Tag Archives for " Theory "


E7 Blues With Thirds

Here’s a fun way to apply some thirds in a blues style format over an E7 chord.

There are two types of thirds: major and minor. The major third is four semitones, and a minor third is three semitones. On your guitar, if you play a G on the 3rd fret, 6th string, at the same time as a B on the 2nd fret of the 5th string, you get a major third. That kiddy-corner pattern you get will produce a major third anywhere in the lower four strings.

To get a minor third, simply drop the B to a Bb. That same pattern will give you a minor third anywhere on the lower four strings.

The “progression” we’re playing over here is actually just one chord – E dominant 7. I like playing it with the added D on the 3rd fret, 2nd string. The D is the flatted 7 (b7) that makes this chord sound so cool. Remember, E7 is neither major nor minor, and as such it can stand in like a body double for either one. In this particular case we’re treating it like a minor chord.

When you’re using thirds, think about what chords are in the key. If your I IV V chords are major, then the related thirds are going to be major as well. For instance, in the key of G, we have D major. Thus, when you’re looking for a third to play off a D, play the major third.

If you’re looking for a great way to apply the riff you learn in this lesson, I recommend working it over while playing along with these blues jam tracks. (There’s a free sample track available at that link)

Alrighty – ready to dig into this? Let’s get started.

Watch on Youtube

3 Music Is A Language – Do You Speak It?

Have you ever thought of music as being a language? I know a lot of players that think of it that way, and it can be a powerful analogy to help you learn.

Today I thought we’d explore that analogy a bit…

Language is a powerful thing, it can convey all kinds of stories and emotions to others remarkably effortlessly.

And yet our language (English), is made up of just 26 letters.

Consider that music is even more basic, with just 12 chromatic notes at our disposal. These are like letters.

To make words, we arrange letters together in chunks, or sequences.

Well, a “chunk” could relate to a chord. A chord is simply a collection of notes that work together.

A sequence of notes is a riff. Again, just a collection of notes that work together.

Just like in English, there are some notes/letters that work great together, and some that don’t.

A scale defines all the notes we have available to use in a given key, and thus is directly related to the chords and riffs that we use.

If you want to say something in English, you choose words and phrases (chord progressions – groups of chords) that are appropriate, right?

Well, the same holds true for music.

In music, there are many different genres, (dialects, anyone?) but they all use the same principles of theory (spelling & grammar).

I could go on with this all day…

In fact, I recently got an email that contained this:

“The biggest thing I got out of your lessons is the need for me to learn the language of music. Sure I may know most of the alphabet and I can even put some words together and maybe a sentence or two but until I understand the language and composition I am basically playing pigeon music if you will.”

~ Tom Sherbert

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

If you’re struggling to get the hang of music in general, I recommend breaking it down to the smallest parts before you try to to tackle the whole thing. Don’t try

Learn how & why the letters (notes) work together, and start building from there.

That’s why my course Unlocking I IV V does, in detail. Check it out here.

If you’re a bass player, my course Decoding the Bass Guitar covers the same concepts, but applied to the bass. Check it out here.


Learning the Notes on the Fretboard: Tones & Semitones

Learning the string names on your guitar is an absolute must; there’s no two ways about it. Understanding tones and semitones allows you to figure out what any note on your guitar is. This video hopefully will help clarify these things for you.

Watch on Youtube.

Download the Empty Fretboard PDF

The string names on your guitar are E-A-D-G-B-E.

Some fun acronyms you can use to remember this are:

Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie
Eat All Day Get Big Easy
Eat A Dog, Get Big Ears

Personally I just remember the letter names as is, there aren’t really that many of them.

As I said in the video, download the empty fretboard diagram above, and fill it out completely. Practice doing this once per day until you know it. I’m sure it won’t take you more than a few days before you start getting the hang of it!

As you become more familiar with the fretboard, start looking for patterns. For example, circle all the times ‘A’ appears, and see if you can see the pattern. Starting on the sixth string, you simply go up two strings and two frets, and you’ll see the octave. That pattern holds true all across the fretboard, except on the B string. What other patterns can you find?

Comments or questions are welcome – just leave one below!