The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    I was looking through Ted Greens chord chemistry and i think i must be thick as i just can't figure out what its all about apart from millions of chords....has anyone ever studied this book and can offer any insight?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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  4. #3

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    It's not a method book that you "study" really, it's more of a reference book. Then you create the study material from it.

    You could take a handful of interesting shapes, analyze what chord tones/extensions it actually gives you, play around with moving a note here or there (what happens if I lower the third?) play with the way they voice lead into chord shapes you already know, work them through all 12 keys, and spend 3 months on it.

    And then you can repeat that process. For pretty much, forever

    If you want something that's more "method like" from that book, skip to the chapter where he makes a 12 bar blues increasingly more complex.

  5. #4

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    Leon White’s free Trail Guide to Chord Chemistry: Six String Logic - The New Logic in Guitar Education

  6. #5

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    I found the chord diagrams not as well organized as I would have liked but still had much fun and learned a lot just playing through the possibilities that my mortal fingers could achieve. There is also excellent content in all of the written segments.

    As the opportunity emerged to watch Ted giving workshops on youtube and hearing from his students, a broader picture emerged of the deeply dedicated music/guitar nerd and giving human being he was.
    The one on one explanations he give are both expansive, clear and supportive.

    On the Ted Greene website, there is much content from a book that was never finished (what he called the V system). Chord Chemistry came out when Ted was relatively young. He primarily taught and the V system reflects his conceptual growth on how to best order, study and present this wealth of guitar harmonic knowledge he continually pursued.

  7. #6

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    Tim Lerch talks about the V System in his book:
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  8. #7

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    It may surprise some that Andy Summers, guitarist for The Police was one of the guys behind the publication of Chord Chemistry. He was living in L.A. in the early '70s and teaching classical guitar(!) at a music store run by Dale Zdenek. Ted Greene taught there as well and Andy, a big fan of Ted's teaching materials, pushed Dale to release the book despite the latter having no previous experience in the area.
    Last edited by PMB; 05-13-2022 at 07:24 PM.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobKay
    I was looking through Ted Greens chord chemistry and i think i must be thick as i just can't figure out what its all about apart from millions of chords....has anyone ever studied this book and can offer any insight?
    There is a video on line somewhere of Ted playing solo guitar at a wedding gig. It's all the proof you need that Ted was a genius. The harmony is astonishing.

    I bought the book decades ago and got just about nothing from it. In response to this post, I pulled it out and paged through it.

    I'm guessing that anybody would pick up some voicings that never occurred to them -- typically involving unusual string groupings, like chords on strings 5, 4, 2, 1 or 6, 5, 2, 3.

    Apparently, Ted had the entire package -- the concepts, the grips, the voice leading and the right hand technique, not to mention the left hand stretches.

    I'd venture a guess that if you're a good enough player to learn them and apply them cleverly, you might not have needed the book in the first place.

    Speaking just for myself, I was able to assimilate new chord voicings/progressions when I encountered them in a tune.

    I've never gotten much from just looking at an encyclopedia of chord grids.

    If I felt the need to learn more chords I would search out chord melodies and look for how common progressions can be reharmonized. I suspect, although I've never tried it, that there is a lot of this on youtube.

  10. #9

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    I felt the same way about Chord Chemistry. In some ways I still do. It's a lifetime of study and there is much to gain in it, but I don't have a lifetime.

    Personally, I think his book Modern Chord Progressions is a bit overlooked. It covers some of the same ground though not all, but with a far greater focus on application. It's a bit more user friendly like that.

  11. #10

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    Ted hand wrote most of his "lessons" .. he copied them and gave them to his students

    His chord grids were from a stamp pad and a grid stamp

    check his site Tedgreene.com

    there is a vast lesson section and he covers theory and harmony, Bach chorales, and hundreds of chord progressions and many songs

    and of course scales and his blues progressions

    and to add to his abilities..Ted was left handed !

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Average Joe
    I felt the same way about Chord Chemistry. In some ways I still do. It's a lifetime of study and there is much to gain in it, but I don't have a lifetime.

    Personally, I think his book Modern Chord Progressions is a bit overlooked. It covers some of the same ground though not all, but with a far greater focus on application. It's a bit more user friendly like that.
    Ted would have agreed. Chord Chemistry was his first book and he preferred his work on later releases such as Modern Chord Progressions and Single Note Soloing.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    There is a video on line somewhere of Ted playing solo guitar at a wedding gig. It's all the proof you need that Ted was a genius. The harmony is astonishing.

    I bought the book decades ago and got just about nothing from it. In response to this post, I pulled it out and paged through it.

    I'm guessing that anybody would pick up some voicings that never occurred to them -- typically involving unusual string groupings, like chords on strings 5, 4, 2, 1 or 6, 5, 2, 3.

    Apparently, Ted had the entire package -- the concepts, the grips, the voice leading and the right hand technique, not to mention the left hand stretches.

    I'd venture a guess that if you're a good enough player to learn them and apply them cleverly, you might not have needed the book in the first place.

    Speaking just for myself, I was able to assimilate new chord voicings/progressions when I encountered them in a tune.

    I've never gotten much from just looking at an encyclopedia of chord grids.

