Jar­gon Buster

We’ll use all of these words at least once – some, many times – in this les­son. Come back here if you aren’t sure what some­thing means…

Total Guitar - - COVER FEATURE -


Play­ing the notes of a chord one af­ter the other.


The use of one fin­ger to fret two or more strings at the same time.


A group of two or more notes (some mu­si­col­o­gists say three or more) played at the same time.


A chord formed of two notes. Also writ­ten ‘dyad’.


A term de­not­ing that a mu­si­cal pas­sage or piece uses only notes from the ma­jor scale and its modes. More sim­ply, it means us­ing notes as out­lined by the key sig­na­ture.

Dom­i­nant 7th chord

A chord con­tain­ing a root note, ma­jor 3rd, per­fect 5th and a mi­nor 7th. Writ­ten as E 7, A 7 and soon.

Ex­tended chord

A chord that in­cludes 9th, 11th or 13th in­ter­vals.


The dis­tance in pitch be­tween two notes, as de­scribed with a qual­ity (ma­jor, mi­nor, per­fect, aug­mented, di­min­ished) and a scale de­gree (eg, 4th, 5th etc). Mi­nor 3rd or per­fect 5th for ex­am­ple.


A scale or se­ries of notes out­lin­ing the root and over­all tonal­ity of a piece of mu­sic.

Ma­jor chord

A chord that in­cludes a root note, a ma­jor 3rd and a per­fect 5 th. Writ­ten as E, A and soon, and char­ac­terised by a bright, happy sound.

Ma­jor 7th chord

A chord con­tain­ing a root note, ma­jor 3rd, per­fect 5th and a ma­jor 7th. Writ­ten as Emaj7, Amaj7 and so on.

Mi­nor chord

A chord that in­cludes a root note, a mi­nor 3rd and a per­fect 5th. Writ­ten as Em, Am and so on, and char­ac­terised by a dark, moody sound.

Mi­nor 7th chord

A chord con­tain­ing a root note, mi­nor 3rd, per­fect 5th and a mi­nor 7th. Writ­ten as Em7, Am7 etc.

Mov­able chord

A chord with noun-fret­ted strings. When trans­posed (moved) around the fret­board the in­ter­vals be­tween each string re­main the same.

Open po­si­tion

Gen­er­ally, the low­est three frets on the gui­tar are said to be the open po­si­tion.

Open chord

A chord played (usu­ally) in the open po­si­tion and in­clud­ing at least one open (un-fret­ted) string.

Par­tial bar re

A full barre means all six strings are fret­ted by one fin­ger; a par­tial barre uses the same tech­nique across fewer strings.

Pro­gres­sion (aka chord pro­gres­sion)

A se­quence of chang­ing chords.

Shape (aka chord shape)

A term used to de­scribe the po­si­tion of a gui­tarist’s fin­gers on the fret­board. Easy-to-re­mem­ber po­si­tions and pat­terns can be vi­su­alised as shapes.


A method of pick­ing sev­eral strings at once us­ing a sweep­ing mo­tion with a plec­trum (aka pick) or with fin­gers.


The for­malised the­o­ret­i­cal ar­range­ment of a three-note ma­jor or mi­nor chord. An open C ma­jor gui­tar chord in­cludes the notes: C-E-G-C-E from low to high; the triad form ref­er­ences the notes in the or­der they ap­pear in the C ma­jor scale: C-E-G.

Voic­ing (aka chord voic­ing)

Most com­monly, on the gui­tar a voic­ing refers to dif­fer­ent shapes used to play any given chord.

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