Welcome to Deciphering the Chord Code! Watch this first.

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Playing chords is satisfying. Lead playing, chords and rhythms being the three main verticals on guitar. Chord melody, singing while playing chords, all are variations or combinations of this.

Learning to play chords well on the guitar involves being able to understand the pattern nature of chords and pattern nature advantage of the instrument guitar. When learnt without considering this basic structure, one is forced to waste time and effort on rote memorization and reinventing the wheel, unable to see the commonality that extends through the different chords and the field of chords.

These videos and set of pdfs will show you how there are only three patterns you need to know. How you need to connect these three patterns to something very basic to the standard tuned guitar – the tuning, which is named standard.

Starting with the open chords, we see the structure and pattern involved. Then we move on from the open chords to barre chords by just adding the index finger – everything else stays the same like the open chords we examine. This itself is important to understand.

Starting with major and minor, we see the structure of chords, the formulae involved, which is universal to chords. Regardless of the instrument it is true. SATB vocals, quartet or 5 piece strings whatever it be, the harmony rules of forming chords and chord names stay the same.

On the guitar, though we identify three patterns and learn to move them horizontally while counting the sequence of notes – something very basic to music. We also learn to identify the root layer, the layer with 2nds 3rd and 4th, the layer of 6th and 7th. That is it.

Making names and patterns of chords is then just a matter of naming convention and finding the right notes to add to the major and minor shapes.

Just three shapes, extended horizontally using the barre. Within the shapes, change a note or two to get sus 2, sus4, major to minor, sus4, etc… and add one or two notes as needed to get the 7ths, 6ths, 9ths…

The pdfs given below has images and explanation which I have used for years to help my students. First time I made it was for my own clarity and to give to anyone who asked me to explain the concept. Till then I couldn’t find any formalized pattern based approach. So i put it on paper.

Now you have them… Of course in the beginning feel free to look at shapes and play some chords. Open chords. But use the methods discussed to understand the formulae of chords, the three patterns which keep repeating one way or the other.

Also while doing all this, see the freedom that comes with knowing what notes you can add to make a chord, which other options are there than the conventional forms to make a chord you want, why you can as well start with a pattern of the chord based on how it sounds or how it looks and then later when needed find the name…

In short as you go through the transformation offered by this knowledge, you will know the guitar better as an instrument, knowing how to traverse it, having unlocked the mystery of chords and being able feely move in the field of chords.

All the best! 🙂