I'm very interested in developing a chord vocabulary - a good way is learning jazz standards in chord melody style.
Probably the main reason I like guitar so much is the chords available - which can be fantastic. There's at least 30 years development in these chord ideas. While an individual chord might sound great, it's even better if you have a context or a progression to use it in. Consequently, these ideas are grouped in little 4 - bar segments, which should be arpeggiated - that is, play the notes one at at time from the lowest note in pitch.
Most of them are easy too but the open strings give maximum ring and sustain to the chords.
Try initially playing each chord four times. This 4 to a bar approach generally works for any songs.
My favourite chords - a selection
For some reason I quit numbering the progressions - it's probably down to organic red wine (Fairtrade, Western Cape, Stellar organics, since you ask)
Anyway, the last one on line 3 (A7 sharp 9) should have an open A string at the bottom of the chord, string 5.
The last example is diminished chords as used in suspense and horror films - although the chord is moving up, the name remains the same. Now that's weird.
Diminished chords repeat every three frets, and the chord can be named from any of the constituent notes (so four names in all.) You can move down as well as up through this sequence, on any string sets. In practice, there is usually only enough time to play a couple of them together.
This is reminscent of Michelle by The Beatles, my favourite beat combo with moptops. Notice only one note in the chord is moving, down one fret at a time.
This chord progression is found in many songs.
Shows how easy chords can sound great - the A maj9 ( an A chord with a B note added ) could be followed by a standard A chord. As it is, it's neither major or minor, hence a bit medieval. But in a good way.
You can make chords sound medieval/plainsong by not having a third in the chord. Your typical major chord is 1,3,5 in intervals - miss out the 3 and there is no major or minor interval to go on. Then sing along in Latin (use your local cathedral for this) Given a straight choice between Britney and the 12th century I would go for the latter.
The world of D minor
As all you Spinal Tap fans will already know, this is the saddest of all keys. It inspires Nigel to create the romantic piece at the grand piano about Love Pumps. It's a truly touching moment in a great film.
Anyway, four of the voicings for Dm or Dm7 given here could be used anytime a normal Dm appears in the music, and you could even change between them for more variety.
Here's a short tribute and elegy to the great Ted Greene. Everything you could wish to know about chords and harmony is to be found in Ted's books, which are amazing and comprehensive in their scope. I don't really have the patience to work through them properly, but even a quick overview is very interesting and informative. There is some footage on youtube too.
Ted's books represent one of the best online bargains if you are really dedicated to guitar playing. Ted had a unique style, combining jazz chords with a deep knowledge of baroque/ Bach music, and having the ability to improvise in both areas of music. Although there are more great players than ever, it's unlikely that anyone else is coming to come along with this mastery of chords.
Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on November 15, 2009:
Thanks Russ - all the best with your playing.
Russ Baleson on November 15, 2009:
Thanks Jon, much appreciated as always. Regards, Russ
Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on November 08, 2009:
Hi Lee - what's it doing on the shelf??? Treat yourself to a decent guitar-it works for me. Thanks for your support, Jon
Lee Thacker on November 03, 2009:
Almost ready to pull the guitar off the top shelf..Wow! You really put a lot of thought and positive thought into your hub article! Honestly I think I need to re-read it again to pick-up all the gems that you shared, as always...THANKS! Keep writing...you know I'm a fan!
Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on November 01, 2009:
Hi Jen - you're welcome. Check out Ted Greene.com
Jen's Solitude from Delaware on October 31, 2009:
Thanks for the list of your favorites Jon, and for the tips!