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NOTE: In the video below I start off using bar chords but end with open chords. There are many different ways to play any chord on the guitar.
Let's take a look at all 7 chords in the key of G major. These triads are all built off the scale notes in the key. You skip letters to create the chords.
*The numbers below are the scale degrees.
The 3rd note in all of these triads is a perfect 5th from the root
except the VII chord which is diminished and has a distance of one less
semitone from the root.
G-B-D (G Major triad)
1-3-5 (This is the I chord in G major)
From G to D is 4 semitones, that's why it is a major chord
A-C-E (A minor triad)
2-4-6 (This is the II chord in G major)
From A to C is 3 semitones, that's why it is a minor chord
B-D-F# (B minor triad)
3-5-7 (This is the III chord in G major)
From B to D is 3 semitones, that's why it is a minor chord
C-E-G (C Major triad)
4-6-1 (This is the IV chord in G major)
From C to E is 4 semitones, that's why it is a major chord
D-F#-A (D Major triad)
5-7-2 (This is the V chord in G major)
From D to F# is 4 semitones, that's why it is a major chord
E-G-B (E minor triad)
6-1-3 (This is the VI chord in G major)
From E to G is 3 semitones, that's why it is a minor chord
F#-A-C (F# diminished triad)
7-2-4 (This is the VII (seven) chord in G major)
From F# to A is 3 semitones and from F# to C is 6 semitones making this a diminished chord
Here are the guitar chords in G Major!
Now, let's take a look at the circle of fifths!
The circle of fifths is like a clock with 12 hours. There are 12 tones in the chromatic scale, thus there are 12 keys to consider.
NOTE: 12 seems to be some cosmic magic number as there are 12 months in a year, 12 days of Christmas, 12 Zodiac signs, 12 disciples of Jesus, the commodity stock market cycle called the Juglar cycle lasts 12 years and of course there are 12 tones in the chromatic scale.
If we look at this clock you notice that beginning with C at 12 O'clock, keys advance by a fifth (G is a 5th from C, C-D-E-F-G) as you move clockwise to the right. Next we have G at 1 o'clock, D at 2 o'clock and so on. In addition, as we advance to a new key we add another sharp into the key signature.
When we get to 6 o'clock we reach F# major which has 6 sharps in it's key signature. The enharmonic name for F# is Gb, so the circle switches to flats. This is purely for visual reasons. At 7 o'clock where it says Db with 5 flats, it could easily say C# with 7 sharps.
Some of the reasons why this visual is so important are as follows:
1. Notice the relationship of the I chord in any key to the V chord. They share all the same scale notes but one. Music is based on these two chords. There is almost no song in western music that doesn't have a I chord and a V chord. The most basic children's song has these two chords because they represent tension and resolution.
2. The key to the left of any other key is it's IV chord. They share all but one scale note as well. This is why so many songs use I, IV and V. "The blues" is based off this progression. This is essential stuff to learn for composing and songwriting.