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could someone give me a rundown on chord voicings?


(@megalomaniac)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 48
Topic starter  

i know some of how it's used and why it's used but not how to achieve and figure out these voicings?
so basically i've seen examples and played them, but i cant figure out what or how they've created them?
any help would apprecieted!
thanks!
:D


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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5134
 

Here's a good resource:

Howard's Intro to Guitar Chord Theory.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


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(@megalomaniac)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 48
Topic starter  

that is a good resource
although it has nothing on or to do with what my original question is


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

Seems like the section on chord theory and the table of guitar chords would be quite pertinent. Just what do you mean by "a rundown on chord voicings?"

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@megalomaniac)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 48
Topic starter  

oops well maybe i didnt try to explain it well enough,
i didnt mean those past comments in a hostile way

anywho, recently i was trying to figure out more about chord voicing's and things of the sort, i'm not talking about just alternate spots for chords up, down and around the neck but inversions of the chords and what possible inversion goes better with certain chords and things?
i'm unsure myself as well this was my question to begin with, but well it's a series of different chords that give a more finalized sound? be it played at say the 5th fret where this imaginary series of chords would be closer together to allow a shorter distance moved to create near to the same sound but, fitting together more?
i'm not doing a very good job at explaining this, so if you've got something you can ask me to help clear it out go for it, but hopefully someone out there has heard of the term before?
if you have, then anything would be helpful
thanks!


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

I think I see what you're asking, at least partially.

Figuring out fingerings of chords that let you smoothly transition from one to another is important. Is on keyboard, too. Lots of times you end up with inversions just because of fingering convenience, and the different sound of the chords arranged that way adds variety to the music. Doing straight stacked triads with the root in the bottom all the time gets monotonous.

Now if you're looking for tonal descriptions of the various inversions, I can't help, but I'm sure someone's compiled something like that. I often think it sounds weird on guitar to have the third on the bottom, FWIW.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@scrybe)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

okay, I think I get it now, too. I'm sure others will post more in depth stuff later, but for now......(apologies if I state the obvious, I'm assuming as little prior knowledge as possible so I can be as clear as possible).

Take any chord. We'll use C major. That's three notes - C, E, G. lowest pitch to highest pitch)

Inversions of C major would use the same notes in different order (lowest pitch to highest pitch): E, G, C ; G, C, E ; and so on.

I think originally (or 'formally') for it to be an inversion, the order has to remain the same (i.e. E always follows C, G always follws E, C always follows G). But, (again, I think), informally, you could also call a chord where the notes go (low to high) C, G, E, a C chord inversion, also.

Why are inversions used? Several reasons.

One is that you may be playing guitar in band. If so, chances are the bass player is playing the root note (C, in our example). So there's no 'need' to have that as the lowest note. Now, for some music (e.g. heavy rock, punk, etc), having the guitar playing the C chord with C as the 'bass note' (bass note in relation only to what the guitar is doing) while the bass player is also playing a C note, is advisable. Maybe it happened by accident, but continued use has meant its come to sound good that way. It works.

But, if you're playing in .e.g a jazz band, playing an inversion of a chord, while the bass player plays the root note, can give more of a sense of space in the music, and separation between the parts. Also, if you're playing in a band with lots of instruments (horn section, piano, etc) inversions on the rhythm guitar 'fit' better a lot of the time.

Another reason is, as you noted, that it can be easier to switch between chords using inversions. This again comes up a lot in jazz, but also gets used elsewhere (e.g. Hendrix on Wind Cries Mary, the opening riff is inverted major chords). Basically, when you play a chord, there being three notes, and you then switch to another chord (again with three notes) there are three 'lines' created. Using C major and G major....

C major G major
C >>>>>>>> G
E >>>>>>>>>>> B
G >>>>>>>>>>> D

Now, you can think of each of these lines as 'melodies' for the sake of this discussion. When you play a melody on your guitar, do you usually use big intervals or small ones? (i.e. do you fret the G string 5th fret then G string 11th fret in a solo - big interval? or are you more likely to fret the G string 5th fret then G string 7th fret - small interval?). Small intervals (the name for the size of the gap between any two notes) generally sound better, more cohesive, more deliberate (though not always, Eric Johnson uses big intervals in his solos quite a lot, as do others,). This is more so when you have several 'melodies' being performed at once, like we have with the C major - G major chord progression above.

So, we can rearrange the notes in that chord progression to make each 'melody' sound 'better' (better is, of course, a matter of taste, but theory suggests this is better).

E.g.

C major G major
C >>>>>>>>> B
E >>>>>>>>>> D
G >>>>>>>>>> G

which would give us an inverted G major chord. Working out when, and how, to use inversions generally takes a fair bit of practice and trial and error. If you are at all familiar with standard notation (even just knowing where a given pitch lies on a stave), I'd suggest notating a chord progression as block chords and then rewriting it using inversions to try to get the chord changes to flow as smoothly as possible.

Okay, I think that's everything I was gonna say. Hope this helps.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@henrik)
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That's an awesome explanation Scrybe, I found it very intressting. Thanks a lot!


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(@scrybe)
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You're welcome Henrik, just glad to be of use.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@megalomaniac)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

thats what i was looking for thanks aswell!


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(@noteboat)
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Actually, Scrybe... "inversion" doesn't specify a sequence of notes - just the bass note.

The reasons lie in range and doubling. Let's say the full orchestra is playing that C chord... you've got a dozen different instruments going at once, so each of those notes are probably being played in two (or more) different octaves. So... is the note right above C the G played by the cello, or the E played by the clarinet? The cello is lower... but what if the piccolo is also playing G? Should it take the highest role? Does it change when the piccolo gets a rest to breathe - something the cello doesn't have to do?

As much as theory geeks love to split hairs, here we're looking at a full wig. The only thing we can all be sure of is the lowest note being played - so EGC and ECG are both called first inversion. Different voicings of it, to be sure, but there are so many possible voicings we ignore the finer details.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@scrybe)
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Damn.

Here I was, rushing to GN to edit my post above to say that, having looked into it, an inversion doesn't have to have notes in a set order, but you've beaten me to it! <Scrybe waves good bye at her sole chance to get a theory question right>

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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