Natural Tension Tones for KILLER MELODY

Do you want to improve your melody lines and make them better so they have more connection to the underlying chords? In this lesson I’ll explain the use and the theory behind Natural Tension Tones. A simple concept that you can use right away to enhance chords within a  progression. 

You can use Natural Tension Tones as a way to compose, to improvise or as an approach to create more interesting lead guitar parts... 

If you’re unsure of what “Natural Tension Tones” are, they take into regard the; 9th, 11th and 13th tones that exist as compound intervals in the second octave range of a scale. It might sound a little complicated, but after I explain it in this lesson, you’ll totally understand it.


Let’s get things started by clarifying these intervals and then we’ll move onto applying them. Once we’re done, you should have enough ideas from the lesson that you could go onward from here and place these Natural Tension tones into your own music.

Let’s begin by breaking down a full two octave scale and help you better understand exactly where the Natural Tension Tones are located. Here’s a two octave “F Major” scale…

As you can see, the Natural Tension Tones (9, 11, 13), are up in the scales second octave range and are located at the; 9th, 11th and 13th degrees. In the key of “F Major” they work out to be, the tones of; “G, Bb and D,” (up into that scales second octave).

One really interesting way to apply Natural Tension tones is through the use of added extensions onto arpeggios that exist related to the root of the chord. And, the best part is that these extensions produce sound that always functions within the key.

Let’s study how all this works by taking an, “F Major 7,” arpeggio and then we’ll add on those Natural Tension tones around the arpeggio tones.

First, here’s our basic, “F Major 7” arpeggio…

Ex. 1). F Major 7 arpeggio (basic chord tones of 1, 3, 5, 7)

Ex. 2). F Major 7 (with the 9th [G] added)

Ex. 3). F Major 7 (with the 11th [Bb] added)

Ex. 4). F Major 7 (with the 13th [D] added)

Now, that we’ve created arpeggios that apply the Natural Tension Tones, (and you understand that we can add on either a 9th, 11th or 13th to fulfill the idea of those Natural Tension Tones), the next step I’d like to work on with you will be using these ideas in a melodic line that targets specific notes on extended chords used within a progression.

This means that our focus on each extended chord will be the specific; 9th, 11th or 13th that reflects back to the Root of the chord applied within the progression. So, rather than talk about this, let’s run through an example…

Here’s our chord progression for this lesson… 
The progression below applies a 9th as an extended Major chord on measure two and an 11th extension to the minor chord found on the fourth measure. Learn the chords and develop the progression up to 120 b.p.m. using a metronome or drum machine.

Next, we’re going to add our melody line onto those chord changes. The idea that I’m shooting for is to cover the unique sound of those 9th and 11th chords with Natural Tension tones that directly relate to each of the Roots of those chords.

This means that on the, “F maj.9” I’ll be targeting into the note of “G.” Because “G” is the 9th off of that “F major” chords Root. And, on that “E minor 11th,” (in the fourth measure), I’ll be targeting into an “A” tone. Because the “A” is the 11th away from that, “E Minor 11th” chords Root.

Here’s the melody line I composed for you to learn that applies each of these ideas…

I'd suggest that you spend some time after reading through this lesson, and go through the studying of chord tones, work on theory for your arpeggios and most importantly, compose some music that starts using the ideas that I’ve organized here for you.

What you’ll discover is a whole new dimension opens up for you when it comes to applying notes that really lock down on the true color of every chord being playing during a progression.

When you’re composing, or when you’re improvising, the sound of your note selections are pretty much absolutely everything. And, this approach I've explained here, really helps bring in a lot of solid melodic effects of the scale that will all closely tie into each chord being used in a song.

Thanks for joining me, If you'd like to Find Out What You Should Learn Next on Guitar - take a look at the courses over on my website at

My step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses will cover what you need to know, along with how to be able to move forward and become the best player that you can be. I've worked on these courses since 1992 and I feel that all together they're the best guitar program you'll find.

My courses will help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to the next level of guitar playing, in a very organized way, that makes sense. I look forward to helping you further at

Until next time - take care and we'll catch up again on the next lesson. Bye for now!



