GUITAR CHORD THEORY 

with Mark Goldenberg

Sponsored By

About This Course

Learn guitar chord theory in-depth with Mark Goldenberg, one of the most respected touring and session guitarists around and a student of the legendary Ted Greene. You'll explore basic major and minor chord inversions all over the neck and on all string sets, as well as wide-triad voicings; harmonized major scales; major, minor, and dominant seventh-chord voicings; and more.

MARK GOLDENBERG

Mark Goldenberg is a guitarist who has played on records for numerous artists, including Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Eels, Natalie Imbruglia, Chris Isaak, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Peter Frampton, and, yes, William Shatner. He played lead guitar for Jackson Browne from 1994 to 2010. He's just finished a two-year tour with Hugh Laurie.

Mark Goldenberg_hires_desaturateColor.jpeg
Mark is also a songwriter and producer, whose works have been recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Chicago, Pointer Sisters, Natalie Imbruglia, Eels, Chris Botti, and Olivia Newton John, among others. He's studied guitar with fingerstyle virtuoso Ted Greene, classical guitar with Richard Pick and Emre Saboncuoglo, and piano and counterpoint with Abe Fraser. He finished his first CD of solo fingerstyle guitar music in 2004 and is currently recording a sequel.

markgoldenberg.com


 
 

Guitar Chord Theory Course Overview

Guitar Chord Theory Lessons

Subscribe to Guitar Chord Theory today and get access to all of these lessons. All Guitar Chord Theory lessons include notation and tab.

