Chord extensions – rhythm guitar lesson


Hi Stuart Bahn here and this is video
three in this series on rhythm guitar playing. In this video we’re going to
look at chord extensions and substitutions. A chord extension is where
instead of playing a chord like a seventh you might choose to play a ninth
or an 11th or a 13th. Now these are… this is all to do with chord construction. You can
continue adding particular notes onto the end of chords to make a usually a
more jazzy sounding chord. Ideally you want to look at music theory and
understand how chords are constructed. If you haven’t done any music theory
yet then you might want to take a look at the music theory app that I made and
I’ll leave a link to that in the notes below. In the absence of music theory you
can still go quite a long way just learning the shapes of these chords and
trying them out and using your ear to judge whether it is an appropriate chord
to use instead of just a plain major or seventh. So we’ll start with minor chords.
Here’s an A minor. Now if your tune is just two bars of Am. That’s a bit boring. We mentioned in
previous videos by adding baselines well you can try that but alternatively you
could try these chord extensions. So an obvious one is just to play a minor
seventh. Whenever you play a minor you can nearly always choose to play a minor
seven. There’s two obvious ways of doing it; one is for your little finger here… and that just gives you a slightly
jazzier sound. The other one is to take the third finger off. So as I say, a jazzier version of a minor. Now you can substitute that chord directly; so instead of playing Am,
you play Am7 the whole way through. Or you could just use the minor
7 as a temporary sidestep, for example… And that just creates a little movement. As
I touched on, you need to use your ears and decide whether you think these
ad-libs are appropriate for the song you’re playing. It might be; it might not be. OK another option is to play Asus4. So Am … Asus4.
And you can use that in the same sort of way as a temporary sidestep. Sus2… same approach. And you can mix all these up. And hopefully you agree it’s a more
interesting guitar part. It’s certainly more interesting to play. Same sort of thing with E minor.
You can do a minor seven like this or this. You can add this note which is
actually already in the court so you’re not really changing the chord but is it
fair enough option. In terms of chord extensions well you can
do a minor add 9 which would be this It’s a more… a slightly darker sound I
think. You can do a sus4 again. No easy sus2 without changing shape. So
that’s a couple of suggestions. You can do the same thing for the D minor… sus2… sus4… minor seven… Let’s quickly trying to apply that to
minor bar chords. So here’s a D minor again you can do a m7. This I highly recommend getting used to
– using the third finger to cover both the middle two strings me thereby freeing up the little finger… This way you can do the same thing. I can
now do my sus4… minor seven… do both of those…
that’s still a minor seven. minor add nine just like before you can also do minor 11ths. Now minor 11ths are lovely chords. This is the shape for the a minor in this region. You can actually ditch this note and just keep those. That’s a nice sound. So again you could
switch between, instead of say m7, which you could do this way or this way
you could go… or a direct substitution playing a minor eleventh throughout. For this
chord m11 eleven would be this It’s a lovely sound. So again instead of m7 you could go or switch between the two; slightly more
awkward. So that’s some suggestions for you minors. There are other causes like minor 13.
It’s a bit more quirky… and it tends to only work when it’s how
you’d describe as chord number 2 within some parent major key. So I think I’ll
leave that one for now. Over to major chords. So here’s my G… there’s
a little cluster of notes here which work well. You can do a sus4
as long as you’re muting the A-string. Add9 which is this note here.
A sixth, which is this note here… and you can mix all those up. You could take a C. You can add this
finger here… that’s still a C… it’s just one of the chord tones. You can do an add9 by putting the little finger here. A sixth by doing this… For an E, the same sort of thing. Sus4… sixth… add9… For an A, you’d have a six here…
add9 would be here… A six would be there as well. For a D, you could put an add9 there… A sus4… sus2… So again the point here is just to try
some of these out. You don’t have to use all of them, but just one or two here and there could be a nice way to jazz up your playing. Things get
slightly complicated when we talk about sevenths because all the minor chords in
a major key typically can be played as minor sevenths but it’s not the same for
major chords. They diverge. There are three major chords in a key; two of them
naturally extend to be major sevenths and the other one extends to be a
dominant seventh. Again if you don’t really know I’m talking about with
these terms don’t worry too much about it but you might want to look at doing some
music theory. If you are playing say a 7th, I’ll play a D7 here.. this is a D dominant
seven not a major 7… you can nearly always play a dominant
9, which is this or an 11 or a 13. so if I had just like a groove I could
substitute directly one of those chords or I could play between them, so for example… If I’m playing an A7, again I could do an
A9 which would be this and A11 using my thumb for that … or an A13. So that would
sound like this if I play around with them OK so that’s some of the extensions
that you can use – you’ve also got 7sus4 – sorry I forgot to mention that one. So when
you have a dominant 7 you could choose to do a 7sus4 like this or a 7sus2. With this
shape 7sus4 is like this, 7sus2 is more awkward, it would be like that and you
can play with the open shapes as well. I know that’s a lot of information
but try some of these out. Just a couple of them to begin with and just get used
to using the shapes and switching between them. Also try them
out as full-blown substitutions instead of just your plain major or minor chords
I found helpful. See you in the next video.

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