3 Magic Chords Part 2
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PART 2 - A7, the D Chord's BFF

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3 Magic Cords, Part 2: A7, the D Chord's BFF

This is a follow up to "3 Magic Chords, Part 1," which invites you to get started on guitar by learning a basic, common, and useful chord.

This series, in turn, 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.

Click to visit CreekDontRise.com, a repository about Folk Music and traditional instruments. Click to return to the Folkarama home page. 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.

A7 guitar chord in its simplest form.  Click for bigger picture.A7 in its Simplest Form

Once you've mastered the D chord (in Part 1), it's time to move on to other chord you're most likely to use in the key of D. In fact, A7 is so common in the key of D that it is called the "Dominant Seventh" chord in that key. More about that later.

A7 is a variation of the A chord, which we will also say more about elsewhere. When you're playing in the key of D, it's usually the second most used chord. It's also the easiest chord to go back and forth to from the D Chord.

Best of all, there are lots of songs you can play with just those two chords.

To change from D to A7, all you have to do is:

  • Pick up your ring finger.
  • Move your first and second finger over one string, keeping the gap between them.

To change back, you just do the reverse:

  • Move your first and second finger over one string, keeping the gap between them.
  • Put your third finger down on the second string, just behind the third fret.

Buffalo Gals in the key of D.  Click to see a bigger picture.Songs You Can Play With Just D and A7 - One of easiest songs to play with two chords is "Buffalo Gals." We're giving you an MP3 file and sheet music to help you get a sense of where the chords change.

  • To hear an instrumental version, click here.
  • To download a lead sheet (showing the melody and chords), click here.

Other songs you can play with just D and A7 include "Go Tell Aunt Rhody," "Down in the Valley," "My Darlin' Clementine," "Down at the Station," "Tom Dooley," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." We have a downloadable lyric sheet with the words and chords for several of these songs here.

Songs that can be sung with only 2 chords include "Darlin' Corey," "Rovin' Gamber," "Bring Me a Little Water, Silvie," and "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" (or "Revive Us Again.").

That said, once you learn the G chord, there are ways to make most of those sound a little more interesting.

Practicing - If this seems like a short "lesson" compared to the previous one, keep in mind that learning to change chords quickly, even between D and A7, requires establishing "muscle memory," and that takes practice. So learn "Buffalo Gals," and practice playing any of the other songs you know from the above lists.

Taking breaks whenever you think you're in danger of forming a blister, practice until you can change chords without having to stop and think about it. Once you've got the D-A7-D changes "internalized," it will actually be easier to learn and incorporate other chords.

When you need to move on, go to PART 3 - G, the D Chord's Other Best Friend.


These suggestions are just a start, of course. But for all of its variations and even contradictions, Folk music is a discipline in itself, and a rewarding one of that. The more you play, sing, practice, and hang, the more you'll get out of it, the faster you'll learn in the future, and the better you'll be at whatever you already do have "under your belt."

Other Resources

There are plenty of guitar instruction materials, online, of course. But we are working on a few that will help you learn the most basic, but necessary, information quickly.

The current resources we have published are:

Sister Sites

Click to visit CreekDontRise.com, a repository about Folk Music and traditional instruments.Other sites we started to keep this site from getting too big to be useful include:

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    The "Acoustic" page includes a long list of articles including maintenance and playing tips on all sorts of traditional acoustic instruments.

  • Click to see buyers' guides that actually explain things.RiverboatMusic.com is a buyers' guide for acoustic and traditional instrument from a musician's point of view, focusing on the uses, reliability, and practicality of various instruments, and not just the marketing hype about the shape of the fret markers or whatever.

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  • Click to see Paul's blogs, memoirs, and more, including what he's up to musically these days.PaulRaceMusic.com is the "landing page" for Paul's own musical endeavors, plus many memoirs and blogs about music and the music business.

  • Click to visit a site about train songs that every train lover and Folk singer should know.  Or at least know about.ClassicTrainSongs.com describes railroad songs that every train lover should know. Or at least know about.

  • SchoolOfTheRock.com has articles about Christian music, Christian music careers and performance, Christian living in general, and vintage saxophones, another of Paul's interests. This site has separate newsletters, etc., by the way - there isn't a lot of overlap with the Momma Don't 'Low(tm) newsletters.

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