Creative Chording

Welcome back! I hope you're enjoying the lessons so far. Well, we have done a lot of single line stuff like arpeggios, so this time we are going to learn a creative way to play chords. You probably already know all the basic chords and formulas like 7ths, 9ths,11ths and 13ths. If not, there are several good books on that. If you want to break out from those tired old chord shapes, here's how.

Example 1 - If you are playing a Cm7 chord vamp and are not sure where to go, take the available notes of a C Dorian Scale (C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb) and learn it all over the neck. You could get a piece of guitar neck paper and write it out to help you visualize the possibilities. Play any combination of notes from the scale together. You can play from two notes up to five notes together. So there are little pieces of chords to be found all over the neck. In this example, I charted out a few of the infinite possibilities you can construct.

Example 2 - Here we have an example of a Cm groove using this concept. Listen to the audio so you can hear what it should sound like. We are still in C Dorian. Notice in these first two examples we are using the first few frets of the guitar. You will want to learn the whole neck this way. You will notice I mix in single lines between the chords. Doing this will add a cool twist to your rhythm playing.

MP3 - Example 2

Example 3 - Now, let's change the scale to E Mixolydian (E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D). If you are playing an E funk groove, take the available notes of E Mixolydian and put them together in various ways. This is what I came up with. Notice I play off the main riff to establish a groove.

MP3 - Example 3

Example 4 - Our final example uses an F triad (F, A, C). Learn these notes all over the neck. You should learn triads in all 12 keys this way. When you can visualize the notes everywhere, you won't be stuck playing stock voicings. In this example we are comping in F major. We are using all the notes in F, except in bar 4, the Bb note.

MP3 - Example 4


Okay, that's it for now. Make sure you experiment with other chords and scales. There are so many possible combinations you can use; we just scratched the surface. Let me know if you have any questions or feedback. Also, don't forget to check out my CD "Full Circle", or for more information on me go to Have fun!

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

Mike Campese: The Fire Within