Unlock the Power of Slash Chords: A Guitar Player’s Secret Weapon – Rotem Sivan

Discover what slash chords are and why they’re essential for every guitarist. Learn how to use them to create beautiful sounds and add depth to your playing… Rotem Sivan reveals all!

Hey there, guitar enthusiasts! Rotem Sivan here, and today I’m excited to dive into a topic that’s close to my heart: slash chords. These little gems are not just beautiful-sounding on guitar, but they’re also crucial to understand if you want to take your playing to the next level. Let me share a quick story that illustrates just how important they can be.

Back in high school, I was part of a group auditioning for a famous Israeli singer. We drove to Tel Aviv, all charged up to read her music and show off our skills. My friend, a great guitarist, went first. But when he looked at the chart, he got confused by all the slash chords. He turned to me and asked, “Hey man, what’s going on? What key are we in?” I reassured him it was just A minor, and he ended up nailing the audition. This experience showed me how important it is to not only know these chords but to understand what they mean and how they work.

So, let’s break it down.

What Are Slash Chords on Guitar?

A slash chord is written as two letters separated by a slash, like C/G. The first letter represents the chord, and the second letter after the slash indicates the bass note. So, C/G means you’re playing a C chord with a G in the bass.

The Three Types of Slash Chords

  1. Triads and their inversions
  2. Seventh chords with different bass notes
  3. Upper structure triads

Triads and Inversions: The Building Blocks

Let’s start with the basics. Take a C major triad (C-E-G). We can create three slash chord voicings:

  1. C/C (root position) – but we usually just write this as C
  2. C/E (first inversion)
  3. C/G (second inversion)

By changing the bass note, we create motion and color within a single chord. It’s a simple concept, but it opens up a world of possibilities.

Rotem Sivan playing a guitar

Seventh Chords: Adding Depth and Complexity

When we move to seventh chords, things get even more interesting. For example:

  • Cmaj7/E
  • C7/Bb
  • C/B (which implies a Cmaj7 with the 7th in the bass)

These voicings can add richness and movement to your progressions. Try this: C – C/B♭ – F/A – Fm/A♭. Hear how the bass movement creates a smooth, descending line?

Upper Structure Triads: The Advanced Playground

Now, let’s venture into more advanced territory. Upper structure triads are when we play a triad over a bass note that’s not part of that triad. For instance:

  • F/G: This gives us a G11 sound
  • A/C: This creates a C13 voicing

These chords can add tension and color to your playing, especially in jazz and more complex harmonic contexts.

Why Use Slash Chords on Guitar?

  1. Create Motion: Slash chords allow you to create moving bass lines while keeping the upper structure of the chord consistent.
  2. Add Color: They provide unique voicings that can make your playing sound more sophisticated and interesting.
  3. Simplify Complex Harmonies: Sometimes, a complex chord can be more easily understood and played as a slash chord.
  4. Enhance Progressions: By using inversions and slash chords, you can make even simple progressions sound more engaging.

Practical Application: A Simple Progression

Let’s put this into practice with a simple progression:

C – F/A – Am/C – C/G – F/A – Am

Notice how the use of inversions and slash chords creates a smooth bass line and adds interest to an otherwise simple progression.

Advanced Concepts: Altered Sounds

For those ready to dive deeper, we can use slash chords to create altered dominant sounds. For example:

  • D♭/C: This gives us a C7(♭9 #11) sound
  • E/C: This creates a C7(#9 13) voicing

Experiment with different triads over dominant bass notes to discover new and exciting sounds.

The Journey Never Ends

Understanding and using slash chords is a journey that can significantly enhance your guitar playing. They’re not just fancy notations on a chart; they’re tools that can help you create beautiful, moving harmonies and add depth to your music.

Remember, the key to mastering slash chords is practice and experimentation. Start with simple inversions, then gradually move to more complex voicings. Listen to how they sound in different contexts and how they can enhance your playing.

If you’re serious about taking your guitar skills to the next level, I invite you to check out my 26-week guitar transformation course. We’ll dive deep into concepts like these and much more, helping you become the guitarist you’ve always wanted to be.

Keep exploring, keep practicing, and most importantly, keep enjoying the beautiful world of guitar!

Visit my website: rotemsivan.com.

Join me on Patreon: patreon.com/Rotem/Sivan

See you guys soon! Peace Out

FAQ Section

Q: Are slash chords only used in jazz?
A: While they’re common in jazz, slash chords are used in many genres, including pop, rock, and R&B.

Q: How do I practice slash chords effectively?
A: Start with triad inversions, then move to seventh chords. Practice them in common progressions and try creating your own voicings.

Q: Can slash chords help with songwriting?
A: Absolutely! Slash chords can add harmonic interest to your compositions and help create smoother voice leading.

Q: Are slash chords difficult to play?
A: They can be challenging at first, but with practice, they become second nature. Start simple and gradually increase complexity.

Q: How do slash chords relate to bass playing?
A: Slash chords often indicate specific bass notes to be played, which can create interesting interplay between guitar and bass parts.

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