A Minor Progression (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

A Minor Progression

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

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln seriesLength: 19:56Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (07:54) Introduction
- 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 quantitative and qualitative techniques.
- Review last week's exercises.

Combining quantitative and qualitative changes can be one of the keys to becoming a great rhythm guitar player. There are literally endless possibilities when it comes to synthesizing changes in strum volume, strum speed, chord structures and fingerings, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, etc. This week's lesson covers a progression that is similar to an exercise we did weeks ago and utilizes qualitative and quantitative changes.

We will use the following Am chords played at the fifth fret:





If you are having trouble getting a clean sound with barre chords, keep practicing! Focus your attention on the muscles in the index finger. The more you can strengthen the muscles that control your first finger, the better your barre chords will sound. We'll use this progression to practice both qualitative and quantitative changes in addition to barre chords.
Chapter 2: (03:50) Exercise 1 Exercise 1
Master each of the four chords explained above individually before trying to put them together. To play the initial Am chord, barre all six strings at the fifth fret. Place your third finger on the A string, 7th fret and your pinky on the D string, 7th fret. This is a chord that we covered many lessons ago and I’m hoping that all of you have been practicing it as part of the review section. Play the second chord, Am(maj7), by barring all six strings as before with your first finger. Place your ring finger on the A string, 7th fret and your second finger on the D string, 6th fret. Notice that you’ve moved your pinky from the D string on the 7th fret to the 6th fret. You’ve merely dropped one fret and exchanged fingers. Play the third chord, Am7 chord by barring all six strings with your first finger and simply removing your second finger from the D string. Keep your third finger in its place on the A string, 7th fret. The last chord in the series, D9, is by far the most difficult and requires a different hand configuration. Take a close look at the chord. Notice how one of your fingers will need to be on the D string on the fourth fret. This basically implies that you will not be able to simply barre all six strings across the neck of the guitar. Remember the slanting “A” technique that I’ve been talking about and have kept in the review section for weeks? This could come in handy here! Use your third finger and instead of placing it on the second fret in the A position, use it to bar the G, B, and high E strings on the fifth fret.

Watch me in the video for more on this. Press down hard to make good contact with the strings and produce a nice clean sound. Once you feel comfortable with that portion of the chord, place your first finger on the D string, 4th fret and your middle finger on the A string, 5th fret. Are you able to keep your third finger in place across the G, B, and E strings after you’ve placed your first and second fingers?
Chapter 3: (01:40) Exercise 2 Exercise 2
Practice going from the third to the fourth chord in the series or from Am7 to D9. This is the most difficult change in this progression and will likely require some practice to master. Play the two chords over and over again while getting a feel for how your chord hand will need to change positions. As you’ll notice, the Am7 chord can be formed by keeping your hand in relatively the same position as the two previous chords (Am and Am(maj7)). Your thumb should be positioned behind the first finger on the back of the neck of the guitar. But when you switch to the D9 chord, you’ll notice that your chord hand needs to turn clockwise and your thumb ends up perpendicular to the neck and possibly comes over the top of the neck. You should follow any inclination that your hand is taking as a natural shift. I’ve touched upon this aspect of flexibility in hand structure in past lessons. Your hand will need to change positions at times, especially when playing more difficult chords, and you should avoid fighting this inclination. The hand will tell you what to do! Get a feel for the changes that your hand is making and practice strumming the two chords lightly.

*Please note that you may need to allow yourself some extra time at the beginning and even during some of these exercises to stretch out your hands and wrists. Some of the chords may be fairly challenging to some of you, and stretching will help you get a better feel for how to form the chords properly.
Chapter 4: (03:27) Exercise 3 Exercise 3
Once you’ve established a good feel for the changes, play the four chords using the strum or "down, down, down-down." Strike the tonic (usually the lowest note in the chord) first before each strum. Watch me in the video for a demonstration of this strum pattern. Play each chord four times to get comfortable with it. Then, play one strum pattern on each chord. The last two are tricky, so play the progression slowly at first until you get a better feel for it.

