Magic chords are those that have the strange ability to fit in almost anywhere, with any bass note and in any musical context. Yes, they sometimes sound “outside” the given key, but they’re not so unusual sounding that they sound like mistakes.
In this video from 2013 - granted, we’re taking a bit of a trip in the time machine for this one - David Wallimann shares a couple of these movable magic chords and shows how you can use them. David was on his way to the 2013 Winter NAMM show at the time he made this video, so if you want to skip over the talking, go right to the two-minute mark, where the lesson begins in earnest.
As David says, you don’t need to know theory for this lesson. “And if you do know theory and you start to get into the theory of this exercise, you’re going to miss the point,” he says.
“The point is to be musical with something that is new and fresh and not overwhelming for the brain: two chord shapes. And out of these two chord shapes you’re going to create something fusion-y. And if you’re not used to playing fusion, that’s even better because it’s going to force you to think in a different genre.”
David adds, “The goal of this exercise is not to think about the key but to create something interesting rhythmically and get you thinking outside of what you might be thinking. And this is going force you to get back to the music instead of overthinking things.”
Take a look, and as always, check out David’s YouTube channel (opens in new tab) for more.
Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar World, Guitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.
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