Chet Atkins – Breakdown of a Beginner Guitar Lesson (part 4)

Beginner Guitar Lesson with Chet Atkins – Part 4

In this post, the fourth of a series, I continue to explore the hidden depths of a seemingly simple beginner guitar lesson given by Chet Atkins in the below video, by starting to explore how the notes of the scale tune fit with the chords being played.

By now you should have that progression nicely in mind, in your ears and under your fingers. Hopefully you have recorded a loop to play over.
Let’s move forward and anticipate the ‘scale tune’ by laying out the chord progression again, this time with the constituent notes of each chord written above.

Image showing a graphic of Chet Atkins Scale Tune Chord Progression with the notes of the chords written above each bar on a blog page analysing a Beginner Guitar Lesson

The idea in setting the progression out this way is to connect the chords, which should be very familiar, with their constituent notes. As described above, these all derive from the C Major scale. Do not get too hung up on the notes above each chord as separate notes, but view them as small groups that work well together. Does that make sense?

Subsequently, it will be important to try to think of single notes rather than as groups making up chords. Single notes that sit within any of these chords when they appear in the progression and single notes that are being played as part of the ‘scale tune’ that Chet and the student plays in the video.

It’s time to get melodic and begin exploring Chet’s ‘scale tune’.

Chet demonstrated notes in the key of C available from fret 3 of the e string (note = G) descending to fret 3 of the A string (note = C). Like this:

Image showing a graphic of C Major scale in open position from the root note on 5th string on a blog page analysing a Beginner Guitar Lesson

Hopefully you know your note names on all strings to at least fret 3 so should realise that Chet (deliberately one must assume) omitted a few notes (those that are lower than the Root C note on the 5th string)

For completion here is the full set of notes in the C Major scale up to and including fret 3:

Image showing a graphic of C Major scale in open position on a blog page analysing a Beginner Guitar Lesson

For the first, simplest version of the scale tune, which Chet starts and then encourages his student to also play, he plays descending sequences comprising four groups of nine notes over the chord progression. It starts at the highest note that he has shown, the note G at the 3rd fret of the high e string. It goes like this:

G  F  E  D  C  B  A  G  F
F  E  D  C  B  A  G  F  E
E  D  C  B  A  G  F  E  D
D  C  B  A  G  F  E  D  C

A simple stepped sequence of notes whose iterations always begin and end a note lower than the previous one.
So far so good. And so mechanical / mathematical almost.
So how come it sounds sweet and musical?
Let’s look at those same four groups of nine notes alongside the chord progression.

First, look at the ‘scale tune’ notes alongside the chords and the 1, 2, 3, 4 count for each bar (every note is played on a count).

Image showing a graphic of the Chet Atkins Scale Tune over the chord progressions on a blog page analysing a Beginner Guitar Lesson

Of course, all of the notes sound just fine, because all of the notes and all of the chords come from the same place – the C Major scale.
So, instead of having four groups of nine notes (=36) notes to perhaps confuse us, let’s just focus on two at a time.

Look at the first sequence of nine notes:

G  F  E  D  C  B  A  G  F

What is the first note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?
What is the final note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?

Look at the second sequence of nine notes:

F  E  D  C  B  A  G  F  E

What is the first note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?
What is the final note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?

Look at the third sequence of nine notes:

E  D  C  B  A  G  F  E  D

What is the first note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?
What is the final note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?

Look at the fourth sequence of nine notes:

D  C  B  A  G  F  E  D  C

What is the first note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?
What is the final note? What chord is it being played over?
Put the two answers together – do you find any significant overlap?

I hope you can answer these questions and are beginning to see connections between the underlying chords and the notes being examined.

If you are finding the last section difficult, not making connections between chords in the progression and notes in the melody, not seeing significant overlaps, then this might help. Ideally you should have been reading the posts with guitar in hand, playing the chords, playing the melody over the chords, cross-referencing one to the other. Maybe you have also been writing things down on paper to help with your thinking.

If you want to obtain the maximum learning and insight, and don’t yet understand everything, then try interacting with the practical aspects of these posts before the next instalment.

More later …

I teach guitar specialising in Beginner and Intermediate lessons. Read more here.

To book your beginner guitar lessons with me click this link.

