Using Open Strings to Create

Unique Chord Voicings

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The discovery of the chords in this lesson series was motivated by the desire to get an altered tuning sound in standard tuning. I got into various altered tunings for several years, analyzed why they sounded the way they did and figured out how to get that sound in standard tuning. I came up with three characteristics that produced what I was looking for:

  1. One or two drone notes occurring on top of the progression, usually open strings.

  2. Close intervals (2nds or minor 2nds) in the middle of the chord. When played alone these intervals are very dissonant but when placed in the context of the chord they become beautiful. Many times the dissonant interval is an inverted 9th. One note of these close intervals is frequently an open string. If not, a big stretch in fret-hand fingering is required.

  3. Use of inversions to create smooth bass lines. The bass line often "walks" like in jazz.

 

The chords that I came up with that exhibit some or all of these characteristics I call "Unique Voicings" because they usually involve open strings and so cannot be transposed. The context for the term is very guitaristic. They are available in only one position on a single root - thus the term "Unique."

Though initially applied to steel string acoustic guitar, I've since applied Unique Voicings to all kinds of music and all kinds of guitars, steel-string acoustic, classical and electric. Unique Chord Voicings have become an integral part of the way I play today.

The Unique Chord Voicings lesson series is a PDF download that has:

  • 32 lessons

  • 155 pages

  • 1,303 Fretboard diagrams

  • 35 video links

Here's what the PDF looks like:

Here is the first video out of 32:

Here's some more free content: Unique Voicings based on 1st position chords you probably already know; G, C & D:

The next video will show you 4 types of 7th chords in 2 voicings. Then we're going to add open strings to these 8 chord shapes to create Unique Voicings for a total of 71 different chords!

Take the first lesson out of 32 given in the video above; you could spend months on the various chords - figuring out how you want to use them, discovering them in songs you've always wondered how to play and realizing there are many million-dollar songs that use them.

There are 14 different chords given...BUT...there's only two chord shapes! 

Some of those chords are very complex from a theory point of view and sound awesome but they are all easy to play!

It's the best of everything; sounds awesome, easy to play.

The second video gave you chords based on 1st-position G, C & D. It demonstrated how you can take a typical tune consisting of a cliché chord progression and give it a more atmospheric texture by adding the 9th to the middle of the chord.

It's a way to put your own stank on things, and make you stand out from the gazillions of other guitarists playing those same songs - if you care about that.

The 3rd video gave 8 different shapes for 4 different types of 7th chords. These 7th chords are, in-and-of-themselves, a little more complex than the basic chords given in the previous 2 videos.

 

They become even more complex when adding open strings to create Unique Voicings...BUT...they are all easy to play!

If you are interested in jazz standards or any genre that uses 7th chords, these 7th-chord-based Unique Voicings will distinguish you from the plethora of guitarists using typical 7th chord voicings.

 

 

 

Are all the chords in this lesson series, "easy to play?"

Most of them are. Some are difficult, and a few may be impossible for some people.

Even so, don't let a half-dozen chord shapes you may not be able to finger deter you from the hundreds that you can! 

How many new chords did you get from just the 3 videos above? Remember, there are over a thousand chords given in this lesson series - so what if you skip the relatively few difficult ones? You'll still get massive value from these lessons.

I'm a Songwriter. Will Unique Chord Voicings Help?

 

You should be able to see by now that having these chords in your back pocket can greatly enhance your songwriting. 

The sound of many of these chords can actually inspire your songwriting! That's one of the things they've done for me. 

The use of Unique Voicings can set your songs apart from the herd of typical singer-songwriters. Your songs will sound different!

Do you create guitar-centric instrumental music? Unique Chord Voicings will notch that up. It will give you a whole new vocabulary of chords and textures, guaranteed!

BTW: The theme song that you hear at the beginning of most of my teaching videos is an original (Into the Great Black Dark from my SoundTracks CD) and consists of Unique Voicings.

I'm a new member and/or haven't gone through any of

your Vertical Truth method - is it still worth it for me purchase Unique Chord Voicings?

Absolutely. These lessons are designed to be as "self-teaching" as possible. In spite of the fact that I name everything and talk about the theory behind it (that's just me!), you don't have to understand all the ins-and-outs of the theory involved, or even the names of the chords. Just use the ones that sound good to you.

