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All About Chords,
Be sure and check
out all of the lessons in the "All About Chords" series.
1 - how harmony and chords work
2 - the ii-V-I chord progression.
Part 3 - Arpeggios
Part 4 - The Blues Injection
5 - CAGED - Form E
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 segment of All About Chords we're going to continue getting
intimate with the CAGED chord forms, because they make understanding
chords and *all guitar patterns* super easy.
Learning the CAGED system also lets us transition without too
much pain from the familiar open position chords to the soon-to-be
familiar movable chords.
We covered the CAGED 1 form in a previous lesson, and today we're
gonna work through the A CAGED form, also known as CAGED #2, also
known as Ooframawash-Kabal Klep. Really.
Are we going to practice the new chord shapes we create by playing
them in any random order, over and over like a robot? Heck no.
We're gonna make *music* with these babies. Do you remember how
we do that? You got it: we put each new chord we learn into our
Supreme and supremely musical ii-V-I progression. If God didn't
invent the ii-V-I, you can bet your bodega that he plays the frets
off of it, wherever he/she/it is.
Just as we did in the previous lesson, we want to work out the
CAGED 2 form around the 5th fret, because we dig how easy it is
to play chords there, once our hands get used to making the bar
chords and other movable forms.
CAGED 2 refers to the set of open position chords with A as their
root, because it's letter number 2 in C-A-G-E-D. Let's translate
the A major open position chord to its movable form. Here's good
ol' A major with the fingering shown in the right column.
Is this fingering a surprise to you? Were you expecting something
with 3 fingers instead of one? However you play the open A major
is fine, as long as it has notes A, C#, and E. If you've never
seen the one finger A, give it a shot. It's great for rock and
Now, we need to slide the open A up toward the middle of the
fretboard, fret 5. It's going to become a D major. Here's the
Remember to give your hands a break when you make this bar chord.
If you've never played this shape before, your hand *will* get
tired, especially if you're playing a steel string acoustic.
Do you see how the E, A, and C# slid up from the second fret
to become the A, D and F# at the seventh fret? We just changed
the finger we used to fret those notes: instead of using the first
finger, we used the third finger.
And we top off (actually "bottom off," with a bass note) the
whole pattern with the first finger on the root, D. This is on
the 5th string, fret 5.
Building the ii
We now have our One chord, the D major. What other chords do
we need? Remember we're doing a 16251 progression, as we've done
in previous installments of All About Chords. So, if we have D
as our One, what's our vi? B minor. What's our ii? E minor. We're
gonna create movable chord shapes for both of these, but out of
order. First we'll look at creating the E minor movable form.
Making the E minor
Making a movable chord shape for the E minor gets us into an
interesting sub-project. We want to build our movable E minor
form up around the fifth fret. The question is, what open position
chord do we use to make this E minor form?
Take a look at the "parent" of our D major movable form: the
open A major chord. It's time for a little musical math. Don't
worry, it won't hurt unless you have silver fillings in your teeth.
What's the musical distance we take to descend from D to A? A
descending perfect fourth, correct? Why do we need to know this?
What's it got to do with creating a movable E minor form? Hang
on. We're getting to that.
We descend a perfect fourth to get from D back to its open position
parent, chord A. Here's the key question: what chord do we get
if we descend a p4 from the E minor chord we need to create a
pattern for? Answer: B minor. Is there such a creature as an open
position B minor? Dig this form with its fingering:
I bet you probably never learned this open position chord. I
never did when I first started playing. It's a super simple chord,
though, and a piece of cake to translate into a movable form,
as you'll see in a second.
First, notice that this isn't a pure B minor. It's a B minor
7. Recall from one of the previous lessons in this series (Part
3, Flavors of Dm) that a minor 7 chord is just another flavor
of a minor chord: wherever you see "minor 7" notated, you can
generally play a simple minor chord instead, and vice versa.
We're gonna use this min7 form, not the regular minor, to make
a movable form. Why? Because we like the "mellow tone" that extra
note (the flat 7) gives us. And because it's easier to finger
a Bmin7 than it is a Bm.
Let's make that Bm7 movable now. We start by changing the fingering
on the open position Bm. We then slide the form up, adding the
first finger as we do this. Here we go:
First we change fingers:
Then we slide up to make the E minor 7 movable form:
We now have an Em7, our ii chord for the 16251 progression in
Let's summarize that process we just took to create the Em7.
I look back and see I threw a lot of words at you. I want to make
sure I didn't muddy your view of the big picture. Here's what
we just did, and why we did it.
Our goal was to create an E minor chord around the fifth fret.
Why fret five? Because that's where we're playing our One chord,
the D major.
Why an E minor chord? Because that's a ii (Two) in D major, and
we're building a 16251 progression.
We discovered a way of making the E minor form by remembering
how we made the D major movable form: we made D major from the
A major open position form.
We noticed that A is a perfect fourth down from D.
We asked, "What chord root is a perfect fourth down from E?"
We looked around for an open position B minor chord, and found
a super easy, two-finger form.
We then moved that B minor form up from open position, changing
the fingers we fret it with, and adding the first finger, too.
We slid this form up until it became the E min 7 chord.
Is this the *only* way of learning a new, movable chord shape?
Heck no. It's just one approach. Instead of using this approach,
you could have found a cool, movable E minor shape by starting
with an E minor triad with top note at string 2, fret 5:
From there, you'd look at your D string and ask, "What note in
E minor or E minor 7 can I play on this string? Answer, G. Do
the same thing with string 5: "What note in E minor 7 can I reach
on the A string?" Answer: E.
This last approach using triads goes much smoother, obviously,
if you know your triads, including all their inversions. A fun
way of learning those triads is the Blues
Triad Mastery lesson, which you may already have worked through.
The vi chord
Let's build the vi now. Remember that we're working in D major,
so our vi is a B minor. To create the B minor movable form, we're
gonna borrow from the A major bar chord we used last lesson. Here's
the A major:
Here's what happens if we slide this baby up two frets, and make
the major third into a minor third: We get this B minor chord
Add one more change to this form to make it even easier to play.
Dig this one finger form:
|---| |-1-| <==Put your finger here,
|-7-| |-1-| but don't play this note.
Note: see how we're skipping the E note on the fifth string here?
You *could* play it to get a more mellow sound; you'd be playing
a Bm11. But you also want to know how *not* to hit that E note:
don't strum it. Use the Pick Fingerpick technique. Read about
We now have the 1, the 6, and the 2 from the 16251 progression.
What's left? The 5. That's A7 in the key of D major, correct?
We already know this form: it's just the A major bar chord minus
the fourth finger:
We now have all our movable chord forms for the 16251 progression.
Let's play the progression.
Get the Power Tab file for this progression here:
Power Tab File
And if you don't have the de-luscious and delightful and free
Power Tab app, you must drop the dishes right now and get it here:
And if you're a Mac user, I deeply apologize for your broken
dishes. But, you can get the MIDI here:
Practice the progression just given until you get it smooth.
In the next lesson, we're gonna do some arpeggios and possibly
some chord melody to go with the Dmajor, CAGED 2 work we started
in this lesson. We might even get to some Blues to serve up with
that chord melody.
Speaking of the Blues, we bring out the Blues in the Guitar Chords
guide. There's a fingerpicking Blues, a strumming Blues, and a
Blues to tie your shoes. Guitar Chords also has progressions for
rock and jazz, and chord charts to keep your fingers busy and
your ears happy.
2002 Darrin Koltow, All rights reserved
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