Types of Chords Available on Ukulele
Published: 01 Jan 2003 Updated: 01 Jan 2003 • Visits: 149 • Code: UL114
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. These are 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.
Here are a few chords that would fit the Free Form definition.
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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 when there are introduced.
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.
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