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Bring Chords To Life With This Cool Tool

Dominic Hatchuel (4861) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1

Welcome, hi there, etc. This is a method I now use for drawing chord diagrams, and I've found that it helps me out a heck of a lot. In short, it's a kick-butt tool for the beginner, or anyone who's interested in chords. I'd like to say I developed it, but I'm fairly certain someone's probably done something like this before me. Anyhoo, on with the show.

First, draw yourself a grid to represent the fretboard/fingerboard. I usually draw mine with the low E on the bottom and the top E on the, erm, top, and the nut on the left, which I believe is one of the more common ways of drawing chord diagrams. (I usually make provision for six frets.) Now, above it, you'll be drawing a line, on which you will write the name of the chord to be represented. On the right hand side, draw a line for every string, and underneath your grid, draw a line under each fret. Get the picture? (Yes, we see.)

Now, for instructions. As mentioned, the line above your grid is for the name of the chord, whatever it may happen to be. The lines under your grid are for numbering the frets. For instance, you would start numbering at fret 5 if you were drawing a diagram for an Amaj, barred E form,
and at fret 7 for the Bmaj. Now draw your diagram, by entering dots, squares, whatever on the 'strings' in the appropriate position on the 'fretboard'. (A neat trick is to use a square for the root/tonic, and circles for the other notes.) What've I missed? Oh yeah, those lines on the right hand side of the grid. Let the fun begin!

Those lines serve two purposes. First, you will enter the name of the note. For instance, let's look at that Amaj on the 5th fret. The notes, from bottom to top, would be
A E A C# E A
But wait! That's not all... Next to the note name, you'll be writing in the interval. So, using the same example, the intervals would be (once again from top to bottom)
root 5th root 3rd 5th root

So how does this help? For a long time, I played chords from diagrams like we've all seen. This has given me a new way to look at chords. They're no longer little dots that go together in a pretty pattern, they're living, moving things which have really come alive under my fingers. I'm fast learning which notes will go together in which ways to make up new chord sounds which I may not have encountered before. But perhaps the biggest bonus is that it's helping me learn the fretboard. By knowing the names of the notes in each chord that I play, I'm learning my way around the fretboard a lot quicker that any other method I've used. When I sit and think about chords these days, I'm not think shapes anymore, I'm thinking notes. And that, my friends, rocks.

This is a very basic example, but I feel it should suffice in getting the premise of this way useful tool across. (If you don't know what an interval is, or how to name notes, there are a vast number of lessons on the subject right here at Wholenote. Just do a search in the lesson directory.) An example of the diagram is available here. (It's just an example, I would suggest that if you'd like to use this idea, you do it a couple of ways and see which works the best for you...)

Well, I hope this helps someone, somewhere. And please, feel free to share this with others if it works for you. Toodles!
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