A Few of My Favorite Chords

Jun 23, 2021

“These are a few of my favorite things….” so goes the great Rodgers & Hammerstein song.

In this post, I’ll simply share a few of my favorite chord voicings, all of which can be found in the solo arrangement of Choro Negro that you can hear in full at the top of the video (you can find the full chart below this text.)

Crafting solo arrangements on an instrument that can only sound four notes at a time is a tricky business. We are tasked with placing a constantly progressing harmony below a set melody line. 

But from necessity comes inspiration! The following are strange combinations of notes that I wouldn’t have come up with if the solo arrangement hadn’t forced my hand.

Keep in mind that some of these chords have five or even six notes, yet we only have four strings - one of which must play the melody!

For example, this voicing works great for D7 when there is a “B” in the melody:

The “B” is the sixth note of the D scale. But, once we have a b7 in mix, we have to call any other additional notes by numbers above eight. I know, it’s weird. 

So, in this case the 6th note of the scale “B” is called “13.” Hence, D7 with a 13. Note what's missing: the five, A and even D itself, the name of the chord!

And it gets stranger: this very same shape also sounds a Dom7(#9) chord. For example, let’s move it up a fret:In this case, the two low strings are still 3 and b7, but now they have switched places, the 3 on the bottom and 7 on top. And then the top note is B#, or the “sharp 9” of A7.

This is the chord you hear in the theme song from TV’s “Batman.” It also can be found on the second beat of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.”

And if we move the original shape up an octave, with your thumb you can add a b9 to this chord, creating a D7 (13/b9), a chord quality you can hear on the very first beat of Django Reinhardt’s “Django’s Castle.”The last lick of Choro Negro results in a G minor chord with two colors, 6 and 9:Did you notice that the shape of your fingers on the three high strings is the same as for D7(13) and A7(#9)?

Like I said, it gets weird when we start forming five and six note chords with only three or four strings!

Here's the entire solo arrangement of Choro Negro in case you'd like to explore some more cool mandolin chord voicings.


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