On the contrary, he starts to play games with them. One his favorite activities in between the songs is to engage the public in a play of call and answer. A skill that would later be adopted by bands like Guns ‘n Roses, Pantera, Nirvana and Faith No More.

Live Killers

This is the period that Queen records the album Live Killers. It’s a snapshot of a group that is full of passion and growing towards the top. They’re at the height of their potential and their eagerness, spirit and will to proof themselves is noticeable in every tone, riff and vocal punch. They have the raw energy, musical hunger and theatrical complacency of a band that’s at the top of their game.  

The album is put together from of a mixture of different performances taken from their European tour from January until March in 1979. The band mixed the tracks themselves in their then recently bought Mountain Studio in Montreux, Switzerland. In an interview Brian May and Roger Taylor later proclaimed the adrenaline rush to be so intense during those shows that they had trouble recollecting which song belonged to which show.

Remarkable

While the album went double platinum in America and shined at the top of the British charts, the band was not at all pleased with the sound and the mix. Nonetheless it’s a record full of remarkable compositions and melodies.

The opening for instance is a faster version of We Will Rock You. The songs Killer Queen, Death on Two Legs and Bicycle Race have been put into one medley seamlessly melts them together. Mercury’s voice is clear and deep, like we’re used to from their  studio albums. The band plays rigidly and doesn’t defer from using different kinds of effects that we also hear on the record, like heavy echoes and delays.

End of an era

Over the course of the eighties Queen matured into one of the biggest and most renowned bands of the world. But, after a gig in Sun City, South Africa they were accused of supporting apartheid, which made for a undeserved blot on their image. Their big revival for the public eye came with their appearance at the immense charity drive Live Aid in Wembley Stadium in 1985.

The show that Freddie Mercury puts on here is of such a high caliber that all the performing artists, from Phil Collins to David Bowie and Elton John bow their heads for the kings of arena rock. It comes as no surprise that this show was chosen by the BBC as the best live performance of all time. But we shouldn’t forget that the band made their first steps on the path to true stardom with the Live Killers record. A historical moment to be cherished. happy jamming! 

Johnny Cash loves it as much as the Prodigy – F sharp is chord of the week

Brace yourself because this week’s chord of the week is the triad F sharp. It has been used by many a hit making machine, from Johnny Cash to the Prodigy. Check it out for yourself below. Curious about more chords of the week? Follow us on Instagram.

Before we give you a list of bangers to play along with, we want you to take a closer look at the fingering of the chord itself. What strikes you? As you can see this chord has the same finger placement as the barre chord F major. If you lower the F figure one fret, the barre disappears and all that remains is an open E major.

Hotel California – Eagles

In other words, this figure always forms a major chord when your guitar is tuned in E. The chord depends on the root tone you fret on the lower E string. So, now that you’ve deciphered another piece of the guitar neck, it’s time to get started on the F sharp. And what better place to start than with this evergreen by The Eagles.

This song consists of all the basic chords and a little bit of challenge. You will find some interesting variations on the F sharp. Look carefully at the F sharp 7 and the F sharp minor. In both cases it’s a matter of lifting just one finger from the basic position of the F sharp chord. The same applies to the B major and the B minor. Check the chords here.

Living Dead Girl – Rob Zombie

Shock-rocker Rob Zombie is a genius in terms of making a standard chord progression sound unique. Living Dead Girl is a good example of this. The track consists of only four chords of which three are basic triads.

The chords are A, G, E and, of course, the F sharp. That’s it. The only somewhat difficult chord is the barre F sharp. Practice a little with the vocals and you can amaze people if you include this song in your standard jam. A good song is not necessarily difficult.

Fire Starter – Prodigy

Have you already mastered Hotel California? If so, congratulations! The next song has almost the same chord progression. Although the Prodigy track Fire Starter is from a completely different genre – and generation – it has a lot in common with The Eagles’ hit.

Here we again see the use of the F sharp and the F sharp minor as well as the B and the B minor. Both minor chords, as you already know, differ only a fret from the major. You have to practice a bit with the timing, but that’s what the weekend is for of course.

Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash

Did we already mention that the biggest outlaw in country music wrote one of his most badass songs in F sharp? Yes, we did. Johnny Cash was known for his black suits, his love for the Indian community and his aversion to authorities. All this is reflected in the song Folsom Prison.

