Be sure and check
out all of the lessons in the "All About Chords" series.
1 - how harmony and chords work Part
2 - the ii-V-I chord progression.
Part 3 - Arpeggios
Part 4 - The Blues Injection Part
5 - CAGED - Form E Part
6 - CAGED 2 - Form A Part 7 - CAGED 2 - Form A - Arpeggios Part 8 - CAGED 2 - Form A - Chord Melody Part 9 - CAGED 2 - Blues Chord Melody
In this lesson we continue working with movable CAGED forms, which
we introduced last lesson. Here's
a reminder of what CAGED is: it's a system for making the open
position chords C, A, G, E, and D into movable chord forms that
you can use anywhere on the fretboard. We covered forms C, A,
G, and D last lesson. This lesson we're gonna do E.
Before we make the E open position chord movable, do you remember
how me made the C major open position chord movable? Slide the
C major open position chord up one fret, and then add fingers,
change fingers and do whatever else you have to, to turn the open
G string into a G#. The point is to create a pattern you can use
anywhere on the fretboard. If this quick example is confusing,
don't worry. We'll explain the conversion of E major in more detail.
Shapes we've made
Last lesson, we made moveable CAGED forms from these open position
shapes: D minor, C major, G7 and A minor. There are lots of other
open position chords we could convert to moveable forms, but we're
just gonna convert one more for right now, because it's the Big
Daddy of moveable chord forms. (In other words, it's super common.
It shows up everywhere.) It's the E major CAGED form. Let's create
it now, step by step, from the open position E.
Make the E major open position shape. Use the fingering shown,
or I'll turn your pick into a slice of pepperoni. The fingers
you use are in the right column, and the left column shows the
frets you put those fingers on.
We now have an A major bar chord, made from the open position
E major chord. If you've never made this shape before, or if you're
not totally comfortable with making it, give your hand a rest
after holding this shape. It can get tiring.
Let's make some music with the A major chord, because we don't
practice *anything* new unless we can make music with it, right?
Here's the A major in a 16451 in E major:
W - whole; H - half; Q - quarter; E - 8th
Duration letters will always appear directly above the note/fret
number they represent the duration for. Duration letters with
no fret number below them represent rests.
Get the Power Tab and MIDI files for this example here:
This tab we just played shows what to do with your left hand.
What do you do with your right hand? You could strum the chords,
or you could use the Pick Fingerpick technique. Read about the
Pick Fingerpick here:
Play along with the Power Tab on this until you can play it smoothly.
Remember that you can change the playback tempo in Power Tab if
it's too fast or too slow. Use the Music Symbols->Tempo Marker
menu option for this.
Once you feel confident in making the chord changes, you can
move on to the next part: arpeggios
Arpeggios around the fifth fret
Let's take a look at playing some arpeggios in the same area we
just played the previous progression. We're going to play these
arpeggios in a 16251 progression, not the 16451.
Here we go:
H H H H
| | | | <== Gtr II (rhythm)
/ / / /
E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E <== Gtr I (lead)
H H H H
| | | |
/ / / /
E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E
Use the Power Tab and MIDI files mentioned above to hear and
play this example. This example is for two guitars, so get a buddy
to play along, or play with the Power Tab file or the MIDI file.
Remember from a previous lesson that once you can play one pattern
smoothly, you want to vary the pattern. With arpeggios, change
the pattern so it starts on a different chord degree.
In the example I just gave, we're starting on the 5th degree
and descending. You'll want to play a pattern that *ascends*,
goes up, from the 5th degree. Then, cover the other chord degrees,
1, 3, and 7, in the same way: ascend and descend. Make a checklist
and check off the degrees as you finish 'em.
Aside: why fret 5?
Why are we practicing at fret 5 and not fret 3 or fret 9? What's
so special about 5? Well, the most important thing is that we're
not playing open position. So, anywhere *but* open position is
an improvement, because we want to break out of our open position
comfort zone. But, why fret 5?
I chose fret 5 to work these CAGED chords and their arpeggios
because it's comfortable for your hands and eyes: if you move
too much higher up on the neck, your fingers are getting squashed
as you try to fit them into the smaller frets. If you're playing
too close to open position, your wrist isn't happy, and your eyes
have a tougher time seeing that your fingers get to where they're
supposed to -- which is a hard enough task at *any* position.
So, we stick with fret 5.
But keep in mind that we can apply all the stuff we're learning
at fret 5 to any position. For example, to play the previous one
or two tabs in Eb major instead of E major, just slide all the
patterns down one fret. If you want to play in D major, slide
the patterns down two frets.
How to practice these movable CAGED forms
We know from a previous All About Chords lesson that practicing
arpeggios and chords together in what we call *chord melody* tunes
and arrangements is an excellent idea, because it teaches our
ears and our fingers to see what chords go well with a particular
melody note, and what melody notes go well with a particular chord.
Let's dive into a chord melody arrangement for the movable CAGED
material we just learned. Take this one slow. There may be some
fingerings and movements in here that *seem* new to you. But,
after we play this piece and go into an explanation of how it
works, you'll recognize a connection to chord forms and patterns
you already know. For the following tab, I included a fingering
diagram for each set of two bars. So, the first two bars on the
left are the frets you play, and the right two bars are the fingers
you play those frets with.
Take a look at the first bar. What's happening there? Remember
our goal: to combine chords and melody into one, smooth piece
of music. "I don't see any chords in bar 1" you say.
Hang on. There's a *piece* of a chord in there.
Suggesting a chord
Bar 1 shows an E major 6 arpeggio that starts from E and goes
up: E, G#, B, C#. You also see another note in there, tucked under
the E on beat 1. What's that? That note is B, and it's helping
us form the chord in this bar. Since we're starting on that low
E note, string 5, fret 7, it's impossible to fit a whole chord
with that note as the top melody.
But we can *suggest* a chord. The chord we want to suggest is
basically the E major: notes E, G#, and B. We have the E note
on string 5. We want to play another note from the E chord on
string 6. Which note are you gonna choose, G# or B?
You could go with the G# on string 6, fret 4. But, most chords
sound best, most of the time, with either their root or their
fifth in the bass. For the E major, that would mean either the
B or the E. We already have the E in the melody, so we pick the
B to play on the E string.
As you play this chord melody arrangement, you might come across
other bits of chords. As strange as these chord fragments or their
fingerings seem to you, they *will* make sense if you keep in
mind "The Big Picture." The big picture is simply to
play a 16251 progression using both arpeggios and chords. We play
the chords on the strong beats; wherever we can't fit a complete
chord in, we use the most important parts -- the guts -- of the
More on practicing
The example progression we just played through is a good start
for practicing chords and arps around the fifth fret. Once you
can play through the tab smoothly, remember to vary the melodic
pattern: start on a different chord degree, and alternate between
ascending and descending.
That's the end of this All About Chords lesson. In the next lesson,
we may explore other CAGED positions, and some Blues chord melody
stuff based on this lesson we just did. Man, I gotta tell you
what a kick it is to write these lessons. If you're having half
as much fun as me with these lessons, I'm having twice as much
as you. Plus, we're all gonna need tranquilizers if we keep learning
All About Chords.
You don't have to wait to learn more about chords. There are
many great lessons all over the Net for learning harmony. One
place is at the Guitar Chords page:
In GC we harmonize melodies, play some Blues, and learn how harmony
works on the guitar. We do chord substitution, evolution, revolution
and noise pollution. Well, we really don't do the noise pollution
thing, but we do have fun learning about guitar harmony. So, get
your fun quota filled by reading Guitar Chords.