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The Hockey Stick Guitar Chord Method

Are you interested in a fun and easy method for learning chord movement and interval concepts related to harmony and the guitar neck? Then look no further. This episode of the Guitar Blog Insider runs through an easy to understand method for doing chord movement analysis inside of a key. And, with this method, you can quickly (and easily), compose popular chord progressions in Major, Minor or Blues...

If you’ve been following my guitar lessons on YouTube for a while there’s no doubt that you’ve probably come across my guitar lesson on the “Frying Pan Shape” (to help with using Minor pentatonic scale on the neck).

I also did a Major Pentatonic scale follow-up video (related to that Frying Pan shape), called the, “Tooth-Brush Shape.”

Now, I have another one of these fun shape based lessons, called the “Hockey-Stick” shape. This time I’ll be teaching a way to understand chord movement and interval application using nothing more than the "shape" of a Hockey Stick.


The Hockey Stick shape is another concept just like those other shape-based lessons. These concepts are fun to use and easy to recall because they're all based upon shapes - and so is the layout of the guitar fret-board.

Working with shape based ideas will help practicing guitar players gain a better understanding for the fingerboard in a fun and 'easy to remember' way.

In this lesson, I’m going to run down the latest in this 'shape based' approach... the hockey-stick concept. 

I'll discuss how it works, and I’ll help you gain a better understanding for how you can use it as a way to recognize intervals and understand chord movement. 

This information will be a huge benefit for not only your jamming but also for your songwriting too.

The first thing to understand is that this Hockey Stick shape is meant to help to us better understand intervals. So, the first layout I’m going to show you will apply the Hockey Stick “Shape” off of a; Root along with a key’s 4th and 5th scale degrees.

This means that if you’re (let’s say) on the 6th string “A” tone (at the 5th fret), the 4th scale degree is the “D” (at the 5th string’s 5th fret). The 5th scale degree is the “E” at the 5th string’s 7th fret and when you trace them out you get our first “Hockey Stick” shape.


“Layout #1” of the Hockey Stick break down will help you better understand one of the most common chord movements in existence. 

This chord movement is called the, “I-IV-V.” When we apply it across the strings using this “Hockey Stick” shape method we can create chord progressions that may function within pretty much any style, within any tonality, and for any key signature.

The process of using this method across tonality is very simple. In the examples below we will apply "Layout #1," to function within various tonalities...

MAJOR KEY: Creating Major I-IV-V Progressions
If you want a major key progression – start from the tip of the “Blade” of the hockey stick and (play a major chord). Then move vertically up to the bend (known as the “Heel” in the stick), onto the next guitar string and play another major chord. Then, travel horizontally along the shaft of the hockey stick to the handle, and play one final major chord. That’s all there is to it.

The best part is, you can do this anywhere and everywhere on the guitar fingerboard to play songs. Lets run through a few keys on the neck to demonstrate this.

MINOR KEY: How to Create Minor I-IV-V Progressions: 
The next idea that I have for you with this “Hockey Stick Shape Method” takes the principle of everything that we just did, (used in the exact same way), but this time we’ll change the quality of each chord type from Major, over to Minor.

What this does is quickly establish a Minor Chord Progression. It works so easily, because in Minor keys, the exact same areas of the Hockey Stick are all Minor. So, all we need to do is simply take that exact same principle of our “Hockey Stick” Shape, and apply it to Minor chords. Except now, play Minor Chords upon each degree to create a Minor key chord progression… Here are a few examples…

BLUES: How to Create Blues I-IV-V Progressions
The other tonality that can easily be applied to this “Hockey Stick Shape” application has to do with creating Blues based harmony.

We’ve already noticed how the Major chords and the Minor chords can be placed upon each step of the “I-IV-V” to create Major or Minor tonality progressions, but the Blues tonality can also be created by using Dominant 7th chords to establish Blues based harmony.

So, once more, let’s take that exact same principle of our “Hockey Stick” Shape, and apply Dominant 7th chords upon each degree to our layout #1, and create a chord progression in the Blues Harmony. Here are a few examples…

The “Hockey Stick” - Reversed I-IV-V:
If we simply spin the Hockey Stick around, we’ll be able perceive our “I-IV-V” chord progression from an upper string down to a lower string. This places the keys fourth and fifth chord degrees down off of our lower bass strings.

