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Chord Shape Improvisation, Part 1

Josh Graves (2401) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

"Chord shapes" can be utilized to create interesting melodic ideas while improvising. The good thing about this is that you can use "chord shapes" you already know and move right into creating effective lead solos. There are only three "chord shapes" we will be using, the open chord shapes of "E", "A", and "D".

In this lesson we will look at the 3 basic movable "chord shapes" with their root note based on the sixth, fifth, and fourth strings, for minor chords. Major chords and more advanced improvisational techniques will be discussed in Chord Shape Improvisation, Part 2.

First of all, I have been and will continue to be referring to "chord shapes" throughout this lesson. "Chord shapes" do NOT indicate a root note, so the "A Shape" is often not an A chord (my lesson on the CAGED system will help with this idea). I will always put "chord shapes" in quotations to distinguish them from the actual names of chords.

The three movable minor "chord shapes" are:

"E shape"
"A shape"
"D shape"
These are the open chord counterparts of the movable shapes, and you probably recognize them. In this case, the names of the shapes and the root notes are the same, but the names of the shapes must remain constant so that they can be discussed in other positions. The open strings will be barred by the index finger, and the remaining fingers will form the chord shape.

"E Shape"

This is also the "E Shape", although I have moved it to the 5th position. The "E" indicates the "chord shape", not the root note. This is very important. The root note is now A.