A recent letter, shown below, to the popular Guitar Techniques magazine was published in the March 2010 issue, along with an impressively long and detailed reply.
Song Analysis on Guitar
After reading your excellent guitar magazines for the last few years, I am particularly impressed with diversity and clarity of the articles. So I wondered if it would be possible to have a dedicated, practical article on how to approach song analysis with the guitar, with a focus on chord and harmony identification?
A very subjective topic I know - a multitude of possible approaches, variations and techniques, each individual having their personal favourites.
However, an article covering a variety of tried and tested approaches, techniques, hints and tips from your contributors, would make very interesting reading, the valuable insights enabling myself and fellow readers gain a richer understanding of the music we hear.
As a fairly inexperienced guitar player my basic approach is to use partial triad chord shapes, usually on the higher E B G or B G A strings. By sliding these triads up and down the fret board - with subtle finger adjustments for the major, minor, diminished and augmented chords - I can try to match the song's chords and harmonies.
While practising this approach I also noticed how much difference humming the melody, or the bass part, makes to chord recognition and subsequent fingering. This combined activity has certainly helped improve both my listening skills and identification of the more subtle chords and harmonic sequences. But of course there will be so much more to learn from your contributors.