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Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Relating Chords & Scales


Music theory establishes the backbone of everything that we play on our instruments as musicians. And, while parsing through complex music theory concepts can sometimes feel tedious or maybe overwhelming, the key is to break down one simpler topic at a time and apply it on our instrument. One such concept is the relationship between the major scale and the quality of the chord associated with each note in the major scale. Understanding how the major scale and these major and minor chord qualities relate will help take both your improvisation and rhythm guitar playing to the next level.


In this online guitar lesson, Grammy Award-winning guitarist, ten-time IBMA “Guitar Player of the Year,” and ArtistWorks bluegrass guitar instructor, Bryan Sutton, outlines the quality of each chord associated with all seven degrees of the major scale. Using the key of G major as an example, Bryan explains why understanding the quality of the chord associated with each scale degree is important, and how you can use that knowledge to improve and expand your rhythm guitar playing and improvisation.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play acoustic guitar from a bluegrass master like Bryan Sutton? Try some free online guitar lessons now!


“When we’re in a key center, the major scale of that key center becomes the primary informant of most everything I’m ever going to need in the context of most bluegrass tunes,” Bryan explains. “That’s the reason understanding this concept is so important and impacts so many facets of our playing.”


By understanding the quality of the chord associated with each degree of the major scale, you’ll be able to craft unique harmonies and more fluidly build chords in the context of a song when supporting other players as a rhythm guitarist. Additionally, you’ll be able to better create improvised lines that directly correlate with the harmony of any given tune when soloing.


“In simplified terms, the overall concept is this: every note, or degree, of the major scale of any given key center can represent a chord,” explains Bryan. “Exploring and experimenting with this concept is really useful in creating a little bit more musical depth in your playing.”


To learn more about the relationship between chord qualities and scales, and how these relationships can be applied in your rhythm guitar playing, dive into this online guitar lesson from Bryan Sutton:


Relating Chords & Scales with Bryan Sutton:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play acoustic guitar? Through our comprehensive guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Bryan Sutton, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Bryan’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced flatpicking techniques, classic bluegrass tunes, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as flatpick guitar players and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: An Introduction to Crosspicking with Bryan Sutton

Pre-Sale VIP Memberships for “Flatpicking Academy with Tyler Grant” Now Available!

Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Playing in Open D with Chris Eldridge




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