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"You'll learn better when you're playing tunes" OK that sounds cool and I do agree with that, in part. But I'll go on to say that "You'll learn more tunes if you know what you're doing", i.e., have a little music theory under your belt. Ugh, that (theory) sounds boring; to counter the notion that you might need to learn some theory you say "Paul McCartney never learned to read music". . . I'm not talking specifically about "learning to read music", although that does help. . . I'm talking about understanding how music (a song) is put together (I guarantee Paul knew/knows that) - which will help you figure out tunes quicker and improvise more tastefully.Here's a little theory. I'm sure most of us have heard of the "Major Scale"; you know, the - do, re, me, thing. Let's take a C major scale and see how it applies to chords - use this formula to run a C Major scale in chords:I. C Major (tonic) II. D Minor III. E Minor IV. F Major V. G Major VI. A Minor VII. B Diminished VIII.C Major (tonic) Ok, so what? Well here's what - when you're picking out a song and get stuck finding that "off chord", chances are that it will fall in one of the chord forms above. Example - a basic C F G (I, IV, V) progression might have another chord thrown in periodically - maybe in the chorus or the bridge - typically it's a II chord.
In the case of a song in the Key of C major the II chord is D and more specifically, using the formula, a D minor. Or perhaps, as you're hitting a single string to determine the root of the chord, (as you listen and "play along") you notice that it's an A (the VI chord). You try the A major chord and it just doesn't sound right . . . of course not; in the key of C major the VI chord (the A) is minor. You strum the A minor, and voila! tonality. Ok, that was a simple example, but this is really a simple concept. What? . . . want another? . . . OK, as you continue listening you notice a really odd, but tonal, sounding chord. Again, you hit just the single string to identify the root and it's a B (the VII chord). With your new-found knowledge of chord and scale structure you know that, more than likely, the "right" chord in this application will be the B diminished. If someone reads this and yells "BS, I can give you many songs that don't follow that rule" . . . I'd have to say "so can I, but there's a boatload that do follow this rule and for a beginner, or intermediate player, it's a really good start . . . "Check back for more . . . Cheers, Lee
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