Summers' Secret

 by James Santiago

In the span of about five years, the Police went from an unknown British trio to the biggest rock band of the early '80s. On the surface, the Police seemed like your average hit-making pop stars. Most musicians will tell you, however, that those guys weren't just playing three-chord songs. Guitarist Andy Summers contributed a good deal of the Police's chordal complexity. Years before the Police formed, in fact, Summers had traveled abroad to study music at CSUN (California State University, Northridge) and under the guidance of Los Angeles' resident chord guru, Ted Greene.

There are at least two Police songs that owe their entire harmonic structure to one three-note chord. Commonly known as a sus2 (short for suspended 2nd), that chord shape is the basis for tunes like "Message in a Bottle" and "Every Breath You Take." The next time you're playing power chords, try substituing one of them with the sus2 voicing.

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