I'm not sure how, or why, or even what, but I feel like I crossed some sort of threshold during and after today's lesson. My teacher has been focusing on both scales and chord forms -- forms that only contain four notes, keeping the 5th and 1st strings muted. We started with the 7th, moved to the maj7 and today to the m7. I asked him why we hadn't started on the simple major chords, and he responded by discussing triads. The chords we've been using are "complete" -- four fingers, four notes. Knowing how to shape these chords in any key is how the fingerboard is "unlocked." I'm probably saying this poorly.

Here are four forms of Cm7:


n I IV V X - fret

e: x x x x
B: 1 4 6 11
G: 3 5 6 12
D: 1 5 6 10
A: x x x x
E: 3 6 6 11


Now, if I can memorize the root, 3rd and fifth of any form, I can pretty well create any chord by modifying one of the notes. We've been working with the seventh, so going from dominant seventh to major seventh is just a half step (one fret) move up. To go from the major seventh to a minor seventh, just move the seventh down a half step.

I know you guys know all this. Part of me writing it is to make sure it makes sense to me. Even though I've known this empirically for decades, having it put into a formal structure helps bring this all together for me.

The same is true of scales. He's got me practicing four over six, two over five, four over five, and two over six. Now, I've got to play scales in the cycle of fourths, putting what I've learned together (I'm not even going to talk about alternate picking, elbow vs. wrist picking, and all of the stuff he's been teaching me.

I know it's possible to be a great guitar player without knowing all this. But I've never been a great guitar player, and this is why I kept finding myself in ruts. I'd hit a wall and not know where to go next. I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel!