How To Write INCREDIBLE Chords Without Using ANY Theory

How To Write INCREDIBLE Chords Without Using ANY Theory

Tommaso Zillio

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no theory for chords

Do you like fancy chord but hate hard work and practice? Then get the #@$k out of here: this is a music theory website, we are music theory nerds, and we are gluttons for punishment...

Erm, ok, let me rephrase. It’s an issue that plagues so many guitar players around the world. “How do I balance my desire to write sophisticated-sounding music with my desire to not apply myself at all?”

Well, guess what? To write fancy, sophisticated chord, all you need is a couple of minutes, and at least one functioning ear.

No music theory, no formal education, hell, you don’t even need to wear pants! (Though pants are suggested)

Writing with great chords can be about using trial and error, and your ears. It's not the only way - but it is a way that I am using incredibly often myself.

Of course, we can use music theory afterward, but to actually come up with the chords you could try a bunch of simple options and see what sounds best to you, as I'll show you in a minute.

Indeed, what I am about to show you is is a way to generate "fancy chords" at will - and this is something that every guitar players should do (wether you have any pants on music theory knowledge) if nothing else for the exhilarating feeling of hearing all these great sounds coming out of your guitar with no effort at all,

So, what does this process look like?

See the video at the link below, and I’ll walk you through the process of writing awesome, fancy chords and chord progressions.

With all this being said... It's of course still incredibly valuable to understand the theory of chords and harmony on the guitar, but it can be a very difficult thing to understand fully. If you want to really understand chords and harmony, check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course.

Video Transcription

Tommaso Zillio 0:01

Hello internet, so nice to see you! Wouldn't be nice if we could invent our own chords and harmonies and sonorities without having to resort to complex theory, and super analytical intervocalic stuff like, Okay, let me play, I don't know, C major seven, sharp 11 and all this kind of thing. I mean, there is nothing wrong with knowing your theory and knowing all the intervals and being able to build this course from scratch.

But is there any way where we can bypass all these and get a more intuitive, felt like, way of writing this chords so that we can get all these kinds of complex sonorities without having to do all the mathematics? Yes, there is. Yes, there is, indeed, a student asked me exactly that. And I gave him a very extensive answer. And this is it.

Speaker 2 1:03
I have a question for you about creativity. How can I go about being more creative, my chords? I got barre chords and open chords and triads down the neck a little bit. But what about like, inversions and stuff like that? Well, better? How should I go about thinking about that?

Tommaso Zillio 1:25
There are many, many, many ways think about it. But one one way that seems to work, and it's very easy is to pick a chord you like on the guitar, play it on the guitar, and then modify it, meaning change a note or two, and then go completely by ear. It's really simple as that is a lot. Yes, I mean, you I think you have a barre chord, okay, maybe take only the first or strings and then maybe add Pinky here. To buy some other possibilities.

Other than just the chord, the chord is a starting point. And then you can modify it in even taking this one may want to take the first string and move it down half step and so you have to Yeah, yet to read. Yeah, I know. You did this. You can go down. One more. And it's a salad. The thing is, in theory, you can go like that's a G sharp notes on the eighth and major seventh. That's the G note on the eighth and the seventh. Sure, you can totally go this way. But you can also think I have a decent chord progression and no. Okay, and then just go and say let's modify it.

Unknown Speaker 2:45
Okay, we'll try and stay in the same area. Yeah, yeah.

Tommaso Zillio 2:47
It's just you're playing a slightly different shape at the what you were doing before changing one or two notes and the just move them around and fish around for a good sound rather than going last thing think in theory won't works and let's think I want the sound is the major seven where do I find it you have to know the major set that is the major seven and get the sound in mind the center?

Speaker 2 3:12
Well, you just fish it out, start moving the notes first worry about the coordinating.

Tommaso Zillio 3:15
Sometime ago I was arranging a song for guitars and the song is memory from the musical Cats now.

You know the song. And the first chord I transcribed this without looking into the original I was just look at this melody. Let's, let's let's see what it is. So the original I think it's an E I'm playing it in the I think and I had this. The first chord is a D major chord. I mean, I could just play this. It's a D over the D major chord easy. I don't like it like something rather than thinking in theory and just that. Maybe now it's crap.

Okay. Done. Okay. It was so fast that you didn't even register what I was doing later. Like, of course at the major seven. I didn't think of that. Okay. But to just go and fish it out. Okay, just think what is the note I want on top? What is the note I want from the bottom right to put them together all this kind of thing. Okay, so it's good to think in theory, I teach music theory. It's good to think in theory to know what to do with your fingers. But occasionally you're doing something and there's something missing in some chord.

Yeah, careful. Well, yeah, yeah. But no, it can't. Sometimes, I mean, you're just playing a chord progression, like on this chord, I would like more tension. I want a better profile on there. And I'm just thinking, this is something missing here. Just under normals and see what happened and then change it. It's faster to work this way. Especially when you start to welcome complex situation, multiple keys, sometimes strange chords, but try to name everything just take something that is more or less there and then slightly correct it until it becomes right. Okay? It is simple as that.

And later should sit down, write down the notes, figured out what you did. So you can reuse it later. No, say no. But the I mean, a lot of people. Everybody should learn theory, but other people get paralyzed by that. And then they fall into the opposite problem, which is, if I don't know if I never, we never covered it in class, how much I hate it. We never covered it in class. Nobody ever taught it to me. And I should not play that it wasn't an impostor, because I'm playing a call that I cannot spare.

Come on, just play. Okay, it doesn't matter theory is there to help you giving you more option. But you can also create the option out of nothing, just by moving the fingers around and going by trial and error. It's perfectly okay. Now when you can merge those two approaches, you get the best, of course, but you should never feel paralyzed because you don't know what it is. It's an it's not something we covered in class and nobody does it to me and all these kinds of things. They interface is simple this way are these way down.

Okay. And then just fix it until you get the sound do you have in your mind? Make sense? Oh, yeah. Simple as that. So your homework is make a simple chord progression, start with two chords and just fool around with them, modify them, add an extra note, go out of key, take some risk. Just don't be afraid to to get your hands dirty with the notes, okay, and just change them around as you would make sense.

Unknown Speaker 6:48
That’s awesome. Thank you.

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