A Popular Key, Especially with Fiddlers!
A Major, the Fiddler's Friend
This is part of the "VERY Basic Guitar subset of our "How To Folk" articles. In an effort to "jump start" your enjoyment of Folk music and your ability to join in, no matter what instrument you play, we are providing some very basic notes about guitar chords.
Note: - This part of the Folkarama page, which is dedicated to helping beginners "get into" Folk music and join Folk communities as easily as possible, with simple articles and links to resources that provide hands-on instruction in traditional acoustic instruments.
Folkarama, in turn, contains many references to more extensive articles and resources in Paul Race's CreekDontRise.com site, as well as other related pages.
Previously on "Basic Guitar"Hopefully, you have already worked your way through these materials:
And you may or may not have worked through these:
A Major and its FriendsBy now, you should be pretty familiar with A7, the D chord's most valuable sidekick. To make an A major chord, you have to add an extra finger to the chord.
I call A the "Fiddler's Friend" because many classic fiddle tunes are traditionally played in the key of A.
Even if you don't play fiddle, A major is helpful if a song in G is too low to sing, but singing it it D or C (which we'll get to soon) puts it too high.
To sing "three-chorders" in A, you also need E7 (shown at the right below the A major chord). It's pretty easy to switch to. It's also a popular chord in certain Blues songs, so you'll probably need to learn it eventually anyway.
Depending on your vocal range, nearly any "three-chorder" you can play in G can be played in A.
For practice, you can go to the Three-Chord Songs in G page Then, instead of using G, D7, and C (or C9), you use A, E7, and D.
I'm also told that the following songs work very well in A and may originally have been played in those keys.
One Minor Addition (Sort Of) - Since we've already shown you some "relative minors," such as Em being the relative minor of G, I felt like we should show you the relative minor of A - F#m.
To go from A major to this chord, you just need to move fingers over one string and whatever you do avoid playing the three unfretted strings.
If you want to practice this, play A and sing "Almost Heaven." Then play this cheater F#m chord and sing "West Virginia." You'll get the idea.
Yes, you will see lots of folks who are used to playing in G put a capo on the second fret to play in A using the G chord and its "friends." But the key of A offers flexibility in certain songs that the "capoed G" does not. And some folks just plain prefer playing in A. If nothing else, you should learn to recognize the A chord so you don't get "lost" when you're jamming with other folks.
Also the A chord is very important when you're playing in E, an important Folk and Blues key which we will present shortly in the next article.
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