blanket the fretboard with fresh chordal colors.
But first, let’s look at one more voicing technique in which we raise and lower notes in a
close triad to generate yet another set of major
and minor grips.
Fig. 1 begins with a root-position, close-voiced D triad, D–F#–A (root–3rd–5th) on
strings 5, 4, and 3. If we raise the bottom note
up an octave and simultaneously drop the top
note down an octave, we get the second voicing in this example, A–F#–D (5th–3rd–root).
Whoa! Now instead of a chord that covers
a mere fifth, we have one that stretches an
octave and a fourth, yet still only contains
three notes. Notice how this second voicing
falls on strings 6, 4, and 2. When playing a
chord voiced entirely on non-adjacent strings
like this, attack it using either a hybrid pick-and-fingers or pure fingerstyle technique.
The next two chords in this example illustrate how the process works identically with
minor triads. Here, we start with a root-position, close-voiced Dm (D–F–A) on the same
string set and then propel the lowest and highest notes respectively up and down an octave
to create an open Dm (A–F–D). We began
with a root-%3rd-5th voicing and converted it
to a 5th-%3rd-root structure. Make sense so far?
To finish this example, let’s apply the same
technique to root-position, close-voiced G
and Gm triads on strings 4, 3, and 2. By
doing so, we generate open G and Gm triads on strings 5, 3, and 1. Again, these new
chords fall on non-adjacent strings and span
an octave and a fourth.
Fig. 2 shows the open chords we just generated—D, Dm, G, and Gm—stripped away
Open triads let you spice up even
the most basic progressions.
from the close triads that spawned them. The
last two grips, D and G, are simply refingered
versions of the major chords that preceded
them in this example. It’s handy to know several ways to fret the identical voicing, because
sometimes one grip works better than another
to link to neighboring chords in a song.
If you’re up for a five-fret stretch, you can
convert grid 5’s D to Dm by simply lowering
the 3rd (on string 4) to a %3rd. But, unless
you have exceptionally long fingers, grid 6’s
G doesn’t offer this flexibility because this
form already incorporates five frets, and
dropping the 3rd to a %3rd would yield a
whopping six-fret stretch.
Okay, now we’re ready to put our open triads to work. Even the most mundane progressions—ones you’ve played and heard a million
times—take on a fresh, new life when you
arrange them using open-voiced triads.
For instance, how about D–G–C–G?
Rather than grabbing conventional chord
forms, let’s play this progression using voicings
and concepts we’ve covered in this and the
previous two lessons. Fig. 3 puts a new twist
on the I–IV–%VII–IV workhorse, giving it a
soul-jazz flavor. Add some rotary speaker emulation and you’ll be grooving and grinding like
a Hammond B- 3 player.
As you work through this four-bar phrase,
notice how we’re playing different voicings
for the C and G chords that occur in bars 2
and 4. You can spice up even the most basic
progressions by alternating inversions of open
triads as you navigate the changes.
The fun begins when we melodically embellish open triads to create chords that go beyond
major and minor tonalities. Fig. 4 offers a
taste of this, with its add9, major 6, and major
7 sounds. As you work out these arpeggios,
notice how each chord is based on an open
triad that we then color with one extra tone.
Also, pay attention to the let ring markings—
the goal is to have the chord tones sustain and
overlap to create rich harmonic textures.
The madness—sorry—the adventure continues in Fig. 5. Thanks to open triads, we’re
able to generate min11, sus2, and add2 chords
with minimal effort. Pretty cool, huh?
Once you get a feel for open triads, you’ll
discover many ways to use them to create
sophisticated harmony. With its diminished,
minor 7, sus4, and major 7 colors, Fig. 6 offers
a glimpse of the possibilities. This example also
underscores open triads’ elasticity—especially
compared to big, clunky barre chords—and
how easily these grips let you move selected
notes while holding others. This type of harmony lets you sound more like a string trio or
horn section and provides a welcome alternative to simply strumming block chords.
We’ll begin exploring the fascinating world
of quartal harmony in next month’s lesson. See
let ring let ring
To hear sound clips of these examples, click
here to visit premierguitar.com/Mar2011