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.

Chet Atkins – Breakdown of a Beginner Guitar Lesson (part 1)

Beginner Guitar Lesson with Chet Atkins – Part 1

In this post, the first of a series, I want to introduce and begin to explore the hidden depths of a seemingly simple beginner guitar lesson given by Chet Atkins in this video:

Chet demonstrates where to find and play the notes of the C Major scale (no sharps or flats) starting with a G note on the 1st string at fret 3 dropping all the way down to the root note C at fret 3 of the A string.
Of course he could have continued and played descending notes B and A on the 5th string then G, F and E on the 6th string. That would have showed all C Major scale notes available on the open strings and the first three frets. The scale pattern he shows does not start on the root note but does end on it.

Image showing the C Major Scale open position pattern 3 on a site analysing a Chet Atkins Beginner Guitar Lesson.
C Major Scale Pattern 3 in the Open Position

These notes all fit around an open C chord shape. If you haven’t seen this diagram before then look carefully to see the C chord shape sitting within. Does that mean the scale pattern is equivalent to the ‘C’ shape from the CAGED system of chord shapes and scale patterns? Yes, yes, yes oh yes.

CAGED

CAGED is an easy name to speak out loud but EDCAG is the order most people learn it. The five letters derive from the open chord shapes of those letters – E chord, D chord, C chord, A chord, G chord. So that means the Major scale shape around  the C chord can be called Major scale pattern 3.

Knowing the notes up to fret 3 is a good thing. And playing around with the notes from the C Major scale in this easy, accessible way is an enjoyable way of learning to play simple melodic passages over a chord progression in the key of C. The way Chet plays and uses it is charming.

An underlying benefit of CAGED is learning moveable scale patterns around moveable chord shapes. Or moveable chord shapes within moveable scale patterns. There are five interlinking and overlapping patterns that spread up and down the entire fretboard, including octave repeats of some. But each pattern has its lowest position using all fretted notes, beyond which if you move lower down the neck towards the nut you will need to incorporate open strings to play the full patterns. This also necessitates using different fingerings.

Take the C shape chord / pattern 3 I have already been discussing. When you learn Major scale pattern 3 in, say the G Major scale sequence, you learn to play with finger positions matching those in the diagram linked above. If you play pattern 3 of the C Major scale then you can do so starting with your finger 1 at fret 12 and use the exact matching fingering already learned. But you can also play it at the open position. And this can be a bit of a mind melt at first because you play it differently and you get all in a muddle.

The point I’m making is that Chet’s lesson is fine and usable and fun but should not be seen as a lead-in lesson to learning the Major scale with the CAGED system. Just because the ‘open string’ pattern is not moveable and slightly anomalous to the overall system. Have fun playing around with all that this video lesson reveals … and there is a lot behind the apparent simplicity.

Chet plays three notes on the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th strings … and could easily play three on the 6th string too if he hadn’t stopped at the lowest root note. So, is he showing a 3 notes per string (3NPS) scale pattern?
Short answer – no. The name is as the name does. You play three notes on all strings in a system of moveable and interlocking patterns. Chet’s shape is a CAGED shape … pattern 3 … not a 3NPS shape.

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.