There are three primary chords in any key. The primary chords are built on the first, fourth and third notes of a given scale. These three primary chords are so named because they are the most frequently used chords in music. A fill is a series of notes that form a musical phrase. Musicians use fills to create movement between chords, fill empty space between chord strums or to add rhythmic variation to a song. Learning to create fills between primary chords allows you to play variations on an age-old musical theme.
Familiarize yourself with major and minor keys. The 12 major keys and relative minor keys are fundamental. You can form major scales beginning on the root note (the name of the major scale you want to build) and using this step formula to build it: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole. From one note to another is a whole step. From one note to the same note with a sharp is a half step. There is a whole step between every note in music except between E and F and B and C.
Build a C major scale with the step formula. This gives you C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. The first, fourth and fifth notes of this scale are C, F and G. These are your primary chord positions.
Create musical fills based on the notes of the scale. Create fills directly from the notes of each chord. This makes it easier to play fills with minimal hand movement. Play a C chord and fill in with a single C, B and F note.
Switch to the F chord after the fill. The single notes you played (C-B-F) are the first, seventh and fourth notes of the C scale. The first note of the fill represents the tonal center of the key. Adding the seventh note gives the overall impression of a seventh chord (sort of a country feel), and the F you end on resolves the progression from C, setting you up to play a strum pattern on the F major.
Fill in between primary chords with consecutive notes from the scale, leading up to the next chord in line. For instance, on the four chord (F in the key of C), fill with the notes C, D, E, F and then land on the G chord. This fill creates movement, walking the ear from one chord to the next.
Fill the space between primary chords with chord arpeggios. A chord arpeggio is a broken chord (notes of a chord played consecutively rather than simultaneously). Strum one chord, then play an arpeggio on the chord before moving to the next chord.
Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.