That Sweet Eb Chord Is Years In The Making

The 4 guitar chords that string nicely

This is probably one silly insignificant blog entry but hopefully you may be able to relate to some of the take home messages I found.

When was the last time you hear someone or even yourself saying “no, I can’t dance”, “I can’t play any instruments”, “I can’t paint”, “I can’t sing”, “the only thing I can cook is instant noodle”, and etc.  Maybe some of you have already taken the first step in any of the above-mentioned activities and are convinced that no way in life you can do any of those.  The irony in life is that it may take much lesser time than you think in order to get over the initial hurdle.

The Eb guitar chord has been a nightmare to me for close to two decades (the 3rd picture from the left). I simply couldn’t play it.  I was so scared of it so much so that I would avoid the Eb chord at all cost – even if I have to transpose (change the key) the entire song.  I’ve tried many times and didn’t have the determination to persist.  Of course I can still play the Eb chord on the 6th fret (bar chord).  But it just doesn’t go along with the rest of the chords that predominately play on the first few frets (the higher the fret number is, the higher pitch the chord becomes).  The good thing though is that I am trained to transpose songs in my head as I play. Not many friends whom I know would go through that mental hassle.  They would rather transpose the song on paper first or use a clip for the stepping up of the keys.

The main draw back is, as I transpose the song in my head, some chords that were previously not Eb may now become an Eb.  And then I will need to transpose to yet a different key (another step up or step down) to avoid the Eb chord.  This at times poses a challenge of my vocal range as the song may be too straining to sing.

Last night, there was one particular song that I really like and I felt that the key was a bit too high for me.  So I attempted to transpose the song to two keys lower.  And I hit the Eb chord.  I was frustrated.  If only I could master that one single chord!  Since the new theme of this year is “do it”, which by the way has already motivated me to do quite a few things in just one month, I have decided to … do it.

After one hour worth of playing a four-chord set continuously that amounted to about 570 repetitions (see the 4 chords in the picture above), need not to say, my fingers were pain like hell because I was (and still am) not used to the positioning of the Eb chord pattern.  But I am happy that I can actually play that chord.  I will still need a lot of practice to perfect it, I am sure, and you have no idea what it means to me as I have finally got rid of that one blind spot.

One year ago, none of us in the band believed that memorizing our band’s songs can be a reality.  Neither was I.  We were even planning to have the music scores projected during our live performance.  Our years long common belief was, “no, this can’t be done because the songs are way too complex”.  I started to give it a try and managed to memorize 10 songs – chords and lyrics – in a rather reasonable time frame.  As I have predicted (and promised) and with my help in articulating how the chords progress, it took our bassist Cynthia less than 3 hours to memorize the chords of 5 songs that are chosen for our first gig.  Seeing how we did it, our lead guitarist Jason also gave it a conscious effort in memorizing the songs during our jamming sessions.

Bottom line is, yes you can do it.  And the initial hurdle may take much lesser time than you anticipate.  You may take years to discover that you can actually do it.  Or you can start doing it now.

7 thoughts on “That Sweet Eb Chord Is Years In The Making”

  1. I can’t agree more.. that yes, we can move mountains if we want to. Paulo Coelho wrote that if you want something bad enough, the whole universe will conspire to help you get it.

    Well done on the Eb, luckily I won’t need to contort my fingers to pluck an Eb…

  2. Oops… that’s me. I can’t play the guitar. I can’t swim. I can’t ride a bicycle. I can’t drive………. I don’t want to learn because I was not interested, and knowing more would give me more responsibility. hehe….

  3. Cynthia – Ah, I do remember that from Paulo Coelho. Probably his most memorable quote from all his books.

    Now that I look at the pictures, my fingers did look a bit contorted on that Eb chord!

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