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Many chord formations ask for one or more strings to be muted. IF, that string when played OPEN is one of the notes forming the triad chord, is it okay to use chord formations that include notes that are repeated, and are part of the triad?

In other words, can any note that is part of the triad be included in the chord form and played instead of muted? ?

  • I'm new to this board. Can everyone see this comment? Thanks to the expert answers on my question. I sometimes seek alternate chord formations, to make my playing easier. This question came from forming a C9 chord. My voicing. to make it easier for me.. is Muted6th, C, G, Bb, D, G. This is a barre at the 3rd fret, with 6string skipped( or muted), and 4th string at 5th fret. This also makes the form useable for Bb9, B9, C9,C#9, etc.Thanks to all for the answers... very much appreciated.........Pops – JBrimmer Nov 13 '18 at 18:51
  • I can see your comment. I'd point out that omitting the E from that particular chord is problematic, as it is a fairly important note for the chord. If you are going to remove a note from a chord, it's usually the fifth (G for this chord). I'd recommend playing C, E, Bb, D for this. – Basstickler Nov 13 '18 at 19:38
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Absolutely. A basic triad is three notes - no surprise there! They can be played in any order, and doubled or tripled which is often the case with guitar. Any open string that's one of the three can be part of the chord - although sometimes a barre will get in their way.

Sometimes they won't sound so good. Take an open C chord. The bottom string open being E will fit, although that gives a first inversion, not the strongest sounding. Make that low note a G, and it sounds more solid. The lowest note doesn't have to be the root, even though an awful lot of pundits seem to advocate this.

  • I'm new to this board. Can everyone see this comment? Thanks to the expert answers on my question. I sometimes seek alternate chord formations, to make my playing easier. This question came from forming a C9 chord. My voicing. to make it easier for me.. is Muted6th, C, G, Bb, D, G. This is a barre at the 3rd fret, with 6string skipped( or muted), and 4th string at 5th fret. This also makes the form useable for Bb9, B9, C9,C#9, etc.Thanks to all for the answers... very much appreciated.........Pops – JBrimmer – JBrimmer Nov 13 '18 at 18:55
  • Yes, your comment is for all to see. It's good that people try making their own shapes for chords. It's doubtful anyone will find one that's never been used before, but the point is that people use a bit of theory to come up with their own ideas. It's how I sometimes get my students to produce a chord shape. There's the notes - get on with it! Somewhat better than the 'I'm here - feed me' brigade. Well done, keep it up! Brutal? Possibly. Realistic? Definitely! – Tim Nov 13 '18 at 19:03
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Yes. Chords are defined by the notes they contain, not the order of those notes. There are multiple ways to form every chord, and these different formations are called "voicings." It is fine if the same note is played on different strings - there are only three notes in a triad, yet many guitar voicings use all six strings.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is the lowest sounding note in your voicing. Generally, you want the root of the chord to be sounding the lowest. So, if you are playing an F chord, you want the note F to be in the bass. This is called "root position." A voicing with a different chord tone in the bass is called an "inversion."

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This largely is based on the context that you are playing the chords in. If you are just playing for yourself, then you can definitely use whatever chord voicings you like. If you are trying to play someone else's songs, like learning a cover song, if you play those extra notes, you're not really playing what the songs is. This can be ok if you're not trying to play the song exactly like the original. In some cases, you and/or the audience may never notice the difference between the original and the change in voicing that you've decided upon.

If you are trying to emulate a particular style of music, changing voicings may pose a larger problem, particularly for voice leading. If you're not familiar with the rules of voice leading, the general idea is that there are "rules" for how to go about voicing chords and how those voices move from chord to chord, which allow the different voices of the chords to remain independent. Proper voice leading can lead to a richer sounding harmony and by breaking these conventions, it can take away from the fullness/richness of the harmony in general. This is most common in Classical music but you can certainly find other styles of music that employee these voice leading rules. You'll find most often that proper voice leading on guitar is best accommodated by the open chord voicings. One or two notes that are in the chord may be dropped to maintain proper voice leading, so adding these back into the mix can subvert voice independence and remove the richness of the harmony. This is something that a newer player or someone that mostly plays rock and pop would likely not notice but can make a fairly big difference in the overall feel of the harmony.

You also want to pay attention to your bass note, as Peter mentioned in his answer. Changing the lowest note of your chord, called an inversion, can drastically change the feel of a given chord, particularly if you are putting the third in the bass, which feels much less stable. A good example of this would be the open C voicing, where you typically mute the low E string, even though the E is part of the chord. If you add the E in, the chord will usually feel less stable and more dissonant. There are also what we call Functions for different chords and inverting chords can affect the Function or the effectiveness of the Function. Back to the C/E example, this chord would have a stronger desire to resolve to F than a normal C chord, so it would work best in a situation where it moves to F. There are plenty of ways to incorporate inversions but it's a good idea to be aware of how it is affecting the overall feel of the harmony.

You should also be mindful of whether or not you're playing with a bass player, or another instrument that may be playing a lower note than your lowest. If the bass player is playing a low C, then the overall chord would be describe just as C, not C/E but some guitar players may still refer to the voicing of the chord as C/E. If the bass player is playing the same octave as the C you are playing, and then you decide to add the E in the bass, you're effectively changing the harmony to C/E because the bass player is actually not playing the lowest note anymore. You can also run into chord voicings getting a little muddy sounding if the note you're adding into the mix is particularly close to what the bass player is playing, so you'll want to pay attention to that.

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It is technically fine, but placing different notes of a chord in the bottom of a chord (bottom meaning lowest pitch) results in different inversions and these can sound different, and sometimes it just won't sound best but it depends on the sound you are shooting for.

If you have a bass player you may sometimes even want to avoid playing the low E or even A strings because the bass player will have that sonic range covered. Your sound will be more focused if you play simpler chords, but again it depends on the sound you are shooting for. ;-)

If your motivation for asking the question is that it is easier to strum all the strings, I recommend you practice your strumming hand so that you can reliably strum only the strings you want. Personally I found this hard to do at first, but after some time it has become second nature to me. If you don't strum or pick the string, muting it is less important.

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