My God, this stuff is starting to make sense!
Today was guitar class #6 (of 8). We have two classes left. The class next week is our last regular class. The final class is mostly just our 'final exam' and then we are done.
Today we spent the entire class discussing minor chords and seventh chords. We talked again about how to figure out the three notes in any chord. We talked about the differences between major chords, minor chords, and seventh chords. This was the first class where we spent a lot of time on anything other than major chords, so it was a lot of new stuff for me. New chord shapes, new concepts, etc. A lot to absorb. The thing that amazes me, is that I'm actually understanding this stuff (most of it)! I think I was ahead of a lot of the class in understanding things. This is likely due to the studying I did in the months before the class. However, despite the fact that I've been trying to learn this guitar for probably 9 months now, I had made very little progress. I understood single notes, but chords were 'Greek' to me. Now I'm understanding them! Not only am I understanding them, I can play some of them and I can even recognize some of the chords the teacher is playing just by watching his hands!
One thing the teacher had taught us was that a chord is just 3 or more notes played at the same time on the guitar. What had confused me, was that if a chord only has 3 notes, why were we hitting more than 3 strings on the guitar to play the chord? I had assumed if there were 3 notes, that would be 3 strings played (1 note per string). It turns out that even if you are playing four, or five or even 6 strings, you are still only playing those 3 notes. The difference is, you are playing some of those 3 notes in more than 1 place at a time on the guitar! You could be playing 6 strings, but only be playing 3 different notes because several of the notes are repeated in different locations on the guitar. We had been discussing seventh chords (which is a 4 note chord). I was comparing the chord charts between the major and the seventh chords, trying to spot that additional seventh note. I was getting confused though, because the fingering for the seventh chord (an A7) was fretting less strings than the major chord. How can I get a fourth note if I'm fretting 1 less string? I didn't get it. So, to figure it out, I went through all 21 of my chord diagrams (7 major, 7 minor, and 7 sevenths) and diagramed out which note is being played on each string. Once I did this, I started to see the pattern. It was true that only 3 notes were being played for the chord. I could see exactly which string was playing which note. I could also see where the extra strings came into the picture because I saw that the extra strings were in fact playing only the notes from the 3 notes in that chord. Once I got to diagramming the seventh chords, I figured out why fretting one less string caused me to gain a note. It was because taking my finger off that string caused a different note to be played on that string - the seventh! The 'missing' note that I lost my not fretting that string was still being played on one of the other strings! I have to learn to stop associating the fretting of a string with the playing of a note. Even if you are playing an open, non-fretted string, you are playing a note there. You gotta count that one. This diagraming of the notes was also very helpful in starting to help me remember what notes are where on the guitar. The more I did them, the faster I got at remembering what note was the open note on each string.
I'm really starting to get this stuff. Yeah, I have a long way to go, but the $60 I spent to sign up for this class was well worth the money!