Open Chords (major)
What is a chord? A chord is a set of harmonically related sounds heard together. If you played three or more strings on the guitar at the same time you would be playing a chord (of some kind–not that it would necessarily sound good but you get the idea.) There are several types of beginner chords, named by the sound they produce. We are going to start with three types of chords:
- Major chords
- Minor chords
- Dominant chords
Major chords sound happy. Minor chords sound sad. Dominant chords sound odd–a little spaghetti western perhaps, but cool. In this section we’re doing the major chords; here they are in alphabetical order, but before we begin a little theory. Major and minor chords are constructed from three different pitches that are a specific distance from each other. The roles of these pitches are described below.
The root is the bottom note of the chord, the foundational tone that the third and fifth are built upon. The root could be viewed as the lowest sounding note, or bass note (this is not always the case, but for visualization think of it this way for now.) All chords take the name of the root, expressed with a capital letter: a C chord is built upon an C note for instance, and written as “C”.
The third is the ‘color’ of the chord. Chords with a ‘major’ third are called major chords, chords with a ‘minor’ third are called minor chords. The third gives the chord its color, or its overall feeling (happy or sad for instance.)
The fifth is the last note and furthest from the root. The fifth serves to fill-out the chord and give it some stability. That’s the easy way to think of it for now
Our major chords have these notes:
Ok, enough theory–let’s get started!
Our B chord is actually not found in the open position (at least not in a way you WANT to play!) Just walk away and no one gets hurt…
Like my buzzy high string in this one? HA!
This video is from the Starter Chords lesson. Feel free to skip ahead to see E.
There are two versions of our open G chord. Both are widely used so you should learn them both.
G version 1
G version 2
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