In this song the man in black sings about his imprisonment in Folsom and what led to it. At first glance the chord progression may look a bit impressive with triads like C sharp and C sharp 7. Don’t be deterred and try them out. If it’s a bit too difficult, you can also use the transposition tool and lower the song a fret. Try it and see what happens. Happy jamming!

The biggest gangster among the triads is the G major – chord of the week

There is no bigger G than the G major in the guitar universe. This triad fits in gangster hip-hop as well as in country and pop. That’s why this week we’re presenting the G major as chord of the week. Check out our Instagram for more chords.

When you’re beginning to play guitar one of the first handles you will learn is the G major. This chord, together with the D, C, A and E, makes up the basis of many songs. We’ve put together five tracks for you to jam along to, so you can learn which other fundamental root tones combine best with the G major by playing many songs in this key.

Wish You Were Lord – Pink Floyd

The song Wish You Were Here from Pink Floyd’s 1975 album with the same name is a must in every summer jam. The track is fresh and sounds cheerful at times, yet at the same time it is drenched in melancholy. This is due to the special combination of chords that all fall into the key of G major. Think for example of an E minor seven or an A7sus4. This is a good moment to overcome the fear of these difficult names and to strike the chords themselves. That doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

For the beginning guitarist Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a great opportunity to practice the basics. With chords like Em, A, D, G and F you get all the G major standard combinations in one song. For the advanced guitarist the challenge is to play along with the licks. Actually, learning to play Sweet Home Alabama is like killing two birds with one stone. Kid Rock was inspired by this song for his own track All Summer Long. So you kind of learn to play both. Try it.

The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin

As an advanced guitarist you sometimes need a little challenge, but you don’t want to sound too mushy. If that’s the case The Rain Song is the track you’re looking for. If you don’t have any plans for the weekend, just grab the chord scheme and take your time. Pay close attention to the way Jimmy Page subtly blends a G minor into a G minor seven, which then seamlessly flows into a C minor. The trick is to listen carefully and to keep practicing.

Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

If you’re going to chill on the beach this summer with your guitar, then this song by surfer boy Jack Johnson is a good addition to your jam. In this track Johnson uses a lot of seven chords. These have a dreamy sound and provide the atmosphere that is so characteristic of the song. Don’t be deterred by an A7, G7 or D7. As you can see here, in a seven chord less is more.

White Iverson – Post Malone

Did we say that the G major lends itself to every genre? You can see that in this track by Post Malone as well. White Iverson is just like Banana Pancakes and Wish You Were Here dreamy and groovy. You would almost expect that this song also consists of seven chords. The opposite is true. The Post Malone track is made up out of relatively standard chords.

Surprise the audience around the campfire with this less obvious song, even though the vocals are a lot harder to master than the accompaniment. Happy jamming!

From Justin Bieber to Metallica anything goes in E major – chord of the week

This week we’re placing the toughest major chord in the spotlight. The E has a powerful, full sound, so you can use it in every genre. From heavy metal to hip-hop, from hip-hop to pop, nothing’s too crazy for the E. 

As you may have seen on Instagram, this week’s chord is the E major. This is a versatile key that plays an important role in both classical and contemporary pop music. It’s actually not very surprising since your guitar is tuned by default in an open E. The diversity of the chord can be found in the list of tracks we have compiled for you.

Love Yourself – Justin Bieber

Pop idol Justin Bieber has always been a hit machine. The song Love Yourself is no exception. The characteristic guitar carries the track from beginning to end. Although this song sounds very simple, it has some nice challenges. It quickly changes chords and there are a few chords that you won’t find in every song. I am talking about the F-sharp minor and the C-sharp minor. Check it out for yourself.

Berlin – Thomas Azier

Speaking of pop idols, Dutchman Thomas Azier, who lives in Paris, is well on his way to conquer the world. The song Berlin of the album Rouge is an ode to his previous base where he wrote his debut album Hellas. In this track he describes the German capital through the eyes of a young artist. The song is written in E and in the chord scheme we see a number of challenging chords, such as the C-sharp, the C-sharp minor and the B.

