Cool Chord Progressions

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By Mark Hanson It was fun to read about Sting studying scores of French Impressionist composer Maurice Ravel (“Bolero”) for new harmonic and chord progression ideas. In this article we’ll study a chord progression you may not have seen: a dominant 7th chord resolving down 1/2 step (G7 to F#, or D-flat7 to C, for instance) — the “Augmented 6th” progression. First, here’s a fundamental harmonic movement to understand: You all know that V7 chords (“dominant 7th”) resolve regularly to the I chord (“tonic”): G7 to C, for instance. They also resolve effectively up to the vi chord of the […]

Chords With Root on the Fourth String

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Earlier I wrote about my “six-chord” neck visualization method, with two chord shapes anchored on each of the three bass strings. The advantage of knowing this is to gain access to a different range of melody notes on the treble strings while fretting the root note in the bass. Let’s start with the fourth string. You all know the first-position, end-of-the neck D shape, with the root note as the open fourth string. This fingering is “in front” of the root note – meaning the fretted notes are at a higher fret position. This shape, of course, can slide all […]

Tip From Mark – Should I Learn to Read Music?

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This question came to me from an adult client. My reply follows it: Q: Do you think it’s beneficial for guitarists to learn to read standard notation and, if so, what method do you recommend for doing so? A: I think music, because it is a language I learned when I was in second and third grade and have used all of my life. That said: Sure, learn to read music and learn to understand how music “theory” works, even at an advancing age! It provides a way of thinking that tab-only guitarists generally don’t possess. But, be aware that […]

A Suggested Low-Stress Practice Routine

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Maybe sitting in front of an interactive computer screen is part of your practice regimen (that’s yours truly in the photo jamming with BB King’s band at his museum in Indianola, Miss.). But if not, here are some thoughts I recently offered to a student. To avoid the Yngwie Malmsteen-like physical maladies caused at least partly by shredding without warming up, I suggest starting your sessions with major scales at the end of the neck, using open strings. You’ll fret about two-thirds of the notes, so your fretting hand relaxes continually. Play the scales relatively slowly and softly to avoid […]