barre, the old English spelling vs. bar which refers to a measure of music, is used to indicate a placing of a finger across two or more strings. If covering all the strings it's called a full barre and if fewer than all the strings it’s a partial barre. It’s a classical guitar technic used for guitar, ukulele, mandolin and other fretted string instruments regardless of style. In classical guitar notation, there are music symbols for indicating both a full barre, the letter C with option Roman numerals CVII for the fret position and a partial barre using a ¢VII with a line through it like a cent sign. Pretty rare for anything other classical guitar music.
Typically reserved for the index finger, any finger can be barred across two or more strings when needed for some chord voicings. When using a barre in single-note melodic passages, solos, melodies it should be reserved for the index finger only as this allows you the use of your other fingers and not comprise your hand position. The exception would be for musical reasons such as fast rhythmic double stop passages or the end of a phrase where you have time to recover.
A barre allows you to transpose any open position chord to other keys along the fingerboard by re-fingering the open position chord to allow finger one, the index finger free to play the open strings when the transposed along the fingerboard to other keys.
Just What is a "Barre" Chord?
barre, the old English spelling vs. bar which refers to a measure of music, is used to indicate a placing of a finger across two or more strings. If covering all four strings it's called a *full barre*, if fewer then four strings it’s a *partial barre*. This a classical guitar technique used for guitar, ukulele, mandolin and other fretted string instruments regardless of style. In classical guitar notation there are actual music symbols for indicating both a full barre, the letter C with option roman numerals CVII for the fret position and a partial barre using a ¢VII with line through it like a cent sign. Pretty rare for anything other than classical guitar music notation.
Typically reserved for the index finger, any finger can be "barred" across two or more strings when needed for chord voicings. When a barre is used in single note melodic passages/solos it should be reserved for the index finger only as this allows you to still use the other fingers and not comprise your hand position. The exception would be for musical reasons such as fast rhythmic double stop passages or the end of phrases where you have time to recover.
A barre allows you to transpose any open position chord to other keys along the fingerboard by re-fingering the open position chord to allow finger one, the index finger to be free. This allows you to play the open strings when the chord is transposed along the fingerboard to other keys. It is essentially a movable capo.
A, Bb Movable Form
A Major or just play A, the Canadian chord ( eh! )
Using the open position A major chord as an example 2100. Re-finger the chord using fingers three and two. The actual chord hasn’t changed but finger one is now available to play the two open strings when transposed to other fret (keys).
To play Bb major move each note one fret higher and barre strings one and two at fret one for 3211. There is no need to barre strings three and four as these strings are already being handled by fingers three and two on strings three and four and would be redundant, would be redundant. As you can actually see in the text representation of the Bb chord 3211, the 11 is only needed on strings one and two. Although there isn’t as much tension on a ukulele as a guitar. There is not need to do more work than needed. This allows for a more efficient and a lower maintenance technique.
A few more of the A, Bb Movable Form chords.
Am - pronounced A Minor - is one of the few open position chords that only require a single finger to play.
A little history about Am or A minor. It was discover deep in the Kanawha & Hocking Coal and Coke Co. coal mine in Carbondale , West Virginia, USA by, “wait for it…” Am.
A7 - pronounced A Seven - like Am is one of the few open position chords that only require a single finger to play.
Am7 - pronounced A Minor Seven - is all open strings and than transposed to additional key along the fingerboard requires a full barre of finger one.
Only a few of the open position chords when transposed up the neck actually need a full barre across all four strings A7 0100 and C7 0001 are two that when transposed to Bb7 1211 and C#7 1112 need a full barre across all four strings. You can actually see it in the text notation that is common for notating chords in email and on-line.
Barre Chords are actually that simple.
Here are a few tips for playing the “barre” chords on ukulele or any fretted string instrument.
- Don’t barre more strings that you need to. Although it’s pretty easy to press the strings down on a ukulele there is no need to do more then you have to.
- Get a ukulele with a radius fingerboard. It really helps with playing chords in general. Pono ukuleles from Ko’olau Guitar and Ukulele are the only mass produced ukuleles that I know of that have a radius fingerboard on a large percentage of their instruments - including all of their Pro Classic series. It is well worth it. The one other option is a custom instrument built to you specifications.
- For a barre with using index finger roll the finger slightly towards the nut, staying close to the fret. The side is the index finger is lot straighter then the palm side.
End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!
Related Lessons for Barre Chords at this time.
Open position A7 and its movable form and variations - Sevenths, Major Sevenths, Minor Sevenths, Diminished, Augmented chords sus and add chords.
A series of weekly ukulele lessons originally presented throughout 2007 on movable ukulele chords as the ** Ukulele Chord of The Week** Series.
Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets
Related Assets for Barre Chords at this time.
Basic Open Position Guitar Chords
Basic Open Position guitar chords. These are the chords every beginner to advanced guitar player should know. Sometimes called folk or cowboy chords.
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Related Lesson Series
Related Lessons Series for Barre Chords at this time.
Basic Ukulele Chords Charts
Not so much a series - but the basic chords ALL ukulele players should know.
Basic Ukulele Chords Charts - As much as I preach the need to not have to rely on chords charts. When you're first learning the ukulele and chords these charts are a real help - just not long a term alternative to actually knowng your chords, where they come from and how to create them when needed.
Related Songs for Barre Chords at this time.
Related Videos for Barre Chords.
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