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  1. #1

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    Hello guys/gals,

    Please forgive me in advance if this question is rudimentary or simple.

    I have been playing guitar for nearly 30 years. However, I have never really delved into the world of jazz chords or comping (Mostly a rock and blues player). As I begin my studies into jazz guitar chords and naming I've run across a few chord symbols that I'm confused about what to call them and why they may be called that way.

    For example: -maj7 or -add2. What does the "-" represent. Same with "+" in something like: -9+7 or +7.

    Thanks for any info anyone can provide and, again, I'm sorry if this question is a bit too elementary.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    - means minor
    + indicates augmented 5th

    -9 indicates flat ninth

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by shrews824 View Post

    For example: -maj7 or -add2. What does the "-" represent. Same with "+" in something like: -9+7 or +7.
    - refers to a minor chord. So, -maj7 is a minor chord with a major 7th (like james bond or something)
    + means an augmented chord. +7 would be like C E G# Bb
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  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Elliott View Post
    - means minor
    + indicates augmented 5th

    -9 indicates flat ninth
    So, for example: D-maj7 = D (minor) major 7; D+7 = D augmented 5th 7; D-9+7 = D (flat) 9th augmented 5th 7.

    Is that correct?

  6. #5

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    yep
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  7. #6

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    Perfect. Thanks so much guys. BTW, enjoying the forum quite a bit.

    Cheers.

    Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk

  8. #7
    A much older convention of naming flatted intervals with a "-" can still be found. C7-9 would be C7b9... More rare now, but you might run into it.

    "+" is more common, but I think both are more old fashioned now. D7#5, D7b13, Dmaj7#5 etc is more used than the +'s.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    A much older convention of naming flatted intervals with a "-" can still be found. C7-9 would be C7b9... More rare now, but you might run into it.

    "+" is more common, but I think both are more old fashioned now. D7#5, D7b13, Dmaj7#5 etc is more used than the +'s.
    Ah, gotcha. I'm guessing that is why it was confusing me. I had always just seen #, b, etc.

  10. #9

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    I'm not very busy at the moment so -!

    The others have answered it really. I think your main confusion was between the minus and plus signs but these other points could come in useful too. In fact, they probably will.

    (EDIT: I can't get the triangle symbol to display so I've just written it /\)



    Triangle: Major 7 chords are usually written with a triangle: C/\

    The more obvious versions are C maj7 or CM7. Other major chord types (not 7) say the name: Cmaj9 or CM9 (or C6, CM13, etc). You won't see C/\9.

    It's also used to denote the minor/major chord: Cm/maj7, Cmin/Maj7, Cm//\. But I've never seen C-//\ or C-/\.

    Minus sign 1: Minor is written C min, Cm or, as already said, C-.

    So: Cm9, Cmin9, C-9, etc.

    Minus sign 2: The minus sign is also used for the flat symbol.

    So: C7b9, C7-9, etc. It's never used for a key signature. The key of Ab is never written A-. That means A minor!

    Plus sign 1: The plus sign is used for the sharp symbol. So C7#9 is also C7+9.

    Plus sign 2
    : It's also used to denote a sharpened 5th. Those chords are also called 'augmented' or 'raised'. So a C augmented chord (C E G#) would be C aug or just C+.

    Also with dominant chords with a raised (sharpened) 5th: C7#5 or C7+5.

    Again, the + sign is never used for a key sig. F# major is never F+ or F+maj.

    The 'add' word: Not to be confused with the + sign. C add9 means the chord is a major triad with the 9 added to it (C E G D). Which is different to a CM9 (C E G B D).

    The small circle: Used for a diminished chord: C dim, Co, Cdim7, Co7, etc.

    Small circle with a line through it: Means half-diminished, also called minor7b5: So Cm7b5, Cm7-5, Cø. I've never seen C half-dim or anything like that.

    The slash symbol
    : Used to denote the bottom note of a chord: C7/E ( for example: E Bb C G).

    When the bass note isn't in the chord then it's simpler to write it as a slash chord rather than try to figure out the musicology: B/C means a B maj triad over a C bass (C F# B D#).

    ****************

    Try looking at lead sheets (lots on this forum or in a Real Book, etc) and spot the symbols. Context usually clarifies any confusion.

    There is one last point. I think the Continental way of writing chords is slightly different. If you ever see a sheet that makes no sense at all, that's probably why. Best ask, there are people here who understand all that.
    Last edited by ragman1; 11-01-2019 at 10:25 AM.

  11. #10

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    Ok, great. I believe I'm beginning to understand it a little bit. It'll just be a matter of getting used to seeing the chord notation written that way.

    This has been incredibly helpful. Thanks again everyone and if I have any more questions I'll be sure to ask for advice.

