Guitar Chords 201: Chord Melody and Inversions

Author: Rick Peckham | Course Code: OGUIT-320

Building on the foundation of Guitar Chords 101, this course is the next level in Berklee's world-famous approach to guitar study, one in which players focus on the individual notes that make up a chord, rather than on the chord's shape. Guitar Chords 201 provides essential technical training that will improve your style, intonation, technique, time feel, and tone.

The course starts where Guitar Chords 101 leaves off—with an in-depth exploration into the construction of open triads, seventh chord structures, and inversions of complex chord forms. You'll move on to learn popular fingerstyle patterns, alternate tuning options, major and minor bebop scales, and voice-leading through chord scales.

Your studies will take you through a variety of genres, and focus in on a number of legendary artists and guitarists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

look at a lead sheet and play chord voicings, with harmonized melodies using seventh chords, open triadic shapes, and inversions in several musical styleshave a greater knowledge of constructing open triads, seventh chord structures, and inversions of complex chord formslay and know some basic approaches to chordal playing using fingerstyle patterns, Travis picking, Brazilian Bossa Nova styles, and some alternate tuning optionsplay and use quartal modal voicings, as well as some advanced jazz chord substitutions

Lesson 1: Inversions of Seventh Chords, Triads, and Open Triads

Review of Seventh Chord ShapesSeventh Chord Summary: The Big SevenChord Spelling EtudeDrop-2Drop-3Seventh Chord Inversions: Major 7 and Dominant 7Chord Melody: Harmonizing Melodies with TriadsOpen Major and Minor Triads

Lesson 2: Chord Melody and More Open Triads

Chord Melody: Harmonizing All Scale NotesDiatonic Open TriadsInversions of Triads: Open Diminished ShapesInversions of Triads: Open Augmented Shapes

Lesson 3: More Inversions, Crossovers, Chord Melody, and More Open Triads

Inversions of Seventh Chords: Minor 7 and Minor 7b5Crossovers 1 C and F BluesWorking with Diatonic Inversions: Drop 2 Chords on Strings 5, 4, 3, and 2Chord Melody "House of the Rising Sun"Open Triads with I IV V I

Lesson 4: Fingerstyle Patterns and the C–A–G–E–D Approach

Basic Fingerstyle PatternsTravis Picking BasicsC–A–G–E–D Approach to Chordal PlayingChord Melody Tune: Avalon by Vincent Rose

Lesson 5: Harmonic Minor Voicings and Bossa Nova Fingerstyle Patterns

Harmonic Minor VoicingsFingerstyle Patterns: Basic Brazilian Rhythm PatternsCrossover/Transfer ExampleChord Melody

Lesson 6: Melodic Minor and Advanced Chord Substitutions

Melodic Minor Diatonic ChordsMelodic Minor Harmonies Used for Chord MelodyMajor 6/9 Voicings: Substituting Dominant 7sus 4 Chords for Major Chord SoundsRange Considerations for Chord VoicingsCrossover Tune: "Back Home Again in Indiana"

Lesson 7: Melodic Minor Harmonies and Modal Voicings

Use of Melodic Minor Derived HarmoniesModal Voicings: Quartal HarmoniesInversions of Maj7/Maj6/Min6/Dim7/Min7b5

Lesson 8: Open Tunings: Slash Chords Revisited and More

Slash Chords and Inversions of Slash ChordsCAGED Part 2: Use of CapoDrop D Tuning: "Dear Prudence"Open G Tuning: "Start Me Up"; Basic Chord ShapesChet Atkins/Jerry Reed StyleHarmonizing Melodies with Quartal and Slash Chord HarmoniesRhythmic Interpretation

Lesson 9: Major and Minor Bebop Diatonic Scales and Alternate Tunings

Scale Descriptions: Major/Minor BopHarmonizing Bop ScalesFingerstyle Patterns with Bop Scales

Lesson 10: Harmonic Major and Voice Leading through Chord Scales

Harmonic Major HarmoniesVoiceleading through the Major Scale (Goodrick-Style Interval Sets)

Lesson 11: Voicings from Symmetrical Scales

Chords from the Symmetrical Diminished ScaleChords from the Symmetrical Augmented ScaleVoiceleading through Melodic Minor with Interval Sets

Lesson 12: Putting It All Together: Summary

Voiceleading through Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, and Harmonic MajorRhythm Chord Basic ShapesChord Melody Final

Rick Peckham

Author & Instructor

Rick Peckham is an internationally known jazz guitarist, clinician, composer, and writer. He has performed with George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, Mike Gibbs, and Dave Liebman, and recorded the album Stray Dog ( as a member of the notorious jazz collective Um, led by trombonist Hal Crook and occasionally featuring organist John Medeski. His most recent recording Left End—a set of original compositions mixed with collective improvisations—was recently recorded with drummer Jim Black and bassist Tony Scherr. In addition to extensive work in the U.S., he has led or played on tours in Ireland, Canada, Spain, and Germany.

Currently Assistant Chair of the Berklee College of Music Guitar department, Peckham has been a faculty member since 1986, and was integral to the development of Berklee's ear training and musicianship curriculum. He organized the college's honorary doctoral tributes to Roy Haynes, Joe Zawinul, Jack DeJohnette, and John Scofield, featuring then-Berklee students Kurt Rosenwinkel, Matthew Garrison, Antonio Hart, Abe Laboriel Jr., Melvin Butler, and Seamus Blake. He is also a prolific and accomplished writer, recently releasing Modal Voicing Techniques, a best-selling DVD for Berklee Press.

For further information on Rick Peckham please visit his website at:

Completion of the Berklee Online course Guitar Chords 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience.

Berklee Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary by Rick Peckham

This chord dictionary includes over a hundred jazz chord forms, from basic 7th chords with all standard tension substitutions and alterations to guide tone chords to triads over bass notes. It is organized to reveal relationships between different types of chords and help you learn the voicings quickly and thoroughly, in a way that is easy to remember. You will improve your comping and soloing, develop your fingerboard facility, and add more colors to your harmonic palette.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionA basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing along with a background track and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity or GarageBand.
Windows Vista SP2 or higherIntel Pentium or higher1 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSound card
OS X 10.7 or higherIntel Mac2 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommended
A printer is recommended, so that you can print out music examples used in the course.For electric and acoustic/electric guitars, a basic amp chord with w/ a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter for recording directly into the computer.For acoustic guitars with no pickups, a microphone w/ a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter for recording directly into the computer.Speakers or headphones for your computer.A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface).


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Next Term Starts June 27

  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
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    $1,200 + $25

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