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Learning `Ukulele with Curt

The home for Learning Ukulele and All Things Ukulele with Curt Sheller
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Types of Chords Available on Ukulele
Published: 2014-10-31 12:46:02

The types of chords possible on ukulele include open position chords, movable form chords, 4-part chords, a.k.a. jazz chords and free from chords.

Open Position Chords

These are the basic first chords most players learn. There're the chords in the first one, two, three and fours frets of the ukulele and include at least one open string.

Basic Movable Form Chords

Sometimes called "barre" chords, these chords are the basic open position chords that venture beyond the third fret and do not include open strings.

4-part Contemporary Chords, a.k.a. Jazz Chords

Beyond basic open position chords and basic movable form chords these are the core set of 4-part chords that are used to build ALL your contemporary, more advanced chords. Commonly called "Jazz" chords these are the chords where the knowing how principles of how chords are constructed and your knowledge of the names of the notes of the ukulele fingerboard offer the most benefit to using and expanding your chord vocabulary. From these core chords you can create all those crazy named chords such as: 9#11, 7#5-9, 13b5, 7+9 - and on the fly as needed.

Free Form Chords

Free Form chords are those chords that do not fall into one of the above categories. They typically don't show up in chord dictionaries or software programs. You can create these chords when you know the notes of the ukulele fingerboard, know how chords are constructed and know the names of the notes the chord and the intervals that make up the chord.

Traditional and Contemporary Triads

Somewhere in the mix of the above four chord categories, triads should be explored. Triads are the foundation of most chords. They are amazing versatile chords that can be used harmonically as chords or melodically in solos. The student and the type of music determines

A triad is a three note chord. In traditional chord theory there are four traditional triad chord types: major, minor, diminished and augmented. And four contemporary triad chord types: sus2, sus4, add2 and add9.

Triads can be used harmonically, as chords and melodically, as single notes. Triads are a great way to get started with creating melodic solos and improvising.

In my personal and teaching experience triads are the first real challenging chords after the basic open position chords and movable basic chords. I personally found them even harder that the 4-part "jazz" chords.

8 Lessons in the “Types of Chords Available on Ukulele” Series

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Types of `Ukulele Chords

Naturally, for ukulele, all chords need to be voiced using only the four strings available. You would think that this is limiting when in actuality it's quite liberating when you learn the makeup of chords. This lesson covers the types of chords possible on ukulele.

Chord can be categorized into four categories: open position chords, movable form chords, 4-part - a.k.a. jazz chords and free from chords.

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Learning `Ukulele Chords

There are two approaches to learning chords, the song based approach and learning the fundamentals approach. I'm a big advocate of building a solid base of the fundamentals. A lot of players new to the ukulele like to jump right in and learn songs.

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Open Position Chords

The basic first chords most players learn. There are the chords in the first one, two, three and fours frets of the ukulele and include at least one open string.

ULM40

Basic `Ukulele Chord Fingering

The art and science of chord fingering. Learning your basic open position chords in common keys.

We have four fingers and there're all not equal. Some shorter then others and some stronger that others. Everybody's hand is a little different. This does play a role in fingering chords. A example shows up with the first chord we will cover, a C major chord. It is a one finger chord. That one finger can be anyone of your four fingers.

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Basic Movable Form Chords

Sometimes called barre chords, these chords venture beyond the third fret.

Movable chord forms are chords with no open strings. Sometimes called barre chords, these chords are transposable by moving each note of the chord the same number of frets up and down the neck.

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

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Traditional and Contemporary Triads

triad is a three note chord. In traditional chord theory there are four traditional triad chord types: major, minor, diminished and augmented. And four contemporary triad chord types: sus2, sus4, add2 and add9.

Triads can be used harmonically, as chords and melodically, as single notes. Triads are a great way to get started with creating melodic solos and improvising.

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4-part Contemporary Chords, a.k.a. Jazz Chords

Core Chords is a series of lessons for building your 4-part chords. These chords commonly called jazz chords, are really just 4-part chords used in a wide range of musical styles.

Beyond basic open position chords, basic movable form chords and a core set of 4-part chords. There are just too many chords shapes too memorize. Learning the principles of how chords are constructed and the ukulele fingerboard are the way to go. Then you can create more advanced chords like 9#11, 7#5-9, 13b5, 7+9 on the fly as needed.

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Free Form Chords

Free Form chords are those chords that do not fall into one of the other chord categories. They typically don't show up in chord dictionaries or software programs. You can create these chords when you know the notes of the ukulele fingerboard, know the principles of chord construction and know the actual names of the notes the chord as well the intervals that make up a chord.

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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