Eyes Wide Shut
As if this progression wasn’t tricky enough! Once you feel comfortable with this progression, close your eyes and play the four chords again. Pay close attention to how the chords feel and how your hand needs to change position to accommodate the chord changes. Use the concept of finger glue to get a clear mental and physical picture of what the chords should “look” like in your head as well as on your hand. Once you’ve done this for a few minutes, open your eyes and try the exercises listed above again. Do you notice any differences? Are you able to hit the chords any better now or was the exercise a complete waste of time?
Chapter 5: (02:13) Exercise 4 Exercise 4
Now that you’ve got a better handle on the chords at hand, let’s make some modifications! Play the four chords again. This time however, use the palm muting technique that we discussed some weeks ago. It might be a good time to go back and review if you are unclear as to how this technique is performed. Play the four chords through using the same strum pattern listed above. Pay attention to how different this progression sounds with the palm muting technique. Play through the chords slowly at first and then a little faster as you get a feel for it. Keep in mind that we’ve just made a qualitative change in this progression as we’ve changed the overall quality of the sound.
Chapter 6: (00:54) Exercise 5 Exercise 5
Play the four chords again. Now, make a quantitative change in the rhythm. This time through, play or "down, down, down." The third downstroke is skipped. You will need to keep your time straight in this exercise and focus on counting the beat that you are not playing. I realize that this sounds confusing, and I’ll explain. Since you are removing one of your strums, you will need to find a way to count the beat out so you don’t lose time in your rhythm. You can count it in your head, by tapping your foot, or by tapping gently on the guitar strings. The latter of these techniques is usually the preferred technique by most professionals that I know. This is not to say that it is the only way by any stretch. You will need to find your own way. I am simply your humble guide.

There is no doubt that these exercises are becoming more and more difficult and I’m hoping that some of you are not getting too frustrated. As always, feel free to go back and review previous lessons to get tips and insight into technique and information that we’ve covered. Most of all, please go through the review section and warm up your hands, wrists, and most of all, your mind! There is such a strong mental component to playing any instrument, Consequently, it is of the utmost importance that you prepare your mind for learning in order to get the most out of the lessons. Keep jammin’ everybody!

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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.

blackwatershedblackwatershed replied

Mark, Been playing for 15 years now and just started with the lessons here and am loving rediscovering the guitar. I've been working on that last chord with the bending A and find it's easier for me to use my pinky to fret the 3 high notes. Is that going to be a problem with other chords or can I continue this method? Thanks again for the lessons

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Black how are you? I hear this question a lot to be honest, and really the only answer that I can tell you is that it's probably ok to do it like that for now but....I would recommend doing it the "proper way" in the meantime so that eventually you can do it both ways. Flexibility is always your best safest bet. Mark

mgapmgap replied

I love these lessons, they get better and better. Loved the groove here Mark.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Tjhanks Mr Mike, great to herar from you as usual! ML

ryanj34ryanj34 replied

Hey Mark, So the Aminsus4 is also called the D9. I understand you are calling it the Aminsus4 chord because this entire execise is a Amin progression. So the D9 must be the "more comman" name as related to chord charts. Is this correct and can you elaborate just a little.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Ryan how are you? Keep in mind that each chord can have a number of names and this is no exception in this lesson as well. In addition, to make things even a little more confusing, if you leave certain strings out of the chord, the name will change as well. So if you leave the high E and B strings open the chord will become a D7 chord. But yes you are correct when you assume that I have chosen the Am sus 4 name because we are talking about an A progression in this lesson. Does that make sense? Mark

ryanj34ryanj34 replied

Yes, i dont like it but it makes sense. I have been forcing myself to learn some theory as well playing. I've learned not to sweat the confusing stuff, I just accept it and move on. This is another great lesson, thanks. john ryan - syracuse

