Mandolin Chords in:

The Key of Bb

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In this installment: The key of Bb

This is the fifth installment of a series of articles designed to help those at the beginner/intermediate level learn mandolin chords, as they would apply to each given key. Here we are covering the key of B flat in this article. So letís get started with the basic chords in the key of B flat.

The Basic chords in the key of Bb                                                                 Chart 1

Now let me explain the chord charts in case you donít understand them. They represent the mandolin's neck, as you would look at it sideways. From right to left are the four (pairs of) strings of the mandolin and the horizontal lines represent the frets. Got it? Good. Each finger is represented by a number from 1-4, with 1 being the index finger, 2 being the middle finger, 3 being the ring finger and 4 being the pinky. The "0" means that the string isnít fretted, just plucked. Whenever you see a line connecting the dots, it means that all of the dots are pressed down by the same finger. Which is called "barring" the chord. Simplified: one finger lays across the strings. Above, Iíve shown the basic chords for the key of B flat. Below are some additional chords that I refer to as substitute chords.

Some substitute chords for the key of Bb                                                     Chart 2


In chart 2, I have listed what are called substitute chords. Letís say you played the first chords listed in chart 1, in the order that they were listed. For the B flat major chord, you can substitute a B flat major 7th chord. The C minor chord can be replaced by the C minor 7th chord. The same is true for each of the remaining. Play them. Has a jazzy ring to it, doesnít it? Some people refer to substitute chords as orchestral chords but it doesnít matter. A rose by any other name still has a thorn. Iíve included additional substitute chords so that you can improve your chordal vocabulary. Youíll be the life of the party and the envy of all your peers. You will be on your way to achieving greatness. The sky is the limit. Letís move on to some more substitute chords.

                                                                                                                                              Chart 3



You may have noticed that two of the chord diagrams in chart 3 have a number to the left of them. Letís use the C suspended 2nd as an example. The 5 to the left of the diagram means that the first fret displayed is to be regarded as the fifth fret on your mandolin.
So now weíll close by saying that we hope you will find this article useful in the process of learning mandolin chords. If there is something you think we should add, just send a letter or E-mail and weíll be happy to give your suggestions some consideration. We covered 20 chords in this lesson and in each future installment weíll cover 20 more. So keep on playing and weíll see you next time.

Bob Craypoe

Next installment: The key of A

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