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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Chord Theory

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[MUSIC]
So
far in these lessons for basic flat
picking, I've broken down what I feel are,
and exposed what I feel are core elements
of playing this style of guitar, and
looked at a lot, a lot of the ways, the,
you know,
the physical nature of the style is kinda
defined and ways to work on that.
We're gonna move a little bit into some
more musical theory kinda stuff.
That again, I feel like is a, is not only
a building block for flatpicking.
But a building block for, as you move into
learning more about music,
learning more about playing music with
other people.
And the first thing, one of the little
things to cover back into sort of more
rhythm and chord knowledge.
And, and things that I feel like you need
to know about
are what actually makes up a chord.
We discussed in, in some of the single
note and scale lessons earlier,
how we're gonna break down the scales into
their numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, [SOUND]
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and back to 1,
is the basic, scale theory that we're
gonna use, basically from here on out.
Referring to these as numbers, that was in
the key of C [SOUND] so
the one in the key of C, is, is, is the C
note and so what,
as it applies to chords, chords are made
out of three notes.
You have to have three, three notes to
make a chord and
they're all based on what's called
intervals.
In relationship to the one.
So we know that C is the one.
[SOUND] And so the, a major chord is made
up of, the one, the three, and the five.
And that's sometimes referred to as the
root, the third, and the fifth.
And, again, in the key of C, the root is
the one.
[SOUND] And the third is the is E.
You know, if you make your C chord.
The reason that's a, the reason that's
called a C major chord is because it's got
C
[MUSIC]
E, and the fifth is G,
and then you add everything else to make
up that full strum of
a chord on the guitar are other Cs and Es.
So you got your C down here on the B
string and your open E.
[SOUND] So all that together, that's why
that is.
That's the theory behind chords.
for major chords and
these sort of basic elements of how it
applies to playing bluegrass rhythm.
And it's bits of knowledge like that will
sort of help
you discover things down the road that
aren't,
sometimes I think people see songs that
they're not familiar with and
they're not sure how to find the chords,
they're not sure how to follow changes.
And we're gonna, we're gonna try to cover
some of that, and learn sort of.
How those, how those stum, you know,
stumbling blocks possibly can be overcome
and, and, and get to those, just making
music quicker.
And so you know, out of the, out of the
key of G,
you have your G scale or G chord.
[MUSIC]
And your G major scale.
Using all six strings.
And the chord using all six strings.
[SOUND] And so your root is G.
[SOUND] Third, one, two, three, is the B
note there.
And the fifth is D.
[SOUND] One, two, three, four, five.
Yeah.
It's basic stuff.
So you can work through all the chords
that we've looked at and
all the scales that we looked at.
And you can, you know?
You can break down.
Just get a knowledge.
And my challenge to you is to memorize
what the, the one,
three and the five of, of every major
chord that we've talked about.
And F,
[MUSIC]
F, A, C.
[MUSIC]
E.
[MUSIC]
Is E
[MUSIC]
and
then
[MUSIC]
G sharp [MUSIC] and B.
[MUSIC]
And so and A.
[MUSIC]
A, C sharp, E.
[MUSIC]
And so you know, memorize that.
Work on that and that's you know, that's
just
basic knowledge of chords that will
continue as we break these things down and
we're going to sort of put them all back
together and hopefully build a strong
sense of how to play bluegrass and how to
play this flat picking style.
And it's little building blocks like this
that'll,
that'll really pay off in the future.
Another, another way these intervals apply
we talked about if you know,
in C, C is the root.
E is the third.
G is the fifth.
And, and, and
other notes that we'll get into later in
these intervals and how they respond.
The way that was gonna pay off in the
future is learning notes on the finger
board the way the way you'll, we'll
discover,
in later lessons I will show you, how I
think about the finger board.
You know, how I use it directly and how I
think about, you know, where's,
where's, where the different C's are.
And, you know, because we understand these
intervals and basic major chords and, and
building blocks and scales.
You know, once you, once we learn where,
[NOISE], different
C notes are on the finger board then it
all sort of relates to positions and
how those scales, open up in different
parts of the finger board.
And from that, you know, then, then you're
improvising and that's,
that's how all this stuff can take off in
the future so it's, you know, this,
you know, the, opening the door to, you
know, the whole fingerboard music-making.
Understanding soloing and how, how to play
melodies up and down the neck.
And so it's an exciting thing to get into.
[MUSIC].
