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Clean Chords: How to Play Them and Why They Matter

What are clean chords?

Clean chords are chords that are played with minimal distortion, noise, or effects. They are often used in acoustic guitar, jazz, folk, and pop music to create a clear and natural sound. Clean chords can be contrasted with distorted or overdriven chords, which are played with high levels of gain, fuzz, or other effects to create a crunchy, heavy, or aggressive sound. Distorted chords are often used in rock, metal, punk, and blues music to create a powerful and energetic sound.

Chords

Clean by Taylor Swift
Album: 1989
Track 13
2014
 
Standard Tuning
Capo on the 4th fret
 
 
[Intro]
 
C      G      Am      F
 
C      G      Am      F
 
 
[Verse]
 
C      G                        Am      F
 The drought was the very worst
C           G                 Am            F
 When the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst
C         G                             Am       F
 It was months, and months of back and forth
C                 G               Am                         F
 You're still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can't wear anymore
 
 
[Pre-Chorus]
 
  G                  F                      G                     F
 Hung my head, as I lost the war, and sky turned to black like a perfect storm
 
 
[Chorus]
 
  C          G      Am
 Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
   F                            C
 That's when I could finally breathe
         G        Am                        F                      C
 And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
 
 
[Verse]
 
C           G                  Am      F
 There was nothing left to do
C          G                     Am                F
 When the butterflies turned to dust that covered my whole room
C       G                        Am      F
 So I punched a hole in the roof
C            G          Am            F
 I let the flood carry away all my pictures of you
 
 
[Pre-Chorus]
 
      G                F                   G               F
 The water filled my lungs, I screamed so loud but no one heard a thing
 
 
[Chorus]
 
  C          G      Am
 Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
   F                            C
 That's when I could finally breathe
         G        Am                        F                      C
 And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
 G                      Am      F
 I think I am finally clean
C     G                      Am      F
 Said I think I am finally clean
 
 
[Bridge]
 
  C
 10 months sober, I must admit
  F
 Just because you're clean don't mean you don't miss it
  C
 10 months older I won't give in
  F
 Now that I'm clean I'm never gonna risk it
C       G                       Am      F
 The drought was the very worst
C           G                 Am            F
 When the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst
 
 
[Chorus]
 
  C          G      Am
 Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
   F                            C
 That's when I could finally breathe
         G        Am                        F
 And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
  C          G      Am
 Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
   F                            C
 That's when I could finally breathe
         G        Am                        F                      C
 And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
G          Am      F
 Finally clean
                     C      G      Am
 Think I'm finally clean
F                     C
 Think I'm finally clean

How to play clean chords?

To play clean chords, you need to have a good technique, a suitable guitar, and a proper amp or pedal setting. Here are some tips to help you play clean chords:

  • Technique: Make sure you press the strings firmly and evenly with your fingers, and avoid touching any unwanted strings. Use a pick or your fingers to strum the strings gently and smoothly, and avoid hitting them too hard or too softly. Try to mute any strings that are not part of the chord with your left hand or your right hand palm. Practice switching between different chords smoothly and accurately, and use a metronome to keep a steady tempo.
  • Guitar: Choose a guitar that has a good tone and intonation, and that suits your style and preference. You can use either an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar to play clean chords, but they have different characteristics and advantages. Acoustic guitars have a natural and organic sound, but they can be harder to play and less versatile than electric guitars. Electric guitars have a more flexible and adjustable sound, but they can be more prone to noise and feedback than acoustic guitars. You can also use different types of pickups, strings, and tunings to change the sound of your guitar.
  • Amp or pedal: Choose an amp or pedal that has a clean channel or setting, and that matches your guitar and your desired sound. You can use either a tube amp or a solid-state amp to play clean chords, but they have different qualities and responses. Tube amps have a warmer and richer sound, but they can be more expensive and fragile than solid-state amps. Solid-state amps have a cleaner and brighter sound, but they can be more sterile and harsh than tube amps. You can also use different types of pedals, such as chorus, reverb, delay, or compression, to add some depth, space, or dynamics to your clean sound.

Why do clean chords matter?

Clean chords matter because they are the foundation of many musical genres and styles. They can convey different emotions and moods, such as happiness, sadness, calmness, or tension. They can also create different atmospheres and textures, such as simplicity, complexity, clarity, or ambiguity. Clean chords can be used to create contrast or harmony with other elements of music, such as melody, rhythm, or vocals. Clean chords can also be used to express your own personality and creativity as a musician.

Conclusion

Clean chords are chords that are played with minimal distortion, noise, or effects. They are often used in acoustic guitar, jazz, folk, and pop music to create a clear and natural sound. To play clean chords, you need to have a good technique, a suitable guitar, and a proper amp or pedal setting. Clean chords matter because they are the foundation of many musical genres and styles. They can convey different emotions and moods, atmospheres and textures, contrast or harmony with other elements of music. Clean chords can also be used to express your own personality and creativity as a musician.

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