Candy From a Baby, a soulful example of substitutions
In Candy From a Baby, I use some interesting chord extensions to support the lyrics and harmonize with the melody. The intro, interlude and ending are based on an F pedal under an EbMaj9, an Fsus2 and then an FMaj add 9 over C.
Then in the verse at the fourth bar, you'll hear one of our 13th chords (Ab13). At bar six, I use an A minor7 with a raised 5th, a haunting chord that really supports the story. It has and A in the bass with my first finger at the 5th fret, a G natural at the 5th fret on the D string (played with my second finger), the minor 3rd (C natural) with my third finger on the G string, the F natural (the raised 5th) with my little finger one the B string and then the E open string or the 5th of the chord on the top.
The last two notes add noticeable dissonance by having the F and the E together. Alone they may sound harsh, but when mixed in with the other notes of the chord and the vocal melody note, the combination gives a very distinct sound that really supports the lyrics and the story of the song,
Candy From a Baby, sweet and sour at the same time
In bars seven and eight of the verse - harmonically my favorite part of the song - there are some dense chords that subtly enhance the transition into the pre-chorus. Here I play Cminor11 over F, B7#9#5, Ebsus9 over Gb and then a garden variety C9.
Don't be intimidated, it's an example to generate curiosity
Some of these chords are tricky to finger and I include them more as a goal to work toward than something you might just sight-read. It took me a long time to master chords like this and some of them were shown to me by Joe Pass, one of the greatest guitarists that ever played the instrument.
The purpose of the exercise is to provide a reference so you can hear and see the value of learning the structure and applications of different chord voicings and substitutions. They can open up your sound to many new directions in playing and songwriting. So don't be intimidated, there are many steps in your journey to become a better player. Keep checking back for new ideas about chords, voicings and substitutions, and practice, practice, practice!
(Flying Heart Candy by James Lee)