IN THE WOOD SHED

Give your fin­gers a good stretch, says Char­lie Grif­fiths, and reach out to some close-voiced di­a­tonic chords.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths gets up close and per­sonal with chords this month, as he un­cov­ers the won­der­ful world of close voic­ings.

Close voic­ings are chords in which the notes are played in or­der from low to high. Of­ten gui­tar chords are played in ‘open’ or ‘drop’ voic­ings such as those used in typ­i­cal barre chords. Close voic­ings can open the door to more cre­ative gui­tar parts akin to shapes usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with pi­ano parts. For ex­am­ple, Cmaj7 with the root on the 5th string is typ­i­cally played with the voic­ing 1-5-7-3 (C-G-B-E). The same notes played as a close voic­ing are 1-3-5-7 (C-E-G-B).

Our ex­am­ples are all based on har­monised scales; di­a­ton­i­cally shift­ing through one oc­tave from low to high. Our first two ex­er­cises are based in the key of G Ma­jor (G-A-B-C-DE-F#). The first uses a R-3-4 voic­ing, which es­sen­tially means play the root note, then the 3rd, then the 4th in­ter­val all at the same time; we can call this Gadd11. This shape alone il­lus­trates the atyp­i­cal fin­ger­ing and cool clashes that can be achieved with close voic­ings. Usu­ally we use 3rd in­ter­vals to build chords and th­ese nat­u­rally sound har­monic and pleas­ant. In this case we have a root and a 3rd, but the dis­tance be­tween the 3rd and 4th (B-C) is a semi­tone, which is an in­her­ently dis­so­nant sound of­ten used by play­ers like Al­lan Holdsworth and Wayne Krantz.

Phys­i­cally per­form­ing the wide fin­ger stretches in­volved with th­ese chords can take a toll on your hand if not ap­proached prop­erly. Be­fore even touch­ing the gui­tar it is a good idea to warm up your fret­ting hand by mas­sag­ing the fore­arm, palm and fin­gers and gen­tly stretch­ing out your fin­gers to get the mus­cles and ten­dons sup­ple. When play­ing the chords you can al­le­vi­ate the stress on the hand by ex­per­i­ment­ing with the po­si­tion of your thumb. For ex­am­ple, keep­ing it near the cen­tre line of the neck and point­ing it to­ward the head­stock can of­ten al­low for more com­fort­able wide stretches. As you as­cend the scale, make sure the notes re­main di­a­tonic to the key - check this by as­cend­ing each string and nam­ing the notes in­di­vid­u­ally.

Ex­am­ple 3 shows that close voic­ings can be used more tra­di­tion­ally, us­ing four-note chords (tetrads) - 1-3-5-7 - from the key of E (E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#). This ex­er­cise is played as sus­tained, ring­ing arpeg­gios on the mid­dle four strings, and is a great way of check­ing that all the notes are fret­ted cleanly. Ex­am­ple 4 also uses th­ese voic­ings, but this time played on the high­est four strings within A Do­rian mode (A-B-C-D-E-F#-G). The fi­nal ex­am­ple uses add9 chords which have the in­ter­vals 1-3-5-9, played di­a­ton­i­cally within A Ly­dian mode (A-B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#).

Play through the ex­am­ples slowly at first, only build­ing up to speed when you are ready; and re­mem­ber to have a go at play­ing along with the back­ing tracks. Then, once you are com­fort­able with the shapes you can take them fur­ther by us­ing them to cre­ate your own gui­tar parts.

keep­ING The ThumB NeAR The ceN­TRe of The Neck poINT­ING To­WARds The heAd­sTock cAN heLp WITh WIde sTReTches

Try this stretchy but great sound­ing Am7 chord you’ll find in Ex­am­ple 4

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