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I recently found a song transcribed where the user plays all the chords on with a capo on the second fret this would move up the open string chords to the following:

EADGBe=F#BEAC#F#

He then recommends that the song be played with the shapes of Em, C, and G on with the capo on the second fret but that they can alternatively be played without the capo as F#m, A, and D.

So with my understanding is that with the capo on the second fret with the shape of Em you are still playing the notes for an F#m where on strings EADGBe:

E=F# A=C# D=F# G=A B=C# e=F#

This, however, doesn't hold true in the case of the shape of C with the capo on the second fret you get the notes for a D chord, not an A chord.

E=F# A=D D=F# G=A B=D e=F#

There seems to be some gap in my understanding of music theory, can someone help give me an explanation?

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    Whoever told you that C (+capo 2) = A (capo 0) was wrong. He was wrong about the third chord as well. Seems like your understanding is ok. – Edward Nov 6 '20 at 20:00
  • Sometimes, capos are called "cheaters". They're not – it's valid to want open strings in other keys – but I have played with good people who used them to avoid learning. They put on the capo and talk like they're still open, so it's up to you to transpose in your head. – Dave Jacoby Nov 7 '20 at 13:48
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Seems like someone had mixed up the order, that's all. Em up 2 frets is F♯m. That's fine. But the other two got mixed. C goes to D , and G goes to A. Simple!!

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He then recommends that the song be played with the shapes of Em, C, and G on with the capo on the second fret but that they can alternatively be played without the capo as F#m, A, and D.

If the needed reservoir of chords is Em, C and G you can play the song without the capo using the mentioned chords above - provided the reader knows which chords are produced and referring to each other. But the order isn’t correct, the logic implies that the second series of chords is analogous to the first group, so it must be written F#, D and A (without capo.)

Especially if Em, C, G are standing for the progression it should be said:

they can alternatively be played without the capo as F#m, D and A.

Like Tim says: the order is mixed up.

Your understanding of the function of the capo is correct: each fret up shortens all strings and each is augmented a semitone by each fret.

  • Could you edit your last sentence and lose the word 'tone'? It reads slightly confusingly! – Tim Nov 7 '20 at 10:05

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