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I Need a Chord Lesson

Toopy14

Fractal Fanatic
Why is this chord (C/G);

upload_2018-3-17_18-43-39.png

the same or interchangeable with this chord (C/A)?

upload_2018-3-17_18-44-24.png

I presume they're both C chords, but what does the /G and /A mean?
 

Jeries

Forum Addict
A slash with a note indicates the lowest note

So if I say play C/G
you would play a C major chord but have the lowest note- a G in the bass in that chord

You could also indicate an out of key note too- like freebird
G G/F# Em

There are barre chords right?
Most people know two
The E form one
and if you move it up a string- it's the A form

BUT if you think about it- there are 5 types of barre chords
E/A/D/G/C for each of the open chords

SO your C/G is a barre chord- D form the root would be on the 4th string at the 10th fret

NOW there are also open minor chords
Emi Ami Dmi

The second chord what you call C/A
is an A minor chord
the lowest note is an A which is the root so it's not C/A
It's just "a"

A Minor

and that's the Aminor form barre chord at the 12 fret/up an octave from the open chord

They're not really interchangeable- they're not really the same at all

Listen to the beatles NORWEGIAN WOOD

It is mostly a D chord where the bottom/bass note changes

Writing that song would be D/A D/B D/A D/G
and so on
 

Toopy14

Fractal Fanatic
How did you get the naming of those chords? Nothing on the notes (assuming only top 3 strings played) reeeeally dictates /G or /A.
As you can tell by my question, I know absolutely nothing about guitar theory. I'm a moneky-see, monkey-do 'player'.

I tabbed the chords into Powertab, then used the Chord Identification Tool to find the name of the chord.

I'll back up a bit. I learned how to play In God's Country by U2. In the early days, (ie. Live in Paris from 87) Edge played the intro. riff like this;

slide to upload_2018-3-17_19-12-43.png then playing


On the JT 2017 tour, he played the intro. riff like this;

slide to upload_2018-3-17_19-12-43.png then playing


I was just wondering why the difference, ie. is he basically playing the same chord just in another voicing (if that's the correct term)?
 

Attachments

jefferski

Fractal Fanatic
Play each of them, and notice the difference between 12/13/12 and 12/13/14. As was mentioned, these are C and Am, which are the relative major and minor of each other... so in that way, they're close. But you can train your ear to hear the differences between them. Play different forms of them as well - open C and open Am, C on the 3rd fret and Am on the 5th, etc. Try this w/ other chords as well - Em & G, Bm & D, etc and you'll start to understand the differences in their sound and feeling.
 

Bakerman

Axe-Master
The bass plays A there so the guitar playing A or G on 3rd string makes the full (bass & guitar) chord Am or Am7. It's not quite as much of a difference as replacing Am with an actual C chord (CEG, no A note).
 

Geezerjohn

Fractal Fanatic
In your first example, as Cliff mentioned, the diagrams spell triad chords. The interesting thing about triads is that they can be used against a backdrop of moving chords and sound good. The triad is the simplest chord. One note = note. Two notes = harmony. Three notes = chord (triad). Once you add a 4th note to the triad, you more clearly define the chord. For example your bottom example in the original post spells Am. If you put an E note on the bottom, it still spells Am. If on the other hand you put an F on the bottom, it spells Fmaj7. One note can make a huge difference. The 2 chords in the op are related Diatonically (Key of C).
 

200man

Veteran
In your first example, as Cliff mentioned, the diagrams spell triad chords. The interesting thing about triads is that they can be used against a backdrop of moving chords and sound good. The triad is the simplest chord. One note = note. Two notes = harmony. Three notes = chord (triad). Once you add a 4th note to the triad, you more clearly define the chord. For example your bottom example in the original post spells Am. If you put an E note on the bottom, it still spells Am. If on the other hand you put an F on the bottom, it spells Fmaj7. One note can make a huge difference. The 2 chords in the op are related Diatonically (Key of C).
I say 2 notes = interval... (captious nonsense :) )
 

pima1234

Fractal Fanatic
All major/minor chords consist of only 3 notes. A C chord is C-E-G. Am is A-C-E.

If the lowest note of a chord is anything other than the root (same note as the letter name of the chord), you have a slash chord (technically called an inversion), so C/G, or Am/C.

A C/A chord is not technically a logical chord, unless it was written C6/A (the 6 meaning the 6th note from C, which is an A). A C6 chord is essentially an Am chord, except that the feel of the chord will be different, more major than minor. So, C/A could simply mean, keep your fingers where they were, but hit the 5th string open. It will then be the same as an Am7 chord.

Now, in jazz/band/musical scores, it's not uncommon to see what might be a relatively simply harmony notated along with melody notes that might be different from the actual base harmony. So, if another instrumentalist (or singer) is singing a note that makes the chord more complex, it's not always necessary to play it. Always play what just works.
 

pima1234

Fractal Fanatic
I would agree with that about Norwegian Wood. No real need to over-complicate the chords with fancy music theory. Just call it what it is, and use shorthand. Much simpler, and it makes perfect sense.

