Guitar Chords in:

The Key of C

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In this installment: The key of C

This is the first installment of what I hope will be a series of useful articles, designed to help the beginner/intermediate guitarist learn guitar chords, as they apply to each given key. We start with the key of C in this issueís article. In music theory, the key of C is basically the center of the tonal universe, and therefore, a good place to start. Now everybody has a different method that they may apply when attempting to teach what Iím about to. If this doesnít work for you, accept my apologies and donít let it discourage you. If it does work for you, then my life will have had some meaning. Letís start with the basic chords in the key of C.

The Basic chords in the key of C                                                                 Chart 1

Now let me explain the chord charts in case you donít understand them. They represent the guitar neck, as you would look at it sideways. From right to left are the six strings of the guitar 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 "x" means that the string isnít played, plucked, strummed or touched. Leave it alone! 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 C. Below are some additional chords that I refer to as substitute chords.

Some substitute chords for the key of C                                                   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 C major chord, you can substitute a C major 7th chord. The D minor chord can be replaced by the D 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 most of the chord diagrams in chart 3 have a number to the left of them. Letís use the Dm 9th 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 guitar. Okay? So now weíll close by saying that we hope you will find this article useful in the process of improving yourself as a guitarist. 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. Any feedback you give will be appreciated. We want to make improvements on the magazine wherever possible. Your suggestions will be crucial in achieving that. We also appreciate positive feedback as well. That will help us to determine what we should keep and what we should discard. We covered 17 chords in this issue and in each issue weíll cover 17 more. So keep on strumming and weíll see you next time.

Bob Craypoe

Next installment:                                                                              The key of G

 

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