    Also, thanks for the genuine responses and for not treating me like a total "newb".

  12. #11

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    Never :-)

  13. #12

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    Useful info

    There's three types of chord

    Fancy major (maj7, add9, maj9, 6/9, 6)
    Fancy minor (min7, min9, minmaj7, min6/9, min(add9))
    Fancy dominant (7, 13, 7#11, 7+9, 7b9 etc)

    All of the other chords can be understood as one of these three, but I didn't want to give to much info. m7b5s and o7s are 7s in disguise.

    The important notes for any chord are the highest note (melody) and the lowest note (bass.) Everything in the middle is filler. The name is less important than the basic colour of the chord and those two bits of info.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Useful info

    There's three types of chord

    Fancy major (maj7, add9, maj9, 6/9, 6)
    Fancy minor (min7, min9, minmaj7, min6/9, min(add9))
    Fancy dominant (7, 13, 7#11, 7+9, 7b9 etc)

    All of the other chords can be understood as one of these three, but I didn't want to give to much info. m7b5s and o7s are 7s in disguise.

    The important notes for any chord are the highest note (melody) and the lowest note (bass.) Everything in the middle is filler. The name is less important than the basic colour of the chord and those two bits of info.
    That is how I've been trying to approach it. Not necessarily worrying about making every single note ring out (at least at the onset), but rather trying to get the fingerings and grips under me so I have a basic concept of where I'm going and trying to retrain my fingers. Once I manage to become more fluid I'm sure the nuances of each note will begin to emerge and I will be able to cleanly fret each note. However, like you mentioned, the bass notes and the melody notes seem to be what jump out.... at least initially.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by shrews824 View Post
    That is how I've been trying to approach it. Not necessarily worrying about making every single note ring out (at least at the onset), but rather trying to get the fingerings and grips under me so I have a basic concept of where I'm going and trying to retrain my fingers. Once I manage to become more fluid I'm sure the nuances of each note will begin to emerge and I will be able to cleanly fret each note. However, like you mentioned, the bass notes and the melody notes seem to be what jump out.... at least initially.
    Takes a while, but keep at it and practice slowly and cleanly. Use as little pressure as absolutely necessary to fret the notes. Try different fingerings, but try to be consistent with the ones you practice.

    The melody and bass thing becomes key when you start to join chords up in progressions and so on....

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Takes a while, but keep at it and practice slowly and cleanly. Use as little pressure as absolutely necessary to fret the notes. Try different fingerings, but try to be consistent with the ones you practice.

    The melody and bass thing becomes key when you start to join chords up in progressions and so on....
    Will do. Appreciate the advice and encouragement.

    Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by shrews824 View Post
    So, for example: D-maj7 = D (minor) major 7; D+7 = D augmented 5th 7; D-9+7 = D (flat) 9th augmented 5th 7.

    Is that correct?
    People name these in slightly different ways. For example, on that last chord the minus sign is confusing. In other words, if the minus sign means minor, minor what? 3rd? or 9th? On the first chord it was the 3rd, but on the last chord it's the 9th?


    How about these?

    DmiMa7, or D-(Maj7)
    D+7
    D+7(b9)

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post

    (EDIT: I can't get the triangle symbol to display. It's come out as a ? so you'll just have to imagine it)
    Here you go, I got lots: ?

    EDIT: the forum must have some filter to block unusual characters and avoid injection attacks or something like that
    Build bridges, not walls.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    People name these in slightly different ways. For example, on that last chord the minus sign is confusing. In other words, if the minus sign means minor, minor what? 3rd? or 9th? On the first chord it was the 3rd, but on the last chord it's the 9th?


    How about these?

    DmiMa7, or D-(Maj7)
    D+7
    D+7(b9)
    I guess when it comes down to it a person just has to analyze the chord and determine from the root key what the minor would be, correct?

    Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk

  20. #19

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    For

    D-9+7 = D (flat) 9th augmented 5th 7.

    I would write if D7#5b9 -- I wrote it the way I would say it, D seventh, sharp five, flat nine. (0x54546)
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  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    For

    D-9+7 = D (flat) 9th augmented 5th 7.

    I would write if D7#5b9 -- I wrote it the way I would say it, D seventh, sharp five, flat nine. (0x54546)
    I wouldn't have been able to name that on the fly.

    I'm just going to have to study them. That's all there is to it. Learn them inside and out.

    Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by shrews824 View Post
    I guess when it comes down to it a person just has to analyze the chord and determine from the root key what the minor would be, correct?

    Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk
    Maybe I'm not thinking right but I don't generally like the minus sign, but it's OK so long as it always means a minor chord (meaning a minor 3rd). That D7? That's a dominant chord. Furthermore saying "D flat 9" out loud means Db9, in other words a Db chord, not a D chord.

  23. #22

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    Isn’t there a sort of order that normally gets observed? Triad/seventh chord first then extensions in ascending order.

    Eg
    E+7-9
    Not
    E-9+7

    Though I’m sure you can find some hateful chart somewhere probably in a singer’s pad that breaks these rules lol

  24. #23

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    D-9+7 would literally mean D-9 with an augmented seventh (ie an octave lol) but if I saw that I would assume that something was up.

    It’s chordal word salad tbh

  25. #24

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  26. #25

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    I wish I was well versed enough to have a meaningful thought about the last few comments. In due time I guess.

  27. #26

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    As I said, go through some lead sheets, here or online. It's really very easy once you start looking at it. Really.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    D-9+7 would literally mean D-9 with an augmented seventh (ie an octave lol) but if I saw that I would assume that something was up.

    It’s chordal word salad tbh
    You're confusing him, Christian. I've never seen D-9+7 in my life. Lot of nonsense. And you know it.

    Dm/maj9 maybe.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    As I said, go through some lead sheets, here or online. It's really very easy once you start looking at it. Really.
    For sure. I printed off several pieces of music yesterday and began working my way through one last night. Going to try really get some songs under my fingers and really pay attention to each chord and chord structure.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    You're confusing him, Christian. I've never seen D-9+7 in my life. Lot of nonsense. And you know it.

    Dm/maj9 maybe.
    It's all good. I'm sure once I begin seeing these "things" more often I'll begin to distinguish one from the other. At least I hope.

  31. #30

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    I did see this once but it's rare. I think this is shorthand for the 3rd in the bass. Not usually written like that, though.

    Chord naming question-untitled-jpg

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by shrews824 View Post
    It's all good. I'm sure once I begin seeing these "things" more often I'll begin to distinguish one from the other. At least I hope.
    So start already! Get going!

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    So start already! Get going!
    I did!!! Started last night and going to hit again tonight.... and every night possible.

  34. #33

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    Okay!

    It's actually rare that you'll come across something completely obscure. Most of it is simple. I'll see if I can find one of those 'continental' sheets. They can be hard work.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Okay!

    It's actually rare that you'll come across something completely obscure. Most of it is simple. I'll see if I can find one of those 'continental' sheets. They can be hard work.
    Great!!! Appreciate it. Right now I've just printed off some standards. Coming from a rock and blues background makes it a little more difficult for me to master some of these grips. It's kind of like learning to play the guitar all over again. It's great!!! I was beginning to get a bit stale and stagnant in my playing. I definitely think this will help and help me think of the fretboard in a totally different way as well.

  36. #35

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    Understood.

    Well, Joe Pass once famously said 'If it's hard, don't play it'. He meant that you don't have to twist your fingers into knots or bust your ligaments trying to span 7 frets or something. Most of these 'jazz' grips are simple enough.

    There's the m7 shape. That's, say, an Am7 played 5x555x. 2nd finger on the bass and 3rd finger making a bar across. That's common, and okay once you've got it.

    There's a small stretch like, say, a D13 played xx4557. Fingerwise that's xx1224 (the 2nd finger covers two strings).

    Stuff like that.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Understood.

    Well, Joe Pass once famously said 'If it's hard, don't play it'. He meant that you don't have to twist your fingers into knots or bust your ligaments trying to span 7 frets or something. Most of these 'jazz' grips are simple enough.

    There's the m7 shape. That's, say, an Am7 played 5x555x. 2nd finger on the bass and 3rd finger making a bar across. That's common, and okay once you've got it.

    There's a small stretch like, say, a D13 played xx4557. Fingerwise that's xx1224 (the 2nd finger covers two strings).

    Stuff like that.
    For sure. You know, the stretches aren't the problem. The problem for me is fretting each cleanly and quickly because I'm having to think about where my fingers go. For example: maj7(9). That doesn't require a great deal of finger gymnastics, but it's not a grip that I'm used to making.

  38. #37

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    What do mean maj7(9)? Did you see that on a sheet?

    Normally that's just written maj9 or M9. When they put things in brackets it's usually a suggestion. You could play it as a M7 or M9 if you want.

    What was the shape? Was it, say, CM9? That would be played x3243x.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    You're confusing him, Christian. I've never seen D-9+7 in my life. Lot of nonsense. And you know it.

    Dm/maj9 maybe.
    Oi! That wasn't me that was some BS you lot were on about.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Oi! That wasn't me that was some BS you lot were on about.
    Quite right, I've just checked. Sorry, thought it was you. Beg pardon. Salad, as you say.