A slash with a note indicates the lowest note

So if I say play C/G
you would play a C major chord but have the lowest note- a G in the bass in that chord

You could also indicate an out of key note too- like freebird
G G/F# Em

There are barre chords right?
Most people know two
The E form one
and if you move it up a string- it's the A form

BUT if you think about it- there are 5 types of barre chords
E/A/D/G/C for each of the open chords

SO your C/G is a barre chord- D form the root would be on the 4th string at the 10th fret

NOW there are also open minor chords
Emi Ami Dmi

The second chord what you call C/A
is an A minor chord
the lowest note is an A which is the root so it's not C/A
It's just "a"

A Minor

and that's the Aminor form barre chord at the 12 fret/up an octave from the open chord

They're not really interchangeable- they're not really the same at all

Listen to the beatles NORWEGIAN WOOD

It is mostly a D chord where the bottom/bass note changes

Writing that song would be D/A D/B D/A D/G
and so on
 

Tahoebrian5

Fractal Fanatic
Easiest possible way to identify chords is spell the notes out, this makes them easy to identify and doesn’t matter which note is lower.
 

unix-guy

Legend!
All major/minor chords consist of only 3 notes. A C chord is C-E-G. Am is A-C-E.

If the lowest note of a chord is anything other than the root (same note as the letter name of the chord), you have a slash chord (technically called an inversion), so C/G, or Am/C.

A C/A chord is not technically a logical chord, unless it was written C6/A (the 6 meaning the 6th note from C, which is an A). A C6 chord is essentially an Am chord, except that the feel of the chord will be different, more major than minor. So, C/A could simply mean, keep your fingers where they were, but hit the 5th string open. It will then be the same as an Am7 chord.
I agree with all of that, except the first sentence. You are talking about major and minor TRIADS only. There are many major and minor chords with more than 3 notes.
 

Jeries

Forum Addict
One note = note. Two notes = harmony. Three notes = chord (triad)
In my opinion...
you can have a 2 note chord

when you analyze and interpret music it's not about all the notes that are there or what is heard but there is a lot of stuff that you can represent implied from the piece as a whole.

I'm not talking about power chords like
-
-
-
5
5
3

BUT more like something like this
E-|-2----2----2----2----3----3----3----3--------------------------------------|
B-|---3----3----3----3----3----3----3----3------------------------------------|

The second is the greatest song ever written... ALL BY MYSELF the hidden track off Dookie by Green Day

Two notes- but really their job and function is 'chords' and if you're analyzing music you can fill in the blanks

And guitar harmonies in M3's and m3's two notes but really function as chords
 

Geezerjohn

Fractal Fanatic
Everyone is welcome to their opinion Jeries, but technically speaking, the simplest chord is a triad. 2 notes = a harmony (or an interval if you wish) but it takes a triad to form what we call a chord. To your point, a harmony can be used to great effect as supported by backing music (other chords, bass lines, etc.) but I doubt classically trained musicians (such as myself) trained in tertian harmony would call 2 notes a chord. The OP was asking about specific chords (triads) and wondering if the C triad and Am triad are interchangeable. Without getting into a long-winded explanation of diatonic structure and why the aeolian minor and the ionian major share some of the same notes but they are not the same chords, people here were just trying to help him out. I think the thread is getting a little off track.

Years ago I used to be the resident guitar instructor at the online MusicianPoint (website for Christian musicians, now defunct). While it was generally interesting to interact with so many guitar students, as most were generally pleasant, there were a few that had a difficult time discerning the difference between their opinion, and generally accepted guitar/music knowledge. For example a few folks would argue endlessly that there is no difference between a C9 and a C2, that all scales contain 8 notes or they are not really scales, arpeggios are small fish that you order on a pizza, etc. etc. So as not to be misunderstood, I'm not suggesting that you are one of those people Jeries, but there is musical knowledge that is generally accepted by most trained musicians. It is generally accepted that a triad is the simplest chord. Not looking to be argumentative here Jeries. Just trying to help the OP understand what he was asking. Happy for you that Green Day has brought you so much enjoyment.
 

fractalz

Veteran
As you can tell by my question, I know absolutely nothing about guitar theory. I'm a moneky-see, monkey-do 'player'.

I tabbed the chords into Powertab, then used the Chord Identification Tool to find the name of the chord.

I'll back up a bit. I learned how to play In God's Country by U2. In the early days, (ie. Live in Paris from 87) Edge played the intro. riff like this;

slide to View attachment 45523 then playing


On the JT 2017 tour, he played the intro. riff like this;

slide to View attachment 45523 then playing


I was just wondering why the difference, ie. is he basically playing the same chord just in another voicing (if that's the correct term)?
Figuring out the bass line should help you figure out the root (the bass mostly plays the root... mostly).

And, typically, the / is telling you the root on the bottom and a simpler chord name on the top.

For example, the C/G could also be called G6sus4 but that probably isn’t what he was thinking - he’s playing cool triads over a pedal (I’m guessing, don’t know the piece).

Edit : I guess in the case of an inversion, the lowest note may not be the root, if we’re in C, root is C.

I encounter this a lot with things like D/E (Dsus2 inversion), C/Bb (C7 inversion), F/G cool piano chord (G9sus4?).
 
Last edited:
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