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Expanding Liquid Chords (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

Expanding Liquid Chords

Mark Lincoln expands on the concept of liquid chords. He explains new chord variations and how they can be changed in mid-strum.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln seriesLength: 16:21Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (02:17) Welcome Back Please be sure to review and practice the following before moving on with the lesson:
- Warm-up the hands.
- Stretch the wrists.
- Play the major and minor open chords.
- Warm up your strumming muscles by relaxing the wrists and letting the pick flow over the strings.
- Play the E major chord in the 'new' way and play the type 1 barre chords.
- Play the A major chord in the 'new' way and play the type 2 barre chords.
- Practice the "slanting A" technique.
- Practice the type 1 minor barre chords.
- Practice the type 2 minor barre chords.
- Play all of the type 1 mini-barre chords.
- Play all of the type 2 mini-barre chords.
- Review and Practice New Techniques.
We've been discussing techniques as of late, and some of those techniques include what I like to call 'liquid chords.' I'm sure you remember the term as I'm sure you know that I can be somewhat redundant at times. I really want to emphasize the liquid nature of chords and how they can be altered in mid-strum. You can change the sound of what you play and how you play it in an almost infinite number of ways. Keep in mind though that some people might not call this aspect of music 'liquid.' This is just how I have grown to look at and teach it.
Chapter 2: (05:43) Liquid D Chord Here is a D chord:

D major

This is great sounding chord in and of itself. However, many interesting sounds can be produced by "liquifying" this chord:

D major

This chord can be played by barring the G, B and high E-strings on the second fret, placing your middle finger on the B-string third fret, your third finger on the D-string fourth fret, and your pinky on the A-string on the fifth fret. Or, you always have the option of placing your first finger on the G-string second fret, your middle finger on the B-string third fret, your third or ring-finger on the D-string fourth fret, and your pinky on the A-string fifth fret. In this example, you would leave the high E-string open and play the chord without the low E. You see that there are numerous options that can change and commensurately spice up your playing when choosing to play this particular D chord.

Now watch this! Take a Dsus2 chord that looks like this:

D sus2

and strum this D chord, let's say with this strum pattern or "down down-up down down down-up down." Now add your third finger and pinky to the mix to form the D chord that we played before. Play four times with the Dsus2, then add the other two fingers and back and forth. Watch me do this in the video for more insight. You can do this with so many chords it will blow your mind!

*Note-I've mentioned previously that you can alter the sound of chords and the names of them by not playing certain strings or rather leaving them open. Keep this in mind when looking at chords as sometimes it can get a little confusing. Try to focus on the sound of the chords and how they change when you add and subtract fingers.
Chapter 3: (01:02) Unexpected Changes One of the advantages of using liquid chords is that you can "change" the sound of the chord in places where a chord would not typically change. This can add a lot of texture and emotion to your playing. Be sure to play and experiment with liquid chords, and don't be afraid to try using changes in odd places.
Chapter 4: (05:02) Liquid A Chord Let's try the same type of change to the A chord, shall we?

Here's a simple open A major chord:

A major

Play this A with the or "down up-down-down up-down-down." Now play the A using only your first finger, barring the D, G and B strings and leaving your other fingers free to 'liquify' the chord. Now, while leaving the D G and B-strings barred, place your third or ring finger on the A-string fourth fret, and your pinky finger on the low E-string on the fifth fret:


This gives the A-chord more bass and more umph! This is yet another example of how to make a slight change to a chord and add to its overall effect. I realize that this may be quite a stretch for some of you, but over time your fingers will adjust, and you'll be more capable of playing these types of chords. See if you can play this chord without strumming the high E-string!
Chapter 5: (02:17) Theory and Exercises Theory
I want to make sure that everybody is aware that the two exercises that we just went over (adding onto D and adding onto A) and the manner of adding notes to the chords was not random. On the D chord we added a low D (pinky on the A-string fifth fret) and on the A-chord we added on a low A (pinky on the low E-string fifth fret). These are just two simple examples (relatively speaking) of how to add notes onto chords. You don't need to add an A note to an A chord or a D note to a D chord! This is just one option that I wanted to show you. You can add anything to any chord, as long as you can reach. The more far reaching and different the changes you make, the more cool and bizarre you can make your music. I just wanted to give you a consonant example first before you delve into the world of the dissonant.

Exercise 1
Practice playing an open A-chord the way I showed you. In other words, barre the three fretted strings. Strum or "down-up down down" and try to get a clean sound without muffling the high E-string. If you want to, you can avoid strumming the high E altogether. Play this four times and then add the third finger and the pinky. How does your pinky feel? Can you feel the strain in your hand?

Exercise 2
Play the D chord that we covered first, adding in the third finger and the pinky. Then, play the A chord and add the third finger and pinky. Play each chord four times and think about playing this exercise as a song. Don't forget to relax your strumming hand and let the pick flow over the strings! How could you change the dynamics between these chords or would you?

