Monday, 5 May 2014

Cyclic Harmony

More often than not guitarists lag behind other instrumentalists in one major area: Harmony!
They tend to rely on shapes and often don't have any knowledge of what notes are actually in any given chord and as a result don't understand how chords relate to one another in a sequence. 

This exercise will help address this shortcoming. Done correctly you will:


  • Learn all the diatonic chords in all their inversions
  • Learn what notes are in each of these chords
  • Recognise what the shapes tell you about the chords
  • Learn common movements from chord to chord
Starting on the tonic triad (C major) in root position move the top note up step in the scale. This transform the chord from chord I to chord vi (Aminor). Then move the middle note up one scale step. The chord will then transform from chord vi to chord IV (F major). Then move the bottom note up a scale step to change chord IV to chord ii.


  • Move the top note a scale step
  • Move the middle note up a scale step
  • Move the bottom note up a scale step
  • repeat........
If this seems confusing watch the video as I explain it clearly and slowly. 
Things to note:


  • Say each note of the every chord out loud as move into each new chord.
  • As each note moves it becomes the root of the new chord.
  • The order will always be Root, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion ad infinitum.


Here's the sheet - note that it's meant to be read down the columns from left to right.