There are some musicians that take an established tradition and make completely new music with it. Today we are going to talk about one of them: Stevie Wonder.
Regardless if you like or not Stevie's music (I like it), and regardless what style of music you play, there are many things to be learned from his prodigious songwriting abilities.
Here we focus on just one thing that Stevie does Wonderfully (hehe) and that is his ability to write complex chord progressions that still flow easy even to the ear of a casual listener. And in particular we see a very specific, very dissonant chord that Stevie uses often in his song.
This chord - that I will refer to as "Stevie Wonder's chord" because it seems to be a fitting name for it - definitely does NOT sound well if you play it alone. I know of musicians who tried it, decided it was 'too sour' and never played it again.
And I agree. If you play it by itself it's horrible. But then again, some death metal player could actually like it as it is :) (I'm not judging - I'm showing the chord, the music is up to you!)
When you put this chord in the right context, though, it just sounds plain great. So here we see what is this chord, how to play it on guitar, and how to make it sound well:
And to learn more about context, here are a few options for chords played before a dominant chord. You can use them together with the Stevie chord, or you can play them with any other dominant chord.
The important thing in music is to have options. Once you have the options, the choices are yours.
Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.
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