Playing two chords at the same time

Guitar Tricks Forum > Open Discussion > Playing two chords at the same time

faith83

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Joined: 04/23/20

Posts: 414

I'm not sure where this fits, category wise, so I'm putting it here.

I'm working on a song and weirdly enough, the song seems to want two chords at the same time in one measure, D and E (in the key of A). And #1 songwriting rule: what the song wants, the song gets.

I know I could do this on piano, but is there also a way to play a D chord and and E chord at the same time on guitar? I tried googling it and I got some info on polychords, but I'm not sure if that's the same thing and anyway, no chord charts for D and E at the same time.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

#1

I'm not sure where this fits, category wise, so I'm putting it here.

I'm working on a song and weirdly enough, the song seems to want two chords at the same time in one measure, D and E (in the key of A). And #1 songwriting rule: what the song wants, the song gets.

I know I could do this on piano, but is there also a way to play a D chord and and E chord at the same time on guitar? I tried googling it and I got some info on polychords, but I'm not sure if that's the same thing and anyway, no chord charts for D and E at the same time.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7446

Originally Posted by: faith83
I'm working on a song and weirdly enough, the song seems to want two chords at the same time in one measure, D and E (in the key of A).

Is this someone else's song & it's somehow written to indicate to play those 2 chords at the same?

Or is this a song you are in the process of composing? If so, how did you determine that you should play 2 chords simultaneously? The sound of two chords? The melody suggests one, but the harmony suggests the other?

Originally Posted by: faith83
I know I could do this on piano, but is there also a way to play a D chord and and E chord at the same time on guitar?

The nature of the guitar is going to severely limit your voicing options if you want all the notes of both chords included. But you are describing a polychord.

Here are a few options:

|--2------------7------7-----------|

|--3------------7------9-----------|

|--2------------7------7-----------|

|--2------------7------7-----------|

|--2------------11-----9-----------|

|--4------------0------0-----------|

Because you only have 6 strings & a limited number of fingers usually this kind of chord winds up being an extended harmony chord or a slash chord.

Examples:

E/D (slash chord - meaning an E major chord with a D bass note - could also be considered a 3rd inversion E7 chord)

|----4-------------------------|

|----5-------------------------|

|----4-------------------------|

|-------------------------------|

|----5-------------------------|

|-------------------------------|

D/E (D major with E in bass - also a kind of E11 chord)

|--2----2----------5-----------|

|--3----3----7----7-----------|

|--2----2----7----7-----------|

|--------2----7----------------|

|-------------7----7-----------|

|--0----------------------------|

I cover dom11 chords in this tutorial.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=16336&s_id=1195

Originally Posted by: faith83
I tried googling it and I got some info on polychords, but I'm not sure if that's the same thing and anyway, no chord charts for D and E at the same time.

Yes, polychords are exactly that: two chords at the same time. But depending on how you voice it, it can effectively be an extended harmony chord. Again, the logistics of the guitar make it difficult to voice two complete triad chords simultaneously.

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#2

Originally Posted by: faith83
I'm working on a song and weirdly enough, the song seems to want two chords at the same time in one measure, D and E (in the key of A).

Is this someone else's song & it's somehow written to indicate to play those 2 chords at the same?

Or is this a song you are in the process of composing? If so, how did you determine that you should play 2 chords simultaneously? The sound of two chords? The melody suggests one, but the harmony suggests the other?

Originally Posted by: faith83
I know I could do this on piano, but is there also a way to play a D chord and and E chord at the same time on guitar?

The nature of the guitar is going to severely limit your voicing options if you want all the notes of both chords included. But you are describing a polychord.

Here are a few options:

|--2------------7------7-----------|

|--3------------7------9-----------|

|--2------------7------7-----------|

|--2------------7------7-----------|

|--2------------11-----9-----------|

|--4------------0------0-----------|

Because you only have 6 strings & a limited number of fingers usually this kind of chord winds up being an extended harmony chord or a slash chord.

Examples:

E/D (slash chord - meaning an E major chord with a D bass note - could also be considered a 3rd inversion E7 chord)

|----4-------------------------|

|----5-------------------------|

|----4-------------------------|

|-------------------------------|

|----5-------------------------|

|-------------------------------|

D/E (D major with E in bass - also a kind of E11 chord)

|--2----2----------5-----------|

|--3----3----7----7-----------|

|--2----2----7----7-----------|

|--------2----7----------------|

|-------------7----7-----------|

|--0----------------------------|

I cover dom11 chords in this tutorial.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=16336&s_id=1195

Originally Posted by: faith83
I tried googling it and I got some info on polychords, but I'm not sure if that's the same thing and anyway, no chord charts for D and E at the same time.

