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  1. #1

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    I can work my way through melodies in standard notation, but don't yet have the ability to "see" a common guitar grip written in standard notation. Most "learn to read for guitar" material I've seen only works on single line melodies. I know that people who read well can see familiar chords in standard notation as a familiar cluster of dots. They don't have to read each note in real time to realize it is a Maj7 drop 2/root position/middle four strings.

    It occurs to me that it wouldn't be impossible for me to write out my favorite "grips" for drop 2 or drop 3 voicing in standard notation and practice reading them until the notation is familiar. But given that there is a book for almost everything, it seems a waste of my time to re-invent the wheel. Is there a book for learning standard notation that is specifically for guitarist that someone can recommend? One that drills common guitar chords (other than just a closed position triad)?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I have the same "problem". Not sure if there's a book out there but one thing I plan to do is writing out the chord changes for standards in staff notation and teach myself that way. Fingerings are being dictated by the respective voicing most of the time, I'd guess....
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  4. #3

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  5. #4

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    (Double face palm): I have this little book here:


    Book for drilling in standard notation -- especially chords-41lg1dqbpml-_sx324_bo1-204-203-200_-jpg


    Each chord written as chord diagram, tab and staff notation.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  6. #5

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    Leavitt's books provide a good schooling in reading. Right from the second page of his Modern Method you are trained in seeing chords. The Mel Bay Extended Edition books are also useful. It takes time and dedication to become a good reader, but is worth the effort.

  7. #6

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    I mostly play solo stuff, so I end up purchasing a lot of arrangements that tend to have both standard notation and tab. I usually get an electronic copy, and work my way through it one line at a time, scrolling to the point on the page on my PDF reader so that I can see the standard notation but not the tab.

    Also, you can get Barry Galbraith's comping book. All chords. All standard notation.

  8. #7

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    This comment may sound a bit retro, but hey, I'm getting older, too. I've been reading notation for a long time, and my opinion simply reflects my personal experience. I learned to read mainly via classical guitar lessons early on. That approach embraced simply learning the notes on the fret board as correlated with the notation staff. A two for one deal. And that is the simplest way to learn - recognition of notation in the course of simple exercises relating to the fret board 'geometry' - in addition to learning to read scales.

    Just my opinion but trying to imprint chord symbols on your brain without the foundation of knowing the fret board is not the best approach. It is true, however, that a good notation reader comprehends the individual chords at a glance, because of years of imprinting in the memory banks. But that requires building the house from the foundation on up, not from the roof on down.

    Tab can be useful in many situations, but I would add one caution. The fact is that when I play an arrangement that I might transcribe even "note-for-note" from a particular artist, my choice of where to play those notes on the fret board may be quite different from those of another transcriber. A simple case in point is a YouTube video performance by the great Ralph Towner in a London 2012 concert playing My Foolish Heart in G. Ralph makes certain positional choices to voice chords or individual notes that might not be your choice. If you were playing the exact same notes on the sheet music of a transcription, you might choose to play certain passages in a different fret position. Thus, tab can be a hindrance as much as it can be a benefit.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. #8

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    Well beyond the standard folk chord shapes, the most obvious chord forms for jazz are root position drop 2, should be able to recognise them with the fifth on the bottom and then a third and a fourth. Then it's knowing your keys.

    Then root position drop 3s are the next most common, with a seventh, fourth and third configuration.

    After that I suppose the inversions

  10. #9

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    That is why this forum is great! The Leavitt books look very interesting and the Berkelee Dictionary is exactly what I was talking about!

    I don't think anyone is suggesting that you not know where the individual notes lie on the fretboard, but only learn chord "shapes" in standard notation without learning anything else. I started with classical guitar 30 years ago, and got as far as being able to reliably sight read a single line of notes before I strayed into the blues and rock and the hegemony of the pentatonic scale. I have watched pianist look at a score and just instantly know from a cluster of notes that they are looking at a major9 chord. Especially as someone with ambitions to play unaccompanied, that seems a very useful skill.

    For those of you familiar with the Leavitt books, do you think it is necessary to start with volume one? It seems from the jacket that he starts from the position that you know NOTHING about guitar. On the other hand, I know that for some systems it is important to start at the beginning so you get the whole development; regardless of your level. Anyone know where each of the three volumes start?

  11. #10

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    An interesting post about chord shapes as applied to a tune

    Jazz Chords Revelation
    Perfection is in the Details, but Perfection isn't a Detail (Leonardo da Vinci)

  12. #11

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    As for chord shapes and staff notation Vol. 2 of the Leavitt books has probably what you're looking for but anyway: there's a book with all three volumes and that's a good deal compared to the price of the single volumes.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    That is why this forum is great! The Leavitt books look very interesting and the Berkelee Dictionary is exactly what I was talking about!

