How To Create Amazing Music Using One Chord On Guitar

Guitar Chord Creativity Part 1

How To Easily Turn One Guitar Chord Into Amazing Music Everybody Will Want To Hear!

 by Simon Candy 


Todays article is the first of a 3 part series all about musical creativity, more specifically creating with chords on your guitar.

As guitar players we all tend to know our open and bar chords, but not much else beyond these. Truth is there are endless musical possibilities that await your ears should you choose to explore chords further on your instrument.

In fact, so much so, that in todays lesson I am going to reveal to you a 4 step process to creating unique and amazing music using just one guitar chord.

Yes, that’s right, just one chord!

Chords are like colours. Just like there are many shades of one colour, there are many sounds to one chord.

If all you know how to play are open and bar chords on your guitar, then I am afraid you really only know one possible sound of the chord type you are playing.

There is so much more that awaits your ears!

Let me show you how you can create amazing and sophisticated music with an A major chord on your guitar, that will keep you enthralled for hours on end.

Not only this, but you are also going to sound full and complete when playing this chord on your guitar, much like a pianist does when sitting down at the piano to play. You won’t need any one else to play along with you, or any backing track to help fill out the sound.

By the end of this lesson you are going to see just how little open and bar chords provide you in comparison to what is possible with this 4 step process.

But first . . .

A Word On Creativity

This lesson is as much about creativity as it is about guitar chords.

I want you to approach it like a child at Kindergarten with a big white sheet of paper in front of them and some paints and crayons.

The child does not care what primary colours are, or which colours mix well together to create other colours. They simply jump in and have fun creating their own piece of art, oblivious to everything else around them.

This is how I want you to be with the guitar chords I am going to introduce you to in this lesson, and the 4 step process you’ll be taking them though.

Turn off the analytical side of your brain, rid yourself of any doubts you may have that you aren’t creative, and get in there and have fun creating awesome music with these guitar chords.

Don't forget to watch the video that accompanies this lesson, for detailed examples of creating music using a single chord on your guitar and a whole lot more!

4 Steps To Creating Amazing Music With One Guitar Chord

The following are 4 steps to creating pro, advanced sounding music on your guitar using just a single chord. Work your way through each step carefully, and discover just how much great music lies within one chord on your guitar!

Step 1: A Chord Shapes

First I want you to learn the following three A chord shapes that fall on strings 4, 3, and 2 of your guitar:


A Guitar Chords


The shapes above are known as triads (3 note chords).

Below are diagrams for each chord:


Creative Guitar Chord Diagrams


Already you have more ways to play an A chord outside of the open and bar variety.

Step 2: Adding Open Strings

Next I want you to remove the note on the 2nd string of each chord. In doing so you expose the open 2nd string.

I want you to include this string along with the open 1st string with your chord like so:


Guitar Chord With High Drone


This creates a really cool droning sound with each chord. The sound of open strings ringing through is a great sound when utilised outside of the open position.

It is a sound that is very appealing to many people.

Below are diagrams for each chord:


Creative Guitar Chord Diagrams Drone 1


Step 3: Creating A Bigger Sound

So what you have now are some really cool sounding A major chords working up the neck of your guitar.

To help fill out the sound, and provide some lower end to our chord, simply pluck the open A string with each shape:


Guitar Chord With Low Drone


As simple as this is to do, it makes a massive difference.

So much so, that what you are now playing sounds full and complete. Yes, you could have other instruments playing along, however they are not necessarily needed.

Below are diagrams for each chord:


Creative Guitar Chord Diagrams Drone 2


At this point I want you to play around with these chords, both by strumming and picking the notes of each separately.

You can do this with a plectrum or with your fingers, whichever you are most comfortable with.

Here is an example strumming the chords:


Creative Guitar Chord Strumming




In the example above I am separating the bass note from the chord but you could of course include the bass note with your strumming if you prefer.

Next is an example of picking the notes out of each chord separately:


Creative Guitar Chord Picking



There are many other possible picking pattern combinations to the one I have provided above, so be sure to explore some of these. You can also change the order of the chords for variety too.

Step 4: Multiplying The Possibilities

Ok, so what you have so far is great!

You have multiple areas to play an A major chord on your guitar spanning the fretboard, as well as the awesome sound of droning open strings.

What you are playing sounds full and complete too, much like someone sitting down at a piano to play, thanks to the open 5th string ringing throughout.

But the best part is yet to come!

The final step is to add fingers to notes on either the first or second string.

When doing this don’t lose the chord shape. Just add a note to it and see how your chord sounds as a result.

You will get notes that sound consonant and dissonant.

To the untrained ear, dissonant notes will sound wrong. However there are no wrong notes here. Just varying degrees of consonance and dissonance.

Here are more consonant notes being added to each of our A chords.

A Guitar Chord Shape 1:


Guitar Chord Shape 1 Diatonic



A Guitar Chord Shape 2:


Guitar Chord Shape 2 Diatonic



A Guitar Chord Shape 3:


Guitar Chord Shape 3 Diatonic



Notice how all the notes sound nice with our A chord in the example above.

This is because all the added notes are notes that belong to the key of A Major.

Generally speaking these are more consonant sounds, although there are certainly degrees of dissonance here at play too.

Now have a listen when I include all possible notes to our chords on the first string, in and out of key.


A Guitar Chord Shape 1:


Guitar Chord Shape 1 Chromatic



A Guitar Chord Shape 2:


Guitar Chord Shape 2 Chromatic



A Guitar Chord Shape 3:


Guitar Chord Shape 3 Chromatic



There is more dissonance in the example above compared to the first, however all the notes work. It just depends what sound you are after.

How much tension do you want?

Either way, when you create tension you do need to resolve it. This is what makes the dissonant notes work.

A basic rule of thumb is that if you hit a note that is dissonant (out of key) move it up or down one fret and you will resolve it (put it in key).

Examples Of Creating Music With One Guitar Chord

So now the idea is to simply explore the possibilities you have with an A major chord on your guitar.

How much more sound can you get from an A chord now compared to open and bar chords?

It’s ridiculous isn’t it.

Where you had a drop before, you now have an ocean of sound to play with, and you haven’t even changed chord yet!

The following are some examples using our A major chord shapes, including notes on either the first or second string to create some cool sounds.


Example 1

This first example uses the first A chord shape:


Creative Guitar Chord Example 1



Example 2

Here is the second chord with a melody added using notes on the first two strings:


Creative Guitar Chord Example 2



Example 3

This third example is doing the same using the third A chord shape:


Creative Guitar Chord Example 3



Example 4

In example 4 I am combining two chord shapes to cover the range of the notes on the top two strings. I am using the first and second A chord shapes:


Creative Guitar Chord Example 4



Example 5

In this last example I am again using two chord shapes, the second and third shapes in this case:


Creative Guitar Chord Example 5



So there you have it. Who would’ve thought there was so much sound you can get from just one guitar chord!

Imagine what you will be able to do with a chord progression!

In part 2 of this video/article series we will start to branch out and see the possibilities when you have more than one chord at your disposal.


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