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So I am trying to play a song that I believe is in open D tuning. In open D you can play the first chord without putting a finger on the guitar. However in standard tuning, the song is in E. You can hear it. It goes from E, to a chord that is lower than E and I have tried everything I can to play that specific sound but I can’t find the second chord. Third chord is Amaj7 and on from there. The song is called 'A Tale of Rescue' by Davis John Patton. Listen and you’ll know what I mean by the second chord. It sounds lower than E major.

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  • Hi Jacob! Welcome to Music StackExchange! What exactly is the question you are asking? Can you please edit your question so others can clearly know what you are talking about? Apr 24, 2020 at 3:42

3 Answers 3

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My guess is that the song is played with capo on the 4th fret.

The first chords are then (relative to capo):

  • C major: x3201x
  • G major: 35543x (you can here a slide to the bottom G);
  • A minor: x0221x

Or perhaps they are using no capo at all, and just moving the shapes up the neck:

  • E major: x7645x
  • B major: 79987x
  • C#minor: x46654x

In both cases, the second chord sound lower because its root (G or B) is located on the bottom string, while the root of the tonic is on the 5th.

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  • Those aren't the first chords - that's a red herring!
    – Tim
    Apr 24, 2020 at 8:15
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The chords are actually E, Emaj7, E6 - concert pitch. For some reason, the guitar is tuned to a D major chord - D A D F♯ A and top D. The it's capo'd on the second fret, making the pitch of the open chord E major.

The second chord does sound lower, because it introduces a major seventh (note called D♯ here), which gives the impression of the chord dropping - by a semitone. Then that same changed note drops another tone, to C♯, making an E6 chord - not an Amaj7.

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First, in answer to your title question, I believe the meaning of your question is “Can you play a chord with a note lower than the open low E string on the guitar (in standard tuning)?” And the answer is no, unless you use a cheat like bending the neck, using a hipshot detuner or a whammy bar. The second chord is also an E chord, actually an Emaj7 but it sounds lower than the first because the first chord plays the E root an octave higher than the second.

As for the chords you couldn’t figure out, I listened to this and could hear the notes but found it extremely difficult to play on the guitar until I explored the open D tuning you mentioned with a capo on the 2nd fret. Then it all came together and became much easier to play. There are a total of 6 chords in the opening section and the Amaj7 is actually the 5th chord, not the 3rd. It’s in 6/8 time and here they are in open D tuning (from low to high D A D F# A D) with a capo on the 2nd fret (note, the fret count is from the capo, not the nut):

Chord 1: E major xx0000 6 beats; the last beat has a slide down from the low E string 7th fret

Chord 2: Emaj7: 000040 6 beats

Chord 3: C#m: x20020 3 beats

Chord 4 Emaj7/B x00040 3 beats

Chord 5 Amaj7 5x0020 4 1/2 beats

Chord 6 E/A 5x0000 1 1/2 beats

There are some nice clusters in the Emaj7 and Emaj7/B between the first and second strings, the D# and E notes being played together give it a unique flavor. This was very enjoyable to listen to, research and figure out, I hope it answers your questions well.

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  • Third chord i hear as E6. What makes you say C#m?
    – Tim
    Apr 24, 2020 at 8:51
  • @Tim E6 has some of the same notes but the lowest note I hear in that voicing is a C#, a vi chord. It sounds like a 6-5-4 walk down to me. Also when the bass comes in it plays a lot of “interesting” notes but always a C# in that part of the progression. It sounds like C# E G# C# E from bottom to top. Apr 24, 2020 at 9:09
  • Hey thank you so much! Very helpful. I found trying to learn it myself hard when it came to hearing the next coming chords, and the timing is strange to. Thanks again
    – Jacob
    Apr 25, 2020 at 4:08

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