    I don't think anyone is suggesting that you not know where the individual notes lie on the fretboard, but only learn chord "shapes" in standard notation without learning anything else. I started with classical guitar 30 years ago, and got as far as being able to reliably sight read a single line of notes before I strayed into the blues and rock and the hegemony of the pentatonic scale. I have watched pianist look at a score and just instantly know from a cluster of notes that they are looking at a major9 chord. Especially as someone with ambitions to play unaccompanied, that seems a very useful skill.

    For those of you familiar with the Leavitt books, do you think it is necessary to start with volume one? It seems from the jacket that he starts from the position that you know NOTHING about guitar. On the other hand, I know that for some systems it is important to start at the beginning so you get the whole development; regardless of your level. Anyone know where each of the three volumes start?
    Leavitt's modern method is insane. Okay. It's "challenging" if you've never worked through it. I played classical and was a decent reader when I came to it, but the way it integrates melody and chords from the very beginning is unique in my opinion. If you're a decent reader , you're still not going to be "bored" with the modern method .

    If you are a decent classical guitarist, the pick aspect of these exercises are a respectable challenge in and of themselves. Will get your rest stroke going really well with the pick for sure.

    Beyond any other consideration, Leavitt volume 1- beginning lessons are wonderfully musical. They aren't at all exercise-y in my mind.

  14. #13

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    Volume 1 covers a lot of ground, so I'd start with that one.

  15. #14

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    I Leavitt pick only? I play with my fingers, and am not interested right now in changing. I can usually play exercises intended for a pick, but it can be a waste if the exercise is all about pick technique.

  16. #15

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    I can read well enough to play big band arrangements in real time (if the leader doesn't listen too closely <g>). Some arrangers will write out voicings for guitar, but, usually, when you see multiple notes on a staff, you're actually looking at something taken from the piano part.

    Notes which are tightly clustered on the staff are probably designed to fit a pianists hand, and may not be playable on guitar. So, you have to decode the notes and then find some way to play the ones you think might be important.

    Now, if you've seen the chart before you may have had time to work out the notes, pencil in a chord symbol (for next time) and maybe a roman numeral to give you a hint where to play it.

    If you haven't seen the chart before and it's anything other than a ballad, this decoding process is going to be so hard to do fast enough that I can hardly imagine anybody being able to do it. Instead, what you do is pick out a note or two (usually the top one, but not necessarily) and play those.

    I'm trying to think of another situation in which it would be important to be able to read this kind of thing really fast. Maybe the OP can explain the need for it.

    What I'm wondering is why someone would want to devote precious practice time to this. Even if you learned all the basic maj, min, 7th and dim chords in all keys, based on my experience, you still won't be able to play most charts on the fly. I guess you might get more of a chart right. From my experience, I would prioritize reading syncopated rhythms ahead of this. I guess if somebody was already a master of reading syncopated rhythms, it might make sense.

  17. #16

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    Well said rp and from real life experience,

    while I was working on Joe Pass Blues in Bb chord melody I found that as difficult as it looks in the notation, there are altogether 5-6 chord shapes used in most cases, so denoting myself position on the neck and reading top note and bottom note (incl. which string they are on) can get me the job done pretty well.
    Attached Images Attached Images Book for drilling in standard notation -- especially chords-zrzut-ekranu-2017-04-12-o-12-42-34-jpg 

  18. #17

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    Joe Pass Chord Solos, Barry Galbraith Comping, Bill Leavitt's Melodic Rhythyms (and the followup volume of 16th notes) all have some good standard notation guitar grips to read. I also spent a productive summer 30 or so years ago studying with Dale Bruning. I filled a whole notebook with written out chord inversions (closed and spread triads, three part 4ths drop 2, drop 3, drop 2&amp;4, etc), and I still feel the do-it-yourself approach offers benefits that you can't get anywhere else...

    PK

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomcat View Post
    Well said rp and from real life experience,

    while I was working on Joe Pass Blues in Bb chord melody I found that as difficult as it looks in the notation, there are altogether 5-6 chord shapes used in most cases, so denoting myself position on the neck and reading top note and bottom note (incl. which string they are on) can get me the job done pretty well.
    Good example! Not so easy to read on the fly, even though 1) it shows the chord symbols, 2) since it's a Joe Pass book, they're all playable on guitar, 3) the chord shapes are common ones and 4) since Joe did it, apparently it is possible to play the passage at the correct tempo with those voicings.

    Compare to a chart with no chord symbols with some unplayable chords.