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

gannable1gannable1 replied on November 30th, 2015

cant stretch my fingers

lordspudlordspud replied on May 15th, 2013

hi mark i don,t get what chords are called when you add fingers to them could you tell me :|

mouser9169mouser9169 replied on July 25th, 2013

In this case the two 'liquid' chords he formed are just the C and G shaped barre chords. Not sure why he didn't point that out. The C shaped barre chord is very helpful when playing in flat keys (I find Eb comes up a lot). Personally I find making a full barre easier than the mini barre, even if it isn't strictly necessary, but like he said - the more options you have, the better. The G is a huge stretch so is normally only played halfway - either the top half or the bottom.

chovie10chovie10 replied on May 14th, 2012

wow i can't get my fingers to stretch for the liquefied a chord

ElaineHElaineH replied on October 23rd, 2011

Great lessons! I am learning so much! I'm having a touch time with the finger stretches. Guess I need more finger yoga! Thanks for teaching these lessons so well.

caleb97caleb97 replied on August 3rd, 2011

u r awesome

dmkheildmkheil replied on July 30th, 2011

Mark, I applaud your desire to teach, but please, please, how about a greater focus on the content you're teaching and a little less "filler", whether that be humor or the "that being said". It's a balance, right. Both are good, too much of one without the other is frustrating to sit through for your students.

jkr333jkr333 replied on June 6th, 2010

Mark, great lesson again but a quick question on the homework... what is the strum pattern that is written across the bottom? i dont see how it is related to the timing above it (in the music notation above) or your comment on using the down up, down down pattern?... many thanks for what you are doing for my playing... James

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on June 8th, 2010

Hey James, just see if you can watch what I'm doing in the video because sometimes the supplemental stuff doesn't match perfectly. Unfortunately, it's difficult for them to see exactly what I'm doing when they do the tabs. If all else fails, just cope what I'm doing and ignore the other stuff. Does that make sense? Mark

jkr333jkr333 replied on June 8th, 2010

hiya Mark, thanks for the reply... makes perfect sense... down, down up, down... its the new black... lol...

lespaul305lespaul305 replied on June 19th, 2009

Mark you have done it again, another fantastic lesson, before I've never heard of liquid chords. But since I've been watching your lessons on liquid chords, I've been obsessed with liquid chords. I thank you for showing this to us.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on June 22nd, 2009

Hey Les, thanks and great to hear from you! Also, great having a seasoned player like you in the Q and A's, you're obviously a bright guy and a quick learner and that helps me too. Thanks bro! Mark

currannicurranni replied on March 20th, 2009

question, could u consider this D chord a variation of a C shape barre chord????because if i do a full barre it looks little simliar

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on March 2nd, 2009

Hey Shiro thanks for the great feedback! I'm glad that my lessons are helping you work past some of your roadblocks. Take it easy! Mark

shiroshiro replied on March 2nd, 2009

wow these lessons are great. i never thought of doing A or D by barring. it really does make it easier to add in notes and stuff. and it also makes some chord transitions easier. like in the exercises where u went from D5 to Dsus to D, i was having trouble making the transition smooth using the standard D, but after using the barre form, the transitions were WAY quicker. thanks alot!

Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Learning the basics of the guitar, the building blocks if you will, is an extremely important step in learning and mastering the guitar. This series is all about the basics.

Lesson 1

Guitar Basics

This lesson is all about the basics. Mark explains guitar parts, holding the guitar, and more.

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Tuning, Gear, and Chords

Mark begins by discussing equipment every guitarist should own. Then, he introduces chords and proper tuning methods.

Length: 17:28 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Chords and Strumming

Mark finishes his discussion of the "open" chords. He applies these chords to basic rhythm and strumming concepts.

Length: 17:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Minor Chords and More

Mark reviews the major chords and introduces the minor chords. He also covers strumming techniques in greater depth.

Length: 25:48 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Expanding Chords

Mark introduces a few more minor chords. He also provides a monster chord exercise.

Length: 16:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Strumming Exercises

Mark Lincoln continues his discussion of chords and strumming. He introduces several new exercises in this lesson.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Music Theory and Barre Chords

Mark covers several topics in this lesson. He explains scales and barre chords. He also demonstrates how to find notes on the fretboard.

Length: 21:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

E Shape Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln covers E shaped barre chords in greater depth. Mark refers to these chords as "Type 1" barre chords.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

A Shape Barre Chords

Mark covers the A Shape / Type 2 barre chords in greater depth.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Minor Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords that utilize the shape of the "open" Em chord.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

A Minor Shape Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords based on the shape of the "open" Am chord. He refers to these chords as "Type 2 Minor" barre chords.

Length: 12:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Mini Barre Chord

Mark demonstrates abbreviated versions of the "Type 1" and "Type 2" barre chords. He calls these "mini barre" chords.