    Would you have an example pic of one of those odd chord notation boxes, usually handwritten, where they get all the symbols in the wrong order? I think they're continental or european, gypsy maybe.

    Do you know what I mean? There are some on the threads somewhere but god knows where.

  41. #40

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    Never seen that sort of fiasco.

    In French and Brazilian charts I often see C7M instead Cmaj7

  42. #41
    There are some basic standards , but a lot of it is personal preference , in terms of what chord symbols people use. I would start with the real book. Look at the chord changes and be able to read and understand all the chord symbols which are used in the real book. Then, it would probably be helpful look at some big-band charts , as they will span greater periods of time and show you some of the older notation variants.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Never seen that sort of fiasco.

    In French and Brazilian charts I often see C7M instead Cmaj7
    Yes, that kind of thing.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    What do mean maj7(9)? Did you see that on a sheet?

    Normally that's just written maj9 or M9. When they put things in brackets it's usually a suggestion. You could play it as a M7 or M9 if you want.

    What was the shape? Was it, say, CM9? That would be played x3243x.
    This would be an example. Again, the stretches aren't the problem. Just training the fingers.

    printable guitar chord chart

  45. #44

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    Can I be honest? Not the best site. They should just write CM9 if that's what they mean, and they do mean that.

    Try this, from this very site. Don't try to learn dozens of chords all at once. Get a simple tune like Autumn Leaves and find the chords for it. Then try another one in a different key. Applied, you'll learn much, much faster.

    Easy Jazz Guitar Chords (Tabs & Chord Charts)

    Chord naming question-untitled-jpg

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Can I be honest? Not the best site. They should just write CM9 if that's what they mean, and they do mean that.

    Try this, from this very site. Don't try to learn dozens of chords all at once. Get a simple tune like Autumn Leaves and find the chords for it. Then try another one in a different key. Applied, you'll learn much, much faster.

    Easy Jazz Guitar Chords (Tabs & Chord Charts)

    Chord naming question-untitled-jpg
    For sure. Yeah, I want honesty. Constructive criticism doesn't hurt my feelings. I don't necessarily use the site I just copied and pasted the link because that showed the example I was referring to.

    Also, I already had the "Easy Jazz Guitar Chords" bookmarked so as to quickly refer to it and I think I'll use that quite a bit.

    To be honest, I wasn't trying to learn all the different chords at once. I saw a jazz chart and was just reading over it when I saw the "+" and the "-" and just wanted some clarification as to what they meant.

    Thanks again for all the info and interpretations.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Quite right, I've just checked. Sorry, thought it was you. Beg pardon. Salad, as you say.

    Would you have an example pic of one of those odd chord notation boxes, usually handwritten, where they get all the symbols in the wrong order? I think they're continental or european, gypsy maybe.

    Do you know what I mean? There are some on the threads somewhere but god knows where.
    Do you mean the ‘grilles’? Here’s 488 pages of them:

    http://www.jazzbanjo.nl/files/Anthol...z_3mt5jg22.pdf

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I did see this once but it's rare. I think this is shorthand for the 3rd in the bass. Not usually written like that, though.

    Chord naming question-untitled-jpg
    The "slippin in a 5/4 measure or two" is also somewhere rare
    Build bridges, not walls.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Do you mean the ‘grilles’? Here’s 488 pages of them:

    http://www.jazzbanjo.nl/files/Anthol...z_3mt5jg22.pdf
    YES! I thought it might be you :-)

    Thanks, I shan't be referring to that very often

    Just seen:

    Chord naming question-untitled-jpg

    WT*?

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by shrews824 View Post
    For sure. Yeah, I want honesty. Constructive criticism doesn't hurt my feelings. I don't necessarily use the site I just copied and pasted the link because that showed the example I was referring to.

    Also, I already had the "Easy Jazz Guitar Chords" bookmarked so as to quickly refer to it and I think I'll use that quite a bit.

    To be honest, I wasn't trying to learn all the different chords at once. I saw a jazz chart and was just reading over it when I saw the "+" and the "-" and just wanted some clarification as to what they meant.

    Thanks again for all the info and interpretations.
    No prob. I chose that Autumn Leaves because it was simple. However, (I won't bother you after this!), it's not always so... :-)

    Chord naming question-untitled-jpg

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    No prob. I chose that Autumn Leaves because it was simple. However, (I won't bother you after this!), it's not always so... :-)

    Chord naming question-untitled-jpg
    No sir, I would never presume that every song I ran across would be simple. In fact, I would probably presume that every song I run across would be quite difficult. .... and you aren't bothering me. I very much enjoy the interaction. It gets me pumped about getting home and grabbing my guitar!!!