The James Brown Chord

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This is one of the most common chords used in funk rhythm guitar. Technically, you could call it a “Dom9” chord with no root. This example is a D9 chord (no root). Let’s explore the theory a bit deeper…

Did you know that the most important tones in a chord are the 3rd and the 7th? The 3rd really defines the overall feeling of a chord in terms of major or minor… The 7th adds its own color or flavor to it… Of course, not all chords have a 7th… Triads do not.

If this all sounds like greek, I would suggest checking out
the Ultimate Beginner Guitar Course to bone up on some basic theory.

Anyway, the 5th is the least important tone in a chord… You can usually leave it out and the basic chord sound remains the same. But did you also realize that often you can omit the root and you still get the basic chord sound as well.

In this funk chord shape, from the lowest string to the highest we have: 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 5th. Work it out for yourself in your mind so you can understand the structure and the theory.

Hint: in the key of D, third is the F#, seventh is C, etc.

I’ll be giving you a video lesson soon on how to use this chord
with some killer funk strum rhythms.

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