Understanding extended chords – Girl, Put Your Records On
If your playing experience has mainly been with worship bands, approaching something that looks like a jazz or extended chord can seem pretty daunting. One way around this is to find some kind of pop/jazz crossover song with just one or two new chord shapes that can be drip fed into your technique kit bag without becoming overwhelming. One good option is the track ‘Put Your Records On’ by Corinne Bailey Rae. This has some stock chords shapes that you can use for any 7th, 9th or diminished chord plus one shape with a descending bass note that can help open up new musical ideas, especially if you’re bored with the same old chord progressions.
So listen to the track on YouTube and let’s walk through its two main sections.
|A |D#m7b5 |E13 E9 |A |
The first four bars of what I call the ‘A’ section covers both verse and chorus and mostly stays in the key of A major. For the A chord itself in bars 1 and 4 you can play a regular A but I like to use the voicing in the diagram which is based around the usual A barre chord on fret 5 but utilises the open A and top E strings to give a more open ringing sound. Playing A this way is very handy when moving to the next chord, D#m7b5. Don’t worry if it sounds complex, minor 7 flat 5’s are very common extended chords, particularly in jazz but this one shape will let you play any m7b5 chord just by sliding it up or down the neck. Simply fret a D chord shape but with your index finger on the A string fret 6 and then add your picky onto the B string fret 7. In fact if you are moving from our A chord voicing above then your middle and ring fingers stay in exactly the same place for both chords. Remember this shape because you can do two things with it. First, you can play any other m7b5 chord by sliding the shape up or down the neck on the same strings. Sliding up one fret so your index finger is on fret 7 gives you Em7b5. Fret 8 is an Fm7b5, 9 is Gm7b5, 3 is Cm7b5 etc etc.
The second thing that makes this shape so handy is that if you move it across one string so your index finger is on the D string and ring, middle and little fingers correspond to the G, B and top E respectively, this shape now becomes a diminished chord which can be moved up and down the neck in the same way. So, index finger on the D string fret 2 gives you Edim, fret 3 is Fdim, 5 is Gdim, 7 is Adim etc.
The E13 and E9 in bar three are quite common in jazz and especially useful in blues so this shape is well worth learning. Start by placing your middle finger on the A string fret 7 (E note), your index just behind on the D string fret 6 (G#) and then crucially barre your ring finger across the G,B & E strings, all at fret 7. This gives us an E9 but to make it into a 13 you simply add your little finger on at fret 9 on the top E string. In the song moving from the E13 to E9 lasts less than two beats buts it’s an easy change that mirrors the melody. Again this shape moves and is named according to the bass note you are playing on the A string. So 7=E9, 3=C9, 5=D9 and so on.
After the verse and chorus we get to what I call a ‘B’ section where the chord progression feels like it slowly keeps descending. We’re going to explore two sets of chord shapes for playing this, one set that gives you the full chords and another which is easier to play but also really helps show what is going on harmonically.
|F#m |C#7 |F#m7 |B9 |
|Dmaj7 |Dmaj7 |Dm7 |Dm7 |
In the first set let’s start with a pretty standard F#m barre chord. As we move to C#7, just play a regular open C chord and move it up one fret so your ring finger is on fret 4. To make it a 7th place your little finger on the G string also on fret 4. This C7 type shape is one of those classic shapes for any 7th chord and once again its movable and named by the bass note you fret on the A string. So D7=5, D#7=6, E7=7 etc.
F#m7 is interesting; just take a standard F#m chord and remove your little finger. So again any standard Em shaped barre chord like this can be made into a m7th by removing that pinky. The B9 is exactly the same as the E9 but moved down to fret 2 and finally the Dmaj7 and min7 chords are again movable chords based ‘A’ shaped open chords. So the Dmaj7 & Dm7 look like Amaj7 & Am7 chords but with a barre up on fret 5.
These chords seem to move around quite a bit but the best way to see why they were used in the song is to play the second set of shapes. What’s really happening is that we have 3 common notes being played on the top 3 strings and then a bass note that descends through every fret from 4 to 0 on the D string. For musicians that have only been involved in major scale based worship music, these out of key or ‘chromatic’ chord progressions can really help open their ears to how music sounds in other genres.
So do work through the track and try and remember these chord shapes as they’ll stand you in great stead for more complex songs.