Major Scale Patterns and Chord Progressions
Before you begin to study extensions you should first learn how to build major and minor chords (triads) from the major scale. This would include guitar chord progressions and playing by numbers (a.k.a. the "Nashville Number System"). You might even need to take a further step back and learn major scale patterns. Remember, each guitar music theory topic builds on the one before it. Major scale patterns and building chords are two topics that are foundational to understanding and applying chord extensions.
Chord Building Theory
If you've already been through the process of building chords for the entire major scale, then you're ready to start adding chord extensions. All you have to do is repeat the whole process, but this time add an additional interval to the triad. For example, a seventh interval ( or 7). Starting on a G note in the key of G, 1 3 5 7 are G B D F#. The F# note is a major seven interval and is just one note shy of an octave. Any time you add an F# to a G major chord you create a G major seven chord (or Gmaj7). This can be done with any G major chord shape in any position, and any F# note regardless of the octave. You'll have to rearrange your fingers in order to accommodate this extra note.
Next, add a seventh interval to the ii chord in the key of G, A minor. To do this, count the notes of the G major scale STARTING ON A. If you do this correctly the seventh note away from A is G. This interval is called a flat seven because it's one fret less than a major seven (or two frets shy of an octave). When you add a G note to an Am chord you create an A minor seven chord (or Am7). This can be done with any Am chord shape in any position, and any G note regardless of the octave. You'll have to rearrange your fingers in order to accommodate this extra note.
Now that you have identified the seventh interval for the first two chords in the key of G you can continue the process with the rest of the scale. If you do this correctly the following sequence should emerge:
Harmonized Major Scale With Sevenths
V D7 (which means "dominant" seven)
vii F#m7b5 (whoa, that's a mouthful!)
Dominant Seven Chords
The V chord, D7, is unique in that it's a major chord but it has a flat seven interval like the minor chords. Because of this it has special name which is "dominant" seven. For some strange reason, it's the dominant seventh chord that is written simply as "7." The major seventh chord must always include "major."
As with any music theory topic you learn about, you must apply extensions to the guitar fretboard by playing songs. The follow lists will help to get you started by naming some well-known tunes that use seventh chords.
Guitar Songs That Use Major Seven Chords (Maj7)
"Under the Bridge" Red Hot Chili Peppers (verse end)
"Fire and Rain" James Taylor (intro/verse)
"Plush" Stone Temple Pilots (verse)
"Everyday" Dave Mathews Band (intro/verse)
"Riviera Paradise" Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (verse)
"Dust in the Wind" Kansas (intro)
"Best of My Love" The Eagles (intro/verse)
Guitar Songs That Use Minor Seven Chords (m7)
"Tears in Heaven" Eric Clapton (chorus)
"Change the World" Eric Clapton (chorus)
"Let it Ride" Bachman-Turner Overdrive (intro/verse)
"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" Bachman-Turner Overdrive (intro/verse)
"Oye Como Va" Santana (intro/verse)
"Long Train Running" The Doobie Brothers (intro/verse)
"Black Water" The Doobie Brothers (intro/verse)
"Stairway to Heaven" Led Zeppelin (interlude)
Guitar Songs That Use Dominant Seven Chords (7)
"Black" Pearl Jam (intro)
"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" James Brow n(intro/verse)
"Nothing Else Matters" Metallica (intro/verse)
"Cross Road Blues" Cream (intro)
"Roadhouse Blues" The Doors (verse 2)
"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" KT Tunstall (intro/verse)
"Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" Jack Johnson (intro/verse)
Guitar Songs That Use Minor Seven Flat Five Chords (m7b5)
"Change the World" Eric Clapton (chorus)
"Smooth" Santana (verse)
"I Will Survive" Gloria Gaynor (verse/chorus)
Other Songs Worth Learning
"It's Too Late" Carole King
"Ventura Highway" America
"Let's Stay Together" Al Green
"Collide" Howie Day
"Daughters" John Mayer
"Ooh Baby Baby" Linda Ronstadt
"Don't Know why" Nora Jones
This is merely an introduction to adding seventh intervals to chords. Because there are so many different ways to make major and minor chord shapes on the guitar fretboard, there are many ways to build chords with sevenths too. In fact, the whole CAGED chord system can have seventh intervals added to it. Once you get a handle on extending chords with sevenths, you can try adding seconds, fourths and sixths. From there, you can get into chords with multiple intervals added, but don't get ahead of yourself. At least with this newfound guitar theory knowledge you can now begin to understand what those numbers next to chord names are for!
Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna (Google me!)
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Rock's greatest riffs: The memorable ones grab you and pull you into a song
Brothers and sisters, would-be guitar heroes, and worshipers of rock, let us take a few moments to celebrate the glory of a great riff.
It’s the glue that makes a song stick in your brain like cotton candy on a child’s pudgy little fingers. It’s the musical flame that sears your soul. It’s what you play when you’re showing off your new guitar to your buddies.
Think “Layla,” and “Iron Man.” Think “Whole Lotta Love,” “Foxy Lady,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Seven Nation Army,” “Pretty Woman,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
The list goes on forever and we all know them when we hear them, but what are they really?
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