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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
A chord with noun-fretted strings. When transposed (moved) around the fretboard the intervals between each string remain the same.
Generally, the lowest three frets on the guitar are said to be the open position.
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.