Creating Great Arrangements And Parts With Basic Chords: SLASH & SLIDE

Using Slash Chords And Atypical Slides To Create Parts And Arrangements With Basic Chords.

Although the chords we have learned so far are, in my mind, all related to the basic common knowledge, standard chords there are a lot of advanced, unusual and difficult voicings presented in this course. In the previous lesson we discussed using this chord vocabulary you are learning to create interesting parts and arrangements through the use of substituting chords for the chords that appear in well-known chord progressions and patterns. In this lesson we will first explore the use of slash chords to make those old chord patterns and progressions come to life. The second part of the lesson will deal with out-of-the-box thinking by taking basic open string chords and sliding them up and down the neck, simply put playing the chords you know in the wrong spot and letting the open strings create interesting textures and tensions.

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Slash Chords Revisited

In lesson five I introduced the topic of slash chords. Simply put, slash chords are chords in which the root note does not appear the bass, as the lowest pitched note, which is normal for chords of all descriptions. Slash chords have another note, usually a member of that chord such as the third or fifth or less often another member of the chords home key, such as a scale tone or a seventh or ninth. Review the diagram below to make sure you completely understand the concept of slash chords.

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Musical Example: Slash Chords In A Rock Ballad Style

The example below takes the tried and true progression of G – D – C – D and creates an interesting bass line through the use of slash chords. You may hear the Eric Clapton style in there a little bit as the example was created with him in mind.

Musical Example: Slash Chords In A Bright Classic Rock Style

In the previous lesson we examined and all time favorite chord progression: C – Emi – Ami. Although those three chords to create some rich and interesting sections of chord progressions in the key of C, the example below takes these three chords to a new level by introducing a slash chord and thereby creating an interesting musical line. This example is a tribute to Ray Davies of the iconic rock band The Kinks. In terms of clever chord progressions and great rhythm parts Ray Davies is a school all by himself.

Musical Example: Slash Chords In A Hard Rock Style

The inspiration for this song is one of the great rock players of all time, Angus Young of AC/DC. Mr. Young has created scores of incredible sounding rhythm guitar parts and he is a master of slash chords. Study and play the example below, if you are a rock guitarist or songwriter, I highly suggest you analyze the AC/DC approach to rhythm guitar parts.

Musical Example: Slash Chords In Jazz Or Jump Blues Setting

A very well known bass line harmonized in the Key of A. If you like this exercise, you will love a swing era tune called Flying Home by Lionel Hampton.

Creating Parts And Arrangements By Applying Out Of The Box Thinking To The Basic Chords.

The musical examples to follow were all written using one of my favorite tricks: playing basic chords in higher positions than we are used to playing them. By doing this, the open strings create unusual sounds as they add to the chords in interesting ways. In this case, the open G string that appears in each of the chords give this progression a cool droning sound, almost like another instrument.

You can understand what I am talking about by playing the example directly below; it employs one of the first position chords, C major, in this way to take a standard series of chords found in many a rock progression (C – Eb – F – G) and turn it into something interesting and unusual.

Musical Example: Unusual Slides In A Progressive Rock Setting.

Musical Example: Unusual Slides In A Hard Rock Setting.

One of my favorite things in my bag of tricks is taking a good old open position A chord, the kind that you play with your first finger, and sliding that A chord up the neck to obtain a series of slash chords. This idea works great in a hard rock setting because the open A string is droning and giving the music lots of rumble and bottom end. The harmonies that you obtain are quite unusual and striking. Experiment with the chords below and memorize them before tackling the musical example. Take your time with the chords strumming them in a different order than they appear and of course in the same order in which they appear -or maybe just going back and forth between two of them to get your ears accustomed to this idea the pedal A.

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Musical Example: Unusual Slides In A Progressive or Spacey Rock Setting.

Similar to the previous example except that the sound of the piece is an A minor chord sound.

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Musical Example: Unusual Slides In A Hard Rock Setting.

In the example for this lesson, the out of the box thinking regarding unusal slides and positioning od common knowledge chords is applied to the basic E major form. Once again, slowly play and experiment with the chords you see illustarted below as you ear becomes accustomed to these unusual and beatiful voicings.

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