    Another point: sometimes, even with playable chords, it can take some time to figure out a workable fingering. There have been many times when, after some thought, I found a way to play something that wasn't obvious at first.

    Finally, I have seen some very quick syncopated hits written out with multiple notes on a staff -- with each chord maybe lasting a quarter note (some shorter some longer) at a brisk tempo. In that situation, maybe, just maybe, I could get it up to speed with practice, but seeing it for the first time? No way.

  20. #19

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    I can't comment on these as I've never used/seen them, but Billy Bauer's books seem to have notation and no chord diagrams

    Jazz Music Books and Sheets | For Guitar, Piano, Saxophone

  21. #20

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    Something I just thought of ...

    It's accidentals and printing.

    Nowadays, I tend to see charts printed by Sibelius or Finale on 8.5 x 11 paper. Years ago, arrangers used longer paper (was it legal size, at 14 x 8?). My point is that the staves used to be taller.

    Taller staves may not matter much when you're reading chord symbols or even a lot of notes on staves. BUT, if you see a staff with 4 or 5 notes and two of them are accidentals, you're going to be squinting. It can be really difficult to see which notes are accidentals. And, sometimes, the arranger wants some dissonance, so you can't even, necessarily, rely on your ear to figure it out.

    So, one thing that happens is that the horns do a kind of half step dip which is reflected in the guitar chart. This is an old fashioned device, common enough in big band charts of a certain age, which are generally at the upper reaches of what might be called swing tempo.

    So, one moment you might be reading a C13 (key signature F) and the next, a B13. B D# F# A C# G#. You won't see all 6, most likely, but you might see 4 of them with several accidentals. And, don't forget that B requires a natural because you're in F. Good Luck!

    Now, the second time through that bar (if you get a chance to do it again) it's going to be obvious. But, the first time through, you don't know what the horns are going to do. Best bet still may be picking a note that you CAN read and playing that one.

    I play in a band that plays mostly new charts, done with Finale. But, I also play in a band that plays a lot of old charts on the original paper, done by a pro. The old charts are, typically, much easier to read. I'm hijacking the thread a bit, sorry for that ...

    1. The print (handwritten) is bigger.

    2. The arranger has figure out where any page turns must be and gives you a bar or two to turn the page.

    3. The guitar chords are usually playable.

    4. New motifs are denoted clearly. Rehearsal marks, double bars, starting a new line, italic-like notations of the melody -- something. This is very important for players who sometimes get lost (don't ask me how I know this <g>) because it gives you a very good chance of figuring out where the rest of the band is in the chart and catching up. \

    5. Less professional charts may be chord symbols and slashes only, odd numbers of bars per line, no indication of new motifs, rare rehearsal marks and a lot of doubling back with repeats, DS, DC, sometimes multiple codas etc. Punches are often omitted from the guitar chart, even when it seems like the guitar has to do them. There may be a repeated line, written out once and then referred to with (don't know the name of the symbol, but like railroad tracks), forcing you to have your eyes jumping back and forth until you memorize the line. Chords may be unplayable.

    6. The pros space the notes so that the between-note-white-space would reflect note value. So, for example, a couple of sixteenths at the beginning of a bar would be pretty close together and a couple of quarter notes at the end would be further apart. Subtle, but doing this makes the chart easier to read.

    To come back to the OP, there's a lot to work on to read this kind of material on the fly, with decoding multiple notes on a staff, well, not first on my list. If there was some way to get some guitar charts and mp3s and practice playing along with the recording, from the chart, that might be worth it, at least if playing in that context is a goal.

  22. #21

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    I would imagine working on reading chords would be very good for single note stuff too.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomcat View Post
    Well said rp and from real life experience,

    while I was working on Joe Pass Blues in Bb chord melody I found that as difficult as it looks in the notation, there are altogether 5-6 chord shapes used in most cases, so denoting myself position on the neck and reading top note and bottom note (incl. which string they are on) can get me the job done pretty well.
    not really complex..most are common chord shapes..but..its the way its played..very tasty lines...I believe the Bbmi9 chord is notated as a mi7..the two note lines are so sweet..

    Got to see him once..yes..one of the very best
    play well ...
    wolf

  24. #23

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    In what area of performing is the skill of reading chords in standard notation a regular demand? Can it actually be a low priority area in real world applications and more of a personal endeavor?

    Reading chops have to be maintained by regular practice or application, so honing skills that won't be used often seem to be at the expense of more important areas. I'm thinking mostly jazz orchestra, or pit bands.

    Most guitar sheet music I encounter uses chord symbols, not chords in standard notation. Most arrangers can't be bothered with it.

