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What Are Chords?

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    power chordChords are simply three or more notes sounding at the same time. Most of the chords that you’ll use in the future only have three different notes.

    They are essential to playing music in that they create a harmonic context for a song’s melodies. The same chords are found in all genres of music. Chords are the first thing you must learn in order to play songs on the guitar.



    Types Of Chords

    There are 2 basic types of chords: major chords and minor chords.

    Major Chords

    As stated above, major chords are the most common chords. Most songs use major chords predominately. Listen to the audio sample below to hear a major chord.

    Minor Chords

    Minor chords are the 2nd most common chord. They can be described as sounding sad. The only difference between a major and minor chord is the 3rd step, which is flattened in the minor chord. Listen to the minor chord:

    Other Chord Variations

    There are many variations of major and minor chords. They are basically major or minor chords with added (extra) notes. So instead of only 3 notes in the common triad forms of the major and minor chords, we have 4 or more notes making up the chord.

    As I said, there are numerous variations. It’s quite possible to randomly play any 3 notes or more on the guitar and come up with some type of chord.

    Fair Warning

    When you’re first learning to play chords, it can be very difficult to get your fingers to cooperate. You’ll be faced with all kinds of obstacles such as:

    • Your fingertips will hurt from pressing the strings
    • Your fingers won’t be able to hold the strings down
    • You’ll hear buzzing and dead notes when trying to play chords
    • Many times you’ll end up on the wrong frets or wrong strings
    • Changing chords will seem impossible

    Whatever you do, don’t freak out!

    The Rules

    1. The Stop Practicing Rule: I want you to stop practicing for the day if your fingers become too sore and are tender to the touch. Injury could be the result of overdoing it, so it’s best just to chill out if your fingertips because very sore. There’s light at the end of the tunnel because calluses will soon start forming on your fingertips. If you don’t have calluses it’s going to hurt.  It’s as simple as that! Calluses don’t form overnight, so don’t be in a rush.
    2. The No Buzz Rule: Once you get the hang of playing a few basic chords and you start hearing a buzzing sound or the sound of the notes being played sound dull, then it’s time to check yourself.  Buzzing and dull notes are the result of not pressing hard enough on the strings, or one or more of your fingers are catching a nearby string. When you strum the chord each not should ring out clearly. You may find it hard at first to press all of the strings down firmly against the frets. Don’t worry, your hands will build up the strength in no time with practice.
    3. The Finger Confusion Rule: You may get confused from time to time. Maybe you’re struggling with where to put your fingers. That’s okay, after a few days of practice your fingers will start remembering where to go (muscle memory).  Spend a little time every day with problem chords until you are comfortable with playing them.