Are you planning to write a romantic guitar ballad, or are you totally into dreamy genres like dream pop, psychedelic rock, or shoegazer music? Or are you simply getting bored of writing songs with those typical, standard-tuning bar chords on the guitar? Then here are some useful new chord shapes for you.
Most guitar players will have spent thousands of dollars on both rack-mounts and effects pedals in search of what it is that makes a perfect shoegaze guitar sound, well, perfect.
Now its time to map those dreamy, romantic chords on the guitar and learn how to play them. No delay, no reverb, no other effects needed, just a guitar and a tuner!
Here are a few super easy chords that will bring that heavenly, open-air feeling into your guitar studio.
Standard tuning defines the string pitches as E, A, D, G, B, and E (starting from the low E to the high E). If you don't feel ready to use "alternate" tunings yet, standard tuning still works perfectly to play some dreamy chords.
What makes a chord sound dreamy?
To start, try to add sevenths to major chords and play around with those. A major seventh is basically a chord that uses a major third and a major seventh (for reference, a major third is the relationship between the root and the second note of the chord, and the major seventh is the relationship between the root and the fourth note of the chord).
This really helps to open up the chord so it doesn't feel so complete; instead, it feels like the foggy memory of a dream, one that you can't quite remember how it ended.
Here are a few major chords with added sevenths. A similar thing happens with major 9th and 13th chords.
If you play these chords in succession, it is an easy example of a dreamy major seventh chord pattern you can use all over your guitar neck, (and you don't need to switch the fingering too much). We'll call it "Form A" because it's a mix between a power and an Amaj7 chord pattern.
The first two fingers (the index and the ring finger) fret a power chord from the A string on. Make sure that you always mute the low E string and leave the high E string open. You can use this pattern in six different fret positions, and in all these positions, "Form A" sounds full, harmonic, and dreamy.
If you want to test out the difference, play a simple Emaj chord and then change your position on the D string to the first fret (one half-tone down) to an Emaj7.
As you move up the fretboard, add your pointer finger onto the E string one fret behind the D and G strings, your pinky goes on the A string with your middle and ring fingers dropping onto the D and G strings. To add more shiny brilliance to your guitar sound, leave the last two strings (B, E) in every fret position open.
When you progress through the "Form E" chord positions now, it sounds like every chord flows into the other seamlessly.
Open D sus dream chord tuning
Lastly, lets look at open "D" suspended tuning along with another simple chord pattern which is adaptable over the whole neck. The tuning applies the root and 5th off of the "D" but does not apply the major 3rd of the "D" chord, (F#). We end up with a "D" chord which applies both suspended tones, (the 2nd and the 4th).
Study the fingerings of each chord position above. As you move up the fretboard, lay your index finger down on the top two strings. Now add the ring and pinky fingers two fret positions further on the D and G strings and strum all six strings together. Choose any fret position and experiment with what sounds cool together. You will hear chords unlike any chord in the standard tuning. These chords sound fuller, more romantic, and very dreamy.
These examples are just a tiny fraction of the possibilities a guitar has to create a dreamy atmosphere like shoegazing pioneers My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive.
Experiment with these chords, refine them, and create some beautiful-sounding, shoegaze guitar music of your own!