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CAGED Linear and Fixed Position Cycles

Core Location: Chords

This is the most advanced thing [the fixed position cycles] that I have discovered for standard tuning. This can come across kind of heavy, so you may want to revisit this after exploring the basics of the CAGED system in Chords.

guitar caged linear and fixed cycles

CAGED nutshell: We can build chords from a given tone. Chords can be fingered on the guitar in standard tuning based on a C, A, G, E, & D form [shapes at the nut]. When forms move up, the index acts as the nut [takes the place of it, keeping the fret spacing the same]. There are 12 tones [positions] & 5 chord forms [CAGED]. We can play every chord like a C, like an A, like a G, like an E, & like a D. We have options for how we finger the forms when they move up the fretboard [we call these preferences]. We can also drop fingers/strings, as well as leaving strings open [see C Chord Shape Moving or E Major Shape Moving - sessions still to be added].


The rows above reflect linear cycles of chord forms.

CAGED forms always go in order [letter order] up the fretboard for a given tone. For any of the 12 tones, one of the shapes starts the cycle at the nut. Whatever letter that is, the next way to play the same type of chord will be whatever the next letter in the word CAGED is. Example - as in line 1 above: C is played like a C at the nut. The next way to play C will be like an A [in 3rd position - P3], then like a G in P5, then like an E in P8, then like a D in P10.

Fixed Position

The columns above reflect fixed position cycles of chord forms.

When playing alphabetical chord scales in a fixed position, the chords also follow the CAGED cycle of chords. When we play an ascending chord scale [C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C], the cycle goes in reverse [DEGAC], & when descending, the cycle is in word order [CAGED]. Since there are 7 letters in the musical alphabet, we have to repeat forms. We have options here, yet, the repeating chord forms line up with the half-steps in a Major scale [between 3-4 & 7-8]. We could also repeat forms between 6-7.

Example: the diatonic chord scale for the key of C Major is C-Dm-Em-F-G-Am-Bo-C [I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viio-I]. When we play this in P1, the cycle of forms is like the first column of forms above. The chord forms for this chord scale in P1 are C-D-E-E-G-A-C-C or even better - C-D-E-E-G-A-A-C.

Each of the 7 Major scale patterns have a fixed position chord cycle within them which follows the CAGED letter order [with repeats since there are 7 chords in a Major key, but only 5 chord forms].