True Nirvana

 by Shawn Patterson

From out of nowhere, singer-guitarist Kurt Cobain and his group Nirvana transformed the music industry, bringing "alternative" music to the pop mainstream in 1992. Nirvana performed gritty, hook-based, unpretentious music that appealed to "Everyman." The self-indulgent, flashy, heavy metal of the previous decade was on its way out in the face of this new "grunge" rock.

The essence of the Nirvana sound was Cobain's lone guitar. Introspective and often tormented, his guitar parts were usually constructed in compelling and inventive ways. This Chord of the Week shows Kurt's clever voicing for a D7 chord. Using a Drop D tuning (D-A-D-G-B-E), we show how Cobain would merely play the chord's essential tones: the 3rd (F#) and flat 7 (C) over the open root note (D). Notice how smoothly the voice-leading works in this progression; the E note of the A5 chord (the fifth), moves up to become the root the of the F5 (F) before finally becoming the third of the D7 chord (F#).

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