Why a chord is a chord

This a very important lesson, it's not that exciting but will be invaluable to you someday. Prerequisites: Lesson 16 on barre chords and lesson 17 notes on a string.

So, have you ever wondered why is a G chord a G chord? Or, how a G chord can be played on different locations on the guitar? Well, the answer is actually quite simple, it's all determined by the root note. So what does the root note mean? The root note is simply the very first note played in a chord (and scales).

E Chord:
|--0--|
|--0--|
|--1--|
|--2--|
|--2--|
|--0--|
Let's break down an E chord to determine the root note. To do this we simply ask ourselves what is the first note we are playing? It's an E note! Yes indeed, the very first note we play is an open sixth string which is an E. Let's look at another one.
G Chord:
|--3--|
|--0--|
|--0--|
|--0--|
|--2--|
|--3--|
So, what is the first note we play on a G chord? It's fret 3 of the sixth string, which is G! G is the root note therefore G is the chord we are playing.

Hopefully, those two examples show you how simple this concept actually is. The root note is the very first note of a chord and it determines the what key that chord is. Let's unleash the power of this concept with barre chords!


Barre Chord Construction

Alright, here is where the value of this lesson will start to show. If you took the time to learn the notes on string lesson (lesson 17) then you should be able start naming barre chords in no time.

Above we looked at an open G Chord, now lets look at another G chord:

Barre G Chord:
|--3--|
|--3--|
|--4--|
|--5--|
|--5--|
|--3--|
Now, if the frets aren't the same then why are both G chords? I all comes to the third fret of the sixth string, which is our root note and that root note is a G note. So, in lesson 17 we went through the notes on the sixth string. We learned that on the sixth string the 4th fret is a G-sharp note and the fifth fret is an A note. So, if we play the barre chord for G up on the 5th fret, what chord do we have? An A Chord!

Keeping lesson 17 in mind, have a look at the following barre chords, you see that the root note is the note that we learned in lesson 17 and that root note is the name of the chord.
Barre Chords:
|--5--|--7--|--8---|--10--|
|--5--|--7--|--8---|--10--|
|--6--|--8--|--9---|--11--|
|--7--|--9--|--10--|--12--|
|--7--|--9--|--10--|--12--|
|--5--|--7--|--8---|--10--|
|--A--|--B--|--C---|--D---|
To look at it another way:

E String Root Note:Chord Key
5A
7B
8C
10D
 
     

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