Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Chords are groups of notes that, when played together, make a pleasant sound. Chords areused to accompany melodies. Each chord is named for its bass note, and is made up of thefirst (bass note), third, and fifth notes in a scale. The first thing most people want to learn todo on the guitar is to play simple chords.

The first chord we learn is known as the C chord, since it is built on the bass note C.

Fingering the C chord

Try placing the fingers as in the illustration, keeping the following points in mind:
  • Press just behind the fret. If you are too far back the string will buzz against the fret.

  • Keep a slight curve on the fingers—don’t let the joints straighten out or give way.

  • Keep the thumb behind the neck, slightly forward of the first fret. Don’t bend this joint—keep it back.

  • Don’t press too hard. Accuracy is more important than force.

  • When you are ready, sound the chord by sweeping your thumb across the upper fivestrings.

There is a great pleasure in hearing your first chord when the guitar is in tune and resonant.When you have it right, take the hand away and do it again from scratch. Continue untilyou can find the chord quite easily.

There is a fair amount of detail involved in the correct placement of the left hand, and goodhabits formed at this stage will pay off tremendously as you continue.

The chord can be shown graphically in various ways. Perhaps the easiest to recognize is thechord block showing part of the guitar fingerboard with round dots representing the fingertips.

A chord block showingthe C chord

Notice that the fingering is shown by the numbers at the top of the strings. Number 1 represents the index finger, 2 the middle finger, 3 the ring finger, and 4 the little finger. Strings not to be played are marked with an X. The O note denotes an open (unfingered) string. A wide variety of popular music is published with the appropriate chord blocks printed right above the melodies, making this a great and easy way to learn chords. The finger numbers shown here are for the initial learning of chords—sheet music that includes chord blocks will normally show only the dot positions, and the X and 0 markings. This is partially because chords may have different fingerings according to the situation.