Supplemental Material for Pages 12 & 13 (Chapter 1)

Chord Progressions

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General info about pages 12 & 13
These pages provide some very practical exercises. As you practice, be sure you are using the indicated strum, and playing at a reasonable tempo. Don't try to play faster than what you can play comfortably and musically. However, play fast enough to give some sense of a steadily flowing beat. A metronome setting of quarter notes at about 72 is a reasonable minimum speed. If you can't switch chords smoothly enough to make these examples sound like the guitar parts to actual songs, practice the top halves of pages 2, 4, 6, and 10 some more, and come back to these pages in a week or two.

Throughout pages 12 and 13, the progressions end with measures marked "To repeat" and "To end". Each progression may be played over & over. Play the measure marked "To repeat", and then jump back o the beginning as indicated by the repeat sign except when you're finally going to end the exercise. That time (and that time only), skip the measure marked "To repeat" (since you're not going to repeat anymore), and play the measure marked "To end" instead (since you're ending!). For more about "first and second endings", see the information regarding page 9 (click here).

Progression 1 is in a minor key. (Without getting technical about "key", you can hear that this is "minor" because it mostly uses minors, and ultimately resolves on a minor chords. Tip: The chord that a progression resolves to/ends on is practically always an indication of what "key" you're in; this progression is in the key of "A minor".

For ear training, notice the variation between E7 and Eminor. The Eminor sounds quite correct, as does E7. But E7 has a stronger "pull" to Aminor; it seems in greater need of resolution. Listen for this critical difference. For better or worse, your typical guitarist is not an especially strong note reader. That means you may be relying on your ear alot. Learning to recognize the various qualities of chords when you hear them is very advantageous. Regarding the strum: Stick to nice, clean, clearly-defined quarter notes. Avoid the temptation to add any variations. This is an important discipline that will help you become a supportive player when accompanying other musicians.

Progression 2, like progression 1, employs variations in chord qualities. You'll see both Amin and A7, D and D7. Focus your ear on how the dominant chords resolve, or lead you to expect a certain chord to be next. Unlike progression 1, this is in a major key. (Note that it resolves to the G major chord: you're in G!).

From a playing standpoint, I think this is the toughest of the 9 progressions on pages 12 & 13. By beginners' standards, these chord changes really get the fingers moving. This one also requires that you pay attention to detail. It's easy to miss the variations in the chord qualities. Be sure you're really playing each chord correctly. And stick to those quarter notes!

Progression 3 goes beyond quarter notes, and asks for the strum from page 9. Review if necessary; this rhythm is something you're likely to use often. The indications for "downward" and "upward" strumming are omitted; remember to strum downward on the beats (1, 2, 3, 4), and upward on the "ands" (the eighth notes in between the downbeats). Tapping your foot is strongly recommended.

Note that this progression is in the key of G, even though it starts with an Amin. Remember, the chord it sounds correct to end on is a better indicator of "key" than the chord a song happens to begin with.

Progression 4 combines different rhythms. Review exercise 4 on page 9 if this is giving you any trouble. If you sing, or can "hear" melodies over chord progressions, you may notice that this could be the chords for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and/or "Puff the Magic Dragon".

Progression 5 is in 3/4 time. Be sure you're playing just three beats per measure. Review page 7 if 3/4 time is causing any problems. Progression 6 includes many instances of one chord being played for 2 consecutive measures. In fact, as you approach the repeat sign and jump back up to the beginning, you'll be playing four consecutive measures of D (the last 2 measures followed by the first 2 measures). Count carefully so as not to get lost!

Progressions 7 & 8 are examples of "8-bar blues" progressions. This simply means that they contain many of the elements of the 12 bar blues (most notably the use of dominant I, IV, and V chords), but happen to be just 8 measures long. Be sure you're generating a nice triplet strum, using downward strums exclusively. Review page 11 if you need more work on the triplets.

These 8-bar patterns are used for many well-known songs within the blues repertoire. Progression 7 resembles "It Hurts Me Too", and "Sitting On Top of the World", while progression 8 is "Key To The Highway" (and probably many other songs, too!).

Progression 9 is a minor-key blues. This simply means that in the key of A (for example), the A is minor (actually making the key "A minor" instead of "A"). Notice that in this example, Dmin is also used in place of D (or D7). Although in our example it is not, the E chord may also sometimes be minor. Try experimenting with different variations of D7/Dmin, and E7/Emin.

Remember: the blues form is critical to practically all styles of popular music. You'll need to be familiar with these types of progressions even if you don't aspire to be a "blues" guitar player. Review page 11 regularly, memorize progressions 7, 8, and 9 from page 13, and pay special attention to subsequent pages that address blues progressions.



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