How To Read Chords
How To Read Chords
Learn how to properly read the chords on your guitar through this video, and you will be able to play it nice and sweet.
Hello, my name's Matthew Forbes from The Music Workshop Company. I'm going to take you through how to tune some instruments, how to play them basically, and also how to read the notated music form. Reading chords off lead sheets on a guitar goes as follows that you're given the melody written down which, most of the time on the guitar, you aren't actually playing, you are just overlaying the harmonies underneath.
So, it's the chord symbols above the music that's of interest to you on the guitar. Anytime you see a letter on its own such as C, that means, actually the major chord, so the C major chord there. The minor chords are represented with the letter name of the key, the bass, so A minor and it's written as either Am or A min, both short for minor.
So, A minor, D minor, and so on. When you see on a lead sheet a chord or a letter name with a dash and then another letter name, it's the first letter, as a guitarist, that you're most interested in because that's the basic chord. The second letter is actually the bass note.
If on the guitar, you are comfortable with putting the bass note and voicing the chord in that way, so putting the second note as your bass note, then all well and good. But it's not absolutely essential. For example, I have the Lennon-McCartney song “Yesterday” here, which includes F/C, so it's some F chord with the C in the bass.
But I don't always, I'm not always able to reach those bass notes comfortably on the guitar, so it's the first letter that I'm most concerned with. It's important as a guitarist to be able to time your changes very carefully. So as you'll see on the music here, the chord changes happen on the strong beats of the bar and that is the way you change your left hand to meet the chords.
You're not necessarily trying to shadow exactly the rhythm of the melody. So, the melody, if I sing it, I will also change the chords on time, hopefully, and it goes “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now, it looks as though they're here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.” So, the chord changes on the guitar actually much simpler timing-wise than what's going on in the melody. It's very important to know where those changes occur.
Other chords that come up are the seventh chords, so you'll see in the second to the last bar a D7. That means it's the major chord of D but with the minor seventh added, so D7 is there or wherever you are, the voicing is there. You also get minor seventh chords, so we had a normal A minor earlier, a minor seventh is still in that chord with the minor sound but with the minor seventh added, so we have a minor seventh.
We also have a major seventh chord which is written out as for example, C, it would be a large C and then maj for the major and the seventh as well in a shorthand, so C major seventh, and that would be the major chord but also with the major seventh which is C that would be natural. So, it would turn out with this. It's a major seventh chord.
Diminished seventh, they are usually written either dim 7 in shorthand or a simple circle after the main letter and a small 7. So, a G diminished seventh on the guitar would be G small circle and a 7. And that's how to read the chords on your guitar. .