    If I felt the need to learn more chords I would search out chord melodies and look for how common progressions can be reharmonized. I suspect, although I've never tried it, that there is a lot of this on youtube.
    What really struck me about that video is that he was all alone just sitting there playing. I would have been glued in place if I were present when somebody was playing like that. Nobody paid any attention to him in that video.

    Tony

  14. #13

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    If we listne to Ted's playing his approach is very clear.

    When I first came across his arrangements in wirtten form I noticed that funcitonally he almost always stays within the basic harmonic frame of the tune.
    In other words he does not reiharmonize the tune usually intensifying harmonic movement making changes more dense horizontally (which most jazz musicians do in this or that way - not necessarily fitting many chords but you can play just a few chords or intervals but the concept will show).
    Also he does not a lot of substitutional re-harmonization, he does not fit in lots of ii-v's or other subs.

    Instead usually if the tune goes I - vi - ii - V - Ted's chords in the main form mostly stay the same except for maybe some most common subs...

    And also he usually does not vary melody a lot - usually sticking to the original tune (though we all know he matererd linear melodic improvization too).

    But still he improvizes a lot in my opinion. But most of his improvizational language lies either in voice-leading options or harmonic colours of existing harmony and melody.
    And he often uses tools typical for classical voice-leading (not only because his quasi-baroque playing which I do not like as mush as his jazz standards playing).

    Often he does not try to harmonize every melody note witha chord but moves the melody relatively freely over the chords (so the meoldy is a bit separated in the texture from harmony and bass).

    This is why usually my classical friends (who are capable to improvize in classical styles) usually immidiately like his and understand him.

    This eventually explains his methodical approach too - for him there is always a bass and a melody and they are generally original (bass can be that of inversion but mostly within the logics of classical voice-leading of the bass).

    So the most things there happen between the bass and the melody. And all that in strong relation to verical harmony (bass-melody) and horizontal voice-leading.
    And considering how complex guitar is for realization of such a concept it is no surprise that 'collecting' and 'organizing' chord-grips becomes a kid of passion for him, because this is how his language is built.

    Thus The Chord Chemestry can be very effectuve tool if you can try and choose. And not necessarily in the manner of Ted...

    I gave the book to the guy that mostly play kind of ambient guitar and he just picks some fancy voicings he likes and use them in his manner.

    We can all come up with any kind of voicing but this is a surprising quality of guitar that sometimes the instrument can lead you to something you would not have done rationally

    I would also recomend Modern Chord Progression Book - for more info on turnarounds and practical excercises.

    And as for initial question...
    - maybe it makes sense to try to find in a book the chords with basic function or root for the tune
    - then check voicings of these chords with necessary melodic note on top (mentally classify chords by top note - not by bass)
    - then just check which of them work together better considering inner voices, general colour and sound
    - and think melody a bit separately form all the texture, play a few notes of the melody on the same chord freely

    And check Ted's arrangement diagrams on the website. They are very informative on how to use his chords.

  15. #14

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    Chord Chemistry is a bit of a mess but its Ted's special kind of mess and I love it! The first 50 some pages is a "Chord Dictionary" but on page 56 till the end of the book there is a lot of great teaching material. Most folks open up the first few pages and gasp and put the book back on the shelf. But if you look at the later chapters it might shed some light on Ted's approach to harmony and Solo Guitar.
    all the best
    Tim

  16. #15

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    .... and yet, every time a beginner asks about a good chord book, ten different people will recommend Chord Chemistry.

    .

  17. #16

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    I love Ted's books namely because of a bit of craziness (in a good sense).
    There are lots of different methods which are often variations of the same pedagogical concept and musical conncept.

    And Ted is so deeply dedicated that through this books he somehow arrangess the world of his own... and I shoudl say I like this world, I like being there and navigating through it.

  18. #17

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    The Leon White guide to Chord Chemistry is really great; it’s very generous of Leon to offer it freely. I used a couple of his books back in the ‘70s - “Sight to Sound” and “Styles for the Studio” - very helpful for reading notation and broadening your style set (well, the styles of that time).

    Ted places a lot of thick and rich vegetation at the entrance to Chord Chemistry, it’s easy to get lost there. 100+ ways to play a major chord? Probably not the best way to integrate voicings into your vocabulary. If you look at the various “trails” Leon White suggests in his guide, you’ll probably find the best way to navigate Chord Chemistry at your particular skill level.

    After working through the (great) ideas in the latter chapters, I would just go to the front occasionally - the encyclopedia - and just play through some of the voicings until I found something fresh and intriguing to my ear and I would circle it in pencil. Then I would try to integrate that voicing or series of voicings into various standards and try to integrate it into my playing. I just don’t think you can (maybe you can) integrate a bunch of voicings into your regular vocabulary at one time.

    Chord Chemistry is not a book you work through once and put it away, it’s something you want to refer to over the long course of your chordal development.

    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    Leon White’s free Trail Guide to Chord Chemistry: Six String Logic - The New Logic in Guitar Education

  19. #18

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    I actually love the book and got a lot out of it. I like the explanation of chord substitutions and ways to move. It is not a method book but if you know the guitar then it makes sense at least to me. He thinks different and I like his playing but he is not my favorite chord player as such. I know that seems harsh but it is not intended at all he is a monster player but his sound and they way he goes through a tune is just not on the top of my list. That could be as much technique and personality too. But I really like my Chord Chemistry book probably should get it out again it has been years.