Our next challenge is to take the basic concept from the previous unit and level it up by introducing more complex chord shapes and quicker changes! We'll still be using the claw technique and the melody within our part, allowing us to embed these new skills further. However, with the new chords coming thick and fast in this unit, you'll feel the increase in difficulty!
Before we kick off, Check out the full tab for the song in the Guitar Tabs section. This is essentially a loop with lots of musical layers on top of the core guitar part. In the Guitar Tabs section is the loop, which you repeat 8 times for the entire song.
Before we get started with the actual track, we need to spend a bit of time understanding what 7th chords are. These are the next logical extensions to our basic triad chords, and we have 3 different types of basic 7th chords:
Each chord has a very different feel. The major 7th chords stick to the major vibe but come across as more relaxed. The minor 7th chords stick to the minor vibe but are a tad more chilled once again. The dominant 7th chords open up a whole new portal of chords, creating a sound filled with more tension, that needs to be resolved.
It's definitely worth using a bit of theory to back up your ear and get a better grounding for how these chords are constructed. So, here is the chord construction:
Notice how the major 7th is simply a major triad (1,3,5) with the additional 7th. The minor 7th is a minor triad (1,b3,5) with the b7th. Finally, the dominant 7th is a major triad (1,3,5) with a b7th at the end. The major chord firmly belongs to the major family of chords, the minor to the minor family of chords... Whilst the dominant 7th, with elements from the major and minor, becomes a family to itself.
The idea that we have families of chords is fundamental, as it helps explain why we can easily substitute one major chord for another. For example, we can use a C major 7th chord instead of a C major chord when playing the key's root chord. As we work through the unit we'll talk more about the theory of each chord, so you can see it in a practical setting. Let that all sink in, and when ready, let's move to the next lesson!
We will kick off with the D major section. The chords are like this:
I'm sure you'll agree that this is a beautiful movement of chords. There are two things to discuss, the picking and the theory. Starting with the picking, We are now combining both the claw technique and the individual plucking of strings. This is a big step up, so take your time with it, working through the video with Thomas.
So this is a great example of modal interchange. The first two chords, D major and D major 7th, perfectly fit the key. D major is the root chord, and as D major 7th is in the same family of chords, we can directly substitute it. Easy peasy, and very beautiful! As for the D7, we are now borrowing from the D Mixolydian key, where the D7 works perfectly. It also opens up that portal to the next chord, as D7 is the 5th of G major, allowing a perfect resolution to the next chord in the track (which is G, if you hadn't guessed!).
That's a lot of theory, right? Don't worry, we'll cover it in detail in the next lesson!
Ok, we're gonna get a little geeky here and talk about a theoretical concept that can take a while to sink in. However, it's a very important subject, especially when looking at fingerstyle, as a lot of songs will use this idea.
So, to put it simply, this is the idea of borrowing chords that are outside the main key. For example, take the following chord progression:
So the concept of borrowing a chord from another key is pretty simple, right? However, knowing which chords you can use is a bit more complicated, as you need to understand the mode. In the example above, you can find the F major in the key of G Mixolydian, so that's absolutely fine to borrow. In practice, at our level, we don't need to worry too much about the mode it comes from.
All we need to do is be able to recognise when a chord is borrowed from another mode. If we can do that, we're already halfway there!
The final thing to mention here is that we have an extra special use for dominant chords. Think of dominant chords as a potential portal to another key! By borrowing a dominant chord from another mode, we can use it as the 5th of the key (As this is typically where dominant chords sit), therefore moving us into another key altogether, if only briefly.
Let's now check out the next section of the track, which is full of cool 7th chords!
Even though the chords move very quickly, the fingerstyle pattern stays the same. Thomas guides you through every part of the fingerstyle pattern, but try to keep that right hand flowing as you work through it. In terms of theory, try to think of this as a fluid movement. In the previous section, we used the D7 to pull the focus to the Gmaj7 chord (which is using secondary dominant). We can easily add the Cmaj7 to that as it's the four-chord after Gmaj7. We use a B7, rather than Bm7, as a secondary dominant to get us to the Em chord coming up in the next lesson.
Again, don't worry about this theory. It's here to explain the movement, but at the end of the day, if it sounds good, and it works for you, then it's fine! It's for guitar geeks like us who want to understand the "why", so if you are like that too, then gradually let this theory sink in!
Let's now add the final chords, and put the whole track together. Here is the full progression, which you will loop 8 times.
So, let's just check out those final chords in the Chord Boxes section. There are some more very cool shapes here.
Once again, we are using some cool theory ideas here. The Em and Em7 are totally interchangeable, which is nice and easy! The A7sus4 and A7 are equally interchangeable (the sus4 is more like a melody note than a change of chord) and the A7 is the 5th of D, pulling us back beautifully to the D major to start the loop again! Perfecto!
As always, there is a lot going on in this loop, so take your time with it. With this song and the song in the previous unit, you have two great examples and study pieces to master this "claw" technique. In the next unit, we bring in the "slap"!
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