As an electric player, you have the ability to move out of the low parts of the neck, get away from where the other guitars or keys are playing and create a part up high. This can make your arrangements, playing, etc. way more interesting (so that everyone isn't playing in the same zone).
So, now that you've had a chance to check out the first group of triads up the neck, try moving them over a string. The first group was on the first three strings (E, B and G) and these will be on the second (B, G and D). Anyway, the new shapes look a little different but are easy enough to pick up. Really necessary for you to learn and so, so useful. Also, even though these are the same chords moved over a string, they can sound a little different, a little warmer, being on the inside strings. Here's a chart with both groups of triads, major and minor:
Major and Minor Triads (C) (<-----.pdf chart here)
With these, you should be able to play any major or minor chord you need to, higher up the neck. In the next post we'll talk about how you can practice this stuff if you're interested in digging more deeply, but for now I wanted to talk about how to use them.
One thing I would see when my students started getting these into their playing, was that it was easy to be so focused on trying to play the right chord that they'd forgot to make music out of it. Plugging in the right chord at the right time might be correct, but it isn't necessarily always the best musical choice. Plenty of times I've heard Bob Kauflin mention in rehearsal "play a part, not the chart." So, let's take a look at some examples of how to use these things and turn them into music:
Here's a simple example:
This comes from a song called The Funeral by Band of Horses. The chord progression runs through the bulk of the song and uses, mostly, one shape that is just slid around. Wait! Isn't that just plugging in the right chord at the right time? Yes, but it creates an interesting melody line along the way, kind of a hook, and that's important. Keep your ears open and don't think it has to be too complicated to sound good.
Here's an example that's a little more involved. This comes from Elevation Worship and its a song called "Give Me Faith" (the TAB is from a live version, of which there are many so there may be a little variation)
The song is recorded in the key of A. In the intro, the guitarist plays a slightly tweaked A triad up on the 9th and 10th frets (the one that looks like a D chord; second inversion if you know about that). Feel free to move notes around on these shapes. If it sounds good, go for it even if you don't know what it is. In this case it makes an "A2" shape (more on 2's, 7's, 11's and that stuff later) and the player picks through the notes in a constant pattern. With delay added, a little reverb, this creates a nice wash of sound. In fact, though you could definitely do more, sometimes just finding a high version of the chord for the key the song song is in (i.e. an A chord in the key of A) is a great place to start, will create a nice higher layer of sound, and will give you lots of ideas.
Let's start with the verse:
The chords are: A - E - F#m - D. The guitarist starts off playing an A chord (looks like a D shape you might strum down low); just a stock chord and lets it ring. Don't think you have to play too much. It sits above where the rest of the band is and creates nice high layer of sound. Over the next chord (E) they move over to the next set of strings and play a high E triad. Feel free to move the chords around; don't stick to one set of strings every time, but always be aware of how it sounds. Next they arpeggiate some notes based around the original A triad (again, feel free to explore and move notes around) and just let it hang over the F#m. That's a good example of not playing over every single chord change. Sometimes nothing is the best thing you can play. It gives the music space. Over the next D in the progression 94th measure), they play a variation of a D triad up high (actually a D2). Even just in those first four chords you can see some good principles to try:
1. Don't play too much, let it sit. The rest of the band fills the space
2. Think melodically, even with your chords. Mess with the notes or even the strings you play them on.
3. Play nothing! Playing less is a surefire way to improve your playing without actually practicing ;)
4. Don't always just play the block chord. Sometimes picking a few notes and letting it sit is a refreshing change.
5. Also, if you listen to the song and compare the above, you'll notice the guitarist does not overplay while the singer is singing. That's important. Don't get in the way or distract from the main melody.
Check out the next four chords. You see some of the same ideas, just varied a bit: sometimes playing the straight chord, sometimes playing a few notes, sometimes nothing. Anyway, take some of these ideas and try to come up your own version over these chords or another song. This is where a "part" comes from: taking a bit of a song you're playing and practicing different ideas over it. Over time you'll find something you really like. Stick with it. Don't think that a good idea always comes immediately. That's why they call it "carving out a part."
Quickly, one more section. The chorus:
In the chorus the chords move more quickly. Instead of trying to play every single chord change as they go by, the part is built off the same, basic A triad you saw in the verse (and combines it with the A triad right next to it, making a bigger shape). They pick though (arpeggiate) the chord adding a few extra notes here and there. In the second half they create a little melody, while keeping the same basic A triad shape as a base. This is another great example: don't feel like you have to play every chord change. Sometimes a simplified part, even just one chord, will sound good over multiple chord changes. Try it out. Play guitar with your ears, not just your fingers.
We could go on and on. There really are unending examples, but this is a good place to start (I'll post more as I get to them). Keep listening. Keep working on this stuff and the creativity will come.
Let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, practice up and thanks for serving your local church!
P.S. Full TAB for intro, verse and chorus of Give Me Faith:Elevation Worship - Give Me Faith (Lead) - Intro, Verse, Chorus