Chet Atkins – Breakdown of a Beginner Guitar Lesson (part 3)

Beginner Guitar Lesson with Chet Atkins – Part 3

In this post, the third of a series, I continue to explore the hidden depths of a seemingly simple beginner guitar lesson given by Chet Atkins in the below video, by starting to think of the key and the notes used to play the chords and the scale tune.

Chet is using the C Major scale over a chord progression so that chord progression must surely be in the key of C right? Well, yes, of course.
Here is the C Major scale in a linear notation with a repeat so it spans two octaves.

R    2    3    4    5    6     7    R     2    3    4    5    6    7     R
C    D    E    F    G    A    B    C    D    E    F    G    A    B    C

The chords in the progression are all made from notes in the C Major scale:
C chord = notes C, E, G
Dm chord = notes D, F, A
G7 chord = notes G, B, D, F
Am chord = notes A, C, E

If you do not already know about simple chord construction then look carefully at each group of notes within the chords, then find those same notes as laid out in the line of notes in the C Major scale. There should be something you notice … a pattern, a sequence, a common feature that they share.
Are you still struggling to see it? If so, look at this …
C = C, E, G
R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R
C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

Dm = D, F, A
R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R
C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

G7 = G, B, D, F
R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R
C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

Am = A, C, E
R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R 2 3 4 5 6 7 R
C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

Do you now see how the very make up and structure of those chords stem directly from notes of the C Major scale, notes that appear in the C Major scale at regular spacing / intervals?

Yes?

Fantastic.

These regular intervals taken from the scale are called ‘stacked 3rds’ because the chords are made up from a simple pattern thus: (for each given start note) use the 1st note, skip the next note – the 2nd – then use the 3rd note. The 3rd note becomes the new 1st, skip the 2nd, use the 3rd. Stacked 3rds. All built on notes taken from the same scale.
Does this make sense?

If so you are beginning to connect the C Major scale with chords in the key of C. And you are beginning to see something fundamental about chord construction itself.

I want to add in a little more on the chord progression in C that Chet uses for a moment. The progression (using roman numerals – more on that in a future post) is:

I  ii  V7  I  vi  ii  V7  I

Or, if you split it equally you can view it as two successive progressions:

I    ii    V7    I          C       Dm    G7    C

vi    ii    V7    I       Am    Dm    G7    C

There are some advantages to viewing it as a progression in two halves. Both sections are identical apart from the starting chord. Both sections conclude with a G7 chord moving to a C chord (a V7 to a I movement).
Small aside – do you hear how this ending of G7 to C just sounds right, complete, at peace with itself? This specific movement from V7 chord to I chord is called a closed cadence or authentic cadence. I’m not going to spend time on that theory just now, I only mention it to encourage you to listen to how wonderful that resolution sounds, how the progression just seems to sonically pull you in to a happy place as it moves from G7 to C.

More later …

I teach guitar specialising in Beginner and Intermediate lessons. Read more here.

To book your beginner guitar lessons with me click this link.

Chet Atkins – Breakdown of a Beginner Guitar Lesson (part 2)

Beginner Guitar Lesson with Chet Atkins – Part 2

In this post, the second of a series, I continue to explore the hidden depths of a seemingly simple beginner guitar lesson given by Chet Atkins in the below video, by examining the chord progression.

The chord progression that Chet uses for the ‘scale tune’ (starting at 1min 35secs) is at a nice slow 4/4 tempo.

Image showing a graphic of Chet Atkins - Scale Tune Chord Progression on a blog page analysing a Beginner Guitar Lesson
Chet Atkins – Scale Tune Chord Progression

Here it is with the count added.

Image showing a graphic of Chet Atkins - Scale Tune Chord Progression with Count on a blog page analysing a Beginner Guitar Lesson
Chet Atkins – Scale Tune Chord Progression with Count

To gain maximum benefit from this study I recommend you play and record a loop of this chord progression.

The 1st student in the video is playing the chords using a simple finger-picking pattern which you could follow. Or you could play a 1, 2 or 4 strum per bar pattern. Another option is to play a pick-strum pick-strum pattern to give you a bass note on counts 1 and 3. You could play the Root note on counts 1 and 3 for all chords. A further option is to do pick-strum pick-strum but change the bass note that you pick like this:

Root (5th string) then 4th string on the C and Am;
Root (4th string) then 3rd string on the Dm;
Root (6th string) then 4th string on the G7.

More later …

 

I teach guitar specialising in Beginner and Intermediate lessons. Read more here.

To book your beginner guitar lessons with me click this link.