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A - Open Position and Movable Forms FREE LESSON
Published: 2010-12-28 Updated: 2015-03-02 00:00:00 • 4144

A - Open Position and Movable Forms

'Eh' – the Canadian chord.

by Curt Sheller, Curt Sheller Publications

Open position A and its movable form and variations.

Open Position Chord

1_A.png
A_open_finger_2_1 A_open_finger_3_2

* An open position A major chord can be played with any finger. All depends on the context of its use. Typically played with either fingers one and two or two and three.

Movable Form Chord

1_Bb(movable).png
A_open_finger_3_2

* Note on Chord Photos - Photos of chords can not typically show efficient fingering technique. Comprises need to be made to show only the fingers playing or fretting notes. Fingers should remain over the fingerboard even when not playing notes - ready to go, which typically does not make for a good photo.

Two Roots?

In the open position and movable forms of this chord there are two possible locations for the root or letter of the chord.

String four and string one both contain the root of the chord and can used for transposition purposes. Here I've elected to use the root on string three for no reason other than it' i's the string closet to me in the playing position. It is also the lowest root note in the chord if using a low "G" tuning.

Movable Chord Forms

Movable chord forms are chords containing no open strings. These chords are transposable to different keys by moving the chord form the same number of frets up and down the neck.

Each movable form is based on a common open position chord. These movable forms allow you to play chords not found in the open position.

Movable form chords allow you to play in any key and transpose chords, progressions and songs to any key. From basic movable form chords more advanced chords can be created.

The functional range of a movable form chord up the fingerboard of your ukulele depends on the ukulele's size (soprano, concert or tenor), the number of frets to the body (10, 12, 14, etc) and whether you have a cut-away for access to higher frets. Not all chords can be transposed a complete octave (12 frets).

Movable form chords can be used along with open position chords. As you learn more movable form chords you'll have a variety of alternate voicings for any given chord.

Movable form chords can be transposed up and down the fingerboard using the root of the chord and a transposition chart.

Transposing Movable Form Chords

roots(2_blkandGray).png These lessons use the root of a chord to transpose to different keys.

Determine what string the root is on or would be on if not present in the chord's voicing.

Chord Transposition Chart

This transposition chart can be used for any chord where the root, or letter name of the chord is on string A.

transposition chart for A

The root is on string 1, the A string.

Use the Root or implied root of the chord to transpose to different keys.

A larger sized transposition chart is available in my book Ukulele Chords. This is the book these chord lessons are based on.

Chord Tones - A C# E

The chord tones of an A major chord are the 1st, 3rd and 5th scale degrees of the A Major Scale ( A B C# D E F# G# A' ) or A C# E

1_A-chordTones.png
1_A-chordTones-Names.png
  • 1 - the Root or letter name of A is A
  • 3 - the third of A is C#
  • 5 - the fifth of A is E

Chord Fingering

Chord fingering is dependent on several factors. The chord your on, the previous chord, the next chord, your hand and fingers. All chord fingerings shown are recommended fingerings and not mandatory. Most chords have alternate fingerings dependent on the context. The same chord might even be fingered one way in one part of a song or progression and an alternate fingering in another part.


sus or suspended Chords

A sus chord implies the suspension of the third of a major, minor or seventh chord. The most common and historical use of this suspension involves raising the third of a major or seventh chord to the fourth for a sus4, or 7sus4. In some contemporary music, the suspension can also be accomplished by lowering the third of a major or minor chord to a second for a sus2 chord.

add2/add9 Chords

Technically the add 2 and add 9 are different chords. Both the 2 and the 9 are the same letters but in different octaves. For all practical purposes, you can treat both the add2 and add9 chords as the same. Depending on whether you are using a low "G" or high "G", C tuning the added ninth might be a second. Whether you call it an add9 or add2 depends on whether the added note is in the same octave as the root of the chord.

Power Five Chords

A Power 5 chord contains the root and fifth of a major scale. With an optional octave of the root added for a three note power 5 chord. A power 5 chord is technically not a chord in the traditional sense but a dyad or interval. It's more of an implied chord sometimes major and sometimes minor.

7th (pronounced Seventh)

A partial seventh chord can be created by lowering the Root of a major chord two frets.

A seventh chord as a 4-part chord ( 1 3 5 b7 ) is one of the Big Six core chords used to derive other contemporary and jazz chords.

Major Seventh Chords, maj7

A major 7 chord is created by raising the flat seven of a seventh chord one fret.

A major 7 can also be created from a major chord by lowering the root one fret.

6 or maj6

The major 6 or 6th chord is created by lowering the b7 of a seventh chord one fret. An example would be from C7 ( C E G Bb ) lower the Bb one fret to A for C6 ( C E G A ).

The major 6 can also be created from a major seventh chord by lower the seventh two frets. An example would be from Cmaj7 ( C E G B ) lower the B two frets to to A for C6 ( C E G A ).


Chord Progressions

1_A(practice).png

If you ukulele does not allow access to the higher frets for a particular chord, then substitute another movable form chord or an open position chord.

PRACTICE NOTE: To gain the most from these chord lessons and the practice progressions, memorize the location of each chord and the name of the chord.

I've pulled this trick question on a few of my private students after they have played a chord in a lesson. Typically this happens at the beginning of a lesson before we actually get into the lesson. I'll ask them to play a chord that I just saw them play. I'll say; "Play a D chord." Some will say they don't know chord so and so and yet it's a chord they just played it. Don't let a chord get lost in a particular song or progression. Know it name and it belongs to you.


Video Example


End of Lesson

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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland

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