I Played "Chord Tones" for 30 Days (WOW!)

There are lead guitar workouts and then there are chord tone targeting workouts. In this video, I will show what happens when guitar students follow the detailed formula of a chord tone workout for 30 days...

The chord tone formula in this lesson is the result of learning how to determine a key signature, and then organize the chord tones of each chord in a progression from the notes of the key.

Given that all of the notes of each chord within a key's chord progression can be targeted for generating the best soloing sound, this system will produce the best sounding solos - every time.

The catch is, you don't need a ton of theory, only the basics of the key. In fact, after 30 days of doing this chord tone targeting routine guitar students will end up with an even better sounding approach to improvising than they ever had before.


In this post I’m going to demonstrate how valuable a simple chord tone playing exercise can be to help you improve; how you hear notes, how you see notes on your neck, and how to use common scales like the Pentatonic and even how to use modes.

This is a proven system that I like to use on a 30 day practice cycle, and I know it works, because I have experience teaching it to hundreds of my own private students.

In getting started, I’d like to introduce you to an easy chord jam that covers 4 bars across two different chords. We’ll learn how to play it and then we’ll talk a little further about its key signature and how to start analyzing chord progressions just like this one.

Chord Progression:

In almost 90 percent of cases, the chords that are used in a rhythm jam (or in an entire song) are going to be taken directly from the harmony of a key.

This means that you need a system in place to determine the way chords get associated to a key. Luckily, this system is quite easy. It works like this…

When you’re in a Key, the 1st, 4th and 5th notes will have major chords built upon them. And, the key’s; 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes would have MINOR chords built upon them.

For example, if we were in the key of “G” that would give us; “G, C and D” notes building its major chords, (the 1st, 4th and 5th notes).

And, if we went over to the Minor chords in the key of “G” we’d have; Am, Bm and Em. The key’s; 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes.

This formula makes it easy for us (as musicians), to examine any chord progression and then apply this system to be able to automatically know exactly what key that we have in front of us.

For our example; if we were to analyze our jam for this; “Am to D major” progression… the “Am” could function as the 2nd degree in the key of “G,” or, as the 3rd degree in “F,” or as the 6th degree in the key of “C.”

Then, looking into where the “D Major” chord could exist… it can function as the; 1st chord of the key of “D,” the 4th chord in the key of “A,” or as the 5th chord in the key of “G.”

Did you happen to notice that both of the chords exist within the key of “G.” That’s correct. What this tells us is that our chord progression is in the key of “G.”

Now that you understand chord location and how to use it to scope out the chords in a key, (and also how to use this system to determine the key itself), you’re ready for the next step.

We can take the key (and most importantly its notes) and begin making music from those notes by targeting each chord.

We’ve already determined that the key is “G” so we know our notes are;
“G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#.”

Next, we’re going to have some fun and use the notes of the key to target the sound of each chord. This is where your ear will start being able to anticipate the best note sounds along every beat of the chord progression when you play it.

All it takes is practice and time spent on this system. The last part of the music theory we need to know before we can start jamming is the notes found in each chord, but now that we know the key, that’s going to be easy!

Chord tones are easy to determine once you know your key, because all it takes to learn them, is to jump through every second note of the chord and apply the correct notes from the key that has been established.

Take for example the first chord of “A Minor” in our progression. After the first root note of “A” we skip over “B” and then jump to the note of, “C.” Then, we skip “D” and go up to “E.” It’s just that easy, the notes in our “A Minor” chord are, “A, C and E.”

A Minor Chord Tones:

And, you can use this same approach for the “D Major” all you’ll do is jump off of the root of “D” skipping the “E” and head straight up to the, “F#.” Then, the final move skips over the “G” and takes us to the note of “A.” This gives us the chord’s official notes of; “D, F# and A.”

D Major Chord Tones:

We can use those chord tones as a way to practice playing the best notes when we perform guitar solos over that, “Am to D maj.” progression. 

To prove it to you, I’m going to play a demonstration melody, and then I’ll solo with notes that focus on playing into the roots of each of those chords off of the 5th and the 3rd chord tones.

In other words, when I want to cover the sound of that “A Minor” chord, I’ll play from the “E” or the “C” into the root of “A.”

And, when I want to cover the sound of that “D Major” chord, I’ll play from the “F#” or the “A” into the root of “D.”

But, what’s even better is along the way I can add in other notes as well that belong to the key of “G.” …making this type of an exercise both a lot of fun, and an exercise that you can play for a long time without ever getting bored.

Example Jam /Melody:

The idea of spending 30 days working on playing a chord tone exercise like this and learning how to analyze the key signature of a progression, (as well as, analyze the chord tones of any chord in a key), it might have sounded next to impossible before watching this lesson.

But, now that you’ve seen exactly how easy this idea is to practice, I’m sure that you’ll have a lot of fun jamming on it.

Just use the formula that I’ve outlined here, and above all else write down everything on paper that you’re studying. That’s by far the best way to work on these ideas.

Take a pencil to paper and keep as organized as you possibly can – you’ll learn so much more in doing that!



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