Suspended Chords

I covered major and minor chords in a previous lesson. A suspended chord is what you get when you take a major or minor chord and replace the interval of the third with another interval.

To review, here are the interval formulas for major and minor chords.

Major Minor
root, major third, perfect fifth root, minor third, perfect fifth

(You can refer back to my intervals lesson if you don’t remember what the interval names mean.)

You’ll notice that the two chord formulas only differ in the second note added, which is an interval of either a major third or a minor third. So if you take that out there is nothing to distinguish a major chord from a minor chord. In fact Continue reading Suspended Chords

Pentatonic scales

This will be a fun lesson. Pentatonic scales are easy to learn, easy to play, and they sound like rock ‘n’ roll. If you want to start improvising or creating solos on guitar, chances are you’ll want to learn at least one or two pentatonic scale shapes. Most blues guitar parts are based around the pentatonic minor scale, or a close variation of it.

The best part about pentatonic scales is that if you know the major scale, you already know how to play the pentatonic major scale and the pentatonic minor scale. (If you don’t, don’t worry. I’ll teach you here, or you can read about major scales.)

Continue reading Pentatonic scales

Seventh Chords

Previously, I talked about the basic three-note chord types, the triads. To review, there are four basic types that are commonly used. Here they are with their interval formulas:

Major Minor Augmented Diminished
root, major third, perfect fifth root, minor third, perfect fifth root, major third, augmented fifth root, minor third, diminished fifth

To each of these chord types, we can add more notes to create more complicated chords. There is no limit to what we can add, but the most common type of note to add is a seventh, either a minor seventh, major seventh, or diminished seventh. As you can imagine, when combined with the four chord types we have to start with, this leads to, like, a million different chords (ok, actually 12, but you get the idea). Fortunately, some are used more frequently than others, and some are almost never used, so I’ll present the most common ones first.

Continue reading Seventh Chords

Natural minor scales

Minor scales

I covered major scales in the last lesson. Today I go minor. It’s really not that much of a leap from major to minor, so this should be an easy lesson, or at least easier. I’ll cover three types of minor scales in total: natural minor, melodic minor, and harmonic minor. Today, I’ll start with the easiest one, the natural minor.

Continue reading Natural minor scales

Major scales and keys

I don’t know about you, but the word “scale” scares the crap out of me. I picture some white-wig-wearing little boy tinkling the same “do re mi” blah blah blah over and over on a piano as a stern-faced matron tells him to watch his posture.

Well, it’s not quite so bad as all that. Scales turn out to be enormously useful for coming up with melodies, soloing, and for practicing technique.

Continue reading Major scales and keys