In this lesson we're going to assume that you know how to create a major chord progression. If you don't keep reading, you'll will still pick up a few cool music ideas. Just for you there's a video at the end of this post that explains how to make a harmonised progression. It's in G Major, but the theory works for any major key.
The harmonized, or harmonised, for UK/Aus type people, chord progression in E Major is E Maj, f#min, g#min, A, B, c#m, ebdim and then onto the octave, E Maj. (D# and Eb are basically the same thing as you'll see in the diagrams). That list has all the chords you can use to write a song in E Major. If this is new to you, go ahead try it. Start with E Major then choose some of the other chords to compose with.
As you can see in the diagram below, chords don't need to be played in the open position. If you take a look at the notes on the thin e string they are all the notes of the E Major scale played along that string. Other relevant notes are added to turn the single notes into chords. Or, to be more technically correct, triads. Groups of three notes are called triads.
To add a little spice the 5th chord which is usually played as a B Maj is tabbed as a B7. That's perfectly fine and it also gets your pinky finger into the action. If you want to play a regular B Maj triad go for it.
If you know your full bar chords you might be thinking, 'that's just bar chords chopped in half. You're only playing the thin strings.' Well, yes and no. It's a matter of perspective. Consider these chords in their own right. The way you use them and can embellish them are different to the way you use bar chords. We'll be looking into that in a future lesson. Check the next diagram. It picks through the notes of the same harmonized major scale but as triads on the middle strings - the A, D and G strings.
We've gone back to the B Major chord in the example above but the 7th works nicely too. Pay attention to starting note for each bar. The first chord starts on the A string and the second chord on the G string. The progression swaps starting notes as it continues throughout. This is great for giving your picking hand a workout too.
As you practice playing up and down the fretboard vary which strings you start on, for example start the first bar on the G string instead. You could alternate as shown in the diagram or start each bar on the G string only (or the D or A). You can also pick through the first diagram using the same picking concepts just mentioned.
To wrap this session up let's combine exercises 1 and two. We've given you the B7 in this one also.
You can experiment with the triad chords played in example 3, that's the f#m, A, C#m and E(8va). Instead of holding them for a full count of four try some rhythm. Or experiment at hitting the chords on different beats, like beat 3 or even an off beat.
As always, friends, happy jamming!
And- here's that video we mentioned about how to make a harmonized Major chord progression from scratch.