Recently, I’ve been recieving emails asking how do I write my guitar chords/tablatures, or how do I find a chord by simply listening to a song. How does it easily “pop out of my head” ? Well.. not THAT easy actually, at least not for me. I’m not a professional musician, therefore I have only just a little knowledge and some experience in guitar tabbing. I always find and learn new things from browsing other people’s tab . So if you find something here or in my other articles and tabs that you think is not right, please kindly leave me a message.
There is no specific step-by-step way to find a chord because a written song itself is subjective. A chord is basically a combination of notes and if you play the right combination at the right time, it does sound right.. that’s pretty obvious. But how to find the right combination? In this post, I want to show you my way of searching a chord. But please understand that this might not be the smartest way, though I hope this will give you some hints that you might need.
Like I said before, a chord is basically a combination of two notes and more. For example, a basic major chord “C” is a combination of note C, note E and note G. If you play those 3 notes at the same time you got a C chord. Or if you combine note A, note D and note E, then it will be A chord. So to find what kind of chord it is, we have to do it in reverse. Find the proper notes first and then you will get the chords.
Some people I know start by finding the bass chord first. e.g if the bass is E, usually the chord is E. Bass A with a chord A etc. Try and play the same chord of bass and see if the chord is right. This might not work for a certain song. That’s why there is a chord C/G (read: C on G), a C chord but with a G bass not. or D/F#, a D chord with an F# bass. It will be easier if you know a lot of chords and are familiar with the chord progression.
I don’t know why but it’s not really hard to search chords for malay songs especially the “rock kapak” ones. They always go from C to Am to F and G and loop again. Sometimes they start on D to Bb to G to A and loop again. A “tangkap lentok” song might start with a minor chord so there’s Am and then Dm and E and loop again. If you play a lot of “rock kapak” songs then you’ll know what I mean. As a start, try to find chords from the band in the 90s such as Wings, Ukays, Slam etc to name a few. Then compare your version to other tablatures that is already written.
If you want to know more on how chords work, you might find this site useful;
URL : HarmonyCentral
There are some people however, who are sound blind. I remember once I tried to teach my friends how to play guitar, but after one month I gave up. Why? Because sound-wise, he didn’t have the ability to know the differences between two diffferent notes. For him, it sounded the same. Say if I play two different notes like a F and B for example, I’m pretty sure at least you’ll say something like, “I think this note sound a little lower than the other one”. But this guy, he said to me, “I just hear the same tone”… So if you hear something and you notice which note is lower or higher then you’ll be fine.
Like almost everything else, it takes times and effort to search for chords or write a tab. A common advice – Practice more and do a lot of trial-and-errors 🙂