Chord Families & Diatonic Substitution

Chords may be grouped into families based upon the principle chords found in harmony. These principle chords include the Root, Fourth and Fifth. (Notated as: I, IV, V).

In the key of C Major, we have the Root, (or the I chord), occurring as the C Major chord. The fourth step chord, (or the IV chord) occurs as the F Major. And, the fifth step chord, (or the V chord), presents as G Major.

These families are named as the; Tonic, (I), Sub-Dominant (IV), and the Dominant (V). The notes of each family combined spell out every tone of the major scale. The movement from one chord to another creates the basic harmonic effects of all tonal music.

It is important to memorize the function of each chord as well as the other chords which relate to each chord family.

- Tonic Family
The function of the Tonic family is to temporarily, or permanently begin, or end a piece, or section of music.

- Sub Dominant Family
The function of the Sub-dominat family is to move-away from the tonic family and move toward the Dominant family.

- Dominant Family
The Dominant family wants to resolve back toward Tonic. The pull of the 3rd chord tone (the leading tone of the key - in the case of C Major it is a B note) combined with the root of this chord (in Cmajor it is a G note) being out by a fifth. And, the major second interval of the chords 5th chord tone, (in C major it is a D note) all work together by surrounding the arrival of the movement toward notes of the Tonic chord. In the end the result is a very strong resolution. In Classical theory it is referred to as an Authentic Cadence.

To Read the complete article and listen to audio examples of this theoretical concept in use, please visit

Folk Fingerstyle - Part One

Viewers Question:

Q: My favorite type of guitar playing is folk fingerstyle. Last month, I watched your YouTube Fingerstyle Guitar Primer video lesson that you posted in March of 2009.
I have purchased your Accelerated Learning ebook and I am practicing using the learning how to learn techniques.

In the last few weeks, I have made a proper practice schedule and I must say I have developed a lot of the techniques in your first video on fingerstyle guitar. In short, I am ready for more fingerstyle! Can you please re-visit the world of fingerstyle guitar once again? If so, can you please focus on some pattern playing in the Folk Fingerpicking style?

Thank you, Dillan, Ireland

A: Thanks Dillan! The video lesson I have organized for you covers a piece from my 1996 Acoustic Guitar album, Acoustic Highway. It is a great example of how, by using only a few simple patterns, any beginner or intermediate fingerpicker can compose a complete piece of music! Part One, covers the verse of the piece in detail. And, Part Two goes over the bridge and chorus. Hope you enjoy working on this material. It was a lot of fun to put the lesson together. All the very best - Andrew Wasson

Progressive Metal: Riff Building

Back in the sixties and seventies progressive rock bands like King Crimson, Yes and Jethro Tull pushed rock into new artistic directions. In recent years progressive metal bands like; Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and Opeth have built on the platform of this style taking it even further.

The concept with this style of music is that of blending the heavy metal overdrive sound of electric rock guitar with the structure of classical, jazz and world music. The main difference between rock and progressive metal is the complexity of prog. metal's arrangements. In standard radio friendly rock, the song structures are more like typical pop songs with verse, bridge chorus arrangements. This works well for the average radio station keeping with it's popularity approach for more friendly palatable music on the airwaves. One listen to any progressive metal tune awakens the listener to multiple sections of a piece often moving through different keys and time signatures. And, having long playtimes of 5-7 min. or longer. Certainly more creative and complex, however obviously not very radio friendly.

Read the full article and download FREE charts and an MP3 Jam-a-long track at

The Chords of "Smooth Jazz" - Part One

Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question...

Q: Can you do a video that looks at the really cool sounding chords played by guys like Larry Carlton and Lee Ritienour? I always hear them in the smooth jazz tunes, and it sounds like you play them in your music too. By the way, how can I buy your album? I looked on your website and on iTunes, but there are no digital downloads for your stuff?
Reno, NYC

The chord types used in this style of music are mostly triad with a bass note style. I cover a number of the most popular types used in the video lesson. Visit the Creative Guitar Studio website to get a FREE chord handout PDF for this video lesson.

Follow the link below to get - Part Two - of; "The Chords of Smooth Jazz Guitar"

My Instrumental Smooth Jazz CD is available from off of my website as a digital download.

Setting Intonation on a "Gibson Style" Fixed Bridge

Video lesson covers a string change from .009 Gauge to .011 Gauge guitar strings. However, the main focus of the lesson is that of checking and setting intonation.

Intonation on a guitar has to do with how "in tune" a string on the instrument is in relationship to the ratio of all of the other notes found on the fingerboard for that particular string. For example, a 3rd string fifth fret "C" note should sound as a "C" note would sound on any other instrument. How "in tune" that "C" note resonates is a reflection of that guitar's intonation on that string. The saddles of most all electric guitar bridge systems are adjustable both forward and backwards. The movement of those saddles adjusts the guitars intonation. The relation of tones on the fingerboard to their key or harmony must be as pure as possible. The video details the process of achieving this.

Workshop products Include the Following:

Jazz Guitar Soloing - Part One

This Two Part video guitar lesson series covers the art of targeting chord tones in the jazz guitar style. For a article about this topic as well as a tab chart and single pass MP3 jam track, follow the link below to the Creative Guitar Studio website to read all of the lesson notes and grab your FREE downloads: Jazz Guitar Soloing - Part One FREE Handouts.

To grab Part Two of this Lesson Plan follow the link below:
Jazz Guitar Soloing - Part Two

Accelerated Learning: How to Practice

Accelerated Learning concepts offer a dramatic effect on the ability to take in and retain information. But, they also provide the user with enhanced creative skills as well.

The principles are simple, yet rarely applied. Aspects such as; staying relaxed while learning, taking breaks, working in short time frames, visualizing, and bringing about the whole brain, (learning through creativity and imagination).

In this short video Andrew will discuss elements of Accelerated learning that he has taught since 1995.

The PRACTICE SCHEDULE mentioned in this video is available from the Creative Guitar Studio Website.
Follow the link to View and Download the Free Practice Schedule.

Purchase Andrew's eBook, "Accelerating Your Learning Curve."

Check out these great books for even more information about Accelerated Learning methods & Techniques...