DulciTheory Newsletter -- Issue #8: Fingerboard Surveys and Chord Formulas for the Key of G

INTRO

Last issue concentrated on building the scale-tone triads for G and A on staff paper -- stacking up the triads in thirds and labelling them with their pop symbols (G, Am, Bm, C, etc.)

This issue we'll get to the important task of laying out all these chords on the D-A-D tuned dulcimer fingerboard. I'll emphasize that once more to make sure you understand that we are NOT tuning into these keys, but we are MAPPING THE CHORDS IN THE KEYS OF G AND A ONTO THE FINGERBOARD OF A D-A-D DULCIMER.

CONTENTS:

1.) G (I) CHORDS

2.) CHORD FORMULAS

3.) LOCATING INDIVIDUAL CHORDS

G (I) CHORDS

Here are the three notes comprising a G Major triad mapped out at all their possible locations on the fingerboard, up to the 10th fret. Remember that we have NOT re-tuned our dulcimer to fit the key -- instead we are going to learn to play in G WHILE TUNED D-A-D. (notice that there is an "x" where A should be just to the left of the nut. This is like a place-holder to fill in that space, but it also indicates that this note is not one of the ingredients in our G Major chord):

D|-----------|---------|---G|-------|-----B|---|---|--D|-----|----|-G|
x|----------B|---------|---D|-------|------|--G|---|---|----B|----|-D|
D|-----------|---------|---G|-------|-----B|---|---|--D|-----|----|-G|

Now, you might ask what this chart will do for you. This is a VERY good question, actually, and if you can understand the reasoning behind it, you will be able to easily construct your own reference charts for whatever chords you are interested in.

CHORD FORMULAS

Chord Formulas are a good place to start. They give you the basic ingredients, or pitches, in a chord. All of our 3-note "triads" have three ingredients, and for G the ingredients are G, B, and D.

So the chart above simply maps EACH AND EVERY OCCURRENCE OF G, B, AND D across the entire fingerboard up to the 10th fret. Now, this information might not seem have IMMEDIATE PRACTICAL VALUE for you as a dulcimer player trying to play in G while you're tuned D-A-D. However, over the long term, you will find out that knowing your chord tones will help a great deal.

LOCATING INDIVIDUAL CHORDS

Getting to the practical, then, we need to locate individual chord positions from the complete G survey chart. Probably the most important chords, at least to start, would be those containing all three pitches in the G Major Chord Formula: G, B, and D. Let us start from low to high.

Here are two complete G Major Chords in TAB:

  G    G/D

--3----0-- 
--1----1--
--0----3--

Now....refer back to the survey chart. Do you see how each of these lower-fret chords contains the three essential ingredients?

[did you notice how I labelled the chords above with their standard pop symbols? You don't see it too much in folk music, but I labelled the second chord in "slash notation," which can be read as: "G with a D bass."]