Reading Chord Charts

It's not as hard as you might think.

Brown Eyed Girl Chord Chart

Reading Chord Charts

toon_Eyechart A Chord Chart (or chart) is a form of musical notation that in addition to writing out non-embellished melody, describes harmonic and rhythmic information. It is the most common form of notation used by professional musicians playing jazz or popular music. It's intended primarily for a rhythm section ( usually consisting of piano, guitar, drums and bass ). In these genres the musicians are expected to be able to improvise the actual notes used to represent the chord and the appropriate ornamentation or counter melody.

A Road Map Through a Song

toon_you_are_hereUL505-1A Road map Through a Song – Your road map through a song includes – the landmarks, traffic signs and directions to from one place, the beginning of the song, to another, the end of the song. For a song that would be the key and modulations, the sections, type of chords, codas, repeats and the music signs used to determine you path through the song.

A Chord Chart is simply these directions. It contain the chords and form of the song to play. I might or might not contain directions on where to put you fingers, chord diagrams or where to play any particular note. Depending on the intended final use of the chart it can as simple as the chords to completely written out instrument part for a recording.

At a minimum it should contain are the chords and form of the song. The lyrics are for the singers. Chord diagrams are for beginners who might not have a chord vocabulary of chords to cover all the chords in a given song. TAB serves a different function and is not needed in a chord chart.

Depending on the song, my chord charts might contain any signature licks and riffs for that song. These will be in standard notation on the chart. I'll provide TAB for ukulele players separately. Using standard music notation allows ANY musician that can read music to play the song on any instrument.

Standard Music Notation Practice (PDF)

This study, prepared by the Production Committee of the Music Publisher's Association , outlines a series of standards for music notation .

( Ed. This is great introduction and reference for standard music notation. )

A Few Reading Lessons to Get You Started

The following two lessons are the first lessons for a series of lessons on reading in the open position and a series for more advanced reading up the neck.

Reading Music on `Ukulele Series - Reading in Open Position

This series of lessons will allow you finally, to check that Reading item off your music To Do list. Learning to read standard music notation opens a world of music to you. Music notation is the Lingua franca of amateur and professional musicians alike.

Reading for `Ukulele Series - C Tuning

This is a series of lessons for reading music for ukulele at a pro level.

Reading Music can be thought of on many different levels. 1) the ability to slowly and painfully work out the written music. 2) the ability to hear the music by looking at the notation. 3) the ability to notate your ideas in standard music notation. 4) the ability to read music as you read a book or an article. 5) the ability to communicate with other musicians in the written language of music. 6) the ability to learn songs that you've never heard.

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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

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