Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine: Chord Theory 105


Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine 

Chord Theory 105

Triads - What They Are and How They Work

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Interval of Thirds A.K.A. Triads - Continued:

The interval of steps between notes will be the same for every Major Chord, (4) and (3) 1/2 steps.

Now, what differentiates a Minor chord from a Major? The Minor chord has the 3rd lowered 1/2 step or also called diminished. So the C Minor Chord notes would be:

C Minor Chord Chord Structure: C Major Chord or "C"

C - (Root) Count up (3) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Minor Interval)

Eb - (Diminished 3rd) Count up (4) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Major Interval)

G - (Fifth) That is a C Minor Chord.

Look at the Illustration for a Chord Chart of Cm. The interval for a minor chord will be the same for every Minor chord. (3) and (4) 1/2 Steps. Let's jump to the Key of "A" and examine an A Chord and some simple variation to the A Chord.

First comes A Major

A -(Root) Count up (4) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Major Interval)

C# - (Third) Count up (3) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Minor Interval)

E - (Fifth)

Now, what differentiates a Minor chord from a Major? The Minor chord has the 3rd lowered 1/2 step or also called diminished. So the A Minor Chord notes would be:

Chord Structure: A Minor Chord or "Am"

A - (Root) Count up (3) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Minor Interval)

C - (Diminished 3rd) Count up (4) 1/2 Steps (Which is a Major Interval)

E - (Fifth)

That is a A Minor Chord. Look at the Illustration for a Chord Chart of Am. All Three Chords in the Key Of "Am" Would be Written in the Lower Diagram:

C Minor Chord Scale
Key of Am Chords
Reading Chord Diagrams:

We do have many other variations on basic chords and we will cover those in future lesson materials. Some of the more common chords you will see are:

AMaj7 Am7 Adim Aaug A6 A9 A13 Asus Am6

And many more. But the thing to remember is that all of them are based on the most basic of chords, being the Major, Minor and Seventh Chords that we have already covered here.

Reading Chord Diagrams:

We already explained how to read the diagram in Chord Theory 101, so I won't rehash that. Here are some additional explanations of the above diagrams though:

The Title will indicate the Key or Key Signature.

The Green Circles indicate the string is to be played "Open" (Without and fingers on the strings).

Each circle with a number indicates the left hand finger that is press the fret. 1 is index, 2 is middle, 3 is ring and 4 is pinky.

When you see an Arc spanning more than one string, connected by the same finger on either end, that is a Bar Chord. You see one of these associated with the "F Major" chord above.

You would lay your index finger down over all the strings and press them all at once. This can be a very difficult chord to play if your guitar has high action or if you are a young guitar player.

The colored notes listed beneath each diagram indicates what note each fingered fret or open string is being played.

The Labels beneath each chord are their full and proper names. You can shorten Major chord names to just a C, F or whatever.

The three chords illustrated in the diagram above are the (3) basic chords in the Key of "C Major", or Key of C. Each of the Major Keys and each of the Minor Keys have 3 chords as well.

All of these chords are construction based on the Major Intervals and the Minor Intervals as explained above.

Chord diagrams help us to graphically show fingering patterns for all of our chords on the guitar.

This is much easier than reading the notes off the musical staff, and it also allows guitar players that don't read music the ability to quickly and easily form the chords.

Recommended Publications

First Guitar Power Chords

First Guitar Power Chords

Instructional book and examples CD for guitar. 31 pages. Published by Amsco.


The Complete Book Of Chords, Scales, Arpeggios For The Guitar

The Complete Book Of Chords, Scales, Arpeggios For The Guitar

Written by Al Politano. Instructional book for guitar. 88 pages. Published by Centerstream Publications.


You Can Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

You Can Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

By William Bay. By William Bay. For Guitar (All). Chord book. You Can Teach Yourself. All Styles. Level: Multiple Levels. Book+DVD. 112 pages. Published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc.


Essential Chords and Progressions for Acoustic Guitar

Essential Chords and Progressions for Acoustic Guitar

By Artie Traum. Guitar Educational. Softcover with CD. 48 pages. Published by Hal Leonard.


Whole Book of Guitar Chords

Whole Book of Guitar Chords

Guitar Technique. By Dan Fox. This edition: ED3034. Guitar Method. 158 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.


Melodic Chords for Guitar - Vol. 1

Melodic Chords for Guitar - Vol. 1

By David Bloom. Guitar Educational. Softcover with CD. 116 pages. Published by Bloom School of Jazz Publishing.



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