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The Case Against Chords: A Coldplay Guitar Lesson With Tabs

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Guitar chords don’t actually tell you how to play the music you hear. They’re actually just a shortcut to the song’s harmony that kinda, sorta helps you sound like the song.

G, C, and D will help you play a lot of music for the guitar, but not everything, like a lot of guitar methods promise.

In the case of Coldplay for instance, they don’t tell you how to play the riffs as they’re heard on the song because they’re written for piano. So most guitarists will strum chords because this helps avoid the task of arranging a riff for the guitar that was played for another instrument.

In other words, you haven’t been playing some songs correct because the concept of chords is flawed.

Let me show you why……

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Most guitarists cannot play a guitar chord more than 2 or maybe 3 ways because of chord shapes.

Chord shapes lock you into the limiting belief that there is only one fingering, or one position, to play the chord the song calls for.

Why do guitarists do this?

We do this because the guitar has for most of its existence been a source of accompaniment. That means that the instrument has been used mostly to maintain the rhythm and harmony. Every instrument does this, and there have been several times in the past when the guitar was not played like this.

But it’s mostly been used to strum chords.

By limiting ourselves to 2 or 3 chord shapes, or only playing all 6 strings when playing a chord, we’ve ignored the instrument’s potential to do a whole lot more.

The guitar has the ability to play endless combinations of chord tones, and believe it or not, most of them have not been discovered just yet.

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These next four tabs will show you exactly what I’ve been talking about with chords. I created them for a guitar lesson article, but I thought they would be put to better use in this context.

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These tabs are gonna be the bomb, and the newsletter will be packed within even more tips on how to play this stuff.






Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall

Dsus2  Dsus2b5                  Asus2
--5--5---4--4--½--5--5---4--4--½--7--7---5--0--½-7--7---5--
--5--5---5--5--½--5--5---5--5--½--5--5---5--2--½-5--5---5--
--7--7---7--7--½--7--7---7--7--½--6--6---6--2--½-6--6---6--
--0--0---0--0--½--0--0---0--0--½--7--7---7--2--½-7--7---7--
---------------½---------------½--0--0---0--0--½-0--0---0--
---------------½---------------½---------------½-----------

Many tabs I saw on Ultimate Guitar basically say to play the chords D major and A major, but no tab I saw accounted for the actual two notes that account for the entire riff.

Why? Because they play D and A the same exact way everybody does: at the open position.

Even though the riff I made is tough to play, give it a shot if you’re not convinced.

The Scientist

Dm7                Bb                 F                  Fsus2
-5---5----5---5---½-6---6----6---6-8-½-5---5----5---5---½------------------½
-6---6----6---6---½-6---6----6---6---½-6---6----6---6---½-8---8----8---8---½
-5---5----5---5---½-7---7----7---7---½-5---5----5---5---½-10--10---10--10--½
-7---7----7---7---½------------------½------------------½-10--10---10--10--½
-5-5-5-5--5-5-5-5-½------------------½-8-8-8-8--8-8-8-8-½-8-8-8-8--8-8-8-8-½
------------------½-6-6-6-6--6-6-6---½------------------½------------------½

This one falls under the same exact trap, but in all fairness this riff is played another instrument. It takes a lot of imagination and experience to accurately recreate music parts natural to one instrument to another.

It’s a lot like translating from one language to another. Something is always going to get lost when you’re using these notes in another place.

The main reason this breaks conventions is that this riff stays in one spot unlike many other chord progressions.

Jumping around the fretboard can trick you into thinking you’re doing a lot musically, but restraint and economy are better musical principles to live by.

Clocks

 Eb                        Bbm
-11-------11-------11----½-9-------9-------9----½-9-------9
----11-------11-------12-½---11------11------11-½---11-----
-------12-------12-------½------10------10------½------10--
-------------------------½----------------------½----------
-------------------------½----------------------½----------
-------------------------½----------------------½----------
 Fm
---------9----½-8------8------8---½
--11-------11-½---9------9------9-½
-----10-------½-----10-----10-----½
--------------½-------------------½
--------------½-------------------½
--------------½-------------------½

One more problem with guitar chords is that we reluctantly break them apart, and when we do it’s in those same ole places.

This is a riff I really enjoyed recreating because it brings out the natural beauty the guitar is capable of creating. However, another problem comes up when you move music parts to naturally unexplored areas of the fretboard.

The inability to find a recognizable shape or pattern makes us believe the riff is much harder to play. This is why I always tell people to memorize the fretboard!

Viva La Vida

--------------½------------½--------------½-----------
--2-2--2-2-4--½--4--4-4-4--½--1-1--1-1-1--½-1--1-1-1--
--1-1--1-1-3--½--3--3-3-3--½--1-1--1-1-1--½-1--1-1-1--
--3-3--3-3-5--½--5--5-5-5--½--1-1--1-1-3--½-3--3-3-3--
--4-4--4-4-6--½--6--6-6-6--½--3-3--3-3-3--½-3--3-3-3--
--------------½------------½--4-4--4-4-1--½-1--1-1-1--

This last Coldplay riff is one that makes use of commonly ignored chord shapes. This is another reason why imagination is so important because many will not create music like this because they can’t make it fit into the chords they already know.

If you’re a little excited with the new possibilities for the instrument, then check out what I have on my email newsletter!






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