Today I was writing a song and I came up with some embellishments over the verse that I really liked.

I was alternating over D and Am7 (open shape, usual x02010), then I slid the fretting fingers up two frets to a Bm7-ish (x04030), then again to a C-ish (x05050) and finally to a Em7-ish (x09070)

Basically I am moving the Am7 shape over the neck, harmonising in sixths on strings 2 and 4 and letting strings 1, 3 and 5 ring. This way the chord stays the same but I manage to incorporate a melody over it without losing the strumming flow.

I know about playing in double stops, but here I am really interested in including strumming over open strings as well.

Question is/are:

  • which other open chord position can I move the same way?
  • has this technique got a name (so I can search resources accordingly)?
  • do you know notable songs/pieces/artists that use it?
  • Would something like "using a chord shape with open strings as a movable shape" be a more illustrative title? – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 23 '18 at 20:54
  • Not actually, because the shape changes based on the lead note (C, D and G need an underlying major 6th as opposed to A, B and E) ^^ – moonwave99 Apr 23 '18 at 20:56
  • Aha ok. I like the sound of this kind of thing too... Will be interested in the answers! – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 23 '18 at 21:17
  • Generally this kind of thing is called a pedal or drone/bordun. I'm not aware of a more specific term for the particular variant on guitar with a two-voice homophonic melody on top, but it's certainly something done regularly by some guitarists, perhaps most commonly in blues with open tunings. Jimmy Page used it innovatively as the whole basis for a number of songs such as Kashmir and Friends. – leftaroundabout Apr 23 '18 at 22:22
  • Pete Townshend moved an open E voicing up the fretboard, strumming open strings too, on I Can See for Miles. If you want to do this sort of thing, you can learn by experimenting; but the best thing to do is to really learn how chords are constructed and to learn the fretboard well so that you can see opportunities to use open strings when they arise. – ex nihilo Apr 24 '18 at 1:47

It's common to move open E major in this way on guitar.

You are moving chords over a pedal, creating what's known as oblique harmony where some voices move while others stay on the same note(s).

Cream's Deserted Cities of the Heart and the introduction to their version of I'm So Glad utilise this technique.

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