Janet Feld - Janet's Planet: Music Lessons for Humanoids, Inc

Barre Chords & 1, 4, 5

Barre chords are one of the "keys to the kingdom" with guitar playing because with a few basic shapes you can play just about any chord you want.  How nice to check out the chords for your favorite song and not get freaked out because there's an F#m or Bb7 in it.

In this week's lesson I'm going to focus on a certain progression of chords using the E and A barre chord shapes.
 
The blues is the great great great great granddaddy of American music from rock 'n roll to hip hop, from swing to dub step.  It evolved like a game of telephone as West African slaves brought their tribal music and rhythms with them as did many waves of immigrants.  As these sounds were passed from person to person, generation to generation it evolved into people creating a new sound.  The blues told the truth with three chords: one, four, five.
 
What's one, four, five?
Chords are a group of notes that have a particular pattern.   Let's start with an 8 note major scale (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do) that begins with C:
 
C D E F G A B C
1 2  3 4 5 6 7 8
 
An octopus has 8 legs, an octogon has 8 sides and an octave has (you guessed it) 8 notes.  1 and 8 are both "do" but they're an octave apart.
 
To create a C major chord you play the 1, 3 and 5 together; C E G
 
If the notes and chords of a song are based on the C major scale you say it's in the key of C.  In the key of C, the 1 chord is C, 4 chord is F, 5 chord is G.
 
Here's another example:
 
G A B C D E F# G
2 3 4  5  6 7  8
 
In the key of G, G is the 1, C is the 4 and  D is the 5 chord.  The notes in a G major chord are G B D.
 
If you've been playing guitar for awhile, you've probably noticed that there are these three chord "families": GCD, ADE, CFD, DGA.  Those are all 1, 4, 5
 
In this lesson you'll learn two different barre chord patterns of 1, 4, 5 - one begins with the E shape, the other with the A shape.
 
Once you know this, if you're hanging out and playing a 1, 4, 5 song with other musicians, you'll be able to play along in any key you want because barre chord shapes stay the same as you move up and down the neck.

Oh yeah, rock 'n roll baby!!

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Comments

Thank you!!!!
Janet, you're the best! Just yesterday I was wishing I could do a little refresher on barre chords. And then viola! I found this!
Hey John, Yes we did meet at Kerrville :-D I use a K&K pickup in both of my performing guitars. It has a pickup under the saddle and an internal microphone. When I bought my OM-V I had one installed at the recommendation of the in-store luthier. I loved the sound so much I had them put one in my M-36. You use a stereo patch chord to plug into the pre-amp then out to the sound system. Makes my guitars sound like....well....like my guitars :-D Peace to you too.
I believe we met at thee Kerrville folk festival about a million years ago at blue's guitar work shop. In any event, I hope you are well. After a 15 year lay off I'm out playing again. I am seeking input from different folks about the best pickups systems for guitars. My old Baggs saddle pick up has passed into old the realm of old technology I fear. I have an Aura system in one of my martins and it sounds pretty good. I am probably not interested in any thing with an actual mic as a part of the system. What are you hearing that you like these days ? I have heard of something called a Lyric pickup. Any info you feel like sharing would be appreciated. Peace.

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