Fret Farm

Complete Reference Books for Guitar, Bass and Mandolin
Including Chords, Keys, Scales, Capos, Modulation and Songwriting

Variations for Chords in a Sequence

In the previous tutorial, we looked at pivot notes between chords. These are often so important that a guitarist will play a variation on a chord just so they can increase the number of pivot notes in a sequence.

You could search through the chord references to find chord variations with exactly the right pivots in them, but this is laborious. Using the fret farm chord charts, it is much easier. There are two rules of thumb you can use to get chord variations that are guaranteed to fit in your song's key.

  1. If you are moving between two chords, you can use any of the notes in either chord in the other one.
  2. You can always add any note from the scale (see the scale diagram at the top of each key's page) to a chord to give variation.

Both these rules of thumb are subject to two qualifications.

So when moving from Bm7 to E7 to AM7, we could follow rule 1 and borrow some notes from each chord when playing the other, and voice them: x22232 to 022230 to x02230. In each case we keep four pivot notes. In fact we have played Bm7add4, E7add4 and Asus4, but we didn't need to know that these chords would be suitable, or even how to play them: the chord sequence has arisen naturally from using the Fret Farm chord charts.