Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Music Theory Behind the Guitar Chord CAGED System

There are literally thousands of different kinds of chords and chord shapes that can be played on the guitar, but did you know that most can be traced back to just 5 common open forms? The 5 forms are C, A, G, E, and D. What's that spell? Caged. With the right kind of guitar theory, each one of these chords can be turned into a barre chord and moved around the fretboard. Each barre chord can be played as an arpeggio pattern which inlcudes even more notes. These arpeggio patterns can then be broken up into all sorts of unique shapes and interesting voicings.

Guitar Chord Arpeggios
Major chords are made up of three notes. Notes can be repeated, stacked in any order, and played anywhere on the guitar fretboard. Just like with playing guitar scales, guitarists must learn how to map out the notes of chords on the guitar neck. These patterns are called "arpeggios."

Chord Inversions and Voicings
Arpeggios show you where all the chord tones are located for a given chord. When you can visualize all the notes of a chord in each position, you can grab the notes in a variety of ways and do so anywhere on the guitar neck. A chord inversion, in practical music theory terms, is simply a re-arrangement of the notes from one shape to another. For example, a C major chord includes the notes C-E-G. These notes are available in this order but only in some spots. In other areas you might find them stacked E-G-C or G-C-E. Each combination produces a slightly different sound or "chord voicing."

Guitar CAGED Template Chord System
Map out all the notes of a C chord across the entire fretboard you'll end up with a big, abstract scattering of notes. Break this giant pattern into 5 pieces and you'll have arpeggio patterns. Reduce each pattern to its fundamental shape and you'll recognize something very familiar. One position resembles an open C chord, the next an open A chord, followed by G, E and D. Hence, the CAGED Template Chord System.

Chord Shapes For Rhythm Guitar
Great rhythm guitar players don't necessarily use strange chords, they just know how to freshen up common guitar chord progressions with different shapes and voicings. Take the song "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp for example. Each section of this tune sounds unique but the whole song is actually just variations of the SAME THREE CHORDS! Do you want to know how to get all this sound from just three chords?

Listen to the Guitar CAGED Template Chord System MP3

For more information about using the guitar chord CAGED system, listen to the free Guitar Theory Podcast (also available at iTunes).

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna (Google me!)
Scales, Chords, Progressions, and More

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