BASIC THEORY

  • Basic Theory In this introductory theory lesson, Mark introduces you to the building blocks of harmony: scales, intervals, and triads. You'll learn the formula for constructing a major scale (whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step); the difference between major and minor thirds; and how major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads are constructed. 
MAJOR TRIADS
    Top Three Strings
  • Major Triads on the Top Three Strings, Part 1: Inversions and the Key of C Learn to find triads on the top three strings of the guitar. You’ll start with root position, with the root on the bottom, and then learn about the two inversions: first inversion (with the third on the bottom) and second inversion (fifth on the bottom), and how to find their shapes in the key of C. 
  • Major Triads on the Top Three Strings, Part 2: G and D Learn the major triads in root position and first and second inversions for other guitar-friendly keys: G, D, A, and E, starting with the keys of G and D. 
  • Major Triads on the Top Three Strings, Part 3: A and E - Sample Lesson Learn the triad shapes for the key of A and E. Mark also talks about learning to hear the separate voices within the chord. 
  • Major Triads on the Top Three Strings, Part 4: Drills Now that you've learned all the triad voicings on the top three strings for the keys of C, G, D, A, and E, Mark shows you some drills that will really get them under your fingers. 
    Top Middle Strings
  • Major Triads on the Top Middle Strings, Part 1: Key of C Learn the major-key inversions on the top middle three strings, the second, third, and fourth strings, starting with the key of C. You'll also learn to recognize each of the voices by number (1, 3, 5), scale degree (root, third, fifth), and letter name (C, E, G). 
  • Major Triads on the Top Middle Strings, Part 2: G and D Continuing with triads on the second through fourth strings, you'll learn the triads for G and D. 
  • Major Triads on the Top Middle Strings, Part 3: A and E Finishing up with the top middle strings in the guitar-friendly keys of C, G, D, A, and E, you'll learn the triads for A and E. 
  • Major Triads on the Top Middle Strings, Part 4: Drills Try out some of these drills to reinforce your knowledge of triadic shapes and triads on the top middle strings. Mark also shows you drills combining the two different string sets, both in one key and in multiple keys. 
    Bottom Middle Strings
  • Major Triads on the Bottom Middle Strings, Part 1: C and G Continuing with his exploration of triads, Mark shows you the major triadic voicings on the bottom middle strings: three (G), four (D), and five (A), starting with the keys of C and G. 
  • Major Triads on the Bottom Middle Strings, Part 2: D, A, and E Learn the D, A, and E major voicings on the bottom middle strings to complete your set of major chord voicings on the third, fourth, and fifth strings.
  • Major Triads on the Bottom Middle Strings, Part 3: Drills Once you’ve learned all the triads for C, G, D, A, and E, Mark gives you some drills that combine them all. He also shows how you can use these lower-register triads to accompany melodies. 
  • Major Triads on the Bottom Middle Strings, Part 4: Combining String Sets If you’ve learned all the triads on the string sets covered so far, try these drills that combine all three of these string sets. 
    Bottom Three Strings
  • Major Triads on the Bottom Three Strings, Part 1: C, G, and D With this series of lessons, we get to the end of our close-voice major triad exploration of the fingerboard. Learn all the triadic voicings on the bottom three strings: four (D), five (A), and six (E), starting with the keys of C, G, and D.
  • Major Triads on the Bottom Three Strings, Part 2: A and E Learn the A and E major triadic voicings on the bottom three strings to complete your set of triads. Mark also gives you some ideas for using these low voicings when improvising or comping behind a singer. 
MINOR TRIADS
    Top Three Strings
  • Minor Triads on the Top Three Strings, Part 1: A Minor Get a thorough grounding in close-voiced minor triads all around the neck, starting with the top three strings. Mark shows you the minor triad shapes on the top three strings for A minor, pointing out where all the roots, thirds, and fifths are in each position. 
  • Minor Triads on the Top Three Strings, Part 2: E Minor and D Minor Learn the minor triad voicings in other guitar-friendly keys, beginning with E minor and D minor.
  • Minor Triads on the Top Three Strings, Part 3: B Minor and G Minor Learn the voicings for B minor and G minor and try some drills combining chords and inversions.
    Top Middle Strings
  • Minor Triads on the Top Middle Strings, Part 1: E Minor and A Minor Learn close-voiced minor triads on the top middle strings: D, G, and B. You'll learn an exercise combining E minor voicings on the top three strings and the top middle strings and combine E minor and A minor voicings on the top three and top middle strings. 
  • Minor Triads on the Top Middle Strings, Part 2: D, B, and G Minor Learn voicings for “the saddest of all keys”: D minor, as well as B minor and G minor. Mark also gives you drills that combine them with the triads on the top three strings as well as Am and Em triads. 
    Bottom Middle Strings 
  • Minor Triads on the Bottom Middle Strings, Part 1: E Minor and A Minor Moving on to the bottom middle strings, the fifth, fourth, and third strings, Mark continues his look at close-voiced minor triads, beginning with the key of E minor.  
  • Minor Triads on the Bottom Middle Strings, Part 2: D, B, and G Minor Learn the close-voiced minor triads for D, B, and G minor on the bottom middle strings. You’ll also learn to decorate the chords with non-chord tones for a more melodic approach. 
    Bottom Three Strings
  • Minor Triads on the Bottom Three Strings, Part 1: E, A and D Minor Learn the last set of close-voiced minor triads on the bottom three strings. These shapes are the same as the shapes on the bottom middle strings, because the relationship of the strings is the same. 
  • Minor Triads on the Bottom Three Strings, Part 2: B and G Minor Mark finishes up the minor triad series by showing you the root position, first inversion, and second inversion triads of B and G minor, along with some drills that combine string sets and positions. 
DIMINISHED TRIADS
  • Diminished Triads, Part 1 The diminished triad is, as its name implies, the smallest triad you can have: a minor third with another minor third on top of it. It’s a bit like a minor triad, but with a darker, more mysterious sound. It’s also the triad built on seventh step of the major scale. Mark talks about some uses for the diminished triad and shows you the three voicings for diminished triads on the top three strings. 
  • Diminished Triads, Part 2 Learn the diminished-triad voicings on the other three string sets. Mark also shows you how to combine the shapes on all the string sets as well as some different ways to combine diminished triads with minor and major chords in a progression.
HARMONIZING MAJOR SCALES
  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Top Three Strings, Part 1: First Inversion Learn to harmonize major scales with the close voiced triads you’ve learned in previous lessons. Starting with the top three strings, Mark shows you how to harmonize an E major scale starting from the open E on the first string and moving up the fingerboard using first inversion voicings. 
  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Top Three Strings, Part 2: Second Inversion and Root Position Learn a harmonized C major scale on the top three strings using second inversions, as well as a harmonized A major scale with root position triads. Mark also shows you how to combine the different inversions. 
  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Top Three Strings, Part 3: Cycle of Fourths Drills One nice way to practice playing these triads is by using a cycle of fourths progression. Mark shows you some ideas for combining the voicings in different places on the neck using a cycle of fourths progression in the key of C: C, F, Bdim, Em, Am, Dm, G, C. 
  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Top Middle Strings Move down a string set and find the harmonized major scale on the top middle strings: D, G, and B. You’ll learn the harmonized major scale for C (first inversion), A (second inversion), and G (root position). Mark also gives advice on practicing chord progressions by decorating or arpeggiating the chords, and shows you a cycle-of-fourths progression in each key.  
  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Bottom Middle Strings The bottom two sets of strings have the same triad shapes, so once you’ve learned them on one set, you can apply the same shapes to the other. Mark shows you the harmonized major scale for G (first inversion), E (second inversion), and C (root position) on the bottom middle strings (A, D, and G). He also shows you a cycle-of-fourths progression in each key, and combines the voicings in different positions. 
  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Bottom Three Strings Mark shows you the harmonized major scale for D (first inversion), Bb (second inversion) and G (root position) on the bottom three strings (E, A, and D), along with a cycle-of-fourths progression in each key. And, now that you’ve learned the harmonized major scales on all four string sets, he finishes with a few progressions that combine string sets. 

