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Barre Chord Basics: Part III

by John Coco

This is the final article in the "Barre Chord Basics" series. This time, we'll focus on how to use the barre chords that you've learned in a practical setting. After reading through this article, you should be able to play most simple songs that you encounter. Before getting into playing, there are a few last concepts that need clarification.

Moveable Forms
It is important to understand that barre chords are moveable chord forms. This means that any barre chord shape can be moved up the neck. For example, you can play the F Major barre chord from last month's article at any fret. Keep in mind that when you move the shape to a different fret, the root note changes.

Prefix and Suffix
All chords have a prefix and a suffix. The prefix of a chord names the root note while the suffix reveals the chord quality. For example, the prefix in F minor is "F", while its suffix is "minor". Remember, the prefix can be any note (such as C, G#, Db, etc.) while the suffix indicates the chord quality such as major, minor, diminished, augmented, or dominant seventh.

Armed with a fair amount of barre chord knowledge, you are ready to move the chord forms around the fretboard. Remember, as you move the chord form up the neck the prefix changes but the suffix does not. For example, an F major barre chord moved to the third fret becomes G major. The following chord chart shows you the barre chord shapes that you have learned so far, and what chord they become when you move them up the neck.

This chart is pretty simple to use. You can determine how to play any chord on the chart by applying a couple of simple rules.

1. Determine which chord you wish to play. For example, lets choose an A7 chord.
2. Find the fret number. The A7 chord is on the fifth fret. This can be determined by following the A7 chord to the left until you see the number 5 in the box. Notice that there is another A7 chord on the twelfth fret of the chart.
3. Determine the fingering. The fingering for the desired chord can be found by following the chart directly above the desired chord. If we look directly above the A7 chord we will see the fingering for F7. Remember that this is only an F7 chord if it is played on the first fret. If we play this fingering on the fifth fret we will have our A7 barre chord.

Use this process to figure out a few barre chords. Make sure that you try some from each column to ensure that you use every chord shape and fingering.

Now try playing the chords to Dark Eyes. This is a good song to start with because it contains major, minor and dominant chords.

Now that you have some experience with barre chords you are ready to grab your favorite songbook and give it a shot. I hope that you have enjoyed this series of articles!

© John Coco 2004


About the Author:

John Coco actively performs in a variety of ensembles in the New York area. In addition to private instruction, John teaches several guitar and improvisation classes, devoting the balance of his time to composing and arranging for guitar. He is currently working on a jazz etude book, which will feature intermediate level solos written over standard chord progressions. John is a published author who has written extensively about the guitar and music education. In addition to writing for Guitar Sessions, he has been published in the New York State School Music Association magazine The School Music News, and is currently writing for Just Jazz Guitar magazine. He is frequent guest on "The Great American Guitar Show" which features many of New York's finest jazz guitarists.

John received a B.S. in Music Education from Hofstra University.
Gear:
John Coco plays a 1946 D'Angelico Excel. John is a GHS and Intellitouch Tuner endorsee.

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