I’m going to generalize and simplify a bit here – but a chord is when you play two or more notes at once. For our purposes, chords are used to play “accompaniment” – that is to play rhythm in support of the melody, usually a lead guitarist or a singer.
Picture a cowboy singing and playing guitar. He is singing the melody of the song while strumming the chords to a rhythm.
Well, you’re about to become that cowboy!
But there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of songs, so how can just learning two or three chords be of much help – considering that, in order to sound good, the chords must relate to the notes being played?
The answer is that songs can be played in a variety of “keys”. One way to group songs is by major or minor keys. There are vastly more songs in major keys than minor, so we’ll start with major.
According to Spotify, C Major is the 2nd most popular key, right after G major. According to me, C Major has the easiest chords to master. 🙂
Also, there are more “easy-to-play” music books available in the key of C than any other.
While a song may sound a bit better in one key than another, it can be done in any key.
So we will choose C-Major as our first key to learn. I don’t want to bog you down with Music Theory, but here’s a neat little fact you might want to know –
Most popular songs use a 1-4-5 chord sequence, also shown as Roman Numerals – I-IV-V. Known as a “one-four-five chord sequence”. With “one” being the root chord – i.e.: the chord named after the key.
In other words, for the key of C, C is the “one” chord. (Not too difficult after all, eh?)
OK, but how on earth would you figure out what the “four” and “five” chords are? Well, you don’t have to be very smart. In fact, for music purposes, you don’t even have to know the alphabet past the letter “G” – because that’s all the natural notes there are – C, D, E, F, G, A & B.
So, if ‘C’ is ‘1’, it stands to reason that ‘F’ is ‘4’ and ‘G’ is ‘5’, right?
And by the same reasoning, you can figure out the 1, 4, 5 sequence for any key! (For key of ‘G’, ‘G’ would be ‘1’, ‘C’ would be ‘4’ and ‘D’ is ‘5‘).
One more little tidbit of Music Theory (none of which you need to remember), the 3 notes that make up each chord are the 1, 3 and 5 notes. That’s right, we dropped 4 and took up 3. So the C chord is made up of ‘C’, ‘E’ and ‘G’.
OK, enough Theory, it’s time to Play! Let’s learn our first guitar chord..