Back to chord building!!

My first blog post here was a reminder of the original “240 chords in 6 minutes” video that I put on Youtube. It was the first of three videos on chord structure which teach a system of increasing chord repertoire to 1200 possible chords in 4 note harmony. The video here is the “next step”, which folks have asked about: “How do you make the more complex chords?”
Those would be ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths. On the guitar, we have logistical issues which arbit for a minimalistic approach, eliminating some notes while adding others, usually trying to preserve the 3rd and 7th, which are the notes which help distinguish between major, minor, and dominant chords.
The general rule is that a ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth chord can be substituted for a seventh chord, although the context helps dictate when this is not appropriate, and sometimes an “altered” chord (the subject of an upcoming blog video) is preferred. For now, just consider this exercise as part of building a chord repertoire.


Posted on June 19, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Charlie Ortolani

    Hi Rolly, a question. Why are 9ths, 11ths and 13ths built over seventh chords? Or are they not alway built that way. (Are odd numbered intervals built on 7th chords and not even numbered ones like 6ths or 4ths?) Would these chords be C7 plus 9/11/13?

    • Charlie,
      To understand the nomenclature of chords, you need to think of this stuff as it appears on the piano; the first octave has 1-3-5-7, then into the next octave for 9-11-13. That’s just the way it’s named, and the assumption is that all the notes leading up to the “highest” number are in the chord. So, yes, a maj13 chord would contain the whole major scale. (On the guitar, of course, we need to minimize.)
      In chords without a 7: The 6 is seen as a different animal, with 1-3-5-6 all in the first octave. The 4 is seen as a suspension that replaces the 3. The 9 is usually identified as “Cadd9”.
      A key thing is that the 7 is a strong part of a chord’s identity, i.e., it often implies the context in which the chord is best used. When you remove it, whether it’s a major 7 or flat 7, the flavor of the chord is notably changed. Duzzat make any sense?

  2. Hello, always i used to check website posts here in
    the early hours in the dawn, as i like to gain knowledge of more and more.

    • Thanks, Edwina, I’ve been neglecting this site recently…too much to do. Watch my youtube channel, for more current postings. Also, a series of DVD’s are in the works from Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. I’ll put links up here as they get released!
      Rolly Brown

  3. Amazing stuff Rolly. Just when you think your going OK on the guitar you find someone like you with so much knowledge. Then I realise I have a long way to go yet on my guitar. Great informative video tuition Rolly. Explained brilliantly. Now I just have to practice it.

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