Learn To Play The Guitar - Chord Progressions
Find out how to read musical notation, easy explanations for notes, timing, rests and theory
Chord progressions (or inversions), consist of playing the same chord in different positions on the fingerboard. For example, a "C" chord can be played typically in the first position, the third position, the 7th position or the 12th position.
As we learned in our Chord Theory, a C major chord consists of only (3) different notes. Those notes are C, E, and G, and they are based on the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the C Major Scale or C D E F G A B C.
The "C" is also called the Root or designated by the Roman Numeral I. The "E" is the Third or designated by the Roman Numeral III and the "G" is the fifth and designated by the Roman Numeral V.
So we base the chords on I, III and V formations. So basically we have just (3) chord forms and they are the same for each and every major chord.
Learn to Play The Guitar - C Major Chord Progressions
Here are some tips on reading the notation, tabs and chord diagrams on the above illustration:
The notes on the staff represent the chords, all on one stem.
In the this case a C Major chord. Look at the chord diagram above the notation and you will see the chord graphically shown with the same notes as the notation.
You will also note that there are Roman Numerals above the chords, which correspond to the notes in the scale of C, E and G. A third illustration is shown in tab format, below the staff.
The numbers on the tab represent the fret numbers on each respective string. Again, it shows the very same notes as the notation.
Next in this Learn to Play Guitar Lesson, let's look at the F Major Chord Progressions.
They would be based on F G A B C D E F or F, A, and C. The F would be the I, the A would be the III and the C would be the V of the scale. Let's look at the diagram below.
Learn to Play the Guitar - F Major Chord Progressions
Again notice that the chords have the Roman Numerals above the Chord designations. Compare the chord forms to those of the C Major chords.
Note that the Form I in F Major is the same as the Form I in C Major. It is simply played in a different location on the fretboard. Similarly for the Chord Forms III and V.
Memorize these three chord forms and you can play any Major Chord on any fret of the the guitar.
Another thing I should mention to clarify things a bit. Let's look at the F Major Progressions again. Look at the Chord Form I on the 1st Fret. The note on the first string is an F, or the Root of the scale.
Now look at the Chord Form III on the 5th fret. The note on the first string is an "A" or the third of the scale.
Finally look at the Chord Form V on the 8th fret. The note on the first string is a "C" or the fifth of the scale.
What is similar here? The note on the first string correlates directly to the I, III and V of the chord scale.
Learn to Play The Guitar - G7 Chord Progressions
As we learned in our Chord Theory, Seventh or 7 chords not only have I, III and V, but they have one additional note or a 7th. Let's look at the scale:
G A B C D E F G. The notes are G, B, D and F.
Therefore with chord progressions of a seventh we also have one additional chord form and that would be chord form VII.
So look at the illustration below for the chord progressions for G7...
Now look at each chord progression from I to VII. Notice that the note on the first string relates directly to the note position in the G scale.
Also note that there are 4 chord forms rather than 3. Memorize these chord forms. They will be the same for any seventh chords you play - in any key.
Learn to Play Guitar - Am Chord Progressions
Ok - One more to go for now. That would be the Minor key. This one will be easy as only one note changes from the Major progressions. We still have the chords based on the I, III and V of the scale, but the difference is the III is lowered by 1/2 tone.
Now the chord forms. We will do this with the A Minor chord as it is relative to C Major.
The Form I Am chord actually starts on the 5th fret, followed by the form 11 on the 8th fret and the form V on the 12th fret. The traditional Am in the first position, indicated by the first chord in the series is based on the form V chord, only with an open "E" string.