Learn a new Ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for January 21st is A.
For our good ukulele friends in Canada we, affectionately call this chord the, Canadian chord - "eh".
Harmonic Function for A
The Harmonic Function of a chord is simply how is a chord being used, in context with other chords in a song or chord progression. Here are the most common harmonic functions for today's chord.
A is the VII chord in the G Mixolydian . Think Sweet Home Alabama's D C G (original key) chords, Taking Care of Business, 'Sweet Child of Mine, 'Hey Jude. The C is the VII (b7) in D Mixolydian (D E F# G A B C D`). This is actually a Common Chord Progression and often misidentified as in a major key.
A can a also function as a Secondary Dominant chord in five (5) major keys: ( V of IV , V of V , V of VI , V of II , V of III ) and three (3) minor keys: ( V of IV , V of V , V of VI ). For more information checkout WikipediA : Secondary Chord
WikipediA : A Secondary Dominant (also applied dominant, artificial dominant, or borrowed dominant) is a major triad or dominant seventh chord built and set to resolve to a scale degree other than the tonic, with the dominant of the dominant (written as V/V or V of V) being the most frequently encountered. The chord that the secondary dominant is the dominant of is said to be a temporarily tonicized chord. The secondary dominant is normally, though not always, followed by the tonicized chord. Tonicizations that last longer than a phrase are generally regarded as modulations to a new key (or new tonic).
In a Blues chord progression a seventh chord can function as the I IV and/or V .
Harmonic Analysis, Scales and Modes
All harmonic and scale analysis utilizes Roman Numerals
related to its major or parallel major scale (
Open Position Chords
Today's chord, A is an Open Position chord.
Open Position Chords are any chord in the first four frets that include at least one open string.
Today's chord, A is a triad.
Triads • A three note chord, traditionally Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented.With contemporary triads including sus and add chords.
A real key to learning these triads is really and finally Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard . Memorizing the root of each triad for transposing to other keys.
Todays' open position Achord, has two embedded major triads. One with the root on string one and other with the root on string four.
Learn a New Chord Each Day!!!
This Learn a New Chord Each Day!!! series of lessons was created and published in 2013 (10yrs ago) and has been added to an expanded ever since. 2020 brought videos to the show. 2023 is bringing more Harmonic information.
For a further exploration of this chord and its movable forms visit the Movable Ukulele Chords Lesson Series page.
To find out even more than you would ever need to know about a A chord — continue reading .
A is a Core Chord
A core chord is a basic chord that other chords can be derived from - creating new chords from your known chords. Your ever expanding set of core chords creates a solid foundation for playing music on ukulele or any instrument capable of playing chords. There are just far too many chord shapes to memorize all the possibilities. Some chords you can simply create on the fly as needed based on known information and how chords work.
Chord Type(s): Major Triad
Chord Categories: Open Position
Related Lesson: Understanding a Chord Diagram
Open Position chords typically do not show the location of the root or letter name of the chord as these chords are the first chords a ukulele player learns and are almost entirely learned by shape and sound – hopefully, the chords' name. Later on, one develops the ability to determine the location of the chord root(s) or letter name within the chord.
Standard Music Notation and TAB
The same numbering notation of TAB can be used to describe the open strings and frets to be played when using text only notation or verbal communications. Using an open position C as an example, we can describe it as 0003 indicating open strings four, three, and two with fret (3) being fingered on string one. An open position D7 indicated as 2020.
Chord Spelling is simply knowing what the notes, the chord tones of a chord are.
The notes of all chords can be determined from its corresponding major scale based on the root of the chord and numeric formula.
The notes for A are:
A C# E
The chord tones are the 1 3 5 scale degrees of the parent A Major Scale .
Although additional fingerings are possible for many chords. Fingering for any given chord depends the science of how our fingers work and on the harmonic context the chord is being used in, what was the previous chord and what's the next chord. The goal is to play all the notes right behind the frets when possible. Remember longer fingers can reach the lower strings better and finger two and stack on finger three and finger three can stack on finger four.
Although you can play any chord with any finger — as long as it's yours, the recommended fingering for A is:
2 1 0 0
Here are a few alternate fingerings for today’s A chord depending on the context the chord is being used.
Alternate fingering(s) for A:
- 3 2 0 0 - Good fingering for moving in A's movable form chord.
- 4 3 0 0 - You can bend the strings at the nut with this fingering.
Fingering notation for a chord using text only, without using a chord grid, is typically done using the finger numbers from left to right, string four to string one (nose to toes). Here is the text notation for January 1st C chord.
A Typical text representation of a chord fingering without using a chord grid.
