Left hand exercises to improve chord change mechanics?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by IanS, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. IanS

    IanS Member

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    Does anyone have any specific left hand exercises or progressions that have helped them become more fluid and accurate with full chord changes?

    I find that when I learn new songs, I still stumble over new shapes/positions that I have not played before. It still takes me quite a while to make the new change smoothly and fluidly within the song.

    So I was wondering if there are some left-hand chord changing progressions that generally help with left hand chord change mechanics?

    Thanks.
     
  2. theHoss

    theHoss Member

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    Have you looked at Tomo Fujita's Accelerate Your Guitar Playing DVD. He has quite a few really nice structured exercises for rhythm playing. You might want to give that a look.
     
  3. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    You should be able to put all your fingers down on a voicing at once.

    Take all the chords you can't do this with and play them one after another at a tempo until you can fluidly change through them.

    Doesn't have to be musical at all. Just get the "jumps" down.
     
  4. Elektrik_SIxx

    Elektrik_SIxx Member

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    If it's one chord that's giving you trouble, then you could do the following:
    play the chord correctly so you hear all the notes clearly that are in it, then get your hand off the finger board, shake it, and get it back on the fingerboard in the same shape...don't rush it, just play it accurately.

    You can do the same with two or more chords in a row, just make sure you play them correctly and accurately. Timing is not yet an issue when practicing this. The goal is to work up your muscle memory. Later you can add the timing thing by practicing your chords and progressions with a metronome, but don't tell Jimmy Bruno.

    BTW Tomo's DVD does NOT adress chord change mechanics as someone here suggested.
     
  5. theHoss

    theHoss Member

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    We might disagree on this one, but exercise 13 in part 3 of the DVD offers an exercise where you are playing the same chord in two different positions as you move through a cycle of 5ths. In the dvd you would play a C 6th root bar, then a C as a 5th root bar, then an F in two positions, then Bb, and so on... You could adapt this concept by substituting chords you are working on or having trouble with. I will agree there is a focus on rhythm and feel but it is a nice little exercise for chord change practice. There is much more in the DVD, but this was a good exercise for chord changing.

    Not that it is a big deal, but since there was some confusion I didn't want to misrepresent Tomo's DVD. A great DVD, you can find more information and clarification on TGP.

    Thanks!
     
  6. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Isolate! Watch how each and every finger transitions from the current chord to the next chord. Pay attention to the one or two fingers that give you trouble. Practice just that movement (one or two fingers from one fret to the next) for a while, then put it back into context of the entire chord. Added benefit is that you're working on real examples, not some horrible sounding exercise.
     
  7. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    Remember how hard open chords used to be? The chords with which youare now struggling will get easier with patience and repitition.

    When you practice, pratice slow and practice playing the chords RIGHT.
     
  8. IanS

    IanS Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. I guess I was hoping that someone had come up with a sequence of chord changes that break common patterns and force unusual movements/combinations etc... Breaking old habits and helping to develop independent finger movement.

    I have Tomo's AYGP, and it has terrific general exercises for ear training, rhythm and right hand work - general excercises that will increase one's skill level when learning new songs. But there really is nothing in there that specifically tries to enhance left hand chord changes. The cycle of 5ths exercise mentioned above is a good exercise, but in my mind it is training the ability to find the chord in 2 positions - the left hand positions are just moving up and down the fretboard, without changing out of 2 shapes.

    I'll bet there are some great closed-voice jazz chord progressions that will do the trick for me. I just need to find them.
     
  9. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    Learn all the Drop-2 and Drop-3 voicings of the diatonic 7th chords. That'll create some new - and highly useful - pathways.

    Search the web for "drop-2 guitar voicings" and you'll find them.
     
  10. Elektrik_SIxx

    Elektrik_SIxx Member

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    Ok , I see now. If that's what you want then you're a total Ted Greene candidate. Check out either Chord Chemistry or Modern Chord Progressions, or better yet, both!
    Steve Khan's 'Contemporary Chord Khancepts' might do the trick as well.
     
  11. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    To become smooth between chord changes.

    Put your fingers on the strings in the chord position but DO NOT press down.

    Now move your fingers to the next chord position, put your fingers on the strings but do not press down.

    Keep doing this over and over slowly until it becomes very smooth then speed up.

    Now press down and change chords but do it slowly speeding up gradually.

    Also, I hate to argue but you do not have to press all the strings down at the same time. You can, but sometimes you need to get to your target notes first and then get the other fingers in place. For example if you're strumming down on a C chord, you may want to get the C on the string pressed down first. This is especially noticeable in classical guitar.

    A very good thing to do is to find a pivot note. This really speeds things up and often sounds better.

    A pivot note is a common note/fret positition between two chords.

    For example, when going from C to Am in first position, the C (1st fret B string) and E (2nd fret D string) are a common tones between both chords. So hold down the C and E notes and just move one finger.

    Sometimes using a pivot note takes a bit of practice but often times it's the way to go.

    This is also a common approach in classical gtr.
     
  12. Mike T

    Mike T Member

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    Muscle memory is the key. And that is developed by repetition. Over and over. Develop some diatonic exercises voice leading (move each voice in the chord the least possible distance to a voice in the next chord) each consecutive chord. I, II-, III- etc. Play them very slowly and accurately. Once you can be accurate, use a metroneme. Triads first. Closed voicings. Root triads 1-3-5, then first inversion 3-5-1, the second inversion 5-1-3. Then open voicings. 1-5-3(10) etc.. Cmaj, Dmin, Emin, Fmaj, G7, Amin, Bdim etc. Start anywhere on the neck with any set of strings you can. Try to voice lead. If you start in a high register on a higher set of strings you'll have to change the order of the voices as the chord function increases but the available frettage on the neck runs out, so you're better off starting as low on the neck on the 6th 5th and 4th strings. As you run out of room on the neck switch to the 3rd,4th, and 5th strings and keep voice leading 3rd to 3rd etc. Go as far as you can and then switch to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings. Etc. Then go through the cycle of 5ths and do the diatonic triads of that key. Key of C, Key of F, Key of Bb, Key of Eb etc. Then move to seventh chords. Then voicings in fourths (quartal harmony). Then do the Melodic Minor scale. Then look in George Russel's book (just kidding!) Take it as far as you like.
     

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