  25. #24

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    Most guitar sheet music I encounter uses chord symbols, not chords in standard notation. Most arrangers can't be bothered with it.
    When I took an arranging class with Don Sebesky, he spoke about different rhythm section scenarios:

    Indicating the general groove/feel and letting the musicians just play from chord symbols.
    Chord symbols are kept simple or more descriptive depending on the imperative of what is needed from the chordal instruments.

    Writing rhythmic hits when called for

    Rhythmic hits with a lead line, musician determines the voicing below

    Full scored part only when necessary.

    Given the level of players Don worked with, I got the sense that was not very often.
    He felt that often the rhythm section musicians would create a better result on their own,
    given just enough guidance to cover.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    In what area of performing is the skill of reading chords in standard notation a regular demand? Can it actually be a low priority area in real world applications and more of a personal endeavor?

    Reading chops have to be maintained by regular practice or application, so honing skills that won't be used often seem to be at the expense of more important areas. I'm thinking mostly jazz orchestra, or pit bands.

    Most guitar sheet music I encounter uses chord symbols, not chords in standard notation. Most arrangers can't be bothered with it.
    Music isn't that linear. It's not always 'work on thing x and thing y will result.'

    Also many more modern charts have specific voicings written out.

  27. #26

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    I would add, at the risk of belaboring the point, that many times when I do see chords on a staff, I'm actually reading a piano chart. Often the word piano is crossed out and "guitar" is penciled in at the top.

    To go just a bit further -- those voicings are written for piano and may not be playable on guitar. So, it's not like you can study them from a guitar book and recognize them at a glance, the way you might a C major triad. Of course, if you kept working at it, you'd get better.

    But, there's another consideration. What if you nailed all of them? All you would be adding to the band is a little texture to what the pianist is already playing - because the pianist is looking at the same chart.

    If you make an unplayable grip playable somehow and use that, you may be adding texture in a positive sense, or you may be making the chords the audience hears more muddy. You also increase the probability of error in the timing of punches. Sounds great when the band is tight, but a guitarist, struggling to read staffs full of notes is at risk for lagging and creating flams.

    I have seen very few charts written specifically for guitar with chords on staffs.

  28. #27

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    As the OP I have my answer. The two resources mentioned early on we're just what I was looking for.

    As to why I want it? I believe it will speed up leaning new pieces for solo guitar, for classical guitar, and chord melody arrangements.

    I don't believe I ever said I wanted it so I could comp in the rhythm section of a swing band. I suppose a carpenter evaluates all tools on how well they drive nails. I agree that if playing in a piano quartet was my goal I may not need this skill. But not everybody's "real world" is the same.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I have seen very few charts written specifically for guitar with chords on staffs.
    I've seen a quite a few, actually, both playable and unplayable. Often transcriptions, or chords written out because the composer didn't know how to name them (no really.)

  30. #29

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    I have a strong background in reading classical music in standard notation. I also create transcriptions of standards where I vacillate between very simple lead sheets with a melody staff and a chordal accompaniment staff more or less explicitly notated. So sometimes I write the harmony staff in whole or half note chord notation (intending that the performer interpret this as he or she wishes) and sometimes in explicit rhythmic detail. But the most important thing is simplicity in notation and accurate communication of the harmonic details. To that end I am going more towards the simplicity of a lead sheet with melody and chord annotation (Dm7b5) rather than explicit notation. In a very important way the most significant info is communicated by the chord notation (Dm7b5) in conjunction with the fret board fret position (eg, fifth fret for that Dm7b5). In other words , the chord notation (Dm7b5) in conjunction with the fret position is the simplest way to communicate the harmonic progression, imo.

    One of the annoying things with a book I used to use of Joe Pass' chordal playing was the density of the notation without proper fret position indication. Often when I write out chord voicings, I will purposely write a three or four note voicing to keep it simple for reading purposes. When I transcribe even the most complicated chord melody playing, the most important thing for me to note actually is the melody (which I know can be played in different positions) and the actual fret position employed by the artist I am transcribing. If I know where he is on the fret board in any measure, I know how the actual chord is fingered in that position. And this in turn is critical in terms of voice leading. In addition it must be said that sometimes the actual fingering used by a particular guitarist may not be what I would chose. So one must be flexible.

    Chord notation for guitarists is eminently readable, but the knowledgeable player will use his or her own sense of voice leading to communicate the song. Especially true in the context of improvisation.

    But in any case, to develop good reading skills as regards guitar chord notation, one need to become comfortable reading notation. It is true that the more you work in that vein, the faster your skills mature and the easier it is. For a good reader of guitar music it is immediately clear whether the notation is actually for guitar or for piano. Quite different.