three chords - 5MinuteGuitarLessons.com

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three chords - 5MinuteGuitarLessons.com
I, IV V - 10 (or 12) Easy Guitar Songs
You Can Fake With Three Chords
Contents
Getting Started ........................................................................................................................................... 3
I, IV, V Basics ............................................................................................................................................... 4
The Magic of Tension and Resolution ..................................................................................................... 4
Three Chords and the Truth .................................................................................................................... 5
Your Guide to the Three Chords You Need to Know ............................................................................... 6
The Root or “I” Chord ............................................................................................................................. 7
The Subdominant, or “IV” Chord ............................................................................................................ 8
The Dominant, or “V” Chord ................................................................................................................... 9
How to Find a Song’s Key – Identifying the Root or “I” Chord .............................................................. 10
How to Find the IV and V Chords .......................................................................................................... 10
10 Songs You Can Play with Two or Three Chords (I, IV and V) ................................................................. 11
Jambalaya on the Bayou - Hank Williams ............................................................................................. 11
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams ...................................................................................... 11
Wild Thing - The Troggs (BONUS SONG #1: This chord progression also covers Louie, Louie by the
Kingsmen! ) ........................................................................................................................................... 11
Family Tradition - Hank Williams Jr. ...................................................................................................... 12
Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet) ............................................................................................................... 12
La Bamba (Ritchie Valens) (BONUS SONG #2: You can also use this chord progression to play “Shake It
Up, Baby!” by the Beatles!) ................................................................................................................... 12
I Walk the Line (Johnny Cash) ............................................................................................................... 14
Hound Dog (Elvis Presley) ..................................................................................................................... 15
I Feel Good (James Brown) ................................................................................................................... 15
Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley)............................................................................................................ 16
I, IV and V Chords in Any Key .................................................................................................................... 17
Final notes: ............................................................................................................................................... 18
10 (or 11) Easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
Getting Started
As a new guitar player, it’s extremely easy to get overwhelmed with trying to develop perfect
technique. Sweating over the details of which strings to hit at the perfect time with an up or
down stroke of a pick to get the perfect sound is a worthy effort, to be sure. Getting the right
basic technique early on builds a strong foundation upon which you can develop more
advanced skills. But if a beginner starts out focusing only on technique, they can forget why
they likely picked up the guitar in the first place: to have a little fun! When the instrument
doesn’t bring you any joy, practice loses its appeal, and the guitar becomes an expensive
household decoration, collecting dust in the corner of the room.
I’m a big believer in developing some basic technique, but I also value having fun. The bottom
line for the majority of new players isn’t that they want to be the next Les Paul, Jimi Hendrix,
Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen. Most folks just want to start off by learning a few songs they
can sing along to. That’s exactly what this short report is here to provide.
Below is a short review of some basic music theory background information on the three most
commonly used chords in western music (relatively speaking): I, IV and V. I’ve also included a
set of 10 (or 11 or 12) songs you can play with only 2 or 3 chords, followed by and a handy
reference guide to find I, IV and V in any major key.
If you’re a brand new player who just learned how to hold the instrument, check out our “Fake
any Song in 3 lessons” series before you get started:
Fake Any Song Lesson One: Open D Tuning
Fake Any Song Lesson Two: How to Strum a Guitar
Fake Any Song Lesson 3: I, IV and V, Three Chords You Need to Know
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
I, IV, V Basics
The Magic of Tension and Resolution
• Music moves people by creating tonal tension and then
resolving that tension.
• Tension is created by crafting a melody and the tonal
accompaniment away from the root or “I” chord.
• Resolution of that tension typically occurs by bring the
melody around to the rot of the key, and the chords back
to the root or “I” chord in that key.
• There are a couple common patterns most frequently used
to resolve tonal tension. These are known as “cadences.”
• Common cadences generally involve the harmony of a
song switching from a slightly more dissonant chord to the
root, or I chord in the key of the song.
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
Three Chords and the Truth
• It’s been said that to write a hit song and become a
musical super-star, all you need to know is “three chords
and the truth.”
• The three chords give a song a familiar framework, or a
tonal context for a catchy melody to ride.
• The truth gives a great song its power to personally
connect with people through lyrics.
• The truth is a little more than this lesson can get into in a
few minutes, but we do have time to talk about tonal
context.
• So what are the three chords?
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
Your Guide to the Three Chords You Need to Know
• The three most common chords in western music are built
on the Root, fourth and fifth notes of the major scale.
• The numbers of their relative names are I, IV and V
• Each chord is made up of a triad, or group of 3 notes.
• The first note in each chords begins on:
• The Root, or I Note
• The Subdominant, or IV note and
• The Dominant, or V note
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
The Root or “I” Chord
• The Root (or I) chord always begins on the first note in the
scale of the selected key.
• In the key of C, the C major chord is the I chord. The notes
are C, E and G
• All chords are made up of triads:
• 3 notes
• Each is an interval of a “third” apart
• The Root is C
• Starting with C, going up the scale, E is the 3rd note.
• Starting with from E up the scale, G is the third note.
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
The Subdominant, or “IV” Chord
• The Subdominant (or IV) chord always begins on the
fourth note in the scale of the selected key.
• In the key of C, the F major chord is the I chord. The notes
are F, A and C
• The Root of the chord is F
• Starting with F, going up the scale, A is the 3rd note.
• Starting with from A up the scale, C is the third note.
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
The Dominant, or “V” Chord
• The Dominant (or V) chord always begins on the fourth
note in the scale of the selected key.
• In the key of C, the G major chord is the I chord. The notes
are G, B and D
• The Root of the chord is G
• Starting with G, going up the scale, B is the 3rd note.
• Starting with from B up the scale, D is the third note.
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
How to Find a Song’s Key – Identifying the Root or “I” Chord
• Many times, the key of a song (and the root chord in that
key) is usually based on the final note in the melody.
• Listen to the end of a song several times and play different
notes on your guitar at the end of the melody.
• When you hear that the notes match, this is probably the
key.
How to Find the IV and V Chords
• Once you’ve established the root note.
• The IV note is 5 frets (or half-steps) above the root note.
• The V note is 7 frets (or half-steps) above the root note.
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
10 Songs You Can Play with Two or Three Chords (I, IV and V)
Jambalaya on the Bayou - Hank Williams
Hank Williams brings us Jambalaya, a simple song about a guy who’s looking forward to a night
on the town with good food, good friends and the love of his life. It’s a simple ABAB form song,
with two sections that play back to back multiple times. It couldn’t get much simpler, since
each section has the same two chord progression between I and V. Play this one in the key of C
to strum along with the recordings of Hank himself.
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I, IV, V: C, F and G
Form: ABAB (8-bars in each section)
Chord progression (A and B Sections have the same chords): I, I , V, V, V, V, I, I (repeat)
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams
Hank slows it down a bit in this ode to sorrow. While he adds the subdominant chord into the
mix, he even simplifies the form to a triple-A form, repeating the same section of music a few
times with different lyrics. He did this one in the key of E.



