Chords are the building blocks of songs and are produced by sounding two or more notes together. Play the sound clip below to hear an example chord (in this case G Major).
There are a lot of different chords on the guitar, and these can be played from the open position of the fretboard (near the guitar nut), all the way up the neck as far as you can fret the notes! This might sound like a lot of chords to learn, but there are a few basic chord shapes which repeat themselves, as well as a some tricks for building new chords, which makes things easier to memorise in the long run.
We’re going to start with some of the basic open chord shapes all beginners should know. With just these simple chords, we can play lots of popular songs, which will help to keep you interested in the learning process, as well as giving you a foundation of how combinations of chords work together in music.
All chords possess a certain characteristic sound, or tonality, which can be categorised as either major, minor, or diminished. Without delving too deep into music theory, we can describe major chords as having an upbeat or happy sound, and minor chords as having a darker, sadder sound. We don’t need to worry about diminished chords at the moment, as these have a more specialised application in music, but you’ll encounter these later as we progress through the course.
As another quick music theory primer, it’s also worth mentioning that certain chords work well together and others don’t – there are reasons for this which we’ll go into when we start to learn more about the relationships between different musical notes.