Guitar Cool: One Chord Grooves
Author: Kevin Downing
In today's music forms there is a common trend for one chord to extend for 4-8 bars or more of a song. There are also songs that only use one chord as the structure for the whole song, like Chain of Fools by the Commitments, which only uses the chord of A7 for the whole song. So how can we call a one chord song a progression you might ask? Isn't a progression one where we have lots of chords?
Well one thing you need to know is that the professionals just don't strum an A7 bar/open chord for a whole song or even 8 bars as that would almost certainly sound too bland. If they have a single chord for many bars of music they make it sound like they are playing many chords in a progression-like fashion to make it more interesting.
Here is the trick, you need to know many inversions (different ways of playing a chord), of all the different chords in the song. So the more ways you can play any major, minor, dominant, or any other chord the better.
Also, for this lesson you need to know that A9 and A7 are from the same chord family and can be substituted for each other at any time.
Now take a look at the chords in Example 1. They are four note chords that you may not be used to, but they are relatively easy to play with a bit of practice. If you find the chords difficult, then spend more time getting fluent with them. Remember that playing them is easier than changing from one to the other.
Once you can change between the chords easily, then it is time to put them into use.
In Example 2 I have added some rhythm to the chords and made them into a four bar groove that is similar to what you might hear in a song. Once you have mastered that, then it is time to transfer this idea to all keys.
To add some extra spice to the one chord progression idea, try sliding into the chords from a semitone (one fret) below the chord you are going to play.
For an 8 bar progression, just play the idea twice.
To hear what the music sounds like for this lesson, enter it into any music notation program, or go to www.guitar.co.nz/free_lesson.php3
Kevin Downing is a guitarist, teacher, and author. He can be contacted through his website at www.guitar.co.nz or PO Box 4586, Palmerston North.