With the hockey stick getting flipped around, this also means that things get flipped around with our Root chord as well because it is now situated on the string above, with those IV and V chords now located below - from off of the lower guitar strings.

Layout #2). 

Study the key of "D Major"  "II-V-I" progression shown below. It applies the principle of the reverse layout that was presented in, "Layout #2."

“Hockey Stick” Application for Jazz and Soul:
Our final application of the “Hockey Stick” Guitar Harmony Method takes us away from the “I-IV-V” chord progression we’ve been studying, and introduces another popular harmonic movement known as the, “II-V-I.”

The "II-V-I" Progression:
This harmonic movement is probably most commonly seen in Jazz, but it does find its way into many other styles as well.

To use the “Hockey Stick” method for any “II-V-I” chord progression, think of the Hockey Stick shape on the guitar neck in the same way we had just applied it in "layout #2."

In "Layout #3," (the II-V-I process), our key’s, “Root” chord will be established from off of the Hockey Sticks “Handle.” And, the key signatures II-Chord will be performed at the Hockey Sticks “Heel.” With finally, our keys “V-chord” played from the Hockey Sticks Blade over on the adjacent guitar string. See the example given below...

Layout #3).

When performing the "II-V-I" progression, start on the lower string, by playing off of the Hockey Stick's heel (location of the II-chord). Then, play the next chord (the V-chord), up across vertically to the sticks blade. Then, play back onto the lower guitar string again - into the Hockey Stick's handle for the I-chord resolution. Below are example progressions in Major and Minor that move the "I-IV-V" progression through its cycle within a key.



Well, I'd like to end the discussion by saying, thanks for joining me... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section... if you enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more  on YouTube.

Thanks again and we'll catch up next week, for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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RHYTHM GUITAR 005: Dynamics - Stress & Accent of Time

May 18, 2018:
Dynamics - Stress and Accent of Time

 NEW  The fifth lesson of "Rhythm Guitar" studies the effects of adding dynamics around chord shots.

The lesson works on including more stress and accent to specific areas of the beat. This enhances the overall feel of the groove by emphasizing different areas of the beat.

A bonus to BASIC and PREMIUM web-site members are the MP3 play-along tracks that will help teach the specific feel of each accent demonstrated throughout the lesson. 

Paid Web-site members (BASIC and PREMIUM), can watch the associated video lessons and download the detailed PDF handout, along with the MP3 clap/strum play-along tracks...

Join the member's area to download the PDF handout and MP3's. Study all of the examples with full access to both video lessons. Be sure to spend some additional time on learning the "Rhythm Jam Challenge" piece that I performed at the start of the lesson in the "Part One" video...

Watch the Part One Video FREE on YouTube:

PART ONE:  In example one, a steady 8th-note groove applies a series of Power-chords from the key of "E Minor." The progression uses a number of rapid chord changes that shift quickly along the length of the neck.

The rhythm in example one is very steady, and uses all eighth-notes. Even though this steady feel occurs throughout, there are very specific pushes that happen upon beats one and three of each measure.

In example two, a folk strumming piece in "D Major," uses the feel of broken eighth-notes that applies both quarter notes and tied eighth notes. The groove is very consistent, duplicating measure by measure. Accents occur upon beats 1, 2 and 4.

The open chord voicings used in example two include open; "D, Em, C, G, and A." The progression is based in the key of "D Major," and applies these open position chords with a consistent folk strumming feel..

In example three, the feel shifts to the 16th-note groove. Accents are organized across the riff on varied beats in time. The down-beats of one and three are of particular importance. In measures one and two there's an additional accent upon the fourth beats second sixteenth note.

There are five unique upper 3-string triad chord types used in example three. They include; "Bm, A, Em, G and F#m." Learn each chord shape and its location on the neck. Develop good technique at switching through the shapes along the fingerboard.

Example four, the groove and timing of the progression shift into the Jazz-swing feel. The concept with this rhythmic groove is multifaceted.

In a shuffle rhythm, (similar to swing), the first note in a pair may be twice (or more) the duration of the second note. In a jazz-swing rhythm, the ratio of the first note's duration to the second note's duration can take on a range of duration. The example four groove, is based upon eighth-notes and extends the duration of the first eighth.

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Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtracks in the members area at:



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