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Friday, January 17, 2014

Chord Progressions Five

A Great 4-Chord Progression

The first four chords to the great Irish tune "Star of the County Down" are Bm-G-D-A (best key for your DAD dulcimer), and if you take these chords and just cycle them endlessly, they make a very moody, dark and mysterious backdrop for all sorts of musical ideas that you might play over them. One device I like to use for this sort of backing is to arpeggiate the chords, or pick out the individual notes in each chord and play them one after another. I usually do this finger-picking style, but you can play it flatpicked if you want.

Here is a little arpeggio study I did on these chords:

Arpeggio Study 1 for Bm-G-D-A

When you strum across all three strings, you are playing block chords, or playing the notes of the chord simultaneously.  Here are some block chord ideas that you can try. Each chord holds for a complete measure, or four full beats:

Block Chords for Bm-G-D-A

Now, for me, when I write down some TAB chords in block form, I get a sense of freedom from looking at all that space in the measure that I can creatively fill up with whatever chord tones I choose. You might try this yourself: try playing any notes in a chord on the half note level, or you might vary from straight quarter notes to the occasional half note. You might even want to try some chord tones on the eighth note level!

As with anything I'm showing you here, keep it loose, have fun with it, and let your imagination show you the way. Let me know how it works for you--did you get something flowing along? This is one of my favorite circular, hypnotic progressions!!
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