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

The men of the Red Hot Chili Peppers now look like an older version of Justin Bieber. It’s hard to imagine that they were ever young, tough and anything but poppy. The raw sound of Under the Bridge from the album Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik from 1992 kind of reminds us of the good old days. The song has a Hendrix like vibe and chords like E major7, F-sharp minor and G-sharp minor show how diverse the key of E is. This track is a challenge for the advanced guitarist. Try playing along.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium) – Metallica

As already mentioned, the E chord fits into any musical style. It doesn’t sound too cheerful, but it doesn’t sound too sad either. It is melancholic, serious and powerful. Since this is the lowest sounding chord on the guitar, the E lends itself perfectly to dark genres such as metal. Try something new and play along with Metallica’s Welcome Home (Sanitarium). The song is a fun challenge for its divers rhythms and the usage of chords like the B, the B minor and the F-sharp.

Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones

Yes, we already know, you can’t get enough of the E. The Rolling Stones know that feeling all too well. They even wrote a song about it. Satisfaction is one of the most famous songs of the British rock band. If we look at the chord scheme, we quickly see that it consists of the three basic chords E, D and A. In addition, The Rolling Stones use the B7 jazz chord to add a little more color to the track. Try to play along. Happy jamming!

Five chords that will turn every campfire into a rockshow

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising, and the flowers are in bloom–enough reasons to light up a campfire, grab your guitar and burst into song. To turn every campfire into a rock show, we’ve drawn up five chords with which you can play almost any pop song.

The holy grail of the pop industry has always been based on only five basic chords. “No, that can’t be true”, we hear you thinking. Yes, it can! From Lady Gaga’s Poker Face to Van Morrisons’ Brown Eyed Girl. You can play them all with five basic chords.

Intervals

The secret of the five chords is not the specific chord diagram, but the interval between the chords. Let’s take a look at Poker Face by Lady Gaga. If you click here you will see that the original track is in G-sharp Minor. But what happens when you click on the capo tool and place it on the fourth fret as shown on the picture below?

Indeed, you see that the chords suddenly changed to the very basic E/Em, C, D, and G chords. Logically, you can now just play the song at the top of the guitar neck. The only difference is that you no longer sing in the tricky G-sharp Minor, but in E Minor.

 

The secret of the five chords

When we talk about five basic chords, we’re talking about the D/Dm, the A/Am, the G/Gm, E/Em, and C/Cm chords. Now we hear you thinking again: “These are ten chords!” Well, yes and no. When you look at the construction of basic chords, you see that the minor or major is determined by only the third (interval).

The root and fifth remain the same, so you’re really talking about an almost identical chord with a different mood. For the sake of convenience, therefore, we have taken the root note of the basic chords as our starting point. Another secret of the five chords is that they occur more often in a combination of four than all five at the same time.

Campfire hit

Let’s see how that works for different songs. Take, for example, Rockstar ft. 21 Savage by Post Malone. As with the Lady Gaga example, the first thing you see is an impressive display of chords that you probably didn’t know existed. Press the capo tool, place it on the third fret, and voila!

These are simply basic chords again! Yes, there is indeed a strange C major seventh in there, but if you look closely it is actually a simplified C: the chord diagram resembles the “normal” C major chord, only the index finger on the B-string is missing. In other words, you can play the standard C chord and choose whether or not to fret the B-string.

Capo Tool

In short: don’t be fooled by chords that initially seem difficult. It’s not a disaster that you don’t know what an A-sharp major seventh is. Play around a little with the capo tool and you can transpose this chord to a more understandable pitch, such as C.

Caution! In theory, you don’t have to put a capo on your guitar, you can just use the tool to see if you can convert a song to the recognizable five chords that you can then just grab at the top of the guitar neck (also called ‘first position’).

Simplicity is key

If you still end up with more difficult chords, always look at the fundamentals like the root tone and at the third. Returning to the C major seventh from the Post-Malone track, you know that the root is a C and that this chord is in major. In other words, you can simplify the chord by playing a normal C major.

Simplicity is key when jamming at the campfire. Remember this and apply it to every song you want to play. This way you change every campfire you sit at into a real rock show. Try it out and if you need more inspiration check out the YouTube video above. Happy jamming!