Well, this is the first time I am asking that question since I began writing music. I’m a guitarist first and foremost, so it feels like a good time to delve back into guitar theory.
Well, in my experience learning to play guitar is not that hard. The hard part is figuring out things and understanding them. Knowing what chord changes are, the relationships between them, how they can be utilized to enhance the playing of certain songs, how to do them in a solo and how to get a solo going in the first place.
To me learning to play guitar is an exercise in learning the fundamentals, the foundation or foundation. So, I’ll start with this simple statement:
The foundation that you start with is, essentially, just the notes.
This foundation holds a certain amount of value beyond the notes you are playing, and once you get past that, you have an assortment of other things at your disposal to study that are also essential to a guitar playing skillset.
I’ll use a simple example where I’ll demonstrate some exercises you can start with:
I’m using a 5-bar blues pattern, and one of my exercises is to pick up the initial four-note chord voicings when the pattern reaches its end. By doing so, the structure and the meaning of the pattern will become apparent, as well as the potential of the chord changes that will follow.
I’ve started to think about this structure as an “all or nothing” situation on whether or not I want to apply these changes at any point. And so, I’m going to start with these first notes and try to pick up the rest. You see, the chord changes and the arrangement can change in a big sequence, and to keep my fingerwork efficient, I am going to pick them up as the pattern changes and then pick them back up as it enters a specific place in the music.
For example, during this progression, the first four notes are the root; the first two notes are third and fifth notes. And at no point am I going to pick up those notes. That’s how powerful of a hold you have on these chords. It’s a solid framework of what the song or chord progression is.
With respect to the next exercise, how can we use them to our best benefit? Here, I’ll go straight into a solo with the chord changes, and then show another exercise, that will show how to use the chord changes to enhance our soloing/
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