Add some COLOUR to your chords
As worship team guitarists, it can get easy to get stuck in a rut with the chords you play. Worship music doesn’t always use a wide variety of chord progressions, so this is not a surprising problem. Sometimes we need to make sure we are fitting in with what the rest of the band is doing, but by finding creative ways to voice your chords, maybe you can set up a riff or a lead lick that other musical ideas can be based around.
The chords we look at below use extensions of the regular 1, 3, 5 triads that we use in simple chords. Adding the 9th and 11th notes to your chord can add a nice colour to what you are playing. Always be sure that when you add these notes, it is at appropriate points in a song. The backing and chording should never distract or take away focus from the melody. The melody and lyrics are the most important element in a worship song as this is what people use to worship God. The beauty we can create in chords and accompaniment should add to the worship experience, not take away from it.
Most of those common chords are the 1 (I), 4 (iV), 5(V), and Minor 6 (vi) chords of the key you are playing in. Here are some examples of how to play chord extensions in the key of E.
In this example, we have two variations of an A major chord with the added 9th. The second chord has much more of a major sound to it with the inclusion of C#.
This one is a stretch, literally. Maybe not for the beginner, but it is good to know. Here is a variation of the E major and minor chord adding the 9th note. This shape can be moved around the fret board so that in the key of E, you can use it for your C# minor, E (start at the 7th fret) and B major chords (start at the 2nd fret). Match it with the A major chords above and you can use this shape all the way up at the 12th fret to get the four main chords you can use in a song in the key of E.
These two chords can be used when songs use G and C regularly to add that colour and interest to what can otherwise be considered more bland chords. Don’t be intimidated by the name of the chords. They sound harder than they are.
Try these out and see where they fit in songs you are playing or writing.