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Chord progression understanding?


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  • Chord progression understanding?

    Just a bit of background to guide my answer: I love improvising, and I'm working on being able to play exactly what I hear, whether it's from my head, or on the radio, so I'm classifying each type of chord with a specific sound so I can find chords more effectively in songs, from my head, etc.

    My question, is, what is a good book, or site, it anything, to be able to learn what notes/chords/scales mesh together, what sounds good together, so I can improv much more full, broad, and emotional songs. Right now I've learned E minor Pent, all over the fretboard, I know a few chords that sound good with the key, but I want to learn them all, in every scale, and again, I really want to learn what scales mesh together too, so I can improv from one key to the next, and pick up with each chord progression as I do, what would you recommend?

  • #2

    This book is worth every penny and will help you out alot. 



    • jeremy_green
      jeremy_green commented
      Editing a comment

      Well any book on keys would assist you there but let me try something that is free.

      Do you know your C Major scale? If not google it. Now learn all 7 shapes of it (eventually but start with one shape for now). Go through that one shape and find as many chords hidden among the dots as you can. EVERY chord you find will work together.

      Once you know this move it all up 2 frets and you got D - the whole shooting match is movable.

      You say you already know the Emin pentatonic? GO through it and find as many chords as you can. This method with scales will teach you more than most books.

  • #3

    Try this. http://www.i-love-guitar.com/guitar-chord-progressions-theory.html

    Since you already know the pentonic minor scale which is basically the 7th degree of the major scale minus 2 notes. You kind of know the major scale already, your just starting a a different point on the scale. If you dont know already, dropping the pent minor scale 3 frets down ie; From (A) 5th fret to (F#) 2nd fret while stumming an Amajor chord. Puts the scale in A Major Pentatonic.  You said you know E Pent Minor. Well you can strum G major, D major, Em, Cmajor Chords (With or without you, i think) and still solo in E Pent Minor. Thats because its the same notes as G Major Pent scale. (Or the second box shape of the pent minor scale most people learn.) The reason I suggested the book is because it explains all the chords off the major scale and how to build chord progressions using famous songs as examples.



    • #4

      Look up  Chappers at Andertons music on You Tube. He has a good video on chord scales.


      • #5

        Some basics:

        Most songs are in a "key", which is "major" or "minor".  In the simplest songs, this means every note in the melody and chords comes from the same 7-note scale.

        So if a song is in the key of G major, that means:

        1. The "tonic" (home note and chord, last chord of song and probably first too) is G.

        2. Other chords will probably include C and D, and possibly Em, Am, and/or Bm.

        3. The melody (like the chords) will employ notes from the G major scale: G A B C D E F#.  Over any one chord, most - if not all - of the melody notes will also be in the chord.

        4. The chords follow the melody (in that they are chosen in order to harmonise with it).  Sometimes chords might be written first, and the melody will then follow the chords.  The essential point is that both work together. (This presents a good example when it comes to improvising.)

        5. Chords themselves can go in any order, but some changes are more common than others.  Some standard sequences (which can repeat in loops) are:

        G - C - D - G (I - IV - V - I)

        G - D - C - G (I - V - IV - V)

        G - C - G - D  (I - IV -  I - V)

        G - Em - C - D (I - vi - IV - V)

        G - D - Em - C (I - V - vi - IV)

        G - Em - Am - D (I - vi - ii - V)

        6. A 7th is commonly added to the D chord (V), because this creates a tension whih naturally draws it back more strongly to the tonic, G.  Because V is known as the "dominant" step, the V7 chord is known as a "dominant 7th".  Compare the differences with the above changes when you use D7 instead of D (when going to G).

        7. Any scale note can be added to any chord - to form "extensions".  Not all will work well, but all can be tried, and have different effects.  Eg, if an F# is added to the G chord, that creates a "Gmaj7" chord, with a very distinctive "bittersweet", "romantic" sound.


        MINOR KEYS are a little different from major in that the scale can be more subject to alteration, creating different chords.

        So, eg, the key of E  minor begins with the same notes (and chords) as G major. They are "relative" keys.

        In this case the "tonic" note is E and the tonic (i) chord Em.  The iv will be Am and the v Bm.

        However, it's more common for a major (or dom7) V chord to be used in minor keys, so E minor will typically use B or B7 instead of Bm.  (This is where "harmonic minor" comes from.)

        A typical Em key sequence will therefore be: Em - Am - B7 - Em. Compare the difference with Em - Am - Bm - Em.  (The latter is not "wrong" and has its own sound - hearing the difference is what matters.)





        • StuartBahn
          StuartBahn commented
          Editing a comment

          To go back to the original poster. Though it's not a book, I highly recommend buying something like 'Band in a box' to generate backing tracks for you to practise scales over. You've learned Em Pent all over the fretboard - that's great - but it's extremely useful to be able to see the same shapes in the other 11 keys as well. BIAB is a great tool for this. 

          You could put in all 12 minor chords (in a random order, say two bars per chord) and the pick your way through mpent shape 1 up and down during the first two bars, then do the same for the next chord, and so on.

          For example, if the first two bars are Fm, play Fm sh 1 up and down, if bars 3-4 are Abm play Abm sh 1 up and down, etc.

          When you're happy with this you can then repeat the process for mpent shape 2, then 3, 4 and 5. 

          It's not mandatory to see all five shapes all over the fretboard (what is mandatory in music...?) but it is very useful, and this quite an efficient way to learn them. Although you could do this exercise without a backing, BIAB makes the practice session more interesting, plus it forces you to think fast due to the limited time to play each shape, plus you will know when you've made a mistake because your note will most likely clash with the chord you're playing over.

          I know this is slightly off topic but I I hope that makes sense and you find this helpful.

        • Jkater
          Jkater commented
          Editing a comment

          JonR wrote:


          7. Any scale note can be added to any chord - to form "extensions".  Not all will work well, but all can be tried, and have different effects.  Eg, if an F# is added to the G chord, that creates a "Gmaj7" chord, with a very distinctive "bittersweet", "romantic" sound.



          I wasn't aware that a MAJ7 chord is considered an "extended" chord. You're sure of this?

      • #6

        My books do what you're looking for.  

        Volume 1 contains charts of improvisational tones for each harmony (chord) in a diatonic context. Volumes 3 and 4 do the same thing in a non-diatonic context.





        Jazz Education