Chords in C Major
These are all triads, save the Dominant chord in place of the diminished chord for the viio chord [the diminished triad is inside the V7]. The diminished chord is included later in this session.
We are playing 3 beat measures. It can be played in 4 or 6; put your own spin on it. We extend the V7 and final tonic chord [I = C] for 2 measures.
There are changing elements [adding melody, melodic tone toggling, which is lifting and landing/adding and subtracting fingers while a chord is happening]. This can add color and melodic interest to our rhythm playing.
Figure out what else can be added/toggled based on what you hear and fingerings. You’ll most likely discover sounds from songs you know.
Playing chord scales is a primary practice. It tunes our ears to what is inside of a key. It provides the base chords for any key. It creates a solid starter set for figuring out songs. I’ve included the 7th chord versions & a discussion of our chord catalog for a key, but for now, really focus on getting the triads in the hands.
All of the chords you find on this page are found within the first position scale.
Guitar voicings are expressions of harmony, in fingerings, on the fretboard. We have a lot of options for how we express harmony, yet all chord architecture on the guitar can be based on the chord shapes C, A, C, E, and G. We will be venturing into CAGED later in our sequence. We did move the R5 E shape in our power chord sessions. For now, let’s index the idea…all chords can be viewed to be based on 5 chord shapes [CAGED]. Below the tab are the chord shapes which each of the fingerings are based on [can be viewed to be based on].
The big numbers are frets, the little numbers are fingers. When a chord has numbers on each side, these are alternate fingerings, or fingerings that are a part of a bar chord.
P = position of fretting hand. P1 = Position 1.
These are basic open string first position chords.
F is a new fingering from the one found in Chord Connect. F has a lot of options, we’ve chosen the inside four strings from an E form. This makes it a slash chord [F/C - since C is in the bass - chord/bass tone], but it can work fine when F is written or desired. I toggle off the 2 finger to an open. We can also just use the FMaj7 [F
7] shown under 7ths, below.
The G7 at the end is in place of a Bo chord. The tones in Bo are B-D-F which are the 3-5-7 of a G7. G7 = R-3-5-b7 = G-B-D-F. G7 is called the Dominant 7. The triad G is the Dominant. The Dominant is a Major chord in position 5 to the root. C-D-E-F-G = 1-2-3-4-5.
Our goal is to strum it ascending [and descending], with no strumming breaks. Or, fingerpick it.
We also memorize it.
Take notice that the qualities of chord are I, IV, V Major, ii iii vi minor.
Numbers in the dots are suggested fingerings. Empty strings are muted or not played [most often muted, if strummed].
For the F, the littler dot is for a 2 string bar. I only use it as a hinge bar for melodic toggling. Or leave the one string open. It works open for all 2 of its harmonic positions [I, IV, V]. Each is an instance of F, each from a different key. F is the I in F, IV in C, V in B-flat. It doesn’t work open in B-flat, which has an e-flat.
The true viio chord is a diminished. In songs we don’t see them much. We do hear the 7 chord version [shown below] in blues and jazz, acoustic rock. Learn the diminished triad [even playing it in place of G7], but remember that the V7 of the key has the diminished chord in it.
So, I IV V Major, ii iii vi minor, viio diminished.
We can wait on this set until later. Take a look, circle back if needed. Typically we learn the triadic chord scales in C, then G, then D and so on [around the wheel on the 'guitar key' side]. I introduce the 7ths after starting the G Major triadic chord scale, or even after D. It depends on the student.
7 for each chord
7 = Maj7 = Major 7 = 7th that is 11 half steps away from root.
7 = 7th is 10 half steps away from root.
If the 7 is in a Major chord, it is a Dominant 7 [just 7].
If the 7 is in a minor chord, it is a minor 7 [m7 or min7 or -7].
m7b5 = minor 7, flat 5 = half diminished 7 
Once 7′s the chords are I IV are Major 7, V is Dominant 7, ii iii and vi are minor 7, viio becomes m7b5.
Chord Catalog in a Key
Our first chord set are the diatonic triads in a key center. They are the I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viio. These are inside. Diatonic.
Nondiatonic chords are chords with tones which aren’t in the key. This is a mention…
There are two main classes: flat Majors and secondary dominants.
Flat Majors are understood as comparisons to what is in the key. We take a chord that is normal to the key, lower it a half-step, make it Major. In C, the bII is Db, b3 is Eb, and so on.
Secondary Dominants are Major chords that are a V of something in the key. A minor’s V chord is E. E is a V/vi ["the five of six"] to the key of C.