Your Musical Palette

If your are new to guitar, or playing any instrument, for that matter, you may feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities of notes and chords found in the umpteen katrillion songs out there. This is a common sense of dread faced by all of us, at one time or another. But, tada, not to worry as you are about to discover the SECRETS to understanding the universe! At least, the musical universe.

Okay, the secret really isn't a secret to most musicians. You see, as you can read in The Key to It All, all songs are played in a certain KEY. Each of these keys has a series of notes and chords which sound good together and our ears are used to hearing them together. Just as a visual artist might place certain colors on his palette that will look good together on a painting, the musician has a palette of notes/chords which will sound good together. So if you want to visualize placing the notes and chords on this palette it is then just a matter of choosing from these "correct" notes/chords to create a lovely piece of music.

Of the seven notes/chords in each basic key we actually find THREE of these chords to be the most important and the ones that make up the majority of our songs. These three chords account for the majority of our music. COOL! So, by knowing what KEY you are playing a song you will know the THREE BASIC chords that make up the song.

So, let's say you are playing Jingle Bells in C major (nearly every holiday tune is a three note tune). You start on the C chord and then as the melody changes to notes in the next chord you simply transition to the next chord in the song. Since there are only THREE chords, and you are already playing one of the three chords, you need only choose between the two remaining chords. Should you choose incorrectly, and play the wrong chord, it is a simple process to just play the other one (we will just call the wrongly choosen chord a "passing chord" simply added to make the song have more texture and depth.

Here is a chart of all the major and minor keys and the three most important chords for each key. These chords are numbered the I, IV and V chords. In general, Roman numerals are used to designate chords and the Greek numbers, 1, 2, 3, etc., are used to designate notes (and sometimes fingers on your hands and the fret number)


 

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