Jun 19, 2024

Voicings and chords and stacking it up and hamburgers

We played a gig in Victoria at a place called Martian’s Cafe. It was full of alien lifeforms. I had this for dinner. Check it out

wow, what a burger!

While I was thinking about how to eat it without getting it all over my shirt I had a little daydream where I posed some questions about guitar chord voicings and music.
You can have a lot of ingredients in your music. But how do they stack up?
Is there something you can leave out that will make it just as effective and have a lighter “feeling”?
Are all your ingredients OK but are they are not presented in a way that is easily digestible by the listener?
Ok that all sounds a bit silly so let’s get specific.
Here is some food for thought:
Q.What are the essential notes in a chord?
A.The third will tell you wether it is major or minor and the seventh tells you if it is a major or a flat seventh.
So what?
Well check it out.
If I play this..

That is the root (C) and the major 3rd (E) of a C major chord. This is enough bread and butter to give you the sound of a Cmajor chord. That is the minimum to describe that sound harmonically. May not seem like much of a flavour but it is solid foundation to make a meal with. So now throw down some more fingers and see how the sound changes. There are only 6 strings on a guitar so that will be the maximum number of voices you will get. Try with a 3 note voicing, like this:

C major chord
and when we add a 4th voice like this:
You get a Cmaj7 chord.

Remember if you are strumming these chords as opposed to plucking them you will have to mute unwanted strings with your left hand fingering.
If you think about chords as being a number of voices all being played together as well as just a shape on the neck it can really open it up for you.
Joe Pass used to say “it’s all under your hand”
Play a couple of voices and then see what is under your hand to make up some some new sounds and chords you haven’t thought of or played before. Try that first two note voicing (example1) with different fingers and find “what is under your hand.” How do you choose what voicings go where? It is all a matter of knowledge and taste, just like any meal preparation. We will explore this further in future posts. Anyway I hope you have enjoyed this juicy morsel.

You are the sum total of your experiences and you are what you eat!

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date Brothers Martians Cafe

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