Category Archives: Songwriting skills

Add variety in your rock playing with Augmented power chords

Hi there,

Thanks again for reading my blogs, feel free to spread these around if you know other guitarists that will benefit from these posts.

So this blog will focus on Augmented power chords and how they can really add some nice variety to your playing.

An augmented power chord is essentially an augmented 5th interval which is 4 tones in size. A standard power chord is 3 1/2 tones in size so you are stretching or ‘augmenting’ the power chord to give yourself a different sound.

Here are the 2 most common examples of an augmented power chord (on notation these would read F5(#5) )













There are many examples of when you can use these but for me the simplest way to start integrating them into your playing is by replacing the 3RD and 7th chords of any major scale e.g.


C5, D5, E5, F5, G5, A5, B5

so you can also use E5 (#5) and B5 (#5)

They often work best in conjunction with with the next chord in the scale for example:

B5 (#5) to C5, E5 (#5) to F5 would sound great

Have a play around with these to see how great they are!

You can find other great free info via the JsMusicSchool twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks






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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Songwriting skills


Major 9 and Minor 9 chord voicings

Hi There,

In previous blogs on chords, sus4 and sus2, dominant 9 + 13 and most of your key 7th chords have been discussed.

Now we’ll look at some major 9 and minor 9 chords that you can use to add some more variety to your songs in place of major, major7, minor or minor 7 chords

Now the harmonized major scale in 9th chords works as follows:

Maj9, Min9, Min7b9, Maj9, Dominant 9, Min9, Min7b5b9

So your 9th chords from the key of C major would be:

Cmaj9, Dmin9, Emin7b9, Fmaj9, G9, Amin9, Bmin7b5b9

Here are some voicings for major 9’s that you can use:

This chord sounds great – it’s a Cmajor9 – it’s actually got no 5th but still considered a major 9

















Cminor 9:









and D minor 9









Have a go with these chord voicings in different keys and see if you can start integrating them into your songs. Also if you see Major9, Minor 9 voicings in tabs and sheet music you can use these voicings

Hope you’ve found this blog useful

Many thanks for reading

You can find other useful tips on twitter @jsmusicschool


James Schofield

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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Songwriting skills


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Songwriting tricks – Secondary Dominants / Metallica and The Beatles case studies

Hi there,

In previous blogs you’ve started to grasp how chords and scales can link together and how you can start to write your own songs.

You may have come across chords in songs that don’t fit within the standard Maj,Min,Min,Maj,Maj,Min,dim or Maj7,Min7,Min7Maj7,7,Min7,min7b5 rule

There are certain exceptions to these rules which songwriters use that can really add some depth and variety to your songs.

You can also be aware of these tricks when listening to music that you love, to see how other people use it.

What dominant substitution does is introduce another 6 possible chords that you can add to the 14 above.

Let’s take the key of A major for example:

The notes are:


  • Your chords/triads would be Amaj,Bmin,C#min,D,E,F#min and G#diminished
  • 7th chords would be Amaj7,Bmin7,C#min7,Dmaj7,E7,F#min7,G#min7b5

With dominant substitution you could now include:

  • A7,B7,C#7,D7,F#7 and G#7

But in order for it to really work properly you need to resolve back to a chord that’s a FOURTH (2 and a half tones) above your substituted chord.

Let’s take an example:

  • A major, Amajor7  Bmin7, B7 then E

What the B7 does is reinforce the next chord (E) which is a perfect 4th above B

Some very popular songs you’ve heard over the years use these techniques.

Let’s take Nothing Else Matters by Metallica which is in the key of Em/Gmajor

The chords in G major are

  • G,Am,Bm,C,D,Em,F#dim or
  • Gmaj7,Am7,Bm7,Cmaj7,D7,Em7 and F#min7b5

In the verse you have a nice picking pattern which uses the following chords:

  • Em, D, C, G, B7 and Em (with a few chord extensions)

As you can see the B7 isn’t in the usual harmonized key of G major but works as a dominant substitute as it reinforces the Em that comes after it

The prechorus to Hey Jude by the Beatles also does a similar thing.

It’s in the key of F so the chords would be:

  • F,Gm,Am,Bb,C,Dm and Ediminished
  • or Fmaj7,Gmin7,Amin7,Bbmaj7, C7,Dmin7 and Emin7b5 in 7th chords

The end of the verse goes:

‘The minute, you let you under your skin, then you begin, to make it better.’

Bb                                            F                     C7                       F

Then it goes:

‘And anytime you feel the pain, Hey Jude, refrain, don’t carry the world upon your shoulders’

F7                                     Bb         Bmaj7 Gm7                            C7                      F

As you can see the F7 that precedes the Bb is the dominant substitution which works really well to reinforce the Bb

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog and feel free to ask any questions.

You can find other useful tips via twitter @jsmusicschool which is updated daily


Many thanks


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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Songwriting skills


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Integrating theory, chords and strumming in a 1,3,4,5 progression

Hi there,

In previous blogs we’ve covered:

1. How the major scale is constructed and the chords that belong to each key.

2. basics of the CAGED chord system and how to move your open shapes up the neck

3. A simple DDUUDU strumming pattern

So now it’s time to integrate all these together to start writing your own songs and understand how others are produced.

A 1,3,4,5 chord progression is simple the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th harmonized chords from any major scale.

Let’s take G major for example:

Using the TTSTTTS rule, the notes of G major would be:

G,A,B,C,D,E and F#

Using the harmonizing rule you can produce the chords:

So G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em and F#diminised.

  • The 1st chord is G
  • The 3rd chord is Bm
  • The 4th chord is C
  • The 5th chord is D

So a 1,3,4,5 progression in the key of G would be G, Bm, C and D

Now the idea is that you can play your common strumming pattern, that was in the previous blog

Start with 1 chord per bar so DDUUDU for every chord.

Then you can play different CAGED shapes to reinforce your knowledge of the fretboard and utilize different sounding chord voicings.

So let’s take the progression just using ‘E’ shapes – these are the chords that you’d use:

So the above you have G major in an E shape, B minor in an E shape etc – remember all your E shapes will have the root note (the first note that is strummed and the key letter of the chord) on the 6th string

Now have a go with just A shapes:

As you can see here all the root notes are on the A string – this will be the same for all A shapes, whether it’s Amajor or Asus4

Have a go doing it in G,C and D shapes as well.

Thanks for reading!


You can find more useful tips on twitter @jsmusicschool



Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Songwriting skills


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