Dream pop chord progressions guitar lesson
I’m excited to show you HOW to use Dream pop guitar chords into YOUR guitar playing! You’ll also be given some guidelines on tone alongside it. This Dream Pop guitar lesson is for YOU if:
- You can play some basic chords and need to take that next step
- You’re an upper beginner to intermediate guitar player
- Your chords are boring and need to sound more colorful and expressive
- You want some methods for easy & fast results to play dreamier chords
- You strum too much and need to branch out
Let’s go through Dream Pop guitar chord progressions below, applying some some simple strategies in a sequential order.
So grab your guitar and let’s begin!
- By the way: ALL the examples are in videos below, complete with TAB/notation on the screen, so you get a physical perspective of the concepts for your Dream Pop guitar skills…
Step 1: Set up a simple framework for guitar chord-harmony
First off, you’ll start with a simple foundation, and then build to more complex chords.
The scale above is nice and simple since it’s in C (no sharps or flats). The single notes are in key and harmony with the main C chord. That lays the framework to build on.
Next the FUN begins! Grip that basic C chord. Now look at that C scale above we just examined. You can add on to that C chord using a pinkie finger to grip other frets that align with the scale (the frets shown above). The results are more colorful chords, or “extensions” of that C chord. So holding that standard C chord, you can visualize the frets in the family as possible frets for other more far out chord voicings.
For a dreamy guitar sound, the added 4th (the F note) is flavorful and harmonious. The A minor is a nice counterbalance to the major/happy chord sound of C.
Notice that the more dreamy and tense chords (the Cadd4 and Am/C) want to head back to C (let your ear notice. They want to resolve C).
If you’re a hobbyist and less concerned with the chord namesake and just want to have fun playing some dreamier, ethereal Dream Pop guitar chords, this is a great way to handle it. Learn the frets of the scale nearby a basic chord and visualize those frets as fun chords to weave in and out of and dress up a basic chord with. Easy way to start jamming Dream Pop and take your head out of it (or like how I got started on guitar)!
Next, you want to create a rhythm. In the video below, I demonstrate the value of using drums/backing tracks to play along with. If you’re sitting alone unaccompanied, devise a pick pattern in the picking hand. The example above has a pattern of a contour: one chord is climbing higher in pitch, and the next chord it’s climbing lower. It’s a fun approach. All the while you’re memorizing and getting comfortable with the chord progression, and learning to implement some dreamier chords into your playing!
(follow along with VIDEO ONE below for demonstration!) ⬇️
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Step 2: Utilize open strings and moveable guitar chord shapes
This approach creates really exotic and dreamy chords as the strategy: to keep referencing the open strings. Here, you’re in C with no sharps or flats- but you’re based around D (the minor ii chord sound of C). Then add in the high E string. Combining those open strings together you get a somber minor 9th sound- really eclectic!
The first measure has two chord shapes. Learn the shapes and movement before the picking pattern. Notice the second measure has the same fingerings just moved up the neck. It’s like a tense response. Once you’re comfortable with the shift and the fingerings, then add in the picking pattern.
Next, the ending winds down with a moving bass line. It’s wanting to head down to D- the note we started with. Where you started your journey is a nice play to steer it back around to, so consider that in your playing.
The last chord is the epitome of a dreamy chord: a Dsus2 chord. The sus chord is a loftier way to do D minor that’s less sorrowful.
Now you can see how you can easily: 1. Incorporate open strings that bind all the chords together 2. Move shapes around while the open strings ring. The moveable chords the open surrounding strings often lend themselves to sound dreamy. In this instance, it’s since we’re based on D minor: the second chord of diatonic C major, so it’ll sound more dream pop and harmonious- and not too dissonant.
TIP FOR PLAYING: Drop your wrist and pull your thumb farther around the back of the neck. This will help you stretch easier, and avoid hitting those open strings you want to hear!
(follow along with VIDEO TWO below for demonstration!) ⬇️
Step 3: Next-level Dream Pop chord progression
Next step to make the dream pop chords more dramatic: we’ll stack power chords! (see diagram above). That’s an easy way to visualize it. The fingerings are an interval of a 5th away from one another. They’re a bit tense. To find that balance of the villain in the sound with the hero: the two highest open strings ring out throughout.
The result is an array of sus chords and 9th chords! Both of which are dreamy exotic chords, to get you right in the direction you want to go with dream pop chords on guitar. Here, we’re thinking of E minor, but instead of somber E minor chords, the F# note is used instead of a G note.
The concept builds from the previous example of using open strings, only with more far out chord voicings. They can tend to be a bit stretchy- so drop the thumb and drop the wrist of the fretting hand to get comfortable.
Above: applying the dream pop chord progression into a musical idea. Play on beat one picking a little harder (accented) as beat one is a strong beat in pop.
The picking pattern is simply a downstroke of the chord voicing and then all upstrokes following that until the next chord. It’s a nice way to break up the chord and be more expressive, as opposed to just strumming. This way, you’re spoon feeding it to the listener in a more captivating way.
The 2nd chord in each measure has a strategy: simply get to that lowest note in the chord (the bass note) and you have time to grip the rest of the chord. It sounds great and it’s a great way to have time to think and to target the next chord! Get it into YOUR playing as a strategy that becomes second nature.
(follow along with VIDEO THREE below for demonstration!) ⬇️
Takeaway value, tone & NEXT STEPS for you!
Thinking in the steps above will have you not only implementing the chord progressions you just learned above- but the viewpoint of HOW you can get more creative and more dreamy Dream Pop guitar chords. Let the above progression’s concepts sink in and work their way into your playing using the framework.
Next, you’ll want to take and apply the framework in a couple of focused ways:
- Tap into backing tracks/drum tracks to generate a rhythm with the chords
- Next, instead of simple strumming, move the shapes around and a pick pattern
- Experimenting with available fingers to reach other nearby frets in the scale
- Apply the concepts above to other keys: like D and G (that also utilize a good amount of open strings)
- Look at the scale alongside the chord (i.e. C major scale on the fretboard alongside a C chord) as other possibilities for a more dreamy/sonic chord to grab than simple meat-and-potatoes basic chords.
Tone: for effects, a chorus pedal, delay pedals are a great start. I like to use Boss. You can also consider software connected to an interface. Aside from those for a Dream Pop tone, I like to back off the bass and treble on my amp, setting them dialed in to between 3-5. When it comes to other effects, reverb will provide you with a nice dreamy hall effect. Consider a flanger to add a contrast in the song (I like to use it for specific parts, like during each verse for instance, so it doesn’t get boring!).
In addition, check the next steps BELOW to fast-track you forward on guitar BELOW!
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Videos of the article (check ’em out!)
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