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
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
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
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.
The key of G