 

There is no music notation; you don't have to know how to read music to go through this entire lesson series. There's not even tab; it's all fretboard diagrams complete with fingerings and demonstration videos. You need not have gone through my Vertical Truth method - Unique Chord Voicings will work as a stand-alone lesson series.

 

There is a reason why I have not integrated Unique Chord Voicings with the Vertical Truth material. Unique Chord Voicings is a very guitar-centric approach. From an intellectual standpoint it appears to be all over the place; the methodology wouldn't make much sense to a pianist, for instance. But if you understand the nature of the guitar, the method reveals itself. The Vertical Truth stuff, on the other hand, is intellectually rigorous; it is a theory-centric approach to applying music theory to the guitar that a knowledgeable player of any instrument would understand.

 

The Unique Chord Voicings lesson series is dictated by the nature of the guitar. Having said that, it is true that the more theory you know, the more you'll get out of it. 

SO HERE'S THE DEAL!

The retail price is $149: Anyone can purchase - if you want to pay full price with no other strings attached, just click on the button below:

If you are a Master Guitar School Site Member you can use your Members-Only Discount and purchase for $69!

If you are a Site Member: When you click on the button below you will be prompted to sign in if you are not already signed in. The page is a Members-Only page.

If you are NOT a Site Member: When you click on the button below you will be prompted to sign up as a Site Member. Membership is free and there are many other benefits to being a Site Member, but the Members-Only Discount is a big one (at least 50% or more)! After signing up you will be automatically redirected to the Members-Only discount.

What does it mean to be a Site Member?

 

First of all, sign up is free!

 

  • Free Lessons: You will have access to dozens of free lessons in the "Members Only" area of the website. These are mostly webpage-based. Last count was almost 100 but it's being added to regularly.

  • Monthly Newsletter: You will receive the Master Guitar School Newsletter the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Most of the monthly newsletters contain a free lesson not published previously anywhere else. Besides the free lesson, each newsletter contains recent blog links and any other communication I deem pertinent to Site Members.

  • Members-Only Discounts: These discounts are available at all times to Site Members and are at least 50% off - in some cases more. Compare the Site Member price to the full price given above for Unique Chord Voicings for example.

  • New Product Launches: New products are launched first to Site Members only. A new product launch typically lasts 5 days and the product is priced even lower than the Members-Only Discount. For instance, the Members-Only Discount price for Unique Chord Voicings is $69. The launch price was $59. The full price is $149. Again; these launches are to Site Members only!

  • Skype/FaceTime Consults: I call this a "consult" rather than a "lesson" for several reasons. This consult is an on-demand deal for site members. It can be used for whatever you want - anything related to guitar or lessons that you've viewed, purchased &/or downloaded from Master Guitar School; it can be used as a feedback loop to make sure you understand the lesson and are drilling it correctly. The price is $30.00 and the guaranteed default time is 30 minutes. I am willing to spend extra time at no extra charge if necessary and if my schedule allows. As a site member you can use this option whenever you feel the need. 

  • Personal Response to Questions via Email: If your question can be adequately dealt with without a Skype/FaceTime consult I will give Site Members personal attention via Email at no charge. You are committed to a process; I am committed to lead you through it.

  • Priority Scheduling for One-On-One Lessons: I need to preface this; I am currently teaching about 50 private students a week and don't want any more. There is a waiting list. However, if you are a Site Member you will have priority relative to the waiting list. 

  • Blog Notifications: I try to publish a blog every week. The blog content is random; whatever I feel like writing about, though it's always music &/or guitar-related. Some of the blog categories are: Free Lessons, Technique, Music Theory, Stories, Philosophy, Questions and Answers, Rants & Musings, Gear and many more. Although the blogs are available to anyone, Site Members receive an email notification with a direct link whenever a blog is published.

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The guitar has been a Grand Obsession of mine for over 50 years. I love everything about it. I've been a full-time professional performing musician since the early seventies. I've taught 50-100 personal students a week since the early eighties.

 

I know what it takes to play, teach and learn. I'm passionate about playing as well as helping people obtain the priceless value that I've received from music and the guitar.

Any questions about Unique Chord Voicings? Any questions about anything guitar &/or music related? Questions about Site Membership that I didn't answer above? 

Contact me. Let's talk.

Jay

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