12 Beautiful Chords (and how to play them)
by Derik Nelson
Are you learning guitar or piano and wanting to expand your chord "library"?
One of my biggest frustrations when I was teaching myself how to play the guitar and piano was that all of the "basic chords" you first learn sounded… well, basic. I wanted to be able to play things that sounded beautiful, lush, and emotional right out of the gates, instead of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
I dug deep into John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Sting, Kenny Loggins, and a lot of jazz. I was like a sponge; I soaked up whatever I could get my ears on, and began trying to solve these mini-musical puzzles of how to recreate the sounds I heard so I could map them out myself on the guitar fretboard or piano keys.
I began seeing music not as notes and numbers anymore, but as shapes. These different shapes are commonly referred to as chord “voicings,” and they color the sound of the chord differently based on what notes are used and how the notes are arranged within the chord. The more shapes I collected, the more my playing improved. I started defining my own style based on the shapes I gravitated towards most often, and have used these chord voicings in all of my YouTube cover videos as well as my own original songs. Sometimes I'll stumble upon a new shape, and an entire song will pour out of me just from exploring one new “color in the palette,” so to speak.
I’ve chosen 12 of my personal favorite chord shapes for you—one for each key—and broken them down into easy-to-play diagrams for piano and guitar. You can find them all over my music, and hopefully they’ll inspire you to include them in yours. Whether you're an advanced musician or just starting out, even the simplest thing (like learning a new chord) can spark a wildfire of new ideas.
Inside the PDF below, I show you how to play all 12 chords for guitar and piano. Download it, and tell me which chord is YOUR favorite? Is this PDF helpful? Would you like to see more guides like this?? Let me know in the comments below!