CAGED Part Four – Flat Keys And I – IV – V Constructs

Working With Flat Keys

At this point in our course of study in guitar chords our method and procedure is something that should be clear to you and something you should be comfortable with. Remember, this distance-learning course is designed to provide you with a music school experience so I recommend you approach everything the same way that your counterparts working music school would do, and that is basing year studies on music theory in a systematic way. As we begin to study the CAGED system as it applies to flat keys, we will start with the first two flat keys on the circle of fifths, the key of F in the key of Bb. The first thing we want to do is review the key signature, and the spelling of each scale then make sure the formula and spelling for each chord is completely clearing your mind – double check your understanding of these concepts against the diagram below.


5 Position CAGED System In The Key Of F

Next, as we approach the key of F we will do everything in the same way we learn to do things in the three previous videos and accompanying lessons. First, find every note in the F chord (F – A – C) as it appears on the neck of the guitar. Next, make a special note of each and every F root note on the neck of the guitar. Your third step is to translate all of those F chord tones into the five movable shapes normally associated with the CAGED system as has been done for you in the diagram below. Finally play the five chords associated with the CAGED system in time a sending in descending into your very comfortable with them. Of course, follow the practicing methods you have been learning in your video lessons:

  • Review the scale, key signature, formula and spelling of a major chord for the key of F.
  • Find all F root notes a major chord tones on the neck of the guitar.
  • Translate those notes into the five basic shapes of the CAGED system.
  • Play those five chords ascending in descending in time, smoothly cleanly and clearly on your guitar until the key of F seems like second nature to you.


5 Position CAGED System In The Key Of Bb

As we progress around the circle of fifths our next area of study is the key of B-flat. As we have done in every other case follow the procedures and protocol in about one for you in this course so far.

  • Review the scale, key signature, formula and spelling of a major chord for the key of B-flat.
  • Find all B-flat root notes a major chord tones on the neck of the guitar.
  • Translate those notes into the five basic shapes of the CAGED system.
  • Play those five chords ascending in descending in time, smoothly cleanly and clearly on your guitar until the key of B-flat seems like second nature to you.

Of course, begin and end your practicing with the ilustration below.


Video Lesson


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As guitarists in your students in general there are certain bits of common ground that we all stand on with you play- rock, pop, blues, jazz, unplugged or alternative one of the things you spend quite a bit of time dealing with is a standard I – IV – V progression and its seemingly endless variants. The exercises below will enable you to gain some fresh new insights and playing ideas as we examine these essential chord changes, I – IV – V in relation to the CAGED system. Since the exercises below are all written in the key of F major, we must first of course acclimate our minds and ears to the key of F.

I – IV – V In The Key Of F In The First Postion

In the exercise below we are going to begin playing I – IV – V progressions in the key of F starting at the lowest possible point on the neck of the guitar, that means beginning with the E type of F major chord. As you can see, there are two examples in this exercise one employing the technique of voice leading and another employing the technique of parallel motion. The parallel motion technique is by far the more obvious and the two because once you arrive at the IV chord all you have to do is slide up the neck one whole step to arrive at the V chord. Interestingly, the two examples below employ the same exact background tracks, played at the same tempo but achieve entirely different results. The first example lends itself to the electric guitar the second example; the voice-leading example, was played on a jumbo acoustic guitar to really fill out the track.

I – IV – V In The Key Of F In The Third Postion

My next take on a I – IV – V in the key of F begins with a F5 form on fret III, or what i have labeled the D type in this course. The B flat form is based on a G type and the C of course is based on the A type of chord. This C form is the common knowledge, first choice or “go to”, root 5 form used so often in rock and pop music. This example is an example of a nice syncopated rhythmic part commonly found in ska and reggae music.

I – IV – V In The Key Of F In The Fifth Postion

As we continue to explore a I – IV – V in the key of F lets begin with the C type of F major chord located on the fifth fret. This type of arpeggiated part can add a signature sound to a tune, fatten up the arrangement and can really catch the ear of your audience (e.g. Sweet Home Alabama, Here Comes The Sun, etc).

I – IV – V In The Key Of F In The Eighth Postion

In the eighth position F major assumes the A type of major chord fingering. Playing the Bb IV chord in the eighth position gives you a hard rocking, kicking sound that has become one of my favorites when playing in the rock and pop genres. The V chord, C, in that position is the root 6 E type known for its strength and power, in this case it returns your ear quite nicely back to the I chord. It always amazes me how many different types of sounds and textures a simple I – IV – V progression can assume when you know the five shapes inside and out.

I – IV – V In The Key Of F In Postion X

In this example the challenge was to create a nice rhythm guitar part for a rock ballad, or soft rock track. Once again, the arpeggios of the basic I – IV – V chord forms can be used to create an interesting and musical part. For the rhythm guitar part, I used C and nine as the C major V chord as the natural ninth note of this C chord is right there on the high E string. This is a very well known trick among professional rhythm guitarists.



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