with Mark Goldenberg

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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 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 Winter Song.jpg
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.

Watch the video above to get a taste of what you’ll learn in Mark Goldenberg’s Guitar Chord Theory course.

Guitar Chord Theory Sample Lesson

Major Triads on the Top Three Strings

Learn to find triads on the top three strings of the guitar. In this lesson you’ll learn the triad shapes for the keys of A and E. With Notation/Tab

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Guitar Chord Theory Lessons

A subscription to Guitar Chord Theory includes:

  • More than 30 extensive chord theory video lessons
  • Drills and exercises for triads, seventh chords, and more on all string sets
  • Notation and tablature for all lessons
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action.

Get started now! Subscribe today and get access to all these Guitar Chord Theory lessons:

BASIC THEORY In this introductory theory lesson, you’ll learn the building blocks of harmony: scales, intervals, and triads. You'll also learn the formula for constructing a major scale, the difference between major and minor thirds, and how major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads are constructed. 

MAJOR TRIADS Learn to find major triads on each group of three strings on the guitar. You’ll learn all three inversions and how to find their shapes in the guitar-friendly keys of C, G, D, A, and E. 

  • Top Three Strings Learn the major 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 C, G, D, A, and E. You’ll also learn to hear the separate voices within the chord and get drills that will really help get them under your fingers.
  • Top Middle Strings Learn the major-key inversions on the top middle three strings, the second, third, and fourth strings, starting with the key of C and then moving on to G, D, A, and E. 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) and get some drills combining the two different string sets you’ve learned so far, both in one key and in multiple keys. 
  • Bottom Middle Strings Learn the major triadic voicings on the bottom middle strings, three (G), four (D), and five (A), in the guitar-friendly keys of C, G, D, A, and E. You’ll also learn how you can use these lower-register triads to accompany melodies and get drils that combine the triads of the three string sets you’ve learned so far.
  • Bottom Three Strings With this series of lessons, you’ll complete your 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, D, A, and E.You’ll also get some ideas for using these low voicings when improvising or comping behind a singer. 

MINOR TRIADS Get a thorough grounding in close-voiced minor triads all around the neck by learning all three inversions in the keys of A, E, D, B, and G minor. 

  • Top Three Strings Starting with a reminder of how a minor chord is constructed (a minor third on the bottom and a major third on top), you’ll learn close-voiced minor triads on the top three strings. You’ll also learn where all the roots, thirds, and fifths are in each position and how to find minor voicings in any key.
  • Top Middle Strings Learn close-voiced minor triads on the top middle strings: D, G, and B. You'll also learn combinations of all the five minor triad voicings on the top middle strings and get exercises that combine different keys and voicings on the top three strings.
  • Bottom Middle Strings Moving on to the bottom middle strings, the fifth, fourth, and third strings, you’ll learn the close-voiced minor triads for A, E, D, B, and G minor. You’ll also get ideas for drilling the chords as arpeggios, partial chords, etc., and learn to decorate the chords with non-chord tones.
  • Bottom Three Strings 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. You’ll get some drills that combine string sets and positions and advice about how to use voice leading when you’re moving from chord to chord.

DIMINISHED TRIADS 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. You’ll learn some uses for the diminished triad and the three voicings for diminished triads on all four sets of three strings. You’ll also learn tocombine 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 Learn to harmonize major scales with the close-voiced triads you’ve learned in previous lessons.

  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Top Three Strings Harmonize major scales on the top three strings using all three triadic inversions. You’ll also learn how to combine the different inversions and learn a great way to practice playing these triads by 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 also get advice on practicing chord progressions by decorating or arpeggiating the chords, and learn cycle-of-fourths progressions in the keys of C, A, and G.
  • 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. Learn the harmonized major scale for G (first inversion), E (second inversion), and C (root position). You’ll also learn a cycle-of-fourths progression in each key, and how to combine the voicings in different positions. 
  • Harmonizing Major Scales on the Bottom Three Strings Learn the harmonized major scale for D (first inversion), Bb (second inversion) and G (root position) on the bottom three strings along with a cycle-of-fourths progression in each key. Once you’ve learned the harmonized major scales on all four string sets, you’ll learn a few progressions that combine string sets. 

WIDE TRIADS Start exploring triads with wider voicings than the close-voiced triads you’ll learned up to this point. In particular, you’ll learn 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.

  • Major Chords You’ll start by learning the wide-triad voicings in the key of D (root position, first inversion, and second inversion) and then move on to all three wide voicings in the keys of G and C. You’ll also learn how to combine wide voicings in different chord progressions, starting with simple D–G, G–C, and D–A, progressions, and then some I–IV–V progressions in the keys of C, E, and A. 
  • Minor Chords Continue your exploration of “wide triads” with wide-voiced minor chords, starting with A minor, D minor, and B minor. You’ll also get some ideas about combining some of the wide-voiced major triads you learned previously with wide-voiced minor triads and learn 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).
  • Harmonizing the Major Scale with Wide Triads Once you’ve learned the major and minor “wide triads,” you’ll learn to harmonize the major scale with wide triads in three lessons corresponding to each of the three inversions. You’ll also learn some cycle-of-fourths progressions using each inversion in different combinations.

SEVENTH CHORDS Learn “drop two” voicings for minor, major, and dominant seventh chords on all string sets.

  • Major Sevenths Mark introduces the seventh chord, beginning with the major seventh. He explains how you create seventh chords and then demonstrates that close-voiced 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. You’ll learn the four voicings (root position, first inversion, second inversion, and third inversion) for major seventh chords on the three string sets.
  • Dominant Sevenths Learn how a dominant seventh chord (often just called a “seventh” or “seven” chord) is built and learn all four inversions of the “drop two” (or displaced) dominant seventh voicings on all three string sets. You’ll also learn an exercise that combines voicings on the middle strings with voicings on the top four strings. 
  • Minor Sevenths Minor seventh chords are similar to the dominant sevenths you’ve learned but with a minor third instead of a major third. Learn how minor sevenths are built (minor third, major, third, minor third) and then learn all four inversions of the “drop two” (or displaced) minor seventh voicings on all three string sets. The drop-two minor-seventh voicings on the middle set of four strings are very popular for accompaniment.
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. It's easy to change courses on your My Account page. 

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