Chord Shapes and Learning `Ukulele Chords

Even memorizing a few hundred is time-consuming and not practical.

Published: Jan 2, 2005 Updated: Jan 12, 2019 Visits: 0

ukulele Subjects: beginnerintermediatechordsbasics

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Too Many Chord Shapes!

Pick up any chord dictionary, and one thought that should go through your mind is. 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.

There is no way one can memorize ALL the possible chord shapes. Even learning a few hundred is time-consuming and not practical. Beyond the basic open position chords and basic movable form chords (major, minor and sevenths) – one needs to learn how to constructed chords when needed.

A chord shape is an only a function of a particular instrument and tuning. Knowing where chords come from as well as the notes of the ukulele fingerboard and you can build any chord you will ever need by moving or displacing a note or notes from a core set of basic chords. It's the notes NOT the shape.

What the Pros Do

Pro players build their chords on the fly when needed for the chords they do not use all the time. They can create ANY required chord from their core set of chords. If it's a one they need a lot it just gets memorized without much additional effort. It becomes part of an arrangement or voice leading situation.

A C chord is C E G, a D7 chord is D F# A C - it's not this shape or that shape. The actual notes of a chord are the smallest bit of information that is needed to memorize a chord.


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Remembering songs is lot like remembering the directions for a road trip. There are the turn-by-turn directions, road maps, signs and landmarks. Turn here, turn there, remember this and remember that landmark. With a songs it's the chords, the harmonic cells and form of the song.

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