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Thread: Picking order

  1. #1
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    Picking order

    Hi, I'm just learning basic chords to expand my chord vocabulary. What I was wondering is when you are coming up with tunes, do you choose a chord where the root will be the first picked (and further, chord that lays out the other notes of the chord in an accessible fashion)? For instance, you could play an A7 with the root on the 1st string or the 5th or 4th. But, it feels more natural to play the lowest note first--which would be a 5th string root (I'm talking mainly fingerstyle guitar, but it could refer to strumming too). So, my question mainly has to do with chord choice and the why you would choose one over the other. If you choose a 7 chord on 3rd string you have around 5 options (for a 4 string 7 chords). What is the deciding factor for you?
    thanks

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EaZiE View Post
    Hi, I'm just learning basic chords to expand my chord vocabulary. What I was wondering is when you are coming up with tunes, do you choose a chord where the root will be the first picked (and further, chord that lays out the other notes of the chord in an accessible fashion)? For instance, you could play an A7 with the root on the 1st string or the 5th or 4th. But, it feels more natural to play the lowest note first--which would be a 5th string root (I'm talking mainly fingerstyle guitar, but it could refer to strumming too). So, my question mainly has to do with chord choice and the why you would choose one over the other. If you choose a 7 chord on 3rd string you have around 5 options (for a 4 string 7 chords). What is the deciding factor for you?
    thanks
    Good question. Personal choice rules. Normally the one that is easiest for me to form and then can I get to the next chord with out a lot of movement is something else that comes into the decision making process.

    Most chord generators will list the accepted fingering first then show several other ways to make that same chord. I would recommend you go with the accepted pattern first. It does seem that there is always another way of making any chord. http://www.gootar.com/folder/guitar.html For example the major triad is made of the root, 3 and 5 degree of the roots major scale. Any R-3-5 notes your fingers can get to will work, i.e. any ones you can span with your fingers, help yourself. The minor triad is R-b3-5. Flat the 3rd note of the major scale and you get a minor chord. Point being - use the best pattern to fret those notes? http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm

    For example: Try sounding just the three inside strings, just the 2, 3 & 4 strings - barre @ the 5th fret sounding the C-E-G notes will give you an easy C major chord. That same barre at the 2nd fret will get you an A major chord, etc. F giving you problems? Take that 3 string barre to the 10th fret. Not saying this is the best way, no, it's just another way.

    Then there are the finger friendly patterns: http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/42
    Check out the C, G, E7, Em7 and that ole F. Again, just another way.

    To answer your question go with the one that is shown in published diaphragms. Why? The old guys have researched this problem and come up with an accepted pattern that will probably work best. If you do not like it for some reason find a pattern you like. I use the one finger C, G & G7 all the time and no one has ever come on stage and beat me around the head and face for using these patterns. LOL. Why do I use them? Well they are dirt simple AND they provide a different voice. If you have two and God forbid three guitars all using full chords it is going to get muddy. One playing "in another voice" helps with the mud.

    The above is for strumming chords, you mentioned fingerpicking. That's a different story. Most of the time you form the pattern with your left hand the same way you would if you were going to strum the chord and then pick specific strings in a pattern with your right hand fingers (p, i, m, a). Two different things. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/...CD-Set/4064134

    Have fun.

    See my next post.....................
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-27-2012 at 06:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EaZiE ........... So, my question mainly has to do with chord choice and the why you would choose one over the other.
    OK now that is also a good question. And I think you are asking which chord (C, Dm, F, G, etc.) best fits the song. If so let's start here - what do chord do? They harmonize the melody line. They do this by sharing some like notes so ...... if the melody is made up of the E, D, C, D, E, E, E notes (Mary had a little lamb) which chord will harmonize that melodic phrase?

    First choice would seem to be the E chord, however, the C major chord has the C, E & G notes so looks like a C major chord would be a good candidate with two of the melody notes in it's makeup.

    The Am chord has the A, C & E notes so it too would have two like notes and harmonize the melody phrase as well. You need one like note, two are better and three are probably not necessary.

    The following video will go into detail about those E notes and the E chord.

    Which best harmonizes those melody notes? Good question. C major or Am? Both will work. If the phrase is happy then the C major chord fits. If the phrase is sad the the Am chord would fit best.

    So chord choice gets involved in some music theory and several factors come into play with this decision.
    And I'm not sure if this is what you are asking, I may be taking you down a road you care nothing about. In case you would like to go into this the following video will answer some of your questions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrDh0OFDCAk

    The chord used under a melodic phrase should accomplish the following:
    Harmonize that specific phrase by sharing some like notes. If the melody line and the harmony line share some like notes the two lines will harmonize - sound good. So that is one function the chords play.

    Another is to move the verse along from I (rest) to IV (tension) to V7 (climax) and then resolve the tension by returning to the tonic I chord, i.e. back to rest so a new verse, thought, phrase - whatever - can start.

    So chords move the verse (story) along and harmonize the melody being played. Hang on, going deep. So you have your movement working I IV V7 I but the harmony is not quite right. Solution - insert into your chords a harmonizing note. If a 7th note will harmonize the phrase - make the IV a maj7 chord instead of a major triad or if a 2 or 4 note would harmonize the chord - a sus chord may be called for. By substituting a 2 or 4 note for the 3 note you solve that problem. If you need a specific note to get the chord harmonizing your phrase insert that needed note into the chord as an extension. That's where all those "fancy chords" come from.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-27-2012 at 04:51 PM.

  4. #4
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    string order

    Thanks for replying Malcolm. For instance, I can play a 7 chord on the 6-5-4-3 strings (3-b7-r-5) w/ root on the 4th st. I can play 7th on 4-3-2-1 strings (r-5-b7-3). Notice how the root is on the 4th string in both, but the other notes are different. In fingerstyle guitar you usually pick the root first. There are also note leading rules. When picking out notes it is more natural to pick the thumb first and climb up the scale (I believe most songs go in this general slope too. In the first example with the root coming after two notes I was wondering how you would utilize it. I'm wondering how, if I would use the first chord above, it would work, because jumping from root down doesn't seem natural in a melody (but I could be wrong). So I'm thinking more in terms of melody writing than harmonizing. Of course with strumming you may not notice where the note comes when they are all played together, but with picking out a melody those orders work. So, are certain chords more "valuable"?
    Thanks again.

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    So, are certain chords more "valuable"?
    Root and fifth are normally generic and fit well. If you get lost a vamp of the I and V will keep you in the game till you can find your place.

    The 3 calls attention to the chord being (b3) minor or (3) major. The seven plays a role in the major minor thing. Of course the diminished is another beast all together - m7b5 is a great lead somewhere chord. The I IV V is the old classic major do no wrong progression.

    The ii plays a big part in jazz, i.e. ii V7 I.

    Back on finger picking - do a Google on Common Fingerpicking Patterns. Three or four mixed and matched to the song usually works.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJjWcGzdhBA Notice there are several more in the right hand side of the screen.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 10-12-2012 at 03:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    Eazie, there isn’t a set rule for this. If you understand how inversions work and the fact that you can play any of the notes of the chord in any order, you can pretty much decide to do whatever you want. The main considerations to think about are if you like the way it sounds and also if it fits whatever was in the music before and will come after that chord.

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