I, IV, V: E, A and B
Form: AAA
Chord Progression: I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, I, V, I, I
Wild Thing - The Troggs
(BONUS SONG #1: This chord progression also covers Louie, Louie by the
Kingsmen! )
You get two for one with this deal! Wild Thing and Louie, Louie both use the same progression.
Straight up, I, IV, V, IV, resolving back to I.



I, IV, V: I like to play both of these in A or D, depending on how high I want to scream
the notes.
o Key of A: A, D, E
o Key of D: D, G, A
Form: AAA
Chords: I, IV, V, IV (repeat)
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
Family Tradition - Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Jr. made his own mark on country music with an impressive array of hits. Answering the
questions of why he parties like a rock star, Family tradition has Hank telling it like it is – it’s
part of who he is…it’s a family tradition. I like to play this song in the Key of D.



I, IV, V: D, G, A
Form: ABAB
Chords (both a and b sections are the same):
o I, I, IV, IV, V, V, IV, I,
I, I, IV, IV, V, V, IV, I
Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet)
This has got to be one of my favorite bar songs to play for a crowd of people who drink enough
to make us all sound good! The beauty of playing an extremely popular song in a crowd of
happy people is that they all sing along – usually loudly enough to cover up any technical
problems you may be feeling a little insecure about. Use it as an opener in that summertime
back yard barbecue to set the tone for the night, then play it several times after the party has
been raging for a while. This one is in the key of D, and has a very straight feel.



I, IV, V: D, G, A
Form: ABAB (Verse-Chorus)
Chords:
o A Section: I, I, I, I, I, I, V, V, V, V, V, V, V, V, I, I
o B Section: IV, V, I, I, IV, V, I, I, IV, V, I, IV, IV, V, I, I
La Bamba (Ritchie Valens)
(BONUS SONG #2: You can also use this chord progression to play “Shake It
Up, Baby!” by the Beatles!)
One of the most-cited examples of the I, IV, V pattern (since that’s all this one does, in that
exact order, over and over) La Bamba is also one of the most lyrically butchered songs ever
sung by gringos in college bars. The good news in most of those scenarios is that most of the
audience tends to be as clueless as the butchering vocalist – and that the chords are supersimple to follow. Keep up the I, IV, V progression until you reach the end.
You can play this one in the Key of C to play it like Ritchie himself, or (another Bonus!) slow
down the same pattern just a hair to play “Shake it Up, Baby!” by the Beatles.



