How To Learn All The Notes In All The Chords

Tommaso Zillio

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notes in guitar chords

Can you tell at the top of your mind what are the notes in the G# minor triad? If the answer does not appear INSTANTLY in your mind, then you need to read this, right now.

(Yes, I know. If you are like most guitarists, you think learning the notes in all the chords is too hard and it will take too much time and work. As you will see below, it's actually easy and fun)

First of all, WHY do you need to know what notes are in each chord? :

  • Because knowing the notes in the chords allows you to TARGET chord notes when you improvise over a backing track. There is more than one method to do it, but all of them are much easier if you know the notes on each chord at the top of your mind.

  • Because whenever you compose a chord progression, knowing what notes are in each chord helps you choosing the right voicing (especially if you use voice leading )

  • Because the more familiar you are with chords, the easier it is to work with them in ANY situation: jamming with other musicians, writing your own song, learning songs written by others... it's really one of those skills that affect everything you play in a positive way.

Here's how you do can learn all the notes in all the chords by heart without going crazy:

  1. Learn to FIND what notes are in each chord. Start with major and minor triads (forget about those add9/#11 chords for the time being). If you have no idea how to do it, I suggest you read this eBook on Basic Theory for guitar.

  2. Write for yourself a table with all the notes of all major and minor triads... if you do not know how to do that, or do not want to do it, you can find a ready-to-use table in the eBook linked above (it's in Appendix B)

  3. Train your "chord note recall" in the way I explain in the video below. This is a simple exercise that you can do few minutes a day, and that does not require you to have your guitar with you.

If you implement this exercise in your practice schedule, then in 3-4 weeks you will KNOW the notes in each triad... and you will see that after you are rock solid in your knowledge of major and minor triads, it's very simple to learn all the other chords (diminished, augmented, dominant, altered, extended...).

As you see, there is nothing difficult in it and you can practice this exercise literally anywhere: when you are waiting for the bus, in line at the supermarket, during a boring meeting/class... and the benefits are great. You can also practice this exercise with a friend (just take turns asking and answering).

Put this together with the exercise on how to learn your notes on the guitar and you are on your way to get to know your guitar fretboard. Have fun!


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