Photos typically are NOT a recommended way to show a chord as they don't and can't always show efficient, ergonomic chord fingering.
This is a reenactment of chord photos. The original photos, I'm sure, were intended to show a chord and inadvertently shows several points of bad technique:
A) Thumb too high in a non-supporting role.
B) Too far from the fret.
A) Knuckle collapsed. The end knuckle of the third finger is the weakest knuckle on the hand and needs more work.
A) Too far from the fret. Right behind the fret is the position of least effort to get a clear note. Any further away from the fret and you need to press harder.
Impolite Fingering — Try not to flip people the bird as in the second photo above. Finger one, the index finger is the only finger that is really capable of a Full Barre
across all the four strings.
* Fingers Not Over Fingerboard And Out Of Position. All the non chording fingers in the above photos are out of position. Most likely to show a chord fingering – but not good fingering and really drives home the point of why photos are not the way to show a chord.
If you're using efficient fingering and keeping all the fingers over the fingerboard and ready to go and as close to the action as possible. You might not be able to see in the photo if a finger is actually being used to play a given chord. This is true for most chord photos.
In the photos for the Open Position C Chord I took for January 1 . I kept the other fingers out of the way for the photo and that is NOT how I would actually play those chords or recommend to others. Sort of does reinforce my thoughts on chords photos.
Additional alternate fingerings might be possible for selected chords. If there isn't an overwhelming musical reason for one fingering over another, let efficiency be the determining factor. Something as simple as longer fingers can reach the lower string four and three goes a long way to being efficient when switching chords.
Factors such as playing notes right behind the fret takes less effort than in the middle of the fret. Less effort leads to overall efficiency in play, lower maintenance for maintaining your technique and efficiency leads to speed. This can help in determining what finger to use. Finger three can overlap finger four and finger two can overlap finger three a little allowing them to get closer to the fret.
Remember – the thumb's primary role is to support the fingers – not play notes. Think of the thumb as a Stagehand. He is unseen, doesn't get any lines BUT is a critical member of the team.
Chord Construction, Notes and Intervals
ALL chords can be be constructed based on the their intervals relative to the major scale of the root or letter name of the chord. The individual names of the notes of the chord can also be determined from the same scale.
The chord tones for A are: A C# E
A is the 1 3 5 of the A Major Scale based on the root (A) of the chord.
After memorizing todays A chord and able to switch in time with other chords. The next step is adding various Strums , Fingerpicking patterns, and exploring the Movable Chord versions of today's chord, to your ukulele skills.
End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!
Related Lessons, Videos, Lesson Series, Songs, Books & Reference Charts, Resources & Assets, Workshops are below.
Related Lessons for Chord a Day, January 21st - A.
Chord Shapes and Learning `Ukulele Chords
Pick up any chord dictionary, and one thought that should go through your mind is - TOO MANY CHORDS There is now way to memorize all those shapes. It would be better off learning how they came up with all those shapes. Most chord dictionaries are also just like pages transposed to all possible keys.
Learning the `Ukulele Fingerboard (Finally!!!)
Most players struggle with learning the names of the notes of the ukulele fingerboard. There doesn't seem to a pattern and notes repeat. There is an easy way and "it's easier that you think." Most players know the names of the open strings for their favorite tuning.
Movable `Ukulele Chords
A series of weekly ukulele lessons originally presented throughout 2007 on movable ukulele chords as the "Ukulele Chord of The Week Series". Based on the Ukulele Chords book by Curt Sheller (me). It takes the open position chords and shows the movable form and the variations.
Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation
"TAB" or "Tablature", is an alternate form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play. TAB is sort of a secret language between guitar players and ukulele players. Although a shortcut to getting started it actually serves to alienate one from the rest of the music world.
The Learning Process - The Mind, Hands and Ears
For music and learning an instrument like the ukulele or guitar, it's all about the making the connection between the Mind, the Hands and the Ear. When listening to music, we enjoy it at the tempo the composer or artist intended, in real time. Only the ear is involved in listening. This is passive listening and you're simply enjoying the music. This is what we do everyday and it's what draws us to want to learn a musical instrument.
The Harmonized Major and Minor Scale Charts
The "Major Scale" or Ionian scale is a diatonic scale, made up of seven distinct notes, plus an eighth which duplicates the first one octave higher. In solfege these notes correspond to the syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti/Si, (Do), the Do in the parenthesis at the end being the octave of the root.
Transposing Individual `Ukulele Chords
"Transposition" is the process of moving a note, chord, scale or any musical passage from one key to another key. All music can be transposed, from a single note to a complex musical score. This lesson deals with transposing chords on ukulele and transposing chords.