[MUSIC]
The next
thing we're gonna cover in talking about
intervals and,
and basic building blocks of chords are
how actual, you know, we, we've,
we discovered earlier in about strumming
in different strumming patterns.
And talked about connecting chords and,
and the boom-chuck pattern and
just gonna get a, in a little bit of the
theory behind that.
And I, this is an important thing I think
every Bluegrass rhythm player
should know and, and we talked about how a
basic, a chord,
a major chord is, is is the root and the
third and the fifth.
So when you, applying that same kind of
thinking two chord changes if you're in,
you're now, playing a song now in the key
of G.
[MUSIC]
And
the fourth degree of the G scale is the C.
[MUSIC]
And so you can make the whole chord there,
so in what we're gonna call jam speak here
and this is.
This is something I think will, will sort
of going to commit to from here on out.
We'll always name the, the, the the chords
themselves.
But, the basic theory in the, in the and
the that sort of the language,
the inner language behind that is is
referring to G, C, and D.
If you're in a key of G, we've talked
about three chord Bluegrass songs and
how you know that's, there's so many songs
you can play.
Most of the Bluegrass songs that you'll
come across are all, you know,
three chords is all you really need to
know to get started, so.
In G.
[MUSIC]
That's your, that's your root chord there.
Then C is the, is the four chord.
[MUSIC]
And, and the five chord is D.
Those are the, those are the three main
chords in the key of G.
G, C and D.
And so as we're building a sense of how to
play rhythm
over some of the tunes we're going to
learn.
We're going to learn to learn to write
charts.
Learn, learn to think about the rhythm,
the rhythm of a verse,
the rhythm of a chorus and how that kind
of looks, and how it feels.
And how as we discover how to enhance
rhythm playing and
play chords up the neck, play this is
where all this is going, is, is,
this is a sort of a foundation for really
turning
just basic concepts of strumming and, and
chord progressions.
And so, you know, actually making music
and,
and having theories that apply to lots of
songs.
Not just teaching one song at a time and
this is, this is the way you do this and
now this is the way you do this.
My goal here is to teach.
Teach aspects of, of music making that you
can apply to,
not only to what you're already doing, but
things you'll continue to learn.
And so the, the jam speak of, of one four
five.
If you're in a group of people playing in
a, you know,
in a jam session and and somebody throws
up a song that you're not
familiar with if you're new to this sorta
kinda stuff, and it's in the key of C and
then the chords are just one, four, five,
and follow along.
If you already know that in the key of C
that the four and
the five chords are F and G.
[MUSIC]
And
I showed you four songs earlier and you
know, I could, we could go on for,
for hours and hours and hours discussing
three chord songs.
But my, my challenge to you is to
memorize, and all, all the keys that we
covered what the one four and the five
chords are for each of those keys.
And once that's memorized, then you have
unlocked you know, knowledge that is,
is gonna allow you to, to learn thousands
of songs.
And so and from there, with this site
specifically, we're gonna learn how to
once, you know, you've got that sort of
building block laid, again,
we're gonna cover how to embellish that
kind of stuff.
How to, how to think about different
voicings, and how to,
how to connect things a little more
smoothly.
So.
But that's, that's the challenge is to, is
to memorize what ones and fours and
fives are in each key.
Again and in the key of A it's.
[MUSIC]
That's A.
D is the four
[MUSIC]
And E is the five.
[MUSIC]
So you know,
three chord songs in A will all, will all
use A, D, and E.
And there's obviously gonna be, you know,
variants of that as you get, you know,
deeper into more, more complicated tunes.
But this, this is the key thing to know
first.
The way to figure out one, four, five, one
one chord, four chords and
five chords is to again, go back to our,
our what we talked about,
the major scale in terms of numbers one,
two, three, four, five six, seven.
So, in the in the key of E.
[MUSIC]
That's the one.
And to find the four chord count it four,
one, two, three, four is A.
[MUSIC]
And five.
[MUSIC]
One, two, three, four, five is the B7.
[MUSIC]
So you know,
any three chord song in E in the
Bluegrass.
In the Bluegrass style.
[MUSIC]
Or at least the majority of, of Bluegrass
songs in the key of E, with three chords,
are gonna have those three chords.
And so that's, that's how you can find
that, and
that's that's what you can look for.
And it applies to, applies to any key,
really.
But for what we're concentrating on here
with, with Bluegrass.
This is how it applies directly to what
we're gonna work on from here forward.
[MUSIC]