Canadian Musician - May-June 2022 - Page 60

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Exploring Chords : Simple Variations for Depth , Ambience & Tension

By Jeff Gunn

There are many ways to explore variations on a single chord . Moving our fingerings through different registers , adding or subtracting a single note , or combing triads with open strings can simultaneously expand our palette of chordal possibilities and richness of sound . The musical context will signal the most appropriate types of chords to use depending on whether a guitarist is bac king a singer in an acoustic set versus in a full band setting . The style of music is equally as important . For instance , Brazilian Bossa Nova not only has some of the most enchanting chord progressions , but also chord variations that add to the flow of the music . Momentary alterations to chords can add ambience or tension followed by resolve serving a similar function as passing chords .

Ask yourself : How do the chords I ’ m using support the melody ? How does the rhythmic nature of the song affect my chord choices ? Is there a pocket to enrich a chord and does it make musical sense ?
Taking stock of a number of methods for altering and adding texture to a single chord is a great starting place for exploring new depths of sound .
Suspended Chords Commonly used in folk and pop music , suspended chords add a variation to a chord that creates a sense of chordal movement while remaining in the same tonal centre .
Play the C major chord at the third fret and then the C7 th . Listen to the different sound before returning to the C .
Play the C major chord at the third fret and then the C7 th . Listen to the different sound before returning to the C .
Triads with Open Strings Another way of thinking about how to alter chords is to play a triad along with open strings . The results can range from ambient to harp-like to tense .
Play the G major triad ( in second inversion G / D ) at the tenth fret while also playing the open third , second , and first strings . The chord becomes a G6 / D because we have included the E ( sixth note in the G major scale ) on the first string in the chord . The D note played on the sixth string is the lowest note in the chord .
Play the D major chord and then add the D sus4 . Listen to the different sound before resolving it and returning to the D .
Play the D major chord and then add the D sus2 . Listen to the different sound before resolving it and returning to the D .
Seventh Chord Family The traditional chords of choice in jazz , bossa nova , funk , and numerous other musical genres , moving between a major or minor chord to seventh chords including a major 7 th , dominant 7 , or minor 7 th adds even greater sonic depth to your chords .
Play the D major triad at the tenth fret while also playing the open fifth and first strings . The chord becomes a Dadd9 / A because we have included the E ( second note in the D major scale up the octave – so it is an add 9 rather than a sus 2 chord ) on the first string in the chord . The A note played on the open fifth string is the lowest note in the chord .
Discovering ways to alter a single chord can transform familiar chords into more lush sounds .
Jeff Gunn is a content creator for Jam- Play and TVO . He is a guest speaker at The NAMM Show 2022 . Check out his new instrumental guitar album , Momentum , on YouTube : gunnjeffrey and all platforms . www . jeffgunnmusic . com .
Play the C major chord at the third fret and then the C major 7 th . Listen to the different sound before returning to the C .
60 CANADIAN MUSICIAN