Yes, polychords are exactly that: two chords at the same time. But depending on how you voice it, it can effectively be an extended harmony chord. Again, the logistics of the guitar make it difficult to voice two complete triad chords simultaneously.

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

faith83

Full Access

Joined: 04/23/20

Posts: 414

Thank you for the reply, Chris, and yes, that helps a lot!

It's a song I'm writing. It has an echo/overlap for about a measure between the end of the last line and the beginning of the first. Neither chord alone works, nor does any combo nor does any other chord in the key. It seems to want the chords to overlap as well as the melody.

Like a choir singing in the round, but only for a measure, and on different chords.

Put yet another way, when I play my fingers intuitively try to reach for both chords at the same time.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

#3

Thank you for the reply, Chris, and yes, that helps a lot!

It's a song I'm writing. It has an echo/overlap for about a measure between the end of the last line and the beginning of the first. Neither chord alone works, nor does any combo nor does any other chord in the key. It seems to want the chords to overlap as well as the melody.

Like a choir singing in the round, but only for a measure, and on different chords.

Put yet another way, when I play my fingers intuitively try to reach for both chords at the same time.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7446

Glad it helps!

Originally Posted by: faith83

It's a song I'm writing. It has an echo/overlap for about a measure between the end of the last line and the beginning of the first. Neither chord alone works, nor does any combo nor does any other chord in the key. It seems to want the chords to overlap as well as the melody.

If you can identify which notes of the chords the vocal melody (and, or harmony) implies, then you can find some practical combination of those notes that helps form a chord to play.

For example, if you are using the V chord as the foundation of a cadence (V>I), then you start with the idea of the note E as the bass, but add upper structure chord tones as desired from either chord. Higher notes can be from the melody or merely ornamental notes.

So, E (1st) & G# (M3), then adding for example a D & an F# from the D major chord gets you an E9 or Eadd9 both of which work great as a V chord.

|--2------7------2-----|

|--3------7------0-----|

|--1------7------1-----|

|--2------6------2-----|

|----------7------------|

|------------------------|

Quite often a dom11 chord works in those places though, like I mentioned in my previous post.

Or if you prefer the sound of the D in the bass as a plagal cadence (IV>I), then you start with that as a foundation & add notes from the E chord as upper structure ornamental notes.

So, D (1st) & F# (M3) & A(5), then adding for example an E or G# from the E major chord gets you a D add 9 or D6add#11 or Dadd#11.

|--4------4-------------|

|--3------5-----9------|

|--2------4-----9------|

|--0------4-----7------|

|----------5-----5------|

|------------------------|

Often using a 3rd inversion chord leads to a 1st inversion root chord: E/D (V4/2) moving to A/C# (I6).

|--4---5------------|

|--5---2------------|

|--4---2------------|

|-------2------------|

|--5---4------------|

|---------------------|

Point being, sometimes it helps a great deal to know what the next chord is to determine which voicing to use.

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#4

Glad it helps!

Originally Posted by: faith83

It's a song I'm writing. It has an echo/overlap for about a measure between the end of the last line and the beginning of the first. Neither chord alone works, nor does any combo nor does any other chord in the key. It seems to want the chords to overlap as well as the melody.

If you can identify which notes of the chords the vocal melody (and, or harmony) implies, then you can find some practical combination of those notes that helps form a chord to play.

For example, if you are using the V chord as the foundation of a cadence (V>I), then you start with the idea of the note E as the bass, but add upper structure chord tones as desired from either chord. Higher notes can be from the melody or merely ornamental notes.

So, E (1st) & G# (M3), then adding for example a D & an F# from the D major chord gets you an E9 or Eadd9 both of which work great as a V chord.

|--2------7------2-----|

|--3------7------0-----|

|--1------7------1-----|

|--2------6------2-----|

|----------7------------|

|------------------------|

Quite often a dom11 chord works in those places though, like I mentioned in my previous post.

Or if you prefer the sound of the D in the bass as a plagal cadence (IV>I), then you start with that as a foundation & add notes from the E chord as upper structure ornamental notes.

