Worship God 2013 Homework - Chord theory you can understand (and use . . .no, really)

Hey everyone, Here are a few more ideas about how to actually do the stuff we talked about in the guitar sessions of Worship God 2013 (East and West*). For your convenience, here is a link to all of the sessions from WG2013 East and WG2013 West.

I'll be going into much more detail in upcoming posts but for now:


Simple Chord theory (I - IV - V etc. . . ) or "How to understand chord progressions"

A lot of people shy away from music theory, but trust me this is so useful and really easy once you get it.

Every chord in a key gets a number and understanding how to think about this can really unlock chord progressions for you, help with using a capo, transpostion (changing keys), etc..


Think about a scale in C:     C   D   E    F   G    A   B


In music theory, the notes get numbered like this:

C   D   E   F   G    A   B

1   2   3   4   5    6   7


Well, the chords you play in the key of C are based on those same notes with the same numbers. So your chords (in C) get numbered like this:

C    Dm   Em   F   G    Am   B diminished (you don't play diminished chords much in basic pop music)

1    2    3    4   5    6    7


Stay with me. Different approaches to theory use different numbering approaches. Really, they just tell you if a chord is major or minor. Here are a few of the most popular:


1) Traditional

C   Dm   Em     F     G    Am    B diminished

I   ii   iii    IV    V    vi    vii°

(Uses Roman numerals. Uppercase/big for major, lowercase/small for minor."°" is diminished if you ever use it.)


2) Nashville

C   Dm   Em     F     G    Am    B diminished

1   2-   3-     4     5    6-    7°

(Uses plain numbers. A "-" sign tells you a chord is minor. "°" is diminished if you ever use it.)



Do you get the idea? Your chords take on number names. Certain chords are major and certain ones are minor and that is where the traditional or nashville systems come into it, but f that throws you off, just think numbers for awhile until things click.

Let's try a real song. A song with chords like this:

|  C    |  Am     |  F       |  G        |

Can also be thought of like this:

|  I    |  vi     |  IV       |   V        |   (using the traditional method)


|  1    |  6-    |  4          |   5        |   (using the nashville method)

You'll hear musicians talk all the time about "the one chord" or "the five chord" etc.. They are just talking about the numbers associated with the chords.

So, just take your chord charts for the next couple months and write the numbers that correspond to the chord nearby until you don't have to think about it any more. Even just think about it as you encounter charts. Even better, pick one song a week (of course you can do more) and work out the numbers for the chords. You'll find it starts to come easily as most sections of songs repeat over and over again.

This is the first step. With consistent work it will become second nature and be very, very useful. Trust me. The next step would be to use it while playing to change the key of a song by sight without having to write the chords out. More on that later.



*There is some overlap but I did talk about different guitar related issues in the West and East conferences. It interested, it would be worth checking out the recordings for both.