Spooky 1 Backing

Animated Spooky 1 Backing tab by ActionTab on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

Here we destabilize an A minor chord to get a haunting feel. A great fingerpicking exercise, using simple chord changes (kind to the fretboard hand), and a T12321 fingerpicking pattern. Listen to the Normal Speed Audio to hear the next guitar layer combined (covered in the next ActionTab). This ActionTab is from the Jamzone.

The standard A minor chord is built on a triad of A C E notes combined together (A B C D E F G A). That is the 1st, 3rd and 5th note of the A minor scale. A minor is a very common chord, and here we mess with it a bit to add some extra tension and undercurrents.

We know that minor chords are associated with a sadder, melancholic feel to them than major chords. However, it's how we use them that really determines the feel we get from these chords. What we are doing here is delving deeper into the scale behind the A minor chord and using some of the more 'dissonant' notes from that scale.

This effectively destabilizes the tonal centre of the chord and creates tension within it. However, the regular T12321 fingerpicking pattern adds a strong sense of structure to the chord (in a rhythmic sense). This involves the listener, helping them distinguish form / purpose in the way the chords are played, but at the same time the dissonance in the chords works its magic. The result is a chord with a more haunting, melancholic, perhaps even sinister undercurrent. Especially when we start to add more guitar layers (which of course we will shortly).

For more information on dissonance and resolution, we strongly recommend you read through the Chords Theory Section - Particularly the page on Resolution!

In this ActionTab we start and finish with an Am add9 chord. Strum down across the strings, just slow enough that each note is sounded in sequence.

So what is an Am add9 chord? Well, here is the A Natural Minor scale:

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A (Am = 1, 3, 5: A, C, E)

An 'add 9' just means add the 9th note to the 1, 3, 5 triad. This gives us A C E B. Now you are probably thinking... But there are only 8 notes in the scale, how is B a 9th note, surely it's the 2nd note? Well, if we extend the scale into the next register, it is the 9th note:

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A

This is something we will deal with in more depth in the Theory section when we look at 'extended chords'. For the purposes of this ActionTab, we are more interested in the effect of using the more unusual / dissonant notes from the Am scale to create some unusual chord variations.

After the Am add9 chord strum we simply alternate between fingerpicking across 2 A minor Chord Variations:

Am add9 (no 5th). This is the exact same as the Am add9, except we don't fingerpick the high E string so there is no E note (the 5th note from the Am scale). So this chord is A C B. The 5th note has the strongest harmonic relationship with the root note (hence the popularity of powerchords which are just root and 5th notes played together). So removing it and using the B instead destabilizes the chord quite a bit. The B note is very close to the A, and they have a more dissonant relationship when played together.

Pick through this chord twice using T12321, then....

Am add9 (flat 5th). Now this is again the same add9 chord, but this time we use Eb for the bass note. The 'perfect' 5th note in the A minor scale is E, and as mentioned earlier that note has the strongest relationship with the root note A. By flattening that note (playing Eb instead), we create further dissonance. A and Eb don't get along together perfectly in a harmonic sense. This further destabilizes the chord, and adds tension to it. It becomes harder to determine the tonal centre of the chord (which is A). The notes for this chord are A C Eb B*

Pick through this chord twice using T12321, then back to the previous chord again. Rinse and repeat.

People sometimes get worried by chords with odd names - like Am add9. However, they are not to be feared. Think of them as just a 'normal' chord that has been altered in some way (usually just by adding / removing a note from the underlying scale). The interesting thing about these altered chords is how they affect the listener. There are many different blends and feelings you can get from slightly altering just 1 note of a chord! Often such chords have quite simple fingerings too - just like the chords in this ActionTab.

* With these chords we don't play the notes in the strict '1,3,5,9' order that they appear in the underlying scale. This is due to practicality - i.e. the way notes are arranged on the fretboard.

Next we will look at the 2nd guitar part that you can hear in the Normal Speed audio. Again, we are simply messing with an A minor chord there, but in a couple of slightly different ways!

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