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How to use reggae chords?

Strictly speaking there are no such thing as reggae chords, since most if not all chords can be use for reggae.

To play reggae all you need is a very basic knowledge of major and minor bar chords. Oguitar reggae chordsf course, the broader your chord repertoire, the more creative and colourful your playing will be. If you only think in terms of reggae chords, you run the risk of limiting yourself musically. If you listen to Reggae Guitarist Ernest Ranglin, you are sure to be impressed by his style of playing. He uses loads of jazz chords to spice up his playing. This man’s name is synonymous with Reggae Jazz.   

Assuming you have mastered the strumming technique on  how to play reggae guitar and how to play reggae keyboard, here are some popular reggae chords and progression that you might want to try and experiment with (see video below).  They can be used as reggae guitar chords or reggae piano chords.

1. G major – C major – D major – C major repeat

2. G major – C major – G major – D major  repeat

3. G major - C major - D major repeat 

These examples are obviously major chords but, the nice thing about these progressions is that you can change them to minor keys as well. Done slowly and you will definitely be in the Roots Reggae territory.

Using Minor Chords

Major keys give a happy sound but, if you are after that deep and profound Roots Reggae vibe, then you have to think minors or minors combine with majors.

 Most if not all of the great reggae artist I have heard, uses this method to powerfully bring across their message.  Here are some popular progressions.

E minor – D major repeat (Peter Tosh – Johnny Be Good)

B minor – E minor – B minor – F # minor repeat (Bob Marley’s – Roots Rock Reggae)

B minor – G major – E minor – D major – C # minor repeat (make sure to pass quickly from the D major to the C # minor)

E minor – C major – D major – B minor – C major – A minor – B7 repeat (T.O.K - Footprints)

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are loads of reggae chords progression you could try. So feel free to mix and match, as there are really no rules here. Let your heart and your imagination guide you.

Just remember, if you are after a happy kind of vibe use major chords and if you are in a reflective or a Roots Reggae mood then, get some minor chords in there. These chords can be used as reggae guitar chords as well as for other reggae instruments.

Song writing using reggae chords

If you are writing a song, to get the most out of it, make sure there is a verse, a bridge and a chorus.  Some artists go further and incorporate a dramatic intro and a nice end.  The intro in many cases has nothing to do with the main chord progression.

For example, say you are writing a song in the key of C major, the intro chord progression could be A minor – G major – F major then repeat.  You could then use A minor – E minor – D minor – repeat, for the verse, then C major – G major – D minor for the bridge and A minor – E minor – D minor for the chorus and so on.

It is not as complicated as it seems when you actually start to play it and it is very effective, since the turns are not expected but, they are a pleasant surprise. Try it out for yourself – you will not be disappointed!   For more on reggae chords and reggae bass scales

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