Lesson 5 - A and D Major Chords

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Introduction to Chords

Now we are going to look at guitar chords. Guitarists use many different chords to make progressions or riffs that can then be used to create songs. If you are not familiar with some of these terms, it’s ok. We will cover everything that I am talking about in good time.

A chord is defined as a combination of 3 or more notes played together. To examine this, I want to take a look at chord diagrams. Chord diagrams are used to illustrate how a chord is played. They are very easy to use because they look very much like the neck of the guitar, in fact, the Jamorama chord diagram is a guitar neck.

As stated above the Jamorama chord diagrams are going to be pictures of an ‘actual’ guitar neck so it’s easy to make the connection between strings and fingering. There is also a picture of the type of chord diagram that appears in most other Guitar learning guides. I want you to be aware of that form of ‘standard’ chord diagram because you may want to use it when writing up chords on paper at home.

So, now that you know what a chord diagram looks like and how it matches with the neck of your guitar, it’s time to come back to what I said earlier about a chord being a combination of 3 or more notes played together. Finger placing symbols are added to the chord diagram so we know which notes to play. To start with, let’s look at your fingers.



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We give each playing finger a number that we can then match up on the chord diagram (see below). And now, let’s look at a full chord diagram. We will use the example of the A major chord:


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Chord Diagram - A Major Chord
In the chord diagram below you can see that the A major chord uses fingers 1, 2, and 3. Take note of how this chord diagram looks - we will use this style from now on.

The A major chord is constructed of the notes A, C# and E. We will cover notes a little later. For now, we will make chords without knowledge of individual notes. Note that there is a red dot marking the 6th string on the above chord diagram. The red dot tells you that you are not to play that string. The sixth string of the A major chord is not played, but you play the rest.

Throughout this newsletter series, every chord diagram will be accompanied by a picture of the chord being held on the fret board and video and audio of the chord being played for you to check with. Pictured below is the A major chord being played. 


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Exercise: Playing the A Major Chord
Position each finger with care, according to the above diagram. Make sure that each fingertip is placed directly behind the fret. Firstly, pluck across the strings one by one with your right hand, checking that each string rings clearly and is not muted or buzzing. Play the first Audio or video example to hear how the chord should sound.

Now that we’ve looked at chord diagrams, I want to move on to strumming.


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Introduction to Strumming
In a strum there are two types of guitar stroke. They are up stroke and down stroke. Throughout this book these strokes will be notated as follows:


When you play a stroke, you strum across the strings just in front of the bridge of the guitar with the pick in your left hand. When strumming a chord, make sure that you play all of the necessary strings in the chord. The stroke direction will depend on which stroke is indicated; up or down as shown above. 


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Exercise: Strumming the A Major Chord
Position each finger with care, according to the A Major chord diagram (above). Make sure that each fingertip is placed directly behind the fret. Firstly, pluck across the strings one by one with your right hand, checking that each string rings clearly and is not muted or buzzing. Once you are sure that you are holding the A major chord correctly, practice strumming the chord in single downward strokes as indicated left:

While you play this, see if you can say out loud an even 4 count. Another option if you are a Jamorama.com member is to use the jamorama metronome - it will help you to stay in time.

Tip: You can download a video or audio example of the above exercise to see and hear it for yourself. The download links are below (right click on the link and select "save as"):


a_major.mp3
File Size: 768 kb
File Type: mp3
Download File

windows_media_player_-_a_major.wmv
File Size: 1801 kb
File Type: wmv
Download File

Try your best to start your strum from the fifth string each time you strum. A major, doesn’t sound bad if you accidentally hit the top string, although if you want your music to sound professional, you’ll want to play this chord properly. Remember to stay relaxed. Your fingers may hurt a little but they will get stronger.

Now that you are playing the A major chord properly, let’s take a look at strumming another chord...


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The D Major Chord
The D Major Chord is constructed of the notes D, F# (F sharp) and A and is played using fingers 1, 2 and 3:As with the A major chord: try strumming the D major chord in downward strokes with your right hand. Tip: You can download a video or audio example of the above exercise to see and hear it for yourself. The download links are below (right click on the link and select "save as"):

d_major.mp3
File Size: 746 kb
File Type: mp3
Download File

windows_media_player_-_d_major.wmv
File Size: 2016 kb
File Type: wmv
Download File

Now it is time for break. This lesson was long and we covered important parts here.  In next lesson we will cover reading guitar tablatures.
Remember, practice makes it perfect. Practice, practice, practice.


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