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A Minor Harmonic Etude
In this arpeggio etude, we are playing the I, IV and V chords for the key of A
minor. The tonic or I chord is A minor. The sub dominant or IV chord is D minor.
The dominant or V7 chord is E7. This is the same V7 chord as the one for A major
so the 3rd of the chord is g sharp. Chords relate to harmony. So the A minor
harmonic scale has a g sharp written, not in the key signature, but as an accidental.
This is so that when you build the chords, you get the correct notes for the E7
chord. In this exercise we are using E instead of E7 but we still have a g sharp. The
etude will play once. It has many repeats and is quite long. You can stop it, pause it
or play it again with the player below. You may have to click on the player once to
activate it. I will teach you how to play the etude on this page
Arpeggios
When you hold all the notes of a chord and play them one by one in any pattern, instead of
strumming the chord, it's called an arpeggio. In this lesson I will give you the fingering for the
three main chords in A minor and an arpeggio exercise to practice them. Even though I've
shown the right hand use of the fingers for classical guitar, the exercise can be played with a
guitar pick, if you're not into classical but just want to study the chords. A good guitar player
could play it either way.
Guitar Chords For A Minor
The principle chords in any key are built on the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of it's scale. The scale
notes for a minor are a,b,c,d,e,f,g,a and so on, but the g is sharped for the harmonic form.
You start on the root note of the chord and go every other note. These notes are  the root, 3rd
and 5th of the chord. If we go one more note it is the 7th. The strongest bass notes for a
chord are the root and 5th. So for the tonic or I chord Am, we have a, c and e, with the
strongest bass notes being a and e. For the sub dominant or IV chord Dm, we have d, f and a,
with the strongest  bass notes being d and a. For the dominant or V chord E7, we have e, g
sharp, b and d, with the strongest bass notes being e and b. In this lesson we are using the
three note E chord in place of the four note E7. The first three notes are the same for both.
Below are the fret diagrams for the three chords with first choice fingering. I say first choice
because in some situations you will be using alternate fingering. Notice how Am and E are
exactly the same shape with the same fingering, just on different strings. Dm uses the same
fingering but you have to stretch up a fret with the 3rd finger. The 4th finger can be
substituted for the 3rd and sometimes this is necessary, as when you want to play the f bass
note (4th string, 3rd fret) with the 3rd finger. An O over a string means it is open, not
fingered. An X over a string means it is not played.
Chords For The A Minor Arpeggio etude
Below is the music for the "A minor Harmonic Arpeggio Etude". I haven't included tablature
because all you have to do is finger the chords. All you have to do is follow the chord symbols
above the music. The thumb alternates between the bass notes of the chords. They are strings
5 and 6 for Am and E and strings 4 and 5 for the Dm chord. The lowest note on the music is
the lowest bass note of the chord. For the right hand, the i or 1st finger plays the 3rd string,
the m or 2nd finger plays the 2nd string and the a or 3rd finger plays the 1st string. Below the
music for reference are the pictures of the left and right hands with fingers labeled. Because
these are chords and you would like the notes to continue to sound, everything is played with
free stroke. This exercise could also be played with a pick.
Left Hand
Right Hand
Next A Minor Melodic
This lesson covers the second form for a minor scale, the harmonic form. As it deals with
chords and harmony, I've chosen to make it strictly a chord study. We could have thrown in
some runs melody. The next lesson "
Classical Guitar Melody" will cover the melodic form of
the minor scale. We will have an exercise in A minor melodic for classical guitar with a
Spanish flavor. That will complete my little series on classical guitar for now as I next prepare
to put out a few lessons on folk guitar.
©2006 - 2009
Classical Guitar Arpeggios
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