. . . A Lesson in Chord Theory
Before we continue we need to understand what actually happens when we strum a chord on the guitar. To do this, it is necessary for us to venture into the concept of Music Theory.
Although there are numerous definitions of music theory, we are going to concentrate on studying the basic elements of music, including patterns, structure, sound, melody and harmony as it applies to the guitar.
The remaining lessons are by far the most exciting part of Playing By The Rules. For me, the instructor, it is also the most gratifying. Here is where the ‘lights come on’ and I hear expressions like… “Oh … I get it!” from you the student. I personally experienced this same excitement taking guitar lesson from Eldon Shamblin. Eldon played lead guitar with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. He was a self taught guitar player and a master at chord comping (abbreviated form for accompaniment) and improvisation. He is considered one of the finest jazz guitar players of all time. During a lesson he said: “You play according to knowledge. If all you know is C F and G, that’s all you’re ever going to play”. That comment has stayed with me. Eldon encourage me to expand and explore new sounds, and arrangements. It has heightened my understanding and appreciation for music with a lasting effect. I am confident upon completing Playing By The Rules your understanding and comprehension of music will also have greater meaning.
The chords we have been learning are just the beginning of the many chords that you will learn throughout your years of playing music. Some you will always remember, others you forget. So….here’s what we do! Rather than trying to remember the infinite number of chords it is much easier to know and understand a few basic principles of music theory and apply these principles to the guitar. Kind of like that… “Teach a man to fish…..” thing. The remainder of this book will do just that.
At this point it’s not expected that you play flawlessly. This comes with patience, time and practice. If you have been putting time and effort into your practice sessions, you no doubt are experiencing some fruits of your labor and appreciate what it takes to progress. This reminds me of a story I heard years ago about a tourist who was visiting downtown New York. He asked a local, “Hey ? How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The guy answered, “Practice, Practice, Practice!” This holds true with any endeavor we take on in life.
Okay, so now let’s dive into chord theory!