MASTER Neo-Soul Chords by Learning These 5 Positions!

MASTER Neo-Soul Guitar by Learning These 5 Positions!

Hello everybody and welcome!

Today we’re going to learn 5 positions that will help you master any minor or major chord when playing Neo-Soul.


Helpful Links

F-7 - 7th Chord Inversions
Fmaj7 - 7th Chord Inversions
D-7 - 7th Chord Inversions
Dmaj7 - 7th Chord Inversions



Let’s start with a disclaimer...

This article has a bombing title and I feel the need to note that I don't think anyone can really master anything by just doing just one simple task like learning 5 positions.

Mastering anything in life takes practice, and a lot determination and patience! ☝🏽

But still... after learning this sequence of positions you’ll see for yourself how useful it really is! Just a simple way of looking at the major and minor positions that will definitely help you understand your guitar better!

Ok, before we begin with the 5 positions, we better go over just a little bit of music theory!

We need to understand two concepts - relative scales and avoid notes in the major scale.

So what are relative scales?

Relative scales are scales that use the exact same notes but played from a different root note. Each major scale has a relative minor scale, and each minor scale has its relative major.

For example, the C major scale contains the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B and its formula is 1-1-½-1-1-1-½ tones, which is the formula of every major scale. 

If we will play the exact same notes from A-B-C-D-E-F-G we will get the A minor scale, its formula is 1-½-1-1-½-1-1, which is the formula of every minor scale.

See how these two pattern are just different cuts of the same musical pattern?

That means that if we will play the A minor chord positions over C major, we will hit the right notes that fit this scale.

Let’s look at the notes themselves, Am7/9 chord contains the notes A-C-E-G-B. Move the A to the top, and you'll get the Cmaj7/13 chord --> C-E-G-B-A, the only difference between them is the bass location!

Now let’s talk about avoid notes…

So... What are avoid notes??

Avoid notes are notes out of a certain scale, that collide with other notes from the scale in a certain musical moment.
Physically speaking, these are certain pitches that destabilize the current harmonic or melodic sense.

In practice, these are notes that won’t fit in the current musical moment.

each degree of the major scale has its own avoid notes. Let’s have a look at C major scale, these are the available tensions and avoid notes for every degree of the scale.

avoid notes in the major scale

According to the table above, we can add the 9 or 13 tensions to the 1st degree of C major scale (Cmaj7), as well as to the 4th degree of the scale (Fmaj7). 

Both are major 7 chords, and we need to avoid playing the 11th (or 11#) degrees on both of them.

Now. let's look at the 2nd degree of the scale

We can spice up 2nd degree minor 7 chords by adding the 9 and/or the 11 tensions to it. We will need to avoid playing the 13, B in this case.

If you wish to know more about avoid notes and how to use them, be sure to check out the avoid notes article RIGHT HERE.

Ok, after getting this out of the way, we can start playing!

Example 1: Here are the 5 Neo-Soul chord positions played over a F#m7/9 beat:

Example 2: Now let’s hear these exact same positions (and exact same take) played over its relative major chord, which is A major 7.

The beat plays an Amaj7/9 groove.


OK! Now, let's take these exact positions and transpose them to another key in order to really understand them and gain control over them.

Example 3: In the next video, you can see the 5 Neo-Soul Bm7/9 positions played over a Bm7/9 groove:

Example 4: Now let’s hear these exact same positions (and exact same take) played over its relative major chord, which is D major 7.

The beat plays an Dmaj7/9 groove.

Ok, now let’s level up,

The next stage of using these positions will be to use them over a simple Neo-Soul chord progression.

The chord progression goes like this: F#-7/9 → G#m7 → Amaj7/13 

Now let’s analyse this:

The F#m7/9 will serve as the 2nd degree of the scale with the 9 and 11 as available tensions
The G#m7 as the 3rd degree with the 11th as an available tension.
The Amaj7/9 as the 4th degree of the scale with the 9 and 13 as available tensions.

What I’m basically trying to do with these positions, is to create interesting melodies inside the harmonized guitar part!

The use of tensions in Neo-Soul is crucial and it’s an essential part of this type of playing and sound.

Let's try another simple Neo-Soul chord progression to really set this new technique in our fingers.

Ok, this time we'll try this:

Amaj7/9 → Dmaj7/9 → Cmaj7/9 → Gmaj7/9

That's all for now fellas!

If you just love Neo-Soul music be sure to check out the other Neo-Soul articles on our website!

Support us by sharing this article and follow us on YouTubeFB, IG, or Spotify