The Quick & Dirty Money Note!
When improvising solos &/or constructing melodies, the third of the chord is the strongest, most definitive note of the chord, i.e. the "Money Note." If you analyze the melodies of many standards one of the things that is very common is an emphasis on the third of the chord on the strong beat.
Examples of this would be: All the Things You Are How High the Moon Tune Up Solar ...as well as the tune I'm using here for the purposes of illustration, Autumn Leaves (print the chart out for reference if you need to).
The 7th is the next most important note of the chord. You can play through a progression using nothing but the 3rds and 7ths of each chord and you will "hear" the chord progression - even with no roots being played.
If you were to visualize the first 8 bars of Autumn Leaves using root position chords only (see Unit 4: 7th Chords), the 3rd of the 5th string rooted chords would be on the 2nd string and the 3rd of the 6th string rooted chords would be on the third string:
Notice the 7th of the chord is on the adjacent string directly under the 3rd of the chord.
1) Play through this progression using the full root-position chords.
2) Then play through it using only 3rds and 7ths.
3) Then play the 3rds and 7ths linearly (one-at-a-time).
You should be able to still "hear" the progression even though roots and 5ths are omitted.
So...if you construct melodic lines that emphasize the 3rds and 7ths, you will be able to hear the chord changes in your line even with no chords being played. Here's an example on the first 8 bars of Autumn Leaves. I'm using the 3rds of the above chord shapes as "targets" as it were, playing them on the first beat of each bar. Bars 5 and 6 are anticipated, that is, the target note (the 3rd of the chord) is played a half-beat before the chord begins. When you listen to the clip, notice that even though many times I don't play the 7th on a downbeat, I still stress it dynamically - especially if it's at the top of the contour of the phrase. A good example of that would be the fourth note of the 3rd bar.
P.S. To get beyond this "Quick & Dirty" concept you need to be able to visualize the 3rds and 7ths of each chord on every set of 2 strings in every position.
Example: Here are the 3rds and 7ths from C7 in a single position - the C on the 6th string, 8th fret. The corresponding chord shape from that root is outlined in red.
Can you see that the 3rds and 7ths occur in a pattern of octaves?
If you don't know what I'm talking about then you need to go through the 5-Lesson Foundational Series.
All lessons at Master Guitar School presuppose a working knowledge of the 5-Lesson Foundational Series. This 5-lesson series will enable you to find any note anywhere on the neck without memorizing note names on every string!
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