YucatanEdYucatanEd replied

One thing that really helped me with this lesson on the last chord was using my pinkie to cover the high E string while my ring finger was covering the G and B strings. So although I can't do the slanting A technique all the way, I can partially do it by covering two strings with my ring finger. To compensate, using my pinkie really helps.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Keep it up Ed you'll get there my friend! Rock on, Mark

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Ed how are you? I think it's okay to use your pinky on that chord for now but.....you probably should still practice the slanting A technique as this will eventually enable you to play the technique in the proper way. Keep it up! Mark

YucatanEdYucatanEd replied

Thanks, Mark. I'll keep at it with the slanting A. My knuckle doesn't want to cooperate yet, but I'll keep training it.

sean.egansean.egan replied

Thanks Mark, I love lessons like this one that teach how to be more nimble on the fretboard. Keep 'em coming!

bheaphybheaphy replied

That was fun! I dig that rythym.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Snow what's up, no just high on music! Mark

J.artmanJ.artman replied

Wow mark, great lesson. Did you do a line of coke before the lesson though? lol, just kidding of course. Cya in Livechat!

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.

Guitar BasicsLesson 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
Tuning, Gear, and ChordsLesson 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
Chords and StrummingLesson 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
Minor Chords and MoreLesson 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
Expanding ChordsLesson 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
Strumming ExercisesLesson 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
Music Theory and Barre ChordsLesson 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
E Shape Barre ChordsLesson 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
A Shape Barre ChordsLesson 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
Minor Barre ChordsLesson 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
A Minor Shape Barre ChordsLesson 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
Mini Barre ChordLesson 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
A Shape Mini BarreLesson 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
Minor Mini Barre ChordsLesson 14

Minor Mini Barre Chords

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

Length: 12:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar TechniqueLesson 15

Guitar Technique

Mark Lincoln explains essential components of guitar technique.

Length: 15:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar DynamicsLesson 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
Transistion StrumsLesson 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
Harmonic TechniqueLesson 18

Harmonic Technique

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

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Expanding Liquid ChordsLesson 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
Spicing up ChordsLesson 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
Chord FingeringLesson 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
Precision StrummingLesson 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
D to D in Six StepsLesson 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
Chord Voicings and ConstructionLesson 24

Chord Voicings and Construction

Mark delves deeper into chord construction and alternate chord voicings.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Quantitative and Qualitative ChangesLesson 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
Quantitative and Qualitative ReviewLesson 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
Rhythm and GuitarLesson 27

Rhythm and Guitar

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

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Expanded Rhythm ExerciseLesson 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
Hand StructureLesson 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
Cadd9 and Dsus2Lesson 30

Cadd9 and Dsus2

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

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Finger Glue and Flexibility 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
Reviewing Chord ChangesLesson 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
SlidingLesson 33


Mark explains how to use the slide technique between chords.

Length: 19:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Keeping Time While PlayingLesson 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
A Minor ProgressionLesson 35

A Minor Progression

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

Length: 19:56 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chord TransistionsLesson 36

Chord Transistions

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

Length: 21:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Transistions RevisitedLesson 37

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Length: 23:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Playing Individual NotesLesson 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
Rocking OutLesson 39

Rocking Out

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Length: 18:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Slash ChordsLesson 40

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Length: 14:42 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Strumming from the WristLesson 41

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Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Raising the BarreLesson 42

Raising the Barre

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Building on Your Chord KnowledgeLesson 43

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Experiment With PlayingLesson 44

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DiversifyingLesson 45


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Shaping the HandsLesson 46

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Precision StrummingLesson 47

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Shine Like the SunLesson 48

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

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Changing Chords : Accuracy and SpeedLesson 49

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Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings Lesson 50

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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
Understanding Liquified ChordsLesson 51

Understanding Liquified Chords

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Length: 25:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Lincoln

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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Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

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