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VegasGeorge
09-15-2014, 02:45 AM
I have long known my Major, Minor, Dominant 7, and Minor 7 chords by memory, plus a scattering of others such as which frets the more common dim chords fall on. But that's as far as I've ever gone trying to memorize chords. I have a lot of tunes under my fingers which utilize other chords, but I play them from muscle memory, not knowing exactly what they are. When playing a new tune, I keep a chord dictionary handy to look up the ones I don't know off hand. Is that about "normal?" Or, do many of you experienced players have a lot more chords memorized? Just wondering.

sukie
09-15-2014, 05:50 AM
I've been playing 6 1/2 years. I still need to learn new chords.

PhilUSAFRet
09-15-2014, 06:03 AM
The older I get, the harder it is to remember anything, including chords and lyrics.

SailQwest
09-15-2014, 06:08 AM
I have most of the basics memorized, but still encounter unfamiliar chords occasionally.

Key for me is knowing how chords are built. If I encounter a new chord, I can figure out the notes and fingerings fairly quickly.

Down Up Dick
09-15-2014, 06:19 AM
I've memorized all the ones I need to play the kind of music I like to play. I wondered too if everyone else sat and memorized chords and chord families the way I did. I think, perhaps, it would be better to memorize the chords one needs along with the new songs. Learning them all seems like a waste of effort. Especially those of us with old brains. :old:

Rllink
09-15-2014, 06:27 AM
I've memorized all the ones I need to play the kind of music I like to play. I wondered too if everyone else sat and memorized chords and chord families the way I did. I think, perhaps, it would be better to memorize the chords one needs along with the new songs. Learning them all seems like a waste of effort. Especially those of us with old brains. :old:I'm not "experienced" that is for sure, but I know a lot of chords. But I agree with you Dick, I don't spend a lot of time on stuff that I'm not going to use. I don't learn and memorize chords just to memorize and learn chords. To me, ukulele is about music, so my approach has been to learn by playing music.

wrestlingmatt51
09-15-2014, 06:37 AM
There are more chords that could be useful to add to that list such as suspended chords but if you were to memorize more, it might be better to learn different ways to play the chords you already know higher up the fretboard rather than entirely new ones. Or maybe not.

Rllink
09-15-2014, 06:59 AM
There are more chords that could be useful to add to that list such as suspended chords but if you were to memorize more, it might be better to learn different ways to play the chords you already know higher up the fretboard rather than entirely new ones. Or maybe not.I'm with you on the different ways to play the same chord. I have found that especially true with the D. I play it differently in the same song sometimes. Also, when I started fingerstyle picking, I had to learn a lot of different chords, many of them suspended chords. But all the same, I'm just learning the ones that I use as they come up.

Down Up Dick
09-15-2014, 09:32 AM
Rllink, I really think you're correct. When, one goes to a school in the Air Force, they stuff his head with everything there is to know about the job he's gonna do. Then, when he gets on the job, he doesn't use 3/4 of it and has to learn a bunch of new stuff.

If one would learn a tune and then circle any new chords on one of those charts, it would be more efficient I think.
Later :old:

Justalogin
09-15-2014, 12:03 PM
Even someone who knows every single chord on the ukulele, in all inversions, rooted and rootless, diminished and half-diminished, with all possible ornamentations.... that person will STILL play songs from muscle memory. It's just easier that way.

greenie44
09-15-2014, 01:45 PM
Two takes -

I seem to recall hearing once upon a time that Steve Miller said something along the lines of "I only know 5 chords and I don't plan on learning any more."

And then there is this -
"The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." – Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861, from his first inaugural address.

VegasGeorge
09-15-2014, 04:09 PM
A propos of this, the most useful graphical chord chart I've ever seen (mine uses plain-text shorthand) is the one in the back matter of Beloff and Sokolow's Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps. It gives movable shapes for lots of extended chords, and the roots are circled (ghost roots shown by empty circles). Bravo, lads

I just consulted my recently purchased copy of that book. The chord chart you mention is not there. Oh boo-hoo! :( Mine is copyright 2006. I bet you have an earlier edition.

Ukejenny
09-15-2014, 04:44 PM
I just consulted my recently purchased copy of that book. The chord chart you mention is not there. Oh boo-hoo! :( Mine is copyright 2006. I bet you have an earlier edition.

Mine is also 2006 and there is a Chord Dictionary in the back. Page 75 and 76.

Ukejenny
09-15-2014, 04:46 PM
I have no idea how many chords I know from memory. My memorization is mostly song related. I'm continually learning new chords, shapes and different inversions.

VegasGeorge
09-15-2014, 05:57 PM
Mine is also 2006 and there is a Chord Dictionary in the back. Page 75 and 76.

Ha, hah! My old eyes are so bad I didn't see the "circles" around the root notes the first time I looked at it! Yes, it's there. In my defense, however, I will say the darn thing is tiny.

RAB11
09-16-2014, 12:38 AM
My theory is slowly getting better to the point where I can figure chords out higher up the neck and put together fancier chords, but my main muscle memory is in the major, minor and 7th chords in the first position, with a couple of suspended chords in there too.

Definitely need to work on my barre chords and playing further up the neck though. As for learning new chords, I find they crop up fairly regularly in songs I want to learn, so that's how I build my knowledge. Quite often that new chord becomes my favourite chord for a while and I try and put it in everything.

Tootler
09-16-2014, 04:52 AM
I seem to recall hearing once upon a time that Steve Miller said something along the lines of "I only know 5 chords and I don't plan on learning any more."



Pretty much sums me up. I'm not really interested in learning extended chords, augmented and diminished chords etc. as they so rarely occur in the music I play. Nor am I that bothered about playing up the neck. I simply want to produce simple basic accompaniments to the songs I sing. I keep ukuleles tuned in different keys to extend the range of keys but mostly I find I only need a limited range of keys to sing the songs that interest me. If need be, I can always use a capo, though I prefer not to as it gets in the way of my left hand.

coolkayaker1
09-16-2014, 04:58 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUHHMwo7KXo

Kimo's take on memorizing chords. I don't "get it", but it works for some.

Ukejenny
09-16-2014, 05:18 AM
Ha, hah! My old eyes are so bad I didn't see the "circles" around the root notes the first time I looked at it! Yes, it's there. In my defense, however, I will say the darn thing is tiny.

My circles are also very faint.

Down Up Dick
09-16-2014, 07:29 AM
Pretty much sums me up. I'm not really interested in learning extended chords, augmented and diminished chords etc. as they so rarely occur in the music I play. Nor am I that bothered about playing up the neck. I simply want to produce simple basic accompaniments to the songs I sing. I keep ukuleles tuned in different keys to extend the range of keys but mostly I find I only need a limited range of keys to sing the songs that interest me. If need be, I can always use a capo, though I prefer not to as it gets in the way of my left hand.
Ditto everything he said. Bravo! :old:

Dougf
09-16-2014, 07:33 AM
Just learn the chords you need for the songs you want to play.

A lot of the songs I like do require more than a few chords, and I've found that there are maybe 20 or so movable shapes that will do the trick most of time. And once I've worked out the arrangement for a particular song, I think in terms of the chord shapes, rather than the names, especially since so many of them can have more than one name.

Here's a song I did that holds my personal record for most chords in one song -- 46. I worked it out from a lead sheet, although if you were to ask me to name any given chord, I'd be able to tell you, but it might not be off the top of my head.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PchOUHyuN0I

VegasGeorge
09-16-2014, 09:19 AM
Maybe this should be the subject of a new thread, but here goes, anyway. I think I may have gotten sucked into something that's not so good. When I started back with the Uke, I started using lead sheets with the chord diagrams printed on them right above the melody line. Now, I find myself "reading diagrams" rather than "thinking chords" as I play. It's a quick and dirty shortcut to playing tunes, but I suspect it's holding me back when it comes to actually learning new chords. What do you guys think about using diagrams as you play?

RAB11
09-16-2014, 09:46 AM
Maybe this should be the subject of a new thread, but here goes, anyway. I think I may have gotten sucked into something that's not so good. When I started back with the Uke, I started using lead sheets with the chord diagrams printed on them right above the melody line. Now, I find myself "reading diagrams" rather than "thinking chords" as I play. It's a quick and dirty shortcut to playing tunes, but I suspect it's holding me back when it comes to actually learning new chords. What do you guys think about using diagrams as you play?

I tend to use Ultimate Guitar for my chord charts. They have ukulele charts too. It shows you the lyrics with the chords above them, and if you're unsure of a chord, either on the website or in the app, you can click it and it gives you a diagram as well as variations. Plus there's a transpose tool. It's useful to learn new chords without having to have the diagrams in there to over-rely on.

phil_doleman
09-16-2014, 10:32 AM
If you already know all of the maj, min, M7 and m7 chords, then many of the other chords are just a modification of those (adding a finger, taking off a finger, etc.)
This was exactly the subject of a workshop I ran at the Grand Northern Uke Festival this weekend.

If you can play C7, A7, G7 and E7 (basic open positions), and then turn them into 'closed' shapes by barring (or just using a finger to take care of an open string if there's only one) and moving up, then those 4 shapes can give you 3, often 4 version of the same chord in different positions on the neck. A good 90% of my playing uses these three shapes or modifications of them. For example, if you know how to change C7 into CM7, then you can do that every time you encounter that shape.

The great thing about this system is that when you learn a new chord you only have to learn it 4 times, not 12 times!

Here's an example

C7 is 0001 C#7 is 1112 D7 is 2223 Eb7 is 3334 E7 etc...
A7 is 0100 Bb7 is 1211 etc...
G7 is 0212 G#7 is 1323 etc...
E7 is 1202 F7 is 2313 etc...

Once you know how that you can make C7 into CM7 by raising the 1st string by a semitone (0002), then you can apply that modificiation evey time you use that shape. Learn how to change the other 3 shapes into M7 too, and then all four shapes into m7, and you have 3 or 4 ways of playing all the 7th chords.

Then you learn how to turn them into 9, m9, M9, 13, 13b9, etc etc! Thing is you only have to learn 4 modifications, one for each shape. In fact when the chords become more complex, some of the shapes might be physically impossible to reach, so you end up with even fewer to learn.

A great way to practice is to get something like the iReal app (basically the Real Book with backing tracks and the ability to transpose and change tempo), and challenge yourself to play along to standards to the backing track.

VegasGeorge
09-16-2014, 11:45 AM
What concerns me is that I'm catching myself looking at the chord diagrams rather than the chord names. My eyes are running from diagram to diagram, regardless of whether I know the chord or not. So, for instance, when I run into a C#m7-5 I just read the diagram without thinking about what chord it is. It isn't hurting my playing or existing knowledge, but I don't think I'm learning anything knew by doing it.

uke4ia
09-16-2014, 11:59 AM
A neat thing you can try for yourself:

If you sit in a public place with your uke, and randomly play a series of nothing but major seventh and minor seventh chords, with no thought for being in any key, someone will tell you how nice and jazzy it sounds.

Sporin
09-16-2014, 12:11 PM
I'm not "experienced" that is for sure, but I know a lot of chords. But I agree with you Dick, I don't spend a lot of time on stuff that I'm not going to use. I don't learn and memorize chords just to memorize and learn chords. To me, ukulele is about music, so my approach has been to learn by playing music.


Pretty much sums me up. I'm not really interested in learning extended chords, augmented and diminished chords etc. as they so rarely occur in the music I play. Nor am I that bothered about playing up the neck. I simply want to produce simple basic accompaniments to the songs I sing.

This is me. I learn what I have to to play the songs I want to play and sing.

Honestly, I should probably learn more about music theory, I should probably learn the notes on the fretboard. But ultimately, I'd rather occupy my uke time learning and playing the songs I want to play right then. I've only been playing for 3 years, I've got lots of time to learn that other stuff. :)

PeteyHoudini
09-16-2014, 03:52 PM
Great thread!

