UD #24 The Secret Life of Roots (Naming Moveable Chord Shapes)
from Ukulele in the Dark
w/ Guido Heistek
Last newsletter we talked about how to move chord shapes up the neck.
We took the C, F and G7 chord shapes and learned how to move them up the neck to play a chord progression in different keys.
“What do we call the chords once we have moved them up the neck?”
I’ll do my best to answer this question in this newsletter. Here goes…
THE ROOT NOTE!
Identifying the position of the ROOT NOTE in the chord shape is very important in naming chords up the neck. WHAT’S THE ROOT NOTE? The root note, very simply, is the most important note in the chord. It is the note that gives the chord its’ name. The root note for a C chord is a C note. The root note for a Gm7 chord is a G note. The root note for a Ab7 chord is an Ab note. And so on.
FINDING THE POSITION OF THE ROOT NOTE IN A CHORD SHAPE:
1. The C chord:
When we play a C chord in open position (first four frets) we use three open strings and one fretted note. We play the open G, C, and E strings and we fret the 3rd fret of the A string to give us another C note. We end up with a shape like this.
As we learned last newsletter, we can move this shape up the neck. But, what do we call the new chord once we’ve moved the shape? The key is to look at where the root note is in the chord shape.
The root of a C chord is the C note. Where is the C note in the open C chord? There are two. One open C and another on the 3rd fret of the A string. Here is another diagram of the open C chord with the root notes marked in RED.
So, we have figured out what the ROOT NOTE POSITION is for this chord shape. This is very handy! Once we move the chord shape up the neck we only have to look at which note falls under the the ROOT NOTE POSITION of the chord and that will tell us the name of the new chord. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say we move the chord shape up to the 5th fret. Like this:
We have only to look at which note falls under the ROOT NOTE POSITION in the shape and that will tell us the name of our new chord. There are two ROOTS in this chord shape, but we can use either one. Let’s use the one on the C string. You can see that the ROOT NOTE POSITION is now sitting on the 5th fret of the C string. If we figure out what note this is, we figure out the name of our new chord.
It’s an F note.
That tells us that this is now an F chord.
So when you move a C chord shape up the to fifth fret you get an F chord. Cool Eh? Next time you need an F chord try playing this 5th fret version for a cool effect.
Let’s say we move this shape to the 7th fret. What chord would that be? It would give us a G chord because a G note would now fall in the ROOT NOTE POSITION.
How about if we moved it to the 4th fret. If we moved the shape to the 4th fret it would give us an E chord.
If this seems a little confusing don’t be alarmed. You are not alone. Go through it again slowly until it sinks in.
2. The F chord:
Last newsletter we also moved an F chord shape up the neck. Here is a diagram of an F chord with the position of the root note mark indicated:
The root note of an F chord is F. Where is the F note in the open position F chord? 1st fret of the E string.
When we move the chord shape up the neck, the note in the ROOT NOTE POSITION of the shape gives the chord its’ new name. Let’s move it up to the fifth fret and see if we can name it.
Here is the shape moved up to the 5th fret:
Which note is in the ROOT NOTE POSITION now? In other words which note is on the 6th fret of the E string? Look at the fretboard diagram above.
The Bb (B flat) note! So we now have a Bb chord.
3. The G7 chord
Here is another chord that we worked with in the last newletter: the G7.
The root of a G7 chord is G.
Here is a G7 in open position with the ROOT NOTE POSITION marked in the shape:
Let’s move the shape up the neck and see if we can figure out the name of the new chord. Here’s the shape moved up to the fifth fret.
Which note NOW falls under the ROOT NOTE POSITION of the chord shape? You can see that the ROOT NOTE POSITION is now on the fifth fret of the G string. What note is on the 5th fret of the G string? Check the fretboard diagram.
It’s a C. So we now have a C7 chord.
When you move a chord shape up the neck the chord type (major, minor, 7th, etc.) stays the same. For example, when you move a G7 shape the resulting chords will all be 7 chords. If you move an A minor shape up the neck the resulting chords will all be minor chords.
WHY ARE WE MOVING CHORDS UP THE NECK?
Here are some reasons:
-Playing moveable shapes opens up a world of rhythmic strumming possibilities. The BO DIDDLEY strum for example.
-It’s very important to be able to play chords up the neck for chord melody playing.
-Adds texture and interest to an ensemble. It’s lovely to have one uke strum an F in open position while another uke plays the same chord at the 5th fret.
That’s all for now,
Hope you enjoyed it!
As I mentioned before I’ll be spacing my posts out a little bit for the summer.
So, see you this time next month,
P.S. I am regularly adding new lessons to Ukulele in the Dark. Please subscribe to my mailing list below to receive every lesson right when it comes out. Be sure not to miss a thing!