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Thread: Closed vs. open chord voicings

  1. #1

    Default Closed vs. open chord voicings

    How open chord voicings do you do and why? Can you also specify, is it with low or high 4th string?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    hey Jupu,

    What do you mean when you say "closed chord?" Some people say a closed chord is one which is played with fretted notes (no open strings). Other people say a closed chord is a chord whose notes are in the same octave. Which one are you referring to?

  3. #3

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    The latter. That's why I was trying to say specifically "chord voicings", to avoid the ambiguity.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_and_open_harmony
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voicing_(music)

  4. #4
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    It seems like a closed chord would be more prevalent with a high G tuning and an open chord with a low G tuning. JMHO

  5. #5

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    You're right, plunker. But I am wondering, whether people have preferences and in what kind of contexts. And if so, are they mindful of them, because they would like more open/closed than the instrument at hand most easily would provide.

    The same goes of course for chord inversions.

  6. #6
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    Quite simply, I pick the chord voicing which I think suits the song best.

    But then, if I have trouble playing it (because the transition from the chords before and after is something I can't make work well), either I pick a different voicing for that chord, or for the chord(s) either side.

    I like to avoid too much repetition, so if four lines of the song have the same chord sequence I might use different voicings for one of those lines to make a contrast.

    In the end, the sole criterion is what makes the song sound best in my hands.

  7. #7
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    I tend to play closed chords because I prefer the control. For me, open chords just happen and I use them for a change in dynamics. Here's an example from what I was doing the other day.

    1. I was just grooving on the E minor (X777)

    2. I slid up and played (0 0 0 10) and it sounded good. It sounded good because fretting that G resulted in an open C chord. C is the bVI of the scale I worked on, E Harmonic Minor.

    3. After playing that C chord for a spell, I went finger style and using the G on the tenth fret, I walked up the fret board using the B Phrygian Dominant and the A Dorian #11 (both modes of the E Harmonic Minor) until I was back at the seventh fret, where I could play my E minor chord and start it all over again.

    That is typical of me, I suppose. I went from a tight triad, to a big jangly open chord, to individual notes, and back to my triad. It looks very pre-meditated, but it really was completely emotional/instinctual. I didn't think about it. The heart wants what it wants. And at that time, it wanted an Open C major. But, as I said, it just happened. It was really more a matter of optics than anything else. I was playing that E minor chord and looked up the fretboard and put my pinky down just because it looked like a good place to land. It just so happened that I hit the G note, which is the bIII of my scale and it just worked. That was just serendipity. And that's how open chords find their way into my music.

    Oh, and by the way, I would have done this regardless of the tuning, so that doesn't even enter into the calculus of my decision making process. I just so happened to be playing a linear tuned uke...but I was playing it like a re-entrant (i.e., playing the top three strings instead of the bottom three).

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    I use open chord voicings most of the time, and I kinda play closed voicings only when improvising solos.

    Open voicings can make arrangements sound much fuller and nuanced, which I like because the uke has a pretty small range. Closed voicings, however, have your fingers in places (i.e. intervals) that make it relatively easy to play double-stops and incorporate them during solos.
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