So, D (1st) & F# (M3) & A(5), then adding for example an E or G# from the E major chord gets you a D add 9 or D6add#11 or Dadd#11.

|--4------4-------------|

|--3------5-----9------|

|--2------4-----9------|

|--0------4-----7------|

|----------5-----5------|

|------------------------|

Often using a 3rd inversion chord leads to a 1st inversion root chord: E/D (V4/2) moving to A/C# (I6).

|--4---5------------|

|--5---2------------|

|--4---2------------|

|-------2------------|

|--5---4------------|

|---------------------|

Point being, sometimes it helps a great deal to know what the next chord is to determine which voicing to use.

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

faith83

Full Access

Joined: 04/23/20

Posts: 414

Thanks, Christopher! I'll play around with your suggestions and see which one fits.

Whatever it is, it resolves briefly to the tonic (A) in the next measure.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

#5

Thanks, Christopher! I'll play around with your suggestions and see which one fits.

Whatever it is, it resolves briefly to the tonic (A) in the next measure.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

snojones

Full Access

Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 533

How long is the space that you want to fill with this extended chord?

Have you tried major, minor, and dominant seventh chords in that space?

Have you tried augmented and diminished chords? They can be a way of dealing with odd harmonies.

Have you tried filling the measures leading to the tonic with ascenting or decending (diad) thirds for the transition?

Captcha is a total pain in the........

#6

How long is the space that you want to fill with this extended chord?

Have you tried major, minor, and dominant seventh chords in that space?

Have you tried augmented and diminished chords? They can be a way of dealing with odd harmonies.

Have you tried filling the measures leading to the tonic with ascenting or decending (diad) thirds for the transition?

Captcha is a total pain in the........

faith83

Full Access

Joined: 04/23/20

Posts: 414

Originally Posted by: snojones

How long is the space that you want to fill with this extended chord?

Have you tried major, minor, and dominant seventh chords in that space?

Have you tried augmented and diminished chords? They can be a way of dealing with odd harmonies.

Have you tried filling the measures leading to the tonic with ascenting or decending (diad) thirds for the transition?

Thanks! It's a half measure. I've tried major, minor, dominant seventh. No go. Same with augmented, though I haven't tried diminished (I always forget it's there!). As to the third idea, well, that's why I came seeking help -- that's beyond my guitar playing abilities just now!

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

#7

Originally Posted by: snojones

How long is the space that you want to fill with this extended chord?

Have you tried major, minor, and dominant seventh chords in that space?

Have you tried augmented and diminished chords? They can be a way of dealing with odd harmonies.

Have you tried filling the measures leading to the tonic with ascenting or decending (diad) thirds for the transition?

Thanks! It's a half measure. I've tried major, minor, dominant seventh. No go. Same with augmented, though I haven't tried diminished (I always forget it's there!). As to the third idea, well, that's why I came seeking help -- that's beyond my guitar playing abilities just now!

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

snojones

Full Access

Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 533

Since it is two diffrent parts of the song, could you use 2 diffrent sounding guitars? One accoustic and one electric, or one muddy and one clean? Maybe that is a way to play both chords at the same time.

Have you tried Major sevenths and minor sevenths?

What about having the guitar go silent for 2 beats? (You did say it was half a measure.)

Maybe you could go to the piano and try playing the chord you hear in your head. If you can do that then start trying to remove notes and see which notes are the ones you have to have to produce the sound you are hearing in your head. Maybe you can get it down to needing only 4 or 5 or 6 notes to make the elusive sound you seek. After all A and E chords share the E note already.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

#8

Since it is two diffrent parts of the song, could you use 2 diffrent sounding guitars? One accoustic and one electric, or one muddy and one clean? Maybe that is a way to play both chords at the same time.

Have you tried Major sevenths and minor sevenths?

What about having the guitar go silent for 2 beats? (You did say it was half a measure.)

Maybe you could go to the piano and try playing the chord you hear in your head. If you can do that then start trying to remove notes and see which notes are the ones you have to have to produce the sound you are hearing in your head. Maybe you can get it down to needing only 4 or 5 or 6 notes to make the elusive sound you seek. After all A and E chords share the E note already.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

hsnoeckx

Registered User

Joined: 12/03/19

Posts: 318

How about a Dsus2 ( same grip as open D but with open high E string ) sounds beautiful and resolves perfect to A

Herman

#9

How about a Dsus2 ( same grip as open D but with open high E string ) sounds beautiful and resolves perfect to A

Herman

faith83

Full Access

Joined: 04/23/20

Posts: 414

Thanks, everybody! I'm working my way through all the suggestions... we'll see what happens!

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

#10

Thanks, everybody! I'm working my way through all the suggestions... we'll see what happens!

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel