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Michael Johnson >> Understanding Chords & Arpeggios >>
Lesson Subject: Understanding Chords
What you learn: More Extended Chords
Teacher: Michael Johnson

Michael: In this lesson on Understanding Chords you'll learn the formula for the Dominant & Minor Chords/Arpeggios. There isn't enough time to cover all the chords, but we'll go over the general concepts so you get a better understanding of how each of these formulas are broken down.

Michael: Here's the formula for the coming chords and arpeggios. For now we'll go over the DOMINANT chords/arpeggios, use the chart below as a reference to understand how the MINOR chords are built.

Chord Chart 1

Michael: Notice the CHROMATIC scale is first. The MAJOR scale is actually a derivative from this scale as is is for the other scales. It's like playing all the notes on your guitar or all the black and white keys on a keyboard. Now look for the FORMULAS, what notes would be in the C MAJOR chord?

coors: ceg

Kelly: CEG

Michael: Very good, does everybody understand this so far?

Glenn: yes

Michael: OK what are the notes for the C Maj7?

coors: cegb

Kelly: CEGB

Michael: Great, the chart is a good reference for you, what about the C Maj11?


Michael: Yes Kelly, now we get to the next part, what is in the C dom 7?

Kelly: CEGBb

Michael: Great!

sds: cegBb

Michael: Here's a tab notation that will help you visualize the first chart. First here's the C Chromatic and the C Major scale.

Michael: Do you see how the C Major scale comes from the C Chromatic?

Glenn: yes

rockman: yep

Michael: You have a whole bunch of notes and you only select 7 notes from that pattern. Once you have the Major scale you can break it down into the arpeggio and chords.

coors: So is chromatic basically all of the notes in a Single scale?

Michael: You bet coors, now the C major scale can be broken down into an arpeggio. Using the formula chart I sent earlier C Maj - 1, 3, 5, OK a CHORD is the same notes as the ARPEGGIO but you play them all at the same time, in this case you'll omit a few notes from the arpeggio.

Michael: CEG, OK now let's learn the DOMINANT formula.

Chord Chart 2

Michael: Now by looking at this chart what are the notes in the C7 chord/arpeggio?

Kelly: CEGBb

Michael: Great! Can everybody see how that works?

Glenn: yes

coors: A little, i guess i just need to memorize the formulas

Michael: It's basically a math formula. In math we learn formulas in music it's the same thing. You can use reference charts, it's kind of a shortcut. What are the notes used in the C (dominate) 9 chord?

Kelly: CEGBbD

Michael: Yes Kelly, we'll let's break this into tab so you can see it on the fretboard.

Michael: First you have the C major scale, then you see the C7 arpeggio with the b7 note (F#), OK, now here are various positions of the C7 chord:

Michael: Here are some images of the fingerings.

C7 - Chord 1

C7 - Chord 2

C7 - Chord 3

C7- Chord 4

C7 - Chord 5

C maj9 would be 1 3 7 9

Michael: That would be 1, 3, 5, b7 9.

Kelly: OK, so eliminate any repeats in favor of different notes in the chord.

Michael: You bet Kelly see how you can alter the C7? Just as long as you have the 1, 3, 5, & b7 in it you can come up with all kinds of variations. Here's the C Dom 9.

Michael: See how the C9 works, you add the extra note. Here's 2 chord positions.

C9 - Chord 1

C9 - Chord 2

How would you know what chord someone is playing ie C7

Michael: JL, after playing and listening to the chords and arpeggios for awhile you'll learn to recognize the chords played, for instance the 9 chord to me has a "funky" sound to it.

rockman: I just use my ear, like teach'll learn the different 'flavours' of a chord sound.

Michael: You bet rockman.

Kelly: The problem is that there are too many 'flavours' to chose from!

Michael: Start with basics Kelly, then work your way up.

rockman: Play them constantly, until you've trained your ear....time will tell all.

Michael: OK, here's the C11.


Michael: And the C13.


Michael: Here's some basic things in the flavor of these chords to listen to the dom 7 and dom 9, both chords have a funk/blues feel. The dom 11 and dom 13 have a jazz sound to them.

Kelly: The dom 13 sounds almost like random notes to my ear, I have to double check each finger just to make sure I'm playing it right.

Michael: We don't have time to cover MINOR but I'm going to give you a live listening test. I'm going to create some audio files live and you guess what chords I'm playing, ready to play the listening game?

Dana: yeah

gully: you bet

Michael: Guess what chord this is:

Sound Clip 1

coors: C9

Kelly: It's got at least a 7th

Michael: You rock coors! You got it, it's the C 9. Here's another.

Sound Clip 2

ginger: C13

rockman: Sounds like 13

Michael: Yes!!! It's the C13, good ears!

rockman: very top heavy sound.......bright

Michael: Try this chord:

Sound Clip 3

rockman: 7

gully: 13

Michael: Yes rockman! You're the man! it's a dom7. You can hear this chord in many rock songs as well like in songs like Wully Bully, or bands like the Chilli Peppers, Beatles etc. This is what you call ear training, Try this one:

Sound Clip 4

rockman: Is that 11?

Kelly: I'll go 11.

Michael: No, it's the 7th again.

Kelly: D'oh! Suckered me in.

Michael: Good try though. Well class time to go, I hope you learned a lot of new things.

lebaron: Thanks, this is helpful and interesting

rockman: Thanx teach....that was fun :)

emily: Thank you so much for the lesson

lebaron: Bye all, see you next time

Michael: See you next lesson!

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