I, IV, V: C, F, G
Form:AAA
Chords: I, IV, V, V (repeat)
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
I Walk the Line (Johnny Cash)
I believe Johnny Cash wrote this during the early years of his marriage with June Carter. He
tells the story of a man who’s being faithful to his wife, even though the temptations of the
road beckon him to a life of cheatin’.
This is a great song to teach you why it’s important to learn the I, IV, V chords in any key, and
train your ear to hear those progressions. Listen to Johnny’s recordings of this song a few
times, and you’ll notice that while he plays the same progression over and over for each verse,
he changes keys in every verse.
Johnny Starts in the Key of F# for verse 1. Verse two modulates up a perfect fourth to B. Verse
3 modulates up another fourth to E. He brings verse 4 and 5 back down by perfect fourths,
playing the fourth verse in B, and the final verse in F#.
Hint: To pick this one out by ear, you can always find the root note for the next verse by
listening to the note Johnny hums for a couple bars before starting it.
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


I, IV, V:
o Verse I: F#, B, E
o Verse 2: B, E, F#
o Verse 3: E, A, B
o Verse 4: B, E, F#
o Verse 5: F#, B, E
I Like to cheat a little, and use a capo, placed on the 2nd fret when I’m playing in
standard (EADGBE) tuning. That makes for some friendlier chords for your fingers. The
chords you finger then look like:
o Verse I: E, A, B
o Verse 2: A, D, E
o Verse 3: D, G, A
o Verse 4: A, D, E
o Verse 5: E, A, B
Form: AAAA
Chords: V, V, I, I, V, V, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, V, V, I, I
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
Hound Dog (Elvis Presley)
The King of Rock and Roll had many awesome hits. Hound Dog is straight-up rock and roll at its
simple best. A song in the triple-A form, the verses repeat over and over, even keeping the
same chord progression during an instrumental interlude or two. Pay attention to the way the
chords run together for this one. The progression is the basis of a common progression called
12-bar blues. Learn to play the same progression in other keys and you’ll have a great start on
tons of cool blues songs too. (We’ll add more tonal intensity by adding 7 th chords in a later
lesson). Play Hound Dog in the key of C and picture yourself playing to a packed sock hop full of
pumped-up teenagers.



I, IV, V: C, F, G
Form: AAA
Chords: I, I, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, V, IV, I, I
I Feel Good (James Brown)
Remember the chord progression from Hound Dog? Here’s the exact same 12-bar blues
progression, applied with a little more soul – just up a couple keys, generally played in E.
I’m taking a little liberty here by listing plain-jane I, IV and V chords. James Brown, the GodFather of Soul, uses a lot of 7th chords, and a really cool version of the root chord I like to call
“the Hendrix Chord.” I, IV and V chords without the 7ths added won’t sound perfect, but this is
close enough to have fun banging out the chords and singing.
I’ll be covering this song in a future lesson to show you my personal favorite arrangement on
solo acoustic guitar. This one is a lot of fun to surprise people with when playing a backyard
barbecue or at a country bar.



I, IV, V: E, A, B
Form: AABA
Chords:
o A Section (verse):
I, I, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, V, IV, I, I
o B Section (Bridge):
IV, IV, I, I, IV, IV, V, V
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley)
Another somewhat bluesy-feeling song from the King – ahh, thank you very much! Pass the
Jelly Donuts, I’m so lonely I could die. Play this one in the key of E, with nothing but
downstrokes, adding a little swing feel to the way you strum this. Instead of an exact division of
each beat into two parts, the second half of each beat is delayed a bit. (More on this in a future
lesson).



I, IV, V: E, A, B
Form: AAA
Chords: I, I, I, I, IV, IV, V, I
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
I, IV and V Chords in Any Key
I (Root) Chord IV (Subdominant)
V (Dominant)
C
F
G
C#/D¼
F#/G¼
G#/A¼
D
G
A
D#/E¼
G#/A¼
A#/B¼
E
A
B
F
B¼
C
F#/G¼
B/C¼
C#/D¼
G
C
D
G#/A¼
C#/D¼
D#/E¼
A
D
E
A#/B¼
D#/E¼
E#/F
B
E
F#
5MinuteGuitarLessons.com Special Report:
I, IV, V - 10 easy Guitar Songs You Can Fake With Three Chords
Final notes:
I hope you’ve found some value in this short report. My goal with the original “How to Fake”
series was to give the beginning guitar player a quick foundation in the bare-bones basics that
will help him or her learn enough to have fun now, and acquire some basic skills to build on as
technique improves. Remember, there’s no improvement without practice, and most normal
people won’t practice unless they’re having at least a little fun, or at least recognizing some
rewards from their efforts.
Let me know how you liked the How to Fake lesson. Please leave me a comment on any of the
lesson posts to let me know how you like the material.
Fake Any Song Lesson One: Open D Tuning
Fake Any Song Lesson Two: How to Strum a Guitar
Fake Any Song Lesson 3: I, IV and V, Three Chords You Need to Know
I’m all ears to any comments, positive or negative, and want to make this a great resource for
folks to learn to have fun playing guitar. The best way to contact me is through twitter @5mgl.
Shoot me a DM or other tweet to let me know how I’m doing, and what you’d like to learn next.
Thanks and happy pickin’!
Craig Canon
Twitter Handle: @5mgl
Web Site: http://5minuteguitarlessons.com
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/CraigGuitarGuy