WIDE TRIADS

    Major Chords

  • Wide Triads: Major Chords, Part 1 In this lesson, you’ll start exploring triads with wider voicings than the close-voiced triads Mark has concentrated on up to this point. In particular, you’ll explore a voicing that moves the middle voice of a close-voiced triad down an octave. This has a piano-like quality and sounds great on the guitar. Mark starts by showing you the wide voicings in the key of D: root position, first inversion, and second inversion, then moves on to all three wide voicings in the keys of G and C.  
  • Wide Triads: Major Chords, Part 2 Mark shows you how to combine wide voicings in different chord progressions, starting with simple D–G, G–C, and D–A, progressions. Then he shows you some I–IV–V progressions in the keys of C, E, and A. 
    Minor Chords
  • Wide Triads: Minor Chords, Part 1 Continue your exploration of “wide triads” (a voicing that moves the middle voice of the closed-voice triad down an octave) with wide-voiced minor chords, starting with A minor.” Mark shows you a number of fingerings for each voicing and then covers the same voicings in D minor and B minor. He finishes this video with a exercises that combine Bm and Em triads and then Am and Dm triads. 
  • Wide Triads: Minor Chords, Part 2 Mark gives you some ideas about combining some of the wide-voiced major triads you learned previously with wide-voiced minor triads. He shows you a couple of etudes that combine the i, iv, V in the key of A minor (Am, Dm, E) and in the key of E minor (Em, Am, B) and give you other ideas about combining chord voicings. 

    Harmonizing the Major Scale

  • Wide Triads: Harmonizing the Major Scale, Part 1 Once you’ve learned the major and minor “wide triads” (a voicing that moves the middle voice of the closed-voice triad down an octave), you’ll learn to harmonize the major scale with them. But first, you need to learn the wide voicing of the diminished triad, which occurs on the seventh step of the major scale. Mark shows you the wide diminished triad voicings for a C#dim, which is the triad built on the seventh step of the key of D. Then he shows you the harmonized major scale in the key of D with wide triadic voicings in root position, followed by the key of F. You’ll also learn a circle-of-fourths progression in the keys of D and E. 
  • Wide Triads: Harmonizing the Major Scale, Part 2 In this lesson, you’ll learn to harmonize the major scale with the “wide triad” voicing with the third in the bass, starting with the keys of C, E, and B. Mark also shows you a circle-of-fourths progression using the first inversion wide voicings in the key of C, and one that mixes first-inversion and root-position voicings.
  • Wide Triads: Harmonizing the Major Scale, Part 3 Once you’ve harmonized the major scale with the root-position and first-inversion “wide triad” voicings, you know what’s next: that’s right, second inversion. Mark begins by showing you the second-inversion voicings in the keys of G and Bb, and then shows you circle-of-fourths progressions in the keys of G and A. Then you’ll combine all the inversions in a circle-of-fourths progression in D.

