Jump to content
Kirk Lorange

The power of chord tones 2

Recommended Posts

The Power of Chord Tones (Part 2)

Here's part 2 of the demo of the power of knowing the chords to a piece of music ... knowing them inside and out, all over the fretboard. This is the progression I used in one of my finger-style lessons, The Arpeggio Blues.

In this movie, I'm playing double stops, not single notes. "Double stop" is a strange way of saying "two notes played at the same time" ... so in this version I'm hunting down pairs of chord tones from the progression, and playing them together. The result is a bunch of harmonized lines. Was I thinking about all the rules of harmony? No. Not for a second. I don't even know the rules of harmony per se ... I was simply picking out pairs of notes form the pattern of chord tones that I 'see' stretching from one end of the fretboard to the other. Each chord has its own pattern ... when the chord changes to a new chord, the pattern of chord tones changes and I simply pick out a new pair from the new pattern. The pair I choose isn't random ... it will become a new double-stop in the harmony line I'm creating, so I'm aware of what's come before and where I want the line to head. It's basically the same thing as I did in the first lesson, except I'm adding another note to the first.

Most of the double stops in this are notes on adjacent strings, but a few are two strings apart. They can all be two strings apart, they can be three or four strings apart too, but the effect weakens when the intervals are too wide ... to my ear anyway. You wind up playing octaves, which are great if that's what you want to hear, but not if you're looking for harmony.

Most of the double stops are, in musical terms, 'a third apart', meaning the notes are three scale degrees away from each other. So you're hearing a lot of 1-3 combos; 3-5 combos; where there's a 7th to play with, you're hearing a few 3-7 combos ... when I used non adjacent strings, you're hearing 6ths ... which are back to front thirds. Don't let the numbers scare you though ... you should eventually know all the notes by number, but you don't need to. Simply following the chord tones around will do the job.

How do I know where the pairs of notes are? Well, I can see the whole chord, so all I'm doing is playing two strings of the chord instead of one like I did in the first movie. In some instances, where the chord has more chord tones (like a 7th) I can move the double stops around a bit, grab a couple of combinations from the pattern, creating moving lines within the double stops ... there are a few examples in the movie.

Because I need two fingers to play the double stops, it's a little harder to see what I'm doing, and I won't tab it all out as that is not the point to this lesson. I did this to show you that knowing the 'chord of the moment' is a very powerful bit of information ... it instantly shows you the strongest melody notes, and in this case allows you harmonize any melody instantly without once wondering about the theory behind it all. The chord has already done that for you. You can hopefully see that there is no one finger pattern for all of the double stops ... the finger configuration changes all the time, a result of the full pattern from which you're choosing notes, a pattern that shifts around the fretboard with each change.

How do I 'see' those patterns so easily and access them so quickly? I read PlaneTalk ... hang on! I wrote it! smile.gif I discovered a long time ago a very simple way of turning the maze of frets and strings into a very neat and tidy environment in which to go melody hunting, harmony hunting, chord hunting.

Would I ever play something like this as a final product? Probably not, but if I were soloing, I would mix single note lines and double stops together. This example is a plodding, repetitious version I had to concentrate on because I wanted to keep it strictly to chord tones. In a 'real' piece, I would be using non chord tones as single notes and non chord tone double stops also. I would let the evolving solo take me where it wanted to go, with a little bit of steering from me, and thickening up with double stops when and where the dynamics called for it. I might just do a proper solo over the progression next time so you can hopefully get a vibe for what it is I'm doing.

Know your chords, know them and trust them to always deliver the goods.

The progression is:

| G - - - | - - - - |G7 - - - | - - - - | C - - - | - - - - | Cm - - - | Cm6 - - - |
| G - - - | E7 - - - | A7 - - - | D7 - - - | G - - - | Edim - Am7-5 - | G - - - |

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.