Guitar lessons (opens in new tab): Songwriting is all about inspiration – and sometimes the simplest ides can spark our creativity. Here's six different chord approaches that cover a range of genres and are sure to give you some great ideas.
1. Thinking outside a box
Change the major 3rd of an open A chord to either a 4th or a 2nd to add movement, but without changing the sound of the chord too much. Great for folk and pop.
2. Hammer down the funk
This funky idea is a sure-fire way of adding some interest to dominant 7-style barre chords. The move to the 4th fret as you return to G7 on beat 3 has a great vibe
3. Winging it
This is a Jimi Hendrix-style embellishment to a basic F chord. You’ll be playing the chord with your first three fingers, which leaves your fourth finger to play several new notes.
4. Easy open-chord arpeggios
Transform everyday chords such as C major by picking one note at a time. It’s ideal for a laid back indie vibe and you can discover new melodies by adding spare fingers
The powerchord is the most common sound in heavy metal, but you can easily mix things up by either sharpening or flattening the 5th (to give C5aug and C5dim chords here).
6. Not long ’til Summers
It’s not just about the notes you choose, it’s about the textures you play. Here, we’re playing an Em chord and palm-muting to give a plucky, percussive sound to each note.
7. Down the slide, up the slide
Open chords take on new character if you move them to other frets – the relationships between fretted notes and open strings change as you move, giving unusual sounds.
8. Hard-rock heaven
Try mixing chords and scales to make rock riffs. This one starts with an E5 powerchord, followed by an E minor pentatonic phrase played in open position.
9. Step by step root notes
Try moving the root note of a chord to create new sounds. It’s a common idea in Latin music and Jimmy Page used a similar trick in the opening bars of Stairway To Heaven.
10. Southern groove
Here’s another way of mixing chords and scales. The open G5 chord is embellished with the G major pentatonic scale for a bit of a Sweet Home Alabama-style groove.