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Chord Numbering (Guitar Lesson)


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Chris Liepe

Chord Numbering

Chris Liepe takes some time to explain chord numbering. Understanding how chords are built will only help in your overall knowledge of the guitar.

Taught by Chris Liepe in Rock Guitar with Chris Liepe seriesLength: 16:25Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Lesson 4: Chord Numbering in Major and Minor Keys

This is a short lesson dealing with diatonic harmony. Most of this will be review if you have followed my Phase 1 series, but we take it a step further here. First, some review:

If we build a chord from every note in a major scale, and we use only notes that belong in that particular key, we wind up with the following chord harmonies (capital Roman numerals denote major, lower case numerals denote minor or diminished).

I ii iii IV V vi viio

The chord built on the 7th degree of any major scale is always a diminished (R, b3, b5) chord.

So, if we apply this information to the key of G major, our diatonic, or notes/chords that exist in the key of G major, are:

I=G, ii=Am, iii=Bm, IV=C, V=D, vi=Em, viio=F#o

If we want to find the relative minor for any major key, we simply go up to the 6th degree of the scale. Or, you can go down a minor third from the root or '1' of the major key.

If you're improvising over a natural minor key, you'll want to know what chord harmonies are available to you so you can accent those tones in your solos. To figure out chord harmonies for a natural minor scale, you'd simply shift the numbers in the parent major key so that your 6 becomes your 1, your 7 becomes your 2, your 1 becomes your 3, etc. So for a natural minor scale, the diatonic chord harmony looks like this:

i iio III iv v VI VII

If you were to look at the key of E minor, whose parent key is G major, your chords would be:

i=Em, iio=F#o, III=G, iv=Am, v=Bm, VI=C, VII=D

This concept of 'shifting the 1' around becomes very important when looking at modal chord progressions (covered in a later lesson). Get familiar with the chord harmonies within a minor scale and shifting the 1 around, and you'll be in good shape for the lessons to come!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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


Southern CashSouthern Cash replied on August 26th, 2015

Awesome, great job, i think I finally get it!

chrisrenk2chrisrenk2 replied on November 27th, 2012

This series is improving my playing so much! This lesson was hard for me to understand. Is there a lesson I should watch before watching this one to better understand the content?

ziggyzuzuziggyzuzu replied on May 15th, 2012

Chris, these lessons are perfect. Thanks so much man

gtrplyergtrplyer replied on January 7th, 2012

enjoyed this very much!!

tonymckenzietonymckenzie replied on April 30th, 2011

Interesting techniques and useful stuff no doubt..

kimmokimmo replied on April 29th, 2011

This course is just what the doctor ordered, keep em' coming.

krazyfngazkrazyfngaz replied on April 26th, 2011

More please

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on April 27th, 2011

haha, they've been filmed... so they should be up soon!

krazyfngazkrazyfngaz replied on April 5th, 2011

Everytime I watch your lessons something else makes sense. Very helpful, thanks

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on April 6th, 2011

great! If you get this concept of 'renumbering' you'll grasp modal chord progressions and the origins of modes very easily!

dylanyzewyndylanyzewyn replied on April 6th, 2011

Fantastic Lesson!! Dylan

nash24nash24 replied on April 5th, 2011

Thanks for passing on your knowledge and helping me out!

Rock Guitar with Chris Liepe

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Instrumental Rock carries with it many creative aspects both in writing and playing. By the end of this series, Chris will have covered almost everything you will need to know to create and play your very own melodic instrumental rock piece, with emotion!



Lesson 1

Rock Essentials Introduction

Chris Liepe introduces his Phase 2 Rock Essentials lesson series. By highlighting specific instrumental rock styles and techniques, Chris will help you become a more melodically creative player.

Length: 3:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

3 on a String Scales

Chris Liepe starts off his Rock Essentials series with a lesson on 3 on a string scales. Utilizing 3, 4, and 6 note sequencing, Chris begins to dive into instrumental rock style phrasing and provides several...

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 3.5 FREE
Lesson 3

Pentatonic Scales, Sequencing, and Lick Ideas

Chris introduces the pentatonic scales as well as some of their basic applications.

Length: 19:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Chord Numbering

Chris Liepe takes some time to explain chord numbering. Understanding how chords are built will only help in your overall knowledge of the guitar.

Length: 16:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

The CAGED System

Chris breaks down the CAGED system and its chord chemistry. He covers both major and minor chord forms.

Length: 35:06 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Sweep Picking

Chris digs into the sweep picking technique. He uses the C, A, and E forms introduced in the previous lesson to help with finger synchronization.

Length: 27:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Introduction to Modes

Chris moves on to the subject of modes. He explains where modes come from, how they sound, and how they are used.

Length: 30:04 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Modal Pentatonic Scales

This lesson demonstrates how to modify the old trusty 5th fret A minor pentatonic position to make it sound modal.

Length: 10:30 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Modal Chord Progressions

How do you know which mode to use? There are giveaways with every chord progression, and Chris covers them in this lesson.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Complete Major / Minor Scale Using Penatonic Scales

Chris demonstrates how to complete the major and minor scale by using pentatonic positions based on the roots of the I, IV, and V chords.

Length: 14:52 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Melodic Development

Chris Liepe utilizes everything he has taught in the series so far to demonstrate how to create catchy lead lines over a backing track.

Length: 15:30 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Implied Tonalities

Chris Liepe delves into the world of implied tonalities. This lesson details how a single arpeggio can be implied over various chordal sounds.

Length: 25:40 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Series Introduction Solo Lesson (Composed Soloing)

Chris teaches the solo that was used in the introduction lesson for this series. He uses the solo as an example of how to effectively compose your own solos.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

2 Hand Tapping

It's time to give the right hand hand some work with two hand tapping on the guitar neck.

Length: 31:26 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Thoughts on Practice

With so much material out there, what should you focus on? How much time do you spend on a certain topic? How do you progress? How do you measure progress? Chris covers all of these topics in this lesson.

Length: 17:16 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Get to Know Chris Liepe

Chris Liepe offers up some insight into his past. Hopefully this lesson will help you further your own goals as a guitarist.

Length: 11:42 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud JamPlay.com instructors.

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