Length: 17:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

A Shape Mini Barre

Mark teaches the "mini barre" version of the A major shaped barre chord. He also explains dissonance.

Length: 20:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Minor Mini Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln applies mini-barre chord concepts to minor chords.

Length: 12:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Guitar Technique

Mark Lincoln explains essential components of guitar technique.

Length: 15:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Guitar Dynamics

Mark Lincoln explains how dynamics can enhance your playing. He covers topics such as volume, tempo, rests, and more.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Transistion Strums

Mark Lincoln explains more about guitar technique. This time around he introduces "transition strums" and continues his discussion of liquid chords.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Harmonic Technique

Mark Lincoln explains what harmonics are and how they are played.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Expanding Liquid Chords

Mark Lincoln expands on the concept of liquid chords. He explains new chord variations and how they can be changed in mid-strum.

Length: 16:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Spicing up Chords

Mark demonstrates how chord progressions can be spiced up by adding hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Chord Fingering

Mark explains how chord fingerings must be altered when applying "liquid chord" concepts. He also provides a few new "liquid chord" exercises.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Precision Strumming

Mark returns to the land of chords. This time around, he provides an exercise that contains four variations on the A chord.

Length: 14:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

D to D in Six Steps

Mark provides a chord progression that shifts from one D chord to another in six steps.

Length: 15:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Chord Voicings and Construction

Mark delves deeper into chord construction and alternate chord voicings.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Quantitative and Qualitative Changes

Mark tests your guitar knowledge with a pop quiz. Then, he discusses quantitative and qualitative changes.

Length: 22:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Quantitative and Qualitative Review

In the 26th installment of his basic guitar series, Mark reviews the quantitative and qualitative changes he presented in lesson 25.

Length: 17:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Rhythm and Guitar

Mark provides exercises designed to make you a better rhythm player.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

Expanded Rhythm Exercise

Mark Lincoln expands on the rhythm exercise from lesson 27. This time around he incorporates several C based chords.

Length: 14:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

Hand Structure

Mark discusses proper playing technique. He provides a few exercises that facilitate right hand mechanics.

Length: 17:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

Cadd9 and Dsus2

Mark provides an exercise that features two new chords - Cadd9 and Dsus2.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

Finger Glue and Flexibility

In the 31st lesson, Mark discusses his "finger glue" technique. This technique improves speed and accuracy.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

Reviewing Chord Changes

Mark takes a step back in lesson 32 to explain how to make quick and accurate chord changes.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33


Mark explains how to use the slide technique between chords.

Length: 19:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

Keeping Time While Playing

Mark reviews qualitative and quantitative changes. He explains how to keep time while performing these changes.

Length: 21:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

A Minor Progression

Mark discusses qualitative and quantitative changes within an A minor progression.

Length: 19:56 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 36

Chord Transistions

Mark Lincoln discusses several techniques that can be used when transitioning between chords.

Length: 21:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Chord Transistions Revisited

In this lesson, Mark once again covers the subject of chord transitions. This time around, he focuses on barre chords and includes several helpful exercises.

Length: 23:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 38

Playing Individual Notes

In lesson 38, Mark discusses how playing single notes rather than chords can spice up your playing.

Length: 22:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

Rocking Out

Lesson 39 is all about rocking out. Mark discusses some tips to take your playing to the next level.

Length: 18:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 40

Slash Chords

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Length: 14:42 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 41

Strumming from the Wrist

In lesson 41, Mark reviews the warm-up section and provides new tips on playing adequately from the wrist.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Raising the Barre

Mark builds further on barre chord techniques and liquid chords.

Length: 17:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 43

Building on Your Chord Knowledge

In lesson 43, Mark discusses additional skills related to learning and playing chords, specifically "liquification" of chords.

Length: 20:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 44

Experiment With Playing

Lesson 44 is all about trying new things. Mark discusses experimenting with your playing in order to take it to the next level.

Length: 17:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 45


In this lesson, Mark once again talks about changing up chord derivatives to create a more unique sound.

Length: 20:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 46

Shaping the Hands

In lesson 46, Mark explains how to maximize your options by maintaining chord shapes while playing.

Length: 21:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 47

Precision Strumming

Today, Mark takes in depth look at strumming.

Length: 23:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 48

Shine Like the Sun

Mark Lincoln teaches an original song entitled "Shine Like the Sun."

Length: 18:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 49

Changing Chords : Accuracy and Speed

Mark teaches some useful information on how to mix postures, "finger glue," and techniques to make your chord changes speedy and more effective.

Length: 30:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 50

Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings

In this lesson, Mark guides you through the world of alternate chord voicings. He teaches several shapes and shows how they can be used to enhance your playing.

Length: 23:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 51

Understanding Liquified Chords

Mark brings us a very appealing aspect to better understand the guitar. With his explanation of "liquified" chords, mark will explain how to move up and down the guitar to create different chord voicing.

Length: 25:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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