SEVENTH CHORDS

    Major Sevenths

  • Intro to Seventh Chords: Major Sevenths Mark introduces the seventh chord, beginning with the major seventh. He explains how you create major seventh chords and then demonstrates that close-voiced major seventh chords are, with a couple exceptions, nearly impossible to play on the guitar. You’ll learn how to make seventh chords playable by displacing one of the voices an octave, for a wider voicing often called a “drop two” voicing. In this lesson, Mark walks you through the four voicings (root position, first inversion, second inversion, and third inversion) of Gmaj7, Cmaj7, Amaj7, and Dmaj7 on the top three strings
  • Major Sevenths, Part 2: Middle Strings Learn “drop two” (or displaced) major seventh voicings on the middle strings. Mark also talks about how major seventh chords are usually indicated on a chord chart and gives some examples for an F major seven chord: FMaj7, FM7, F△. Then Mark walks you through all four inversions of the drop two major seventh voicings on the middle four strings for Dmaj7, Gmaj7, and Cmaj7.
  • Major Sevenths, Part 3: Bottom Strings The last combination of strings for the drop two major seventh voicings is, of course, the bottom set of four strings. Mark shows you how to find the basic drop two voicing on the bottom set of strings and then walks you through all four inversions of the drop two major seventh voicings on the middle four strings for Cmaj7, Amaj7, Dmaj7, and Emaj7. 

    Dominant Sevenths

  • Dominant Sevenths, Part 1: Top Four Strings In this introduction to dominant seventh chords, Mark starts by explaining how a dominant seventh chord (often just called a “seventh” or “seven” chord) is built and then shows you the “drop two” (or displaced) dominant seventh voicings on the top four strings. You’ll learn all four inversions of the G7 on the top four strings in this lesson.
  • Dominant Sevenths, Part 2: Middle Four Strings This lesson continues Mark’s look at dominant seventh chords in the drop two voicing. He starts with G7, showing you all four inversions on the middle four strings. Then he moves on to D7 and A7, finishing with an exercise that combines A7 voicings on the middle strings with A7 voicings on the top four strings.
  • Dominant Sevenths, Part 3: Bottom Four Strings The final lesson on drop-two dominant seventh chords focuses on the bottom four strings. Mark starts by showing you the four inversions for A7 on the bottom four strings, and continues with voicings for D7 and G7.

    Minor Sevenths

  • Minor Sevenths, Part 1: Top Four Strings Minor seventh chords are similar to the dominant sevenths you’ve learned in previous lessons but with a minor third instead of a major third. Mark explains how minor sevenths are built (minor third, major, third, minor third) and then shows you the drop-two voicings on the top four strings for Am7, Em7, and Gm7.
  • Minor Sevenths, Part 2: Middle Four Strings In this second lesson on minor sevenths you’ll learn the drop-two minor-seventh voicings for the middle set of four strings, which are very popular for accompaniment. Mark starts with Em7 and also shows you the voicings for Am7, Dm7, and Bm7.
  • Minor Sevenths, Part 3: Bottom Four Strings In the final lesson on minor sevenths chords, you’ll learn the drop-two minor-seventh voicings for the bottom set of four strings. Mark shows you the voicings for Em7, Am7, and Dm7 and talks about practicing the voicings in multiple keys and multiple string sets.
If you're finished with the Guitar Chord Theory lessons, try out one of the other Peghead Nation lessons, like Scott Nygaard's Weekly Guitar Workout or Teja Gerken's Advanced Fingerstyle Workshop.  

Want to offer feedback
or suggest a lesson?
Need help with the site?

Want to offer feedback
or suggest a lesson?
Need help with the site?