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Bar Chords - CAGED System of Chords

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The term "bar" in "bar chords" refers to the placement of the index finger (other fingers are not commonly used) on the frets at one position at the head end of a guitar chord requiring one. The chords that require this bar are termed "bar chords" while the ones that do not require a bar at the beginning are termed "open chords" or "root position chords." Thus, the use of a bar effectively classifies chords into these two types.

The open chords that can be played on the guitar are the CAGED major chords. The bar chords are played by extending the shape of the CAGED major chords down a few frets. By extending, we mean, we hold the basic shape of the chord and move the entire hand down by the required number of steps (semitones).

Just like if we play the chromatic scale on a single string, the pitch of the note increases by a semitone for every fret we traverse, the chords also increase in pitch the same way. This is because every note under a finger is going up by a semitone as we move down the neck by a semitone.

For example, if we move the open (root position) E major shape (022100) down by one fret, we replace each note we play by the one a semitone above. The notes being played are thus changed from E-B-E-G#-B-E of E major to F-C-F-A-C-F, forming the F major chord. Moving it down by 2 frets produces F# major, 3 frets - G major, 4 frets G# major, 5frets A major, and so on and so forth.

The E major shape in CAGED system of guitar

Thus bar functions as a sort of "movable nut" of the guitar (also called a "capo"). This effectively reduces the length of the fretboard thus increasing the pitch of the constituent notes.

The shape of a chord is the most important thing here, as it is this shape that defines the relationship between the notes being played irrespective of the root note. Thus one may play multiple chords using the same basic shape.

Thus, its obvious, all the caged chords can, similarly, be extended downwards to form chords other than C A G E and D majors. The individual shapes are now left to be discussed. Continue...

The CAGED System on a Guitar:

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