Phil Doleman really tackles the issue from a moveable chord technical point of view without having to memorize chord names.

Chord books and what to memorize have always been a major passion for me. IMHO, one should at least know all the major, minor and dominant 7th chords by heart. That means in the open position or as close to. That will allow you to read chord symbols on the fly. It would also be nice to know three inversions of each chord as well... but that is pie in the sky!

That being said, there are certain chords that make it easy to learn more about them... like open Cm that leads easily to Cm7 and Cm6. Some chords are just oozing exploration like to the planet Mars! hehe

As for myself, I know the theory how chords are constructed so I can figure out my own (see intro in Hal Leonard's Ukulele Chord Finder for those who don't know). However, I still rely on the Hal Leonard Ukulele Chord Finder and the Gig Bag Series for Ukulele - Picture Chords. Both books are great. I consult both books mainly for chord inversions up the fretboard for my arrangements. HL shows three inversions and Gig Bag shows four. Sometimes they show different chord inversions. I plan on doing a video about ukulele chord books one day.

Indeed, you can try to memorize all important chords in many keys but if you don't use them... it's hard to retain them.

Learn a solid base of chords by heart. Then, add to them with each song you learn. Don't forget about inversions and playing chords higher up the fretboard of the uke.

Petey

phil_doleman
09-16-2014, 11:46 PM
Yes, the thing about reading pictures rather than chord names is that you take out the option of being able to say 'I choose to play that musical sound here on the neck'.
If you read a picture of a Bb7, say, which shows the 1211 position... well there are 3 more places you could play that same chord, and each of those posititions not only has a different sound, but different possibilities for adding extra notes. Of course pictures are great if you want to indicate which position a chord needs to be played in for a particular arrangement (the Lyle Ritz orange book works this way), but knowing the musical pattern of the song, then interpreting that allows for so much more freedom. I did a lot of jamming this weekend with some great players, and we all took the opportunity to try and play different but complimentary parts rather than all play the same chords in the same places- not pre-arranged, but 'on the fly'.

Here's one of my 'Two Minute Tips' on the subject of inversions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k801bH-BNw&list=PLplB1uutyYgGef8sA_UBfeEl0AtctdhP8&index=11

UkeyDave
09-16-2014, 11:46 PM
A neat thing you can try for yourself:

If you sit in a public place with your uke, and randomly play a series of nothing but major seventh and minor seventh chords, with no thought for being in any key, someone will tell you how nice and jazzy it sounds.
I've just tried that (not in a public place though) and yes your right. It does sound pretty cool. hahaha Who would have thought that playing nothing could sound so nice. lol

VegasGeorge
09-17-2014, 03:05 AM
Yes, the thing about reading pictures rather than chord names is that you take out the option of being able to say 'I choose to play that musical sound here on the neck'.

Ah ha! I knew someone one be able to put their finger on it, or "fret" it if you will. That's exactly what's bothering me about my newly acquired habit of reading chord diagrams. It IS limiting. Thanks for the post and great little video. You're really good at explaining things about the Uke.

Ukejenny
09-17-2014, 06:31 AM
Yes, the thing about reading pictures rather than chord names is that you take out the option of being able to say 'I choose to play that musical sound here on the neck'.
If you read a picture of a Bb7, say, which shows the 1211 position... well there are 3 more places you could play that same chord, and each of those posititions not only has a different sound, but different possibilities for adding extra notes. Of course pictures are great if you want to indicate which position a chord needs to be played in for a particular arrangement (the Lyle Ritz orange book works this way), but knowing the musical pattern of the song, then interpreting that allows for so much more freedom. I did a lot of jamming this weekend with some great players, and we all took the opportunity to try and play different but complimentary parts rather than all play the same chords in the same places- not pre-arranged, but 'on the fly'.

Here's one of my 'Two Minute Tips' on the subject of inversions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k801bH-BNw&list=PLplB1uutyYgGef8sA_UBfeEl0AtctdhP8&index=11

This is great.