Axe of Creation: Tip the Chord Scales in your favor…(Part 3)

What’s going on everyone!? Welcome to another installment of Axe of Creation here at the wonderful Gear Snobs. Last week, we continued our discussion of Chord Scales, and talked a little about how chords function within a key. This week, we’ll touch on inversion and put those functions to use.

A Voicing All Your Own

Have you ever seen those guitar books labeled something along the lines of “1001 Guitar Chords”? And I assume you thought “10o1 chords, how do you remember them all!?” Well, lucky for you there aren’t 1001 chords…but there are probably 1001 ways to play or “voice” chords on the guitar. To quote the great Neo, “Choice. The problem is choice”. Take a look below at just a small example of the different ways or voicings you can play a C Major chord…

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That doesn’t even include just playing triads and all inversions. Personally, I love exploring as many chord voicings as I can. It helps with learning the notes on the fretboard as well as inspiring new song ideas. I highly encourage you to invest some time into exploring those mentioned triads and inversions, for both Major and Minor chords. It’s a little out of scope for this month’s lesson. In the example below, I take a simple C chord, move step-wise to the C/E inversion, then up to a C/G inversion, and finally back to root position. But hey, look at that! We traveled all the way up the fretboard!

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From Function to Purpose

Okay, okay. Greg, what about all that chord function you talked about last week? I’m getting their my impatient inner monologue. Remember, we have three functions; Root, Transition, and Tension. For the sake of brevity, let’s string four chords together. Our progression will look like this i – iv – vii* – V7. If we label these chords as their functions we would get, a very straightforward, Root-Transition-Tension. I’ve put this brief progression in the Key of C Minor, hence our chords are Cmin11 – Fm9 – Bm7b5 -G7. Don’t let these fancy jazz extensions scare you. This type of movement or function can be played with simple power chords if that’s your fancy.

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For songwriting purposes, you’ll probably want to slow down your forward progress. Embellish (repeat) the I -IV (Root-Transition) relationship, taking full advantage of all the chord voicings you know (or don’t know yet).

That wraps up Part 3 of our journey into chord scales. Next week we will explore a little more into creating progressions and dabble in modulation. Be well, my friends!

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Gregory Arthur is Axe of Creation, a Gear Snob, and a Father of Two. He challenges you to become uncomfortable with yourself in attempts to gain a new perspective. Never give your energy away to what you’re not. Focus on what resonates within you and bring forth in creation. 

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