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Chord Parallels


One Stringer
  • Feb 8, 2023
    Houston, Texas
    I am a practicing musician but would like to share something that I found very interesting.

    Chord Parallels: A sequence of Chords consisting of intervals that do not change as the chord changes.

    In standard tuning on the guitar, chord parallels use only the 3rd (G), 2nd (B), and 1st (E) strings.

    In a major key, the order of the parallels is F, E, and D shapes. The image shows an A bar chord played at the 5th position. At the 5th position is the F shape. The 7th position is the E shape. The 9th position is the D shape. (Don't let the shapes throw you off just yet, you will see soon.)


    You may play these parallel shapes when this chord is played to give it flavor. You may also throw the shapes in while playing a solo to give it some real charm.

    Shapes move with the chords! This means you may play the same shapes anywhere on the neck, they do not change. Now a brief description playing in a minor key. The shapes will change. We will start with E, then D, And finally Dm. The image below shows an Am at the 5th fret. E is the first shape played at the 5th fret. D is the second shape played at the 7th fret. Dm will be the last shape and your 1st finger will be at the 8th fret.


    There is a little change between the major and minor positions and shapes. I recommend getting comfortable with one before you move to the second. Below is an image of the Dm shape on the Am bar chord.


    Note: I am not good at music notation, but I drew something up to give you an idea of what I am talking about, and how it works.

    I created a couple of images for example purposes. I use A, D, and E major chords to play something of a blues groove. If you move the shapes to the location of the power chord being played it will sound fantastic.

    The first image shows the shapes for the Chord Parallels. It also shows a major chord progression using the A, D, and E chords.


    This image shows the chord parallels instead of the chords being played. This is just an example of a way to play it, so have fun. These images are here to give a little more clarity on the use of chord parallels.


    Remember this is a new concept for me, so I am just getting my fingers wet. If you have more helpful information please share it with the community.

    So what can you do with chord parallels?
    1) make a very boring chord progression sound spicy!
    2) You do not have to go back to the first part of the progression with the parallels. Play with it and see what works for you. Add some real flavor to that 8-count with one chord.
    3) if you are playing a major chord scale, mix in the major chord parallels to add a real touch of color to the lead.
    4) The same holds for a minor scale, just use the appropriate minor parallels.
    5) If you are moving your scales to different positions as you play add in the parallels to give it some real charm.

    Work with it and see if you have any issues. If you have some more information you would like to sprinkle in, please do. This is a new concept for me that I am going to work on and try to incorporate with some lead playing as well.

    Remember Major: F, E, and D shapes.
    Minor: E, D, and Dm shapes.

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    Hey Syxguns!

    Thanks for taking the time to give this info. It looks like what you've discovered here are both Major & Minor Triads. There are actually loads of them on the Guitar neck (I've attached all the Major and Minor ones in a pdf) Hopefully this gives some food for thought. These can all be switched to with their corresponding chords and even on top of chords to extend their harmony.

    Ps. There's a mistake on the Major Triads sheet that I leave for my students to find (3rd box down, the